Start: 6:45 AM- On the river
Finish: 3:00 PM - New Orleans (staircase in French Quarter)
Daily dist: 61 miles
Total dist: x miles
Weather: Chilly with clear skies and almost no wind
Notes: Launch was delayed due to frozen gear. Probably the coldest morning of entire trip due to heavy frost. Very heavy tow and ship traffic kept me out of the main channel. Picked up by Bill Strickland to spend the night at his place.
The cold snap we’ve been experiencing is due to lift but it was still very cold around here over night last night. I may not have been the lowest temperature I’ve seen on this trip but with the heavy frost that accompanied the cold my gear was iced up worse than I’ve ever seen. I ended pulling out my cook stove to thaw my tent poles so I could take them apart and stow then in my boat. Getting into my frozen boots proved to be challenging and I had to stand in the river to use the somewhat warmer river water to thaw them enough to squeeze my feet into them. It took about three hours of vigorous paddling until my body warmed the inside of the Ikkuma enough that the tube leading to my water bag was thawed enough to drink from.
The cold and shipping traffic conspired to delay me today and I ended up in New Orleans a bit later than I expected but it worked out well giving me enough time to empty the Ikkuma and get changed before Bill came to pick me up. Where I pulled off the water was at a wide set of wooden stairs that leads right to the waters edge. The spot is right in the heart of the French Quarter just across the street from the iconic St. Louis cathedral. Certainly a good place to make an entrance into New Orleans. When I arrived several people were hanging out on the steps enjoying the sunshine and view of the river. A few men (the unshaved sort that seem to have nothing but time to kill) were very curious about where I started and where I was going. When I told them I left Baton Rouge yesterday they were impressed. When they learned that I left St. Lewis a month ago they had to shake my hand. They ended up adding their signatures to the few blank spots left on the deck while I packed my gear into the duffel bags and waited for my ride.
From today’s take out I could see one of the lift bridges over the Intracoastal waterway the entrance to which lies only one mile further downstream. That means that today was the last full day on the Mississippi river for this phase of the journey. It has been a fun run down from St. Louis and with all the bumps I hit along the way I’ve already had an adventure I will never forget. For as much as I’ve enjoyed the raw beauty and power of the river I am really looking forward to moving on into new waters. The river, especially in winter and at nearly flood levels is a demanding place to paddle.