Becoming One with the Mud

Written on: 8/19/16

img_1900We are officially on the Mississippi River! Yesterday late afternoon we went under two bridges and just after coming out from the second one the water below us turned from a bluish green to a deep brown. The current picked up and within minutes we saw a large barge. It was clear we were no longer on the St. Croix River! How exciting. We were both so incredibly exhausted as we had just completed our longest day: 17 miles from Hudson to Prescott. Fortunately 8 of the 17 were under sail, but the last 9 miles under oar were a bit trying. The weather forecasted a storm and the clouds kept playing tricks on us. At one point the wind picked up substantially and the sky in the direction we were headed got really dark. We rowed back and forth across the St. Croix trying to find a place to pull off. By the time we found one, the sky lightened up and the wind died. We laughed a little and decided to continue on and push the last 5 miles into Prescott. The sailing that we did during the first half of our day was absolutely marvelous. We were on St. Croix Lake which was an awesome little lake. The wind was coming pretty much from where we were headed, but we learned that Solvi performs wonderfully to weather. We tacked back and forth across the lake, and because it was a pretty wide lake we were able to run the tacks out for a while. Much fun was had by the two of us. We were going about 4.5 knots, and Kyle was able to sit on the side deck which is something he has dreamed of since building that particular part of the boat. The sun was out, the wind was strong, and we really appreciated the break from rowing. But as it always seems to do, especially on the river, the wind died and it was time to get the oars back out. We had a good time rowing and practicing our sea shanty. But during the last 6 miles things got a bit tough for us. Our necks and backs were sore, my hands were worn out and currently have three bandaids on them as I type this. And our shoulders were wondering what the hell was going on with all this sudden hard work. But, we were careful, took our time and took lots of breaks to stretch, chug water, swim, and to make sure we weren’t pushing too hard.

Once we arrived in Prescott we felt a sense of relief and excitement. The Mississippi! It was real. Prescott Island, where we were camping for the night, was just after the bridge so we were heading straight for it when we heard someone yelling at us from a dock across the way. He was asking questions about our boat and if we had a blog. We went over and talked to him and his wife, very nice folks who were so incredibly kind to give the gift of dinner- if you two are reading this, thank you so much. Your kindness is something that will never be forgotten and we are so excited for pizza and pitcher 🙂 After saying our goodbyes to all the nice folks at the dock we rowed straight across the river to the island. We quickly beached the boat and within one minute were introduced to the mud- the reason why the river is so brown. Mud is everywhere! At first I was trying to avoid the mud by stepping on branches and logs, but after the first couple times of slipping off the log and my foot landing nice and deep into the mud, I decided it was time to embrace it. So far, that has been a good idea. Our campsite was muddy, the boat was muddy, our stuff was muddy. And then… the rain started. And I don’t mean just a little rain. I mean full on torrential downpour for probably 5 hours straight. The following morning Kyle bailed gallons and gallons of water out of the boat. So between the gallons of rain water, the mud, and being on the river I made the final decision of becoming one with the mud. No way around it, so might as well enjoy it and all its squishiness between my toes. The night we arrived in Prescott we were so tired and sore from the 17 mile day we boiled water in our vestibule and had freeze dried meals for dinner. Sleep came on quickly and was deep and long.

Today has brought even more learning, adventure, and enjoyment. My morning started about an hour before Kyle’s. I walked around the island a bit, enjoyed the river, and sat in amazement at how quickly the current was moving. I could not wait to get out there in Solvi as I knew we would be flying under oar. I watched as a 400 foot barge quietly moved passed our island in the early morning hours. I was intrigued by it’s size. It was huge! The tug boat pushing it was serene in the dawn of the coming day. I watched carefully as to see what type of wake it created and how it moved about in the river. Again, like many times before, I felt I went back in time a bit. I can’t wait to see them out on the river while we row next to them in awe of their size. Once Kyle was up we tried to quickly get packed up and underway as to make some miles before more storms, but it ended up being a bit of a slow morning. We learned that due to the way we had the boat set up the night before, one of the hatches leaked. It wasn’t a big deal and nothing was ruined, but it caused some discussion of how to prevent it. We then, again, had to deal with the mud. So trying to get the mud off of all our wet muddy gear took some time. We mostly succeeded though and after eating breakfast got underway. We traveled 11 miles today, under oar, in about 2.5 hours and we even stopped and explored a massive sandbar made by the Army Corps that we were able to climb on top of. Due to the current we were rowing at approximately 5 knots.. It was so much fun. We saw all sorts of tug boats and barges and on the side of the river we saw rail cars working on the railroad. Today was a much easier day than yesterday as the miles were shorter, easier, and the new waters added some satisfaction. We arrived at our campsite this afternoon which is on the tip of an island. We found a spot to pull up that wasn’t covered in marsh or driftwood, and my goodness was it mucky. I’m not even using the word muddy for this situation, it was mucky and deep. Fortunately I had already decided to embrace it, so I just went with it, letting it cover my feet up to my ankles. We used our AIRE rollers (will write more about those later) to pull the boat all the way up out of the muck and into the muddy grass. We now sit under our tarp while Kyle plays the harmonica and I write. The sun is peaking through a bit before an evening thunderstorm. Life is good.

Some Highlights of the First Week:

• Sailing to weather on the rail of Solvi
• Eating directly from pots and pans
• Sea shanties
• Being water bound everyday
• Looking at charts for navigating
• Seeing tug boats
• Playing games
• Watching sun set from islands
• Camping on different islands every night
• The ruggedness of the river
• Being sore, exhausted, and satisfied
• Mud

Some Challenges of the First Week:

• Getting used to rowing all day
• Poison Ivy
• Being sore and exhausted
• Everything being wet and muddy
• Learning the tricks of beaching of boat
• Blisters on my hands
• Figuring out where all the gear goes
• Unmentionable Chafing
• Mud


5 thoughts on “Becoming One with the Mud”

  1. Hi Danielle and Kyle,
    I love reading about your adventure thus far!!
    I am amazed at all you have done so far. You are a great writer. Your descriptions are so clear I feel I am getting
    A real picture of your days!
    ,Looking forward to following you on your journey


    1. Thank you so much! We really appreciate the support and I am so glad that you feel you are getting a picture of our days, that is what I’m going for 🙂 Love and gratitude to the new grandma!


  2. Sure miss you at work, Danielle. Just not the same joy without your smiling face and cheerful attitude. However, I am ever so thankful that you have included us in your journey. Must not be easy to find the energy to sit down and journal at the end of a tiring day. I am grateful for your record of adventures, as well as the highs and lows of each new experience. A sneak peek at your coming autobiography! You both are loved and admired by many.


    1. Connie, Thank you so much for your kind words. I think about you almost daily and really miss you as well. I am excited to see you in December when we get back. I appreciate your support of my writing and of our journey- it really helps to have good friends support us. Lots of love! Give the kiddos a big hug for me.


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