Start: 8:30 AM - Wyalusing State Park, WI
Finish 5:45 PM - East Dubuque, IL
time: 9:15 hours
Daily dist: 52 miles
Total dist: 5200+
Weather: Mostly cloudy - rain off and on, 80’s, SW winds 15+
Notes: Big miles on a big river
With twelve days allotted to reach Grafton (near St. Louis), I had figured that I’d need to average about 38 miles per day in order to make it on time. The lower half of the Mississippi, the section I paddled last winter, flows free from St. Louis all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Not only does it not have dams and locks in the way, the lower half of the river just plane flows fast. My pace down there last winter was well above six miles per hour. If I could maintain that pace I could pound out fifty mile days easily and reach Grafton in just eight days.
However, the upper half of the Mississippi is quite a bit different than the lower half. Up here the Army Corps of Engineers has built a series of dams with locks to create what they call pools in order to maintain a navigable depth of water for boat and barge traffic. With all of these impoundments I couldn’t use my old river pace to calculate how long it’d take me to reach Grafton because I had no idea just what kind of pace I could average in the slack water in the pools and faster flowing water below the dams.