Chilly and breezy but off I go!
I want to give a huge shout out to Sam at Lake Itasca Sports. Amazing people! Thank you for everything!
Also, I’d like to thank Sarah at Mississippi Headwaters Hostel. A fantastic place to stay on the lake.
Day One Update
As I stated earlier, chilly, breezy, and a little misty. I think it may have been 50 degrees. I’ll admit my knowledge of Minnesota is very limited, so I did not dress appropriately for such a chilly day on and in the water. I had on swim trunks, a lightweight outdoor shirt, and Teva hiking sandals. I say in the water because there were many times in this first leg of the journey I had to get out of the canoe and drag it over logs or lift it off of rocks. There were some small rapids that had me hopping out every 10 meters or so. The water in Minnesota is frigid that time of year. Maybe all the time! Even though I dried quickly, the combination of wind and water was harsh.
I passed up the first campsite. It was maybe five miles from the starting point. I decided to take a look at it and hopped out of the canoe and sank up to my waist in black mud. Mind you, there was grass on top of this mud so I figured it was solid. The first lesson learned, check the shoreline with your paddle before stepping out. This is very important if you’re alone on the Mississippi river. There are multiple areas where the shore looks solid but it’s more like quicksand. I probably spent 10 minutes trying to get myself on solid ground or in my canoe. I eventually prevailed and moved on.
I paddled another 12 miles to the next campsite called Coffee Pot Landing. I was frozen and exhausted at this point! My morale was also very low. I had no idea it was going to be such a challenge considering how small the river was this far north. My body was cramping up and the cold weather wasn’t helping either. The temperature dropped very low that night and I froze all night bundled up in the lightweight cold weather gear I did bring with me. Looking back, I should have been better prepared. I was in a 17ft canoe dammit! I could carry anything for comfort and mail it home when it was no longer needed. Sometimes, it doesn’t pay to be a minimalist.