Week 3: A New River (St. Paul to La Crosse)
- Started at mile 839 (Lilydale Park). Ended just south of the Iowa border.
- Miles: 170
- Average: 24 miles per day
- Points of Interest: Red Wing, Lake Pepin, Winona, La Crosse. The Iowa border.
Later that day, we found camp on Lake Pepin and talked to a few of the locals. Everyone told us that an excursion to 'taco night' at the local bar, B Wells, was absolutely necessary, so we set up camp, walked into town. A few dollars later our hard-earned cash was gone and our stomachs were full of tacos.
Notes From Week 3
- Smart phone?
On the first leg of our Mississippi trip, we did not bring a smart phone along with us. This time, however, having access to a smart phone dramatically changed our river experience.
On day two, we felt slightly lost while looking for a campsite. After a few frustrating moments looking at the map and gazing at the horizon, Adam gasped a quick, "Oh!!! Let me check on Google Maps!" We were instantly able to see exactly where we were on the map, thus drastically changing our perception of the journey ahead.
We also used our smartphone to find pictures of poison ivy, find nearby marinas, and update our Facebook page. If you do decide to bring a smart phone, we would recommend keeping it off during the day unless you absolutely need it; this will save battery life and help you avoid constant technological distractions.
- Bring a solar charger
We used it to charge our phone and our radio.
- Wash up in the river
Every couple of days we would rinse off in the river out of respect for each other's sense of smell.
- Don't worry about finding campsites, food, or water
Along most of the Upper Mississippi, potential campsites are fairly abundant. Our rule of thumb was to allow ourselves about 45 minutes before our desired camp time to find a campsite.
Other resources will be fairly accessible along the river also, as houses, marinas, restaurants, and boats populate most of the Upper Mississippi. People were incredibly kind to us and always very helpful. Like the Creedence Clearwater Revival song says, "You don't have to worry 'cause you have no money. People on the river are happy to give."
- Bring a spray skirt
Protect your gear from water by laying some sort of waterproof material over it. This will protect your equipment from light showers and from the inevitable splashes that come from switching paddling sides. You can build a custom tarp that buttons to your canoe or just lay something over the top of everything--just be sure that your spray skirt doesn't get blown away by the wind.
- Be an efficient packer
You should always put things in the same spot and know exactly where all of your equipment is at all times. Pack your things according to frequency of use and have easy access to snacks, bailors, emergency equipment, and whatever else you may deem necessary.
Being efficient with your time is also important. At the end of each day, refill your water-bottles, pack your lunches and snacks, set out things for your morning breakfast, lay out your clothes, and do anything else that will save you time in the morning.
- Switch spots between the stern and bow every day
Each spot has its pros and cons. Our advice is to try staying in the front for an entire day and then switching to the back for the next day.