Tag Archives: Chester

Float #138: Mississippi River

28 Sep

Chester to Wittenberg

f138_mississippi

Mississippi River
Perry County, Missouri
Sunday, September 4
28 Miles

Every year we try to knock out at least one new section of the Mississippi. This year we did it over Labor Day weekend and put in where we left off last year, in Chester, IL. We floated down to Wittenberg, which doesn’t have an official access on the map, but there is a boat club ramp that is open to the public. We were joined by DW’s Dad, our friend Richard, and our friend Jess. The weather wasn’t too terribly hot, but the water was pretty high. All the wing dikes (rick rack) were underwater, which created some interesting currents and turbulence in the river.

Mississippi River

Putting on the river at Chester.

Mississippi River

Richard and Dan

Mississippi River

Mississippi River

Mississippi River

Our lunch spot on what is usually a large sandbar

We finally found a sandbar that wasn’t completely underwater and we stopped there to eat lunch. My favorite part of Mississippi floats is combing the sandbars, but there weren’t many above water to stop at. There was nothing notable on this sandbar, mostly just driftwood and bird poop.

Mississippi River

DW and Jess

Mississippi River

DW and Jess

Mississippi River

Mississippi River

Barges

The river was moving at a good clip that day and there was a fair amount of debris and logs floating downstream with us. I try to stay away from the logs, as you never know how big they might be under the surface of the water. There were also a lot of barges moving upstream. However, with the river being this high there was plenty of room to put a lot of space between us and them. There were also a lot of gradient fluctuations and whirlpools due to the wing dikes being underwater. The whirlpools weren’t big enough to actually be a danger, but they made me a bit nervous nontheless. Especially as they make their way from the current to the edge of the bank. I had a couple instances where I was trying to outrun them before they got to my boat!

Mississippi River

DW in the Mark Twang

Mississippi River

More barges

Mississippi River

Mississippi River

Approaching the take out at Wittenberg

With the water being so high and so muddy it was hard to tell where the sandbars were located. Some spots in the river were very shallow, as they are usually not even near the water. We saw one illusion that looked like a person standing in a jon boat. When we got close to it we realized it was a bald eagle sitting on a tree trunk on a very tiny island in the middle of the river! Thank goodness for buoys to mark the main channel!

We arrived in Wittenberg around 5:30pm. A total of 5 hours paddle time for a 28 mile trip isn’t too bad! We easily could have done 50 miles in a day at that water level.

Critter Count: 1 Bald Eagle, Herons, Vultures, Cranes

Float #128: Mississippi River

4 Sep

Ste. Genevieve to Chester

F128_Mississippi

Mississippi River
Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri and Randolph County, Illinois
Saturday, August 29
14 Miles

It’s been about two months since DW and I have paddled any new stretches of river, and thus two months since my last post. This year I decided that I would stop blogging floats that we do on a regular basis, just so things don’t get repetitive. Since my last post in June we’ve done a couple floats on the Eleven Point, some stuff on the Meramec and a whole week of floats for our National Speleological Society convention, but all of them were sections of rivers that I had posted previously. During the NSS convention DW, Jake and I led seven float trips in six days. We brought all of our canoes and kayaks and borrowed a few from DW’s dad. Every day we for a week we took 15 – 30 of our fellow cavers on a float trip, some of whom had never floated before and many who had never been to Missouri. DW and I learned a lot about what it takes to be a river guide (we even got to use our throw ropes for a couple of rescues) while having a lot of fun and making new friends in the process.

This particular weekend DW and I took his dad, Dan on a birthday float trip on the Mississippi. We were joined by a few of DW and Dan’s old caving friends who live in southern MO & IL. Last year we took Dan on his first Mississippi trip and he liked it so much he wanted to do it again this year. Since we did the section from Rush Island down to Ste. Genevieve previously, we decided to put in at Ste. Genevieve and float down to the next access at Chester, IL. We met up at the Ste. Genevieve/Modoc ferry access at 10am to unload our gear. DW’s mom, Rosie was kind enough to pick us up in Chester so we did not have to run shuttle. The day was overcast, but not rainy and the weather was warm, but not overly hot. There was a slight wind of about 10mph that kicked up a few small ripples on the river. All in all it was a very pleasant day on the big Mississippi.

The ferry boat at Ste. Genevieve

The ferry boat at Ste. Genevieve

Mississippi River

Exploring the sandbar across from the former Ste. Genevieve Marina

Exploring the sandbar across from the former Ste. Genevieve Marina

Sediment layers

Sediment layers

A peaceful campsite

A peaceful campsite

Our first stop was a very large sandbar on the Illinois side, across from the former Ste. Genevieve marina. This sandbar is popular with motorboats and can be full of people on a nice day, but we were the only ones there at the time. We walked around for a while, looking for stuff that washed up, but we didn’t find anything of interest here. However, there is a beautiful camp spot in the cottonwoods that has a great view of the river. It was so peaceful with the wind whispering through the trees that I could have sat down and taken a nap right there. After we finished exploring we hopped back in our boats and saw our first barge traffic of the day as well as a coast guard tug boat doing buoy maintenance. DW took this opportunity to play in the barge waves in the 17′ long kayak.

Mississippi River

Exploring the sandbar across from the Kaskaskia River confluence

Exploring the sandbar across from the Kaskaskia River confluence

Mississippi RiverA few miles later we stopped at another sandbar to explore. This sandbar is near Kaskaskia, IL across from the Kaskasia River confluence. For those that don’t know, Kaskaskia is on the Missouri side of the river, but it is in the state of Illinois. This is because the Mississippi River shifted east during a flood in the 1880s, but the state boundary remained at the old river channel. This sandbar is a good place to look for interesting rocks and old glass and ceramic. We found a lot of pretty pieces of colored glass and rocks. DW and I stomped around in the woods on the sandbar and found a buoy that had washed into the trees and became entangled. There was also a fairly new outhouse that had been washed up and buried deep in the sand. After exploring we ate our lunch of Oberle’s sandwiches (if you are ever in Ste. Genevieve you have to visit Oberle Meat Market, it’s the best) and relaxed while looking out over the river.

Mississippi RiverMississippi RiverMississippi River

A stranded buoy

A stranded buoy

A buried outhouse

A buried outhouse

Kaskaskia is about halfway into our trip, but as we rounded the next bend we could already see the bridge at Chester in the distance. It took almost two hours to reach it, though we didn’t paddle much. Before Chester there is a penitentiary on the Illinois side, which is very obvious with all the big lights and fences. So, that’s probably not a good place to pull over and hang out! It seems strange to have a penitentiary right next to a major river and railroad.

Mississippi RiverMississippi River

First glimpse of the Chester bridge

A glimpse of the Chester bridge

The day continued to be cloudy as we finished our trip, which made for some nice skies, but rather dull photos. The boat ramp at Chester has a little bit of current, but as long as you don’t come in too fast and dock your boat from the side instead of the nose, you’ll be fine. Rosie was waiting for us when we arrived, so we loaded the boats into her truck and made the drive back to Ste. Genevieve for a delicious BBQ dinner.

Late afternoon on the river

Late afternoon on the river

Under the Chester bridge

Under the Chester bridge

The boat ramp at Chester

The boat ramp at Chester

I think this stretch of river was a good float, but not as pretty as the stretch we did from Rush Island to Ste. Genevieve. The sandbar at Kaskaskia was definitely worth a stop though. We enjoyed this float and plan to do the next section down from here next time we’re in the area.