Lower Mississippi River Dispatch
"Voice of the Lower Mississippi"
October 28, 2019 ~ LMRD 748
Brilliant Diamonds in the Sky:
"If You Could Bottle This,
You’d be a Billionaire!"
Layne Logue brings the Mississippi River from Greenville to Vicksburg to life with text and photos.
From Layne's Log:
Greenville, MS to Vicksburg, MS canoe camping on the Mississippi River. 100 miles in 3 days. Photos and text by Layne Logue.
I met Steve Verner Thursday Oct. 17, 2019 at Sunnyside Public Boat Ramp in Lake Village, Arkansas (Lower Mile Marker 531.5). Steve’s Dad brought him and my Dad & Mom brought me. Steve’s wife gave him a birthday adventure of a lifetime. Local friends John & Sam Keen came by to say “hey” after they helped long distance paddlers (that we meet later on the water). Temp was in the high 50s at launch and the high temp today was 65. Introductions, pack up and paddle off at 9:30am…
We pass under the Greenville MS River Cable-Stayed Bridge a mile later. Beautiful bridge that looks like a giant sailboat in the distance.
1st stop is at the American Sandbar, where Steve grew up on as a kid… then back on the water. After a few miles, long distance paddlers LouAnne Harris (standup paddleboard. Alaska native & Adventurer) and Chris Henderson (10.5 ft kayak. Navy Veteran) catch up to us. It always a great joy to meet some like minded people on the water. We talk and take pictures and off the four of us go down the river!
We had to leave after a few miles with them, because Steve had to go visit a friend at his deer camp on the river. So we say “See you later” (never goodbye) and hope our paths cross downstream.
Around the Kentucky Bend, Cracraft Bend, Sarah Bend and Opossum Bend. Somewhere in those bends… we caught a Towboat making big waves and rode out a bunch of 3-4 foot waves. They were slow rolling and not difficult to manage. But they always have a “Pucker” Factor of 2.
We make land at our campsite, Wilson Point Island near 6:00pm (sunset at 6:30pm) at Lower Mile Marker 497.4 RBD. Today was 8.5 hours on the river and paddled 34.1 miles today. Our campsite is right across the river from the Bunge North America Grain Elevator that is all lit up with white lights… and we’re near the Mayersville(Mississippi) Tennis Court Public Boat Ramp.
We setup our tents and collect driftwood firewood … and got some hot coals ready to cook the homemade chili that was premade and frozen yesterday. Thawed out and in our bellies in no time flat. Stunning sunset to top off a great day on the river. Coyotes howl at night welcoming us to the area.
Sunrise is at 7:00am. We got the fire going again and cooked bacon and deer sausage in our 10” Dutch Oven. And then cooked the scrambled eggs. The Temp at sunrise was around 50 degrees. High today 72 and sunny. This is just perfect camping paddling weather.
We decide to get off the main channel and go behind Stack Island on the 6 mile back channel. This back channel is just as wide as the main channel and plenty of rock dikes to keep the river from changing course. We had some squirrely whirlpools and boils at a few of the rock dikes… but as the saying goes “Smooth seas never made a skilled sailor”… so, we came out safe and with a few more feathers in our cap of knowledge.
Pass by Ajax Islands on our left and the town of Lake Providence to our right … although we can’t see it for the levees and harbor port entrance.
We stop at the entrance of Fitler Bend for lunch (RBD …aka Right Bank Descending…) and as we take off…. There are 4 Northbound towboats and 4 Southbound towboats. This is a very fast section of river because of its tight 90 degree narrow Bend. Surfs up at Fitler Bend! Typically, you only have 1 or 2 towboats per day that kick out some big waves that come to us. Most are 1-2 foot or almost nothing… but, it just depends on the urgency the towboats have to make a deadline (I assume). Hammer down for Northbound towboats with loaded barges equals big waves.
Coming into the Transylvania, Louisiana area is Cottonwood Bar island on the Right and Arcadia Point Island on the left. You talk about water that looks like the Ocean. It’s around 1.5 miles wide here. It seems like 10 miles wide! It’s so big that it may be hard for a new person to decide where the river goes (Left, Center, Right?).
As we get close to our campsite on Willow Island (Lower Mile Marker 460 RBD), we spot 2 huge gatherings of American White Pelicans on the shallow sandbar at the top end of Willow Island. It looked like maybe 500 Pelicans in each group. Landing at our campsite near the Pelicans, Steve runs over to get some pictures while I get the fire going for Spaghetti and French bread dinner cooked in a 10” and 12” Dutch Oven. Bread toasted on willow branches over the fire. As the sun set, the Pelicans flew over to the East towards Eagle Lake… which I assume they went for sleep. Tonight was our best star gazing night… clear cool skies. Steve breaks out the reward for todays completion. Yazoo Brewing beer made by a friend of his in Nashville. Cold beer by a warm campfire fills my soul. Temp around 55 at sunset. 8 hours on the water and paddled 37.5 miles today.
