On April 4th I finished my 1000 mile canoe trip to raise awareness for autism. Variable water levels and bad weather defined the entire trip, and in terms of the weather the last three days were no different. Over those three days I paddled 188 miles through hail (three days out), high wind (two days out), and rain that lasted the entire day (the last day).
During the last two days I experienced some of the worst current on the entire trip while paddling over some large wing dikes. I am not real familiar with the white water classifications, but I would guess Class 2+. The worst run (or “best” depending on your perspective) had a 3+ ft drop with 2+ ft primary waves. The waves lasted for about 15 ft. After the waves there were the usual strong boils found on the down river side of wing dikes. I passed through this section about 500 ft from the nearest shore.
Rain and dense mist defined the last day. The mist was so bad at points that I navigated exclusively by compass and GPS. Barges appeared out of the mist like ghost ships, and I had little time to avoid their course.
Despite the conditions and current, the Lower Mississippi was the most enjoyable stretch of this trip. I loved taking detours through island chutes. These chutes took me away from the industry and commercial traffic of the main channel. The chutes also give a glimpse of the river before the Corps of Engineers changed it. The chutes feel remote and primordial, especially during a light rain.
In Memphis, amazing members of the paddling community met me, fed me, and gave me a place to stay. The paddling community has been incredibly supportive of this trip, and I am deeply thankful to them. They are almost as supportive as my mom, which is incredible. I was also met by members of the Memphis Autism Speaks community, and again I am thankful for their support.
I set out to raise awareness for autism, and I am confident that I accomplished this goal.
Some people have asked me how it feels to be finished. I do not feel that I finished anything; I feel that I have just started.
Again, thank you to all the people who in any way supported this trip (you know who you are). I wouldn’t have made it without all of you.