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“Mary, grab the baby, the river’s rising

Muddy waters taking back my home.

The road is gone, there’s just one way to leave here

Mud will swallow all that I own...”

(Bill Monroe song running through my head this morning)

It rained all afternoon and into the night, severe thunderstorms over Saint Louis with nickel-sized hail, instead of making a wet camp we opted for supper with Scott Mandrell and family and then started fresh the next morning at the confluence of the Bourbese with the Meramec, the access road under water from rising waters sluffing off saturated fields piles of last year’s corn stalks piled up with the water line, Capt. Wanbli Mike, expedition leader powered through and we set off in highly moisture-suffused blues & brilliant sheets of white the tops of degenerating thunderheads catching the first sun rays of the day, lines of river birches and sycamores rippling sillibantly through blues & whites the waters foam speckled with the foam of a rapidly rising river, a reading of prayers from St. Anne’s students set us off in the right spirit, and drum beats in tune with the bear drums awaking the bears down in Mississippi, the canoes heavy in the water with the weight of fresh food and full water jugs, a few ducks, some great blue herons, and many songbirds in the woods, all else bedded down and awaiting the full sun, no turtles anywhere, too cold for turtles, the gravel bars we camped on two years ago nowhere in sight, the water sluicing with sickening speed and focus through the humid air, mist hanging on the cold water, the first yellow light makes the mist burn yellow, canoes enveloped in misty yellow brightness with the humid blues hanging in the treelines falling down steep ridges above the bluffs, the trees on ridge tops still barren of leaves, blackened branches scraping chaotic patterns into dark grey & blue clouds beyond, the mist eventually dissipates, Robertsville, Trap Rapids Loop, Gray Summit, Pacific, Prater, the chalky white bluffs of the Pacific Palisades, a flock of wild turkeys flushes out of the misty woods and flies across the river in front of us, and then an entire sycamore tree uprooted and rolling down inside the river, one of its meaty white & green branches reaches cryptically out of the cold muddy water and lunges towards Mark Peoples who is in the front of my canoe, and then falls back into the river we paddle hard and then behind us jumps out of the water again and shudders with outstretched finger branches quivering, we paddle harder and pull away through Allentown, Eureka, under I-44 and then the old Route 66 bridge, Crescent, Yeatmasn, Sherman, Jedburg, the bluffs begin falling away at Castlewood, Fern Glen, Valley Park, and then a long stretch with a headwind for supper at the Gravois Grill in Fenton, forty five miles in about nine hours of paddling, five river-weary paddlers pile out of the canoes and clamber up the bank as the sun god who led us all day and woke up the world with splashes of color and light and rejuvenated the cold wet animals of the forest, leads us down the street for supper, later to return to the canoes for a camp several miles further downstream... keep following the adventure over the next two weeks go to learn more about Toby the Turtle visit: read about the paddlers and the mission of the expedition go to

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Columbia Bottoms Boat Ramp

(near the Confluence of the Mississippi & Missouri)

River Citizen Potluck 5pm until

River Citizens Celebration at Columbia Bottoms

Potluck supper with Expedition Members

Following the Confluence Trash Bash Saturday March 24th 1 Mississippi River Citizens are invited to meet the 2012 St. Louis Circumnavigation Expedition for a campfire potluck at Columbia Bottoms Boat Ramp. 5pm until. BYOB. Bring your musical instrument. Bring your own pot of food, a salad, a loaf of bread, bag of potato chips, corn-on-the-cob, or whatever you want to share. Meet leader Mike Clark, adventure photographer David Hanson, 1 Mississippi Southern Region intern Mark Peoples and river guide/canoe builder John Ruskey.

Columbia Bottoms Boat Ramp is located on the “Big Muddy” Missouri River off Upper Columbia Bottom Road. Directions: From I-270 take exit 34 and follow Riverview Drive north 2.8 miles, turn right on Madison Ferry, 0.3 miles to Upper Columbia Bottom Rd, 1.4 miles to landing parking lot on left. Park your vehicle and walk down boat ramp. Canoe Camp will be visible on sandbar below boat ramp. If you don’t see anyone give a loud “owl’s hoot” and we’ll respond with escort. Or call cell phone numbers listed below.

To learn more about Confluence Trash Bash

Also visit:

To learn more about St. Louis Circumnavigation visit:

To learn about becoming a 1 Mississippi River Citizen visit:

About the Expedition:

Beginning on March 16, 2012, Michael Clark of Big Muddy Adventures, John Ruskey of Quapaw Canoe Company and David Hanson, adventure photo journalist, will join with the students of St. Ann’s Catholic School in St. Louis MO, and all River Citizens and River Stewards to complete an epic adventure learning project, a complete circumnavigation of the St. Louis region by canoe. The students will be engaged in the expedition through an interactive on-line component which highlights individual research projects and field studies.