I wake up around 1am to hear some coyotes howling and look outside at the brilliant diamonds in the sky. The stars were so lit up… that I jumped outside to take pictures. Needless to say my boxer shorts, hiking boots and shirt didn’t last but 7 or 8 pictures. I went back to tent and got on my wool longjohns, Patagonia jacket and skull cap. It was 52 degree with a light 5 mph NE wind. Stayed up another hour enjoying the quiet cold peaceful Mississippi river, star constellations and towboats going by giving us nice beach wave noise. If you could bottle this to sell… you’d be a billionaire.
This morning, Steve and I got up a little early around 5:40am. As the dawn starts lighting up the sandbar and trees… the Pelicans start coming over from Eagle Lake in HUGE flocks… and it never stops for an hour. It could have been 1000-2000 Pelicans flying over to the point of our small Willow Island. They’re so graceful when they fly. The American White Pelican has a wingspan of 8-10 feet wide! (second largest in North America to the California Condor).
Same breakfast as yesterday. Dutch Oven bacon, deer sausage and scrambled eggs. As we leave at 9:30am… it seems like the Pelicans leave as well on their long migration journey to South America. Pelicans can fly in “flying “V” formations and follow the leader one by one… but, in between these formations, they’ll gather in a vortex tornado of white and black feathers. It’s very similar to the Starlings bird murmuration (youtube that). As the Pelican top flies by… it’s white feathers and as it turns and you see underneath… it’s black feathers. So, the tornado of feathers is white and black and white… etc. Very cool to watch. There were 4-5 of these visible on our whole trip today. I assume that they use these Warm Air Updrafts to climb altitude and rest from flying. Heck… maybe it’s just fun to fly around with your friends in a circle overlooking the Mississippi River. I can see that.
About the time we notice a weird vessel contraption in the river with two huge anchors holding it place (sand collecting boat operation), we hear some loud crop dusters… and then it got too loud and I said it sounded like old World War bombers. Then on queue, a 4 Warbird formation comes over us. We’re close to the Tallulah Airport and they always have some kind of Warbird happenings there at the Southern Heritage Air Foundation & Museum. And since I know the President of this Foundation, I call up my friend Patty Mekus. Luckily she answers (because I know she’s busy)… I tell her we’re paddling on the river right now and her friends in War Planes are flying all over us…. And ask if we are in danger! (jokingly). She laughs and tells us that they have 46 Pilots and 23 Warbirds over there practicing and flying in formation. We get to watch these planes overhead for the next 3 hours on the river. They do upside down loops and dive bombs at great speeds. When they go really fast… they whistle a high pitch scream.
We take a break and head up the Eagle Lake Pass for nature viewing and exploring. We didn’t see any alligators and thank goodness for that. It was only a 10 foot wide 1-2 foot deep “creek”. It was so narrow… that we couldn’t turn around… so, we just turned around in our seats and had to paddle the backward canoe out of there.
Next stop is Paw Paw Chute. We stop for lunch and Steve breaks out his fishing rod and gives a try there. No luck but the view was unmatched. We paddle down the Paw Paw Chute for about a mile … the current is flowing into the chute. We see egrets, herons, ducks and plenty of turtles. We turn around and paddle upstream to the confluence of the Mississippi River. The current is pretty strong here with a swirling giant eddy… but, we pick the south side and pop out into the fast river channel with no problems.
Around Browns Point… we get sight of the Loess Bluffs of Vicksburg that’s 6 miles away! Home in sight! About halfway down and we’re across from the Delta Point Islands, when a Northbound towboat pushing 4 (liquid) loaded down barges passes a Northbound towboat with 35 barges. It quickly became “rough seas” and we were hitting 3-4 foot waves. It was a “All hands on Deck” moment. But, we were close to shore and never in danger… It was more of a “I don’t want to get wet and maybe lose some gear” moment. We rode through this for almost 2 miles. It didn’t stop till we made the left turn into the Yazoo River. The last 1.2 miles was a cake walk and we enjoyed the easy water as we strolled into the Vicksburg Waterfront Boat Ramp at 4:30pm. 7 hours today on the water and paddled 26 miles.
My Dad, Mom and Claire are waiting at the boat ramp to congratulate us on our adventure.
Greenville to Vicksburg Canoe Camping on the Mississippi River 100 miles in 3 days is done.
Cheers from the River~~~
You brought this one to life Layne! Whoo-whoop! Hat's off to Quapaw Canoe Company - Vicksburg Outpost!
Contact Layne at Quapaw Canoe Company, Vicksburg, for expert guiding on this stretch of river!
Quapaw Canoe Company Vicksburg Outpost
Facebook Page for Quapaw Vicksburg
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