Friday, December 19, 2008

Welcome to Louisiana

The nights sleep was a hot and sweaty one though to wake to a temperature of 65 degrees. I was pleased in that the fog had mostly cleared, however I wasn’t happy that it was 20 mile per hour winds that did the job. Not only did I wake to the sound of wind hitting my tent and rustling trees, I had a couple of mosquito bites. To add insult to injury, my sleeping bag and the entire inside of my tent for that matter were soaked with condensation. I don’t mean a little, I am talking that I could pour the water out of my tent. It was going to be another one of those days. The wind was forecast to drop as the day progressed, so I was able to use that information as motivation.

There was still some periodic fog on the water, but not nearly as it was yesterday. There was even the periodic blip of sun. As for the fog though we learned to get a good read of the river when the visibility was decent and when a bank of fog moved in we could paddle from memory. We also planned our route based on the fog, choosing one side of the river or the other as to its ease of navigation were we in zero visibility.

The condensation had an additional effect in that my efforts to take any photos were thwarted, as when I pulled out my camera the lens would instantly cloud over.

As I paddled I was thinking that other than the two surprise encounters with the pelicans and the beaver I really haven’t seen much in wildlife recently. To be able to prove me wrong, a fox and a deer each made an appearance.

By mid morning we pulled off the river out of the wind to take five. It was a rarity for us to get out of the kayaks before stopping for lunch, but my back ached and I wanted to stretch a bit. We were in a cove out of the wind and the sun chose the most opportune time to make an appearance. Kobie and I sat on a log in the nearly 70 degree sun overlooking the river. It was such a pleasant interlude to the morning that I didn’t want it to end. I can’t recall the last time we had the opportunity to get out of the kayaks and remove clothes as opposed to putting more on. It made my day.

While the wind was blowing there was little in the way of waves. Some sections of the river did look calmer than others, but it was an illusion as a small layer of fog was covering the water making it appear smooth.

Shortly after our break we hit the last state of our trip, Louisiana. While we still had nearly 500 miles to go, it was a milestone. The river now borders Louisiana and Mississippi, though Louisiana will be only one of three states or provinces through which we have paddled that will not be bordered on the other river by another state. The only exceptions are where the river flow has changed from its original position when the state boundaries were drawn. That is also pretty much gives the answer to the trivia question I posed the other day as to how we could be paddling south with the state of Mississippi on both sides of us, but Arkansas to the east.

We stopped on a sandy beach for a late lunch. We couldn’t really get out of the wind so we had to make do. I aired out my sleeping bag as it was soggy with condensation, but with the wind blowing the sleeping bag acted as a wind sock and a pile of sand was deposited in the foot of the bag. We didn’t fare much better with lunch. Our sandwiches had a gritty texture and made the periodic crunching noise between our teeth.

We climbed back into our kayaks to face the afternoon. Much to our surprise and delight as we began paddling the wind ceased. The river became calm and the current carried us along. There was the periodic breeze that brought a pocket of extremely warm or cold air. The differential between temperatures in these pockets could well have been 35 degrees. There were sections of the river that were simply a blur as the heat was radiating off the surface of the water.

Traffic was light on the river as it was only afternoon when we saw the first barge since leaving Greenville. We may well have passed several yesterday, but we sure didn’t see them.

In the midst of our paddling Kobie and I were trying to figure out when we last had two good weather days in a row. Our criteria aren’t very strict: reasonable temperature, low wind, perhaps a bit of sun and little precipitation. We gathered that the last two nice days in a row were just after Thanksgiving, and one of those included snow flurries. Today certainly wasn’t going to be the on the front end of two consecutive nice days as we caught some rain in the afternoon. It didn’t rain particularly hard or for very long, but it was enough to make everything wet. Shortly thereafter, as if to tease us, the sun showed itself for only the briefest of moments.

As we were looking to wrap up the day there was a guest appearance from the fog. As I had been scanning ahead I had an idea of where we could possibly stop. I had seen it downriver before the fog rolled in, but it was just one more thing to make our life complicated. We ended up finding ourselves a secluded little campsite and our first in Louisiana.

On a positive note, my Poison Ivy, if that is what it even is, seems to be healing nicely. My legs look as if I had been dragged on pavement, but the itching has ceased and things seem to be on the mend.

No comments: