Float #111: Mississippi River

12 Sep

U of M Flats to Harriet Island

Mississippi River 8 Water Trail Map

Mississippi River
Ramsey County, Minnesota
Friday, August 8
11 Miles

The last day of our vacation to Minnesota we paddled the Mississippi just south of downtown Minneapolis. DW dropped me and the boats at the put-in, drove down to Harriet Island to drop the car and took a taxi back to the start. It took him nearly an hour due to having to wait for the taxi to arrive. The taxi driver was actually familiar with Missouri, as he goes fishing at Table Rock Lake every year. He was the only person we met the whole trip who knew how awesome Missouri can be. Most people were under the impression that it looks just like Iowa!

After DW returned we carried our boats down to the narrow strip of beach and paddled out onto the water. The water clarity in Minneapolis is basically the same as the Mississippi around Alton, before the Missouri river mucks it up. There was a light wind kicking up some ripples on the water, but the river was pretty quiet otherwise.

Mississippi River

Putting on the water

Mississippi River

Looking upriver at Minneapolis

Mississippi River

Mississippi River

The landscape was very green as there is a nice corridor of trees separating the river from the cityscape. There is a long stretch of sand beaches lining both sides of the river, which seemed to be very popular with residents. We saw many people fishing, sunbathing, and walking their dogs. The river definitely gets more recreational use in Minneapolis than it does in St. Louis. However, I didn’t find the landscape very compelling as it was pretty much the same scenery the whole way. In Missouri there are huge sandbars with strange, alien landscapes ripe for exploration and beachcombing. I don’t know if there is much barge traffic in this part of the river, but we didn’t see any. Just some recreational motorboats. All the motorboats we saw were very polite and slowed down when approaching us so as to not kick up a huge wake.

 

Soon we approached Lock & Dam #1, which was our first experience going through a lock. DW rang the signal cord and we waited for about 15 minutes while the lock filled to our level. Then the signal light turned from red to green, the gates opened and we entered the lock. We knew we were supposed to hang on to a rope from the wall of the lock, but they were all tied up. DW asked the lock attendant, who explained we were to grab this one short rope attached to a pillar. Apparently the pillar moves up or down with the water level. Neat! So DW grabbed the rope and I grabbed on to DW’s kayak as the lock began to drain. It was a weird feeling, like being in a big draining bathtub (which it kinda is). About 10 minutes later we were finished and the horn sounded, the gate opened and we exited the lock.

Mississippi River

The signal cord for the lock

Mississippi River

Entering the lock

Mississippi River

Hold that rope!

Mississippi River

The lock drains

Mississippi River

Mississippi River

The lock doors open

Mississippi River

Looking upriver at the dam

The remainder of the trip was fairly uneventful. We floated past a lot of nice beaches just below the dam, then the river became a bit more industrial as we neared St. Paul. We took out at Harriet Island, where the beach was less nice (more trash and debris). I encountered some familiar Mississippi mud as I exited my boat; gross muck up past my ankle!

Mississippi River

Minnehaha Creek

Mississippi River

A cruise boat goes upriver

Mississippi River

Downtown St. Paul

We loaded the boats on the car and drove back to Minneapolis, where we showered and went out for one last night on the town. We ate our first Juicy Lucy (delicious!) and planned to go out later for a drink, but ended up falling asleep on the couch instead. The next day we went out for breakfast and then made the 8 hour drive back home to Missouri. We had a great time in Minnesota and the people were very friendly.

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