This is the third circumnavigation of St. Louis for the students and the explorers. The expedition team will paddle 193 miles on the ring of four rivers, the Mississippi, Missouri, Meramec and Bourbeuse. The mission is to highlight the beauty of the rivers, the interconnectedness of all residents of this region to the Rivers, and the myriad of issues which face our greatest resource, our water. The expedition route begins in Washington, MO with a nine mile portage from the bank of the Missouri to the Union, MO boat ramp and the Bourbeuse River. There the team will embark on a 193 mile odyssey down the Bourbeuse and Meramec Rivers to the Mississippi. From there, they will paddle up the Mississippi 34 miles to the Great Confluence and make the turn for an arduous 69 mile paddle up the Missouri back to the starting point.

Along the way, the expedition will paddle under 43 bridges and meander through dozens of towns and cities and all the while deliver a package of information via the internet correlated to an adventure learning curriculum with the students of St. Ann’s. The student research projects will be highlighted on the web site along with the expedition team journals, paintings, photos, and videos. The general public will be welcomed to follow along.

On a number of dates during the expedition, content experts and guest paddlers can join Michael, John and David to explore and study the effects of humanity on our Rivers and also bear witness to the incredible beauty and vitality of the natural conditions of the Rivers and the habitats that they sustain.

This expedition’s primary sponsor is St. Ann’s Catholic School, an inner city elementary and middle school. St. Ann’s is involved in a variety of learning projects and initiatives that focus on conservation and healthy living, including a Missouri Stream Team chapter studying and maintaining the creek at the back of the school property, a large and organic school garden that helps to supplement the home cooked school lunch program, and a very large and effective recycling program.

To contact expedition:

Michael Clark, 314-610-4241

John Ruskey, 662-902-7841

To become a river citizen visit:

Mid-March update for:

Friends of the Sunflower River

We’re Over Halfway There!

Advance Special Announcement from USFW: March 13, 2012: Sheepnose and Spectaclease mussels have been added to the endangered species list in the Federal Register. Only found on the Sunflower River in Sunflower County of Mississippi.

We are stewards of a very special river, my friends!

Weir Donations: Thanks to John & Susan McKee, Billy & Madge Howell, Shonda Warner, Charles Evans, Bill Luckett, Emily Cooper, Emma Crisler, Dr. McGee, Quapaw Canoe Company and the George and Lillith Burner Foundation we are now 51% of the way towards our $3,000 goal to support the capping project. A donation made in memorial of the late Sonia Fox of Sunflower County, a founding member of the friends.

Many thanks to all who have donated so far. To everyone else, please consider making a one-time donation for this project that will have a positive effect the quality of life in downtown Clarksdale for decades to come.

See below for the reasons you should donate to this project

***Weir Project***

The Sunflower River Weir needs to be raised another 18 inches -- local support needed to complete project -- $3,000 goal by April 1st.


1. Isn’t the weir project completed? No its not done. It is 90% complete but now it needs to be fine-tuned.

2. Why wasn’t the weir built higher? The engineers didn’t want to cause flooding problems for downtown Clarksdale. But now that we’ve seen the effects of the weir we know 18 inches can be added without future detriments.

3. Why donate? This is your way of participating in the future of Clarksdale, and its a good investment: concrete, steel and rock have longevity!

Friends of the Sunflower River has agreed to spearhead a fundraiser to compliment this project which will provide life-long beauty and promote healthy living to downtown Clarksdale and all the neighborhoods along the Sunflower River including Riverton, Brickyard, Lower Brickyard, West Clarksdale, Duckwalk, Circle Drive neighborhoods, Chancellorsville, Ridgecrest, and anyone else who lives along Sunflower Avenue, Riverside Drive, Cypress Street and enjoys Soldier’s Field Park and the Sunflower River Walk. ($20,000 budget total shared by City, County, and Yazoo Water Management District + contributions).

Send contribution by check made out to “Friends of the Sunflower River” with the earmark “Clarksdale Weir”

Friends of the Sunflower River

291 Sunflower Avenue

Clarksdale, MS 38614

“This river has the blues…”

New Members: Thank you Bob “Spoonz” Rowell and Jon Popper for becoming new friends.

Renewals: Thanks to John & Susan McKee, Laura Barnaby, Guy Malvezzi, Curtis Boschert, Bill Hayden, Bob Long, Bill Luckett and Sandra & Charles West for renewing their annual membership with the Friends!

Lifetime Members: Charlie & Henrietta Musselwhite.


The past 2 weekends we hosted cleanups of the Sunflower River (from downtown Clarksdale up to Lee Drive) and on the Huskpuckena River (off the old Hwy 61 bridge near the town of Hushpuckena).

Hushpuckena Cleanup:

Go see pictures of the cleanups at:

Join the Facebook Group for the Friends: