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Intimate Travels and Tributaries

Mark River Peoples

Quapaw Canoe Company

We wake at the banks of the Yellowstone River. I instantly start to reflect upon the sites, sounds, distinct landscapes , and distinguish settings we use as boundaries of separation. Separation of east, west, north, south, dialect, culture, rich, poor, and any other superficial labels that apply. But the river connects us all.

I think about the corn fields of Nebraska and Iowa full of white-tailed deer and pheasants. The record low Platte River and it's beautiful gravel bars and sandbars. Wyoming's antelope, prairie dogs, and wind turbines. I realize the massive scale of the Louisiana Purchase. I get emotional and excited knowing I will fill a lifetime dream of seeing the headwaters of the Missouri River, one of the major tributaries of the mighty Mississippi River.

As we proceed west toward the Continental Divide the rivers become more rocky,and instead of meandering curves of up to 180 degree sequences of sand and mud running parallel with the Mississippi river for miles before confluencing, they become pristine crisp mountainous streams of dendritic patterns thriving with various species of trout. The Clark Fork of the Yellowstone River winds along the highway with me while I get ready for my introduction to one of my favorite rivers. My emotions get the best of me. I feel, being a child of the river, that I've only seen a small scale of what the Mississippi River filters and distributes. I become fascinated with every introduction to every tributary knowing the importance of there diversities and health is directly proportional to the existence of mankind.

I finally meet the Jefferson, Madison, and Gallatin Rivers. The watershed valley system of both the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. I sit quiet keeping my composure, watching my mentor and brother Johnny Driftwood baptist himself in the headwaters and smear it's distinctive mud from head to toe.I think about the four rivers that flowed out of Eden - the Pishon, Gihon, Hiddekel, and Euphrates Rivers. I put our great rivers and tributaries on the same pedestal of sacredness. By being apart of 1Mississippi makes you a steward of all rivers.

The intimate relationship that I've created with the Mississippi River and all it's rifts, runnels, creeks, streams, and oxbow lakes has given me the strength and courage to follow my path in life and to share and distinguish between what's real or material. My goal in life use to be how many touchdowns I could score, tackles I can make, or punts I could block. Now, it's to preserve our countries freshwater rivers and aquifers for generations to come. Help me. Become a river citizen. Go to Get to know your own river.

Mark River

PS: If you need some assistance come to Quapaw Canoe Company and we’ll make sure you get there and enjoy and fully appreciate the experience!

Thursday October 18th

40th Anniversary Celebration

US Clean Water Act

Thursday Oct 18 -- 9am-1pm -- Free Paddling on the Big Sunflower River Sunflower River Cleanup. 9am-1pm from Quapaw Canoe Company in downtown Clarksdale, Mississippi. Come down to the landing behind Quapaw Canoe Company and jump in a canoe, a kayak or SUP and help clean up the Sunflower River in downtown Clarksdale in honor of the river and the US Clean Water Act. We’ll provide gloves, trash bags as well as paddles and life jackets.

Thursday Oct 18 -- 1pm to 6pm -- Free Paddling on the Mississippi River Buck Island and Helena Harbor Cleanup. 1pm-6pm from Quapaw Canoe Company 411 Ohio Street in downtown Helena, Arkansas. Go to the harbor landing and choose a canoe, a kayak or SUP and help clean up the Mississippi River in the Helena Harbor and on Buck Island and help us honor the river and the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the US Clean Water Act. We’ll provide gloves, trash bags as well as paddles and life jackets. Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by parent or guardian.


Thurs Nov 1 -- Sun Nov 4, Free Guided Tours! Paddle and Explore the Big Sunflower River through Delta National Forest! Anguilla to Holly Bluff to the Little Sunflower. Big trees, deep woods, spectacular fall colors and abundant wildlife. Free Guided Tours Every Day! Nominal charge for canoe, kayak or SUP rental ($35/vessel + shuttle). Contact for more information.

Thurs Nov 1 -- Fri Nov 2

Free Guided Tours!

Paddle and Explore

the Big Sunflower River

through Delta National Forest!

