At one point, there was a 50 yard portage around a log dam, but the portage was very awkward and difficult (straight up a muddy hill, around tight curves and down a steep slope). So I walked up the rapids to see if I thought I could guide my boat through the rapids. Yes. And so, I managed to lead my boat through the rapids! I think I have video of it. It was not easy and I fell a couple times, but was a lot faster than if I had portaged, and potentially safer. At the bottom, I had to swim the boat to the next set of shallows, where I unfortunately stepped on a mussel shell which sliced my foot. I had 4 more miles of shallows and wading, and getting stuck on rocks. I pulled 4 leeches off my feet, and the inside of my kayak was very bloody for a while (they inject an anticoagulant, so you bleed a lot longer than normal after they get pulled off or drop off).
The rest of the paddle was through wheat marsh, and the turnbacks were often so sharp that I’d have to do the kayak equivalent of a 3 point turn to get around the bend. Often the river was so narrow that I was using my paddle to push off the mud sides instead of paddling through the water.
Before heading out this morning, I looked at (what was left of) my map to get a rough estimate of what I should be on the lookout for; 3 bridges and a campsite after a set of powerlines. Under the first bridge, I laughed because someone had painted their handprints, the way Aboriginals in Australia do. I was so happy to see the powerlines, I knew the campsite couldn’t be far, but then I paddled much longer than I thought I should have to. Seems I missed the first campsite, and ended up at the 2nd one, a couple miles further. So I did 12+ miles today. Sore.
When I arrived at camp, I was pleased that I was able to pull my boat mostly ashore, which made setting up camp much easier than last night. First thing I did: clean out my foot, where I had stepped on that mussel, and wash the leech bites too. Two of my toenails fell off, too, as I walked through the shallows today.
I realized almost all my clothes got wet in the back hatch (not surprising—the rapids overtopped the boat a couple times today. So I hung them all to dry—and was SO GLAD that I had put my “For Camp Only—Never Get Wet!” clothes in a dry bag. I changed into them, particularly happy for my thick socks on my beat-up feet. I had wondered if I should bother bringing socks at all. Super glad I did. Not only are they nice on sore feet after a wet day, but they also help keep ticks off, when I stuff my pants into them.
I set up camp, and tried to light my stove, but the lid that screws into the fuel bottle and connects to the stove had a leak, so when I lit the stove, it all went up in a blaze of white gas fire. White gas, luckily, burns quickly, so I was able to douse the fire before anything super dangerous happened, but unfortunately, the blaze was enough to melt the fuel-to-stove lid. So no hot food for a few days. L. I ate a can of green beans, and a box of tofu. The sky looks clear, so I am laying in my tent, enjoying the fact that I’m safe from the buzzing mosquitos outside, without a rainfly. The moon looks nearly full, and I can hear rutting deer, and frogs.
I had a few seconds of cell phone coverage today; enough to send and receive a few texts but there’s no coverage here. I estimate it will still be a couple days before I get to Bemidji. It’s really weird to not have so much as cell phone coverage, but to be laying in my tent, typing on a computer.