If you have ever wondered what the deep woods of Delta National Forest look like from the river that winds through them, here is your opportunity! Anguilla to Holly Bluff to the Little Sunflower.

Big trees, deep woods, spectacular fall colors and abundant wildlife. Free Guided Tours. Nominal charge for canoe, kayak or SUP rental + shuttle.

On Thursday Nov 1st and Friday Nov 2nd, 2012, river guide John Ruskey will be offering free guided tours of the Big Sunflower River and its distributary, the Little Sunflower River.

This paddling adventure is suitable for canoes, kayaks or SUPs (stand up paddleboards). Bring your own vessel and equipment, or rent from Quapaw Canoe Company ($35/vessel + shuttle). Bring your own water bottles, food and refreshments. Rain or shine. Dress for the weather and muddy landings.

Guided trips are being coordinated with the Lower Delta Partnership in preparation for the Water Trails of the Mississippi Delta.

Thursday, Nov 1, 2012 Big Sunflower River Route #1: Anguilla to Sunflower River Boat Ramp (15 miles). This will be a long daytrip into the National Forest from the Anguilla Bridge. Fifteen miles. For long distance paddlers only! Only for those comfortable with an all-day flatwater trip with at least five hours of strong paddling. See the best and the worst of the Sunflower River, from trashy riverside camps to secluded and serene sections of the only remaining un-dredged piece of the entire length of the Big Sunflower!

Friday, Nov 2, 2012 Big Sunflower River Route #2: Little Sunflower to Big Sunflower (8 miles round-trip). Scenic roundtrip excursion into the heart of the deep woods of Delta National Forest along the winding channel of the Little Sunflower River down to its confluence with the Big Sunflower.

Contact Meg Cooper or John Ruskey for more information.

Low Water Tour 2012

Osceola - Memphis - Helena - Vicksburg

346 miles of the Lower Mississippi River

Nov 12 - Nov 21 -- Low Water Expedition: Memphis to Vicksburg. 346-mile long Expedition. Put in above Memphis and paddle the lowest water in almost 100 years down the Chickasaw Bluffs and into the Mississippi Delta, past the Arkansas River and the land where the blues was born all of the way down to the towering bluffs of Vicksburg. The wildest and most remote floodplain of the Lower Mississippi River. Low water has exposed steamboat and towboat wrecks, extremely rare fossils, and fantastically strange convolutions of river topography. If you’ve ever wondered what the bottom of the Mississippi River looks like, here is your opportunity! Contact for more information. For photos and description go to: and also visit

Mon Nov 12

9am Meet in Clarksdale, shuttle to Osceola Arkansas via Memphis

Put in at Sans Souci Landing (783) and paddle past 1st Chickasaw Bluff

Tues Nov 13

2nd Chickasaw Bluff, Dean Island, Hen & Chicks, 3rd Chickasaw Bluff

Wed Nov 14

Memphis (4th Chickasaw Bluff), Mississippi River Museum (Tunica)

Thurs Nov 15

St. Francis River, Helena

Fri Nov 16

Resupply in Helena, Advance to Rosedale

Old White River, Terrene Landing, Big Island, Mouth of the Arkansas River

Sat Nov 17

Arkansas River Confluence, Choctaw Island

Sun Nov 18

Greenville Bends, Leland Neck, Greenville Bridge, American Bar

Mon Nov 19

Kentucky Bend, Cracraft, Corregidor, Stack Island, Lake Providence,

TuesNov 20

Ajax, Fitler, Cottonwood Bar, WIllow Island

Wed Nov 21

Tara, Paw-Paw, Sparta, Brown’s Point, Vicksburg

Some of the exploring along the way includes the base of the Chickasaw Bluffs, huge gravel bars, steamboat wrecks, long elegant sandbars, dried out back channels, stinky fish pools, and whatever else appears and strikes our fancy along the way!

Experienced paddlers only. It will be a fairly rigorous schedule, with early starts, late finishes and long days of paddling on the water, 25-45 miles per day. Primitive camping on remote islands along the way. Only for the fit and adventurous! Paddlers are welcome to join in on the whole thing, or whichever section your schedule will allow.

For more information contact John Ruskey or 662-627-4070.