Canoeing the Mississippi !? (1 Viewer)

ntdxc1878

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I got this idea I'm super excited about... so hear me out and feel free to destroy me if the idea is terrible.

I'm thinking train hop and hitch up to Minnesota or wherever one of the tributaries of the Mississippi starts from. Should be cake, just rail tramping with my pack, nothing new.

Get to said spot (not sure where would be a good starting point?) and acquire some sort of raft. Kayak? Canoe? Small sailboat? I dont really know which would be the best option, so I'd love some feedback on that. I dont really know much about sailing...yet.

theres no rapids or anything along the river that would be a significant obstacle. I could stop in port towns to restock supplies or work for some cash or whatever then head out again.

Could take it all the way to the gulf...

How crazy is this plan or does anybody have any experience with this??
 
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AlwaysLost

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I got this idea I'm super excited about... so hear me out and feel free to destroy me if the idea is terrible.

I'm thinking train hop and hitch up to Minnesota or wherever one of the tributaries of the Mississippi starts from. Should be cake, just rail tramping with my pack, nothing new.

Get to said spot (not sure where would be a good starting point?) and acquire some sort of raft. Kayak? Canoe? Small sailboat? I dont really know which would be the best option, so I'd love some feedback on that. I dont really know much about sailing...yet.

theres no rapids or anything along the river that would be a significant obstacle. I could stop in port towns to restock supplies or work for some cash or whatever then head out again.

How crazy is this plan or does anybody have any experience with this??

Its not a terrible idea. It just takes a lot of research. Its a complicated journey and you have to be in good shape. There are a lot of websites devoted to this I'll see if I can refind the good ones

Negotiating the locks and barges are your main obstacles, and being able to push yourself out of a marsh if it shallows out.

I'd go canoe or bigger for the stability. Kayaks are too prone to tipping and its a big river.

Have EBT or $$ for supplies will be probably be necessary if u want to go straight throuch. Your gonna burn calories big time. The current will help you most of the time but your still gonna do a lot of paddling.

But many have done it. I'm just too weak to pull it off. Its on par with hiking the AT or the PCT. You would have earn the respect of not only yourself but everyone you tell the story to. Epic adventure.
 

ntdxc1878

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Its not a terrible idea. It just takes a lot of research. Its a complicated journey and you have to be in good shape. There are a lot of websites devoted to this I'll see if I can refind the good ones

Negotiating the locks and barges are your main obstacles, and being able to push yourself out of a marsh if it shallows out.

I'd go canoe or bigger for the stability. Kayaks are too prone to tipping and its a big river.

Have EBT or $$ for supplies will be probably be necessary if u want to go straight throuch. Your gonna burn calories big time. The current will help you most of the time but your still gonna do a lot of paddling.

But many have done it. I'm just too weak to pull it off. Its on par with hiking the AT or the PCT. You would have earn the respect of not only yourself but everyone you tell the story to. Epic adventure.
I definitely see the magnitude of the trip, and I'd be planning this for at least 6 months from now.

I don't even really now how to gauge how long something like this would take...months? But I'll definitely be putting in the work soon to research this, just wondering if I'm going completely bonkers or if it's feasible, which it seems like it may be. Look like I'll be following this forum way more in the next few months...
 
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AlwaysLost

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I definitely see the magnitude of the trip, and I'd be planning this for at least 6 months from now.

I don't even really now how to gauge how long something like this would take...months? But I'll definitely be putting in the work soon to research this, just wondering if I'm going completely bonkers or if it's feasible, which it seems like it may be. Look like I'll be following this forum way more in the next few months...

It can be done man. A bigger boat with an engine would be ideal, but a crazy English guy rafted the upper Mississippi and that's the hard part.

Your not bonkers at all, just be realistic. Rafting or canoeing the big muddy is an EPIC adventure. That river is dangerous and you have to be careful cause the wrong mistake will kill you.

A few people do it successfully every year though.

Epic Adventures just require careful planning. But if your careful and plan it, I have no doubt it can be done. Just be as safe as you can.

Hiking the PCT is dangerous, so is climbing Mount Everest, whitewater rafting down insane rapids, riding on freight trains. Dangerous yet people do it safely all the time with the right planning.

And make sure to document it cause believe me. People will want to see or hear about it including me.
 
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AlwaysLost

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. I think the water level gets low in Winter so that may be a bad time I can't remember. Plus there may be ice and hypothermic water temps up in Minnesota.

If you go straight thru I think it takes 1-2 months, resupply gets more difficult the closer u get to loisianna but its pretty easy before then.

I'm not finding the websites that existed when I researched the trip. Here's a guy who did it though
 
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Notmyname

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The river starts to lake Itasca about 4.5 hours north westish from Minneapolis. I would start on the south side of Minne, past all the lock and dam bullshit. Canoes have to have dnr tabs since they're over 10 feet. A canoe would be easy to come by in the city too. Starting at the lake is doable but more difficult logistically, not to mention another couple hundred miles of river.
 
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AlwaysLost

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The last lock is in Illinois but I think Minn has like 12-16 of the fuckers...above st Louis is a major barge reset area that'll be a tricky part too.
 
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Notmyname

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I think I read that you can actually take a canoe through a lock. There's a special way to do it though. For serious planning, call the DNR officer in Minnesota, and ask them everything you wanna know. Like where you need to portage, how to go though a lock, what other offices to call for every state, the DNR is usually really helpful about this kinda shit. Regional main office is 651-259-5800
 

ntdxc1878

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The river starts to lake Itasca about 4.5 hours north westish from Minneapolis. I would start on the south side of Minne, past all the lock and dam bullshit. Canoes have to have dnr tabs since they're over 10 feet. A canoe would be easy to come by in the city too. Starting at the lake is doable but more difficult logistically, not to mention another couple hundred miles of river.

The last lock is in Illinois but I think Minn has like 12-16 of the fuckers...above st Louis is a major barge reset area that'll be a tricky part too.

So are these locks unpassable? How do you even go about passing through those, or in a canoe is it possible? I'm sure I'd encounter at least one along the way somewhere no matter where i start.
 
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Notmyname

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To get through a lock, you basically pull up and signal to the tower(not exactly sure how, you'll have to ask the dnr folks) when you have the all clear you paddle in, they lower the water, open the gates and you paddle out. Lock 1 is in Minne on the Southside. If you start farther north you'll have to portage around the dams. Ill look for the guys website where I read that he went through the locks in his canoe
 
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AlwaysLost

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So are these locks unpassable? How do you even go about passing through those, or in a canoe is it possible? I'm sure I'd encounter at least one along the way somewhere no matter where i start.

The locks free of charge and any seaworthy vessel is allowed. Its just like what @Notmyname described

I think you just sail into a designated waiting area and then the locksman guide you in.
 
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Notmyname

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I can't find the exact thing I read before about he canoe, but if you do a quick Google search there's tons of shit. Even a YouTube video at lock 1. If you just search "Mississippi lock canoe" you'll find blogs about canoe trips and a video
 
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AlwaysLost

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I can't find the exact thing I read before about he canoe, but if you do a quick Google search there's tons of shit. Even a YouTube video at lock 1. If you just search "Mississippi lock canoe" you'll find blogs about canoe trips and a video

You should add that PDF to the library that's dope.
 

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Hey all, and first off this sounds like a kick-ass idea, second, sorry this will be a long post.

I've spent some time on the ol" mississip', but only in the vicinity of Winona, MN, and in the St. Croix river (a tributary and the northern border between MN and WI) It's a pretty calm and beautiful river at both of those points, but I'm not sure what it does elsewhere.

I canoed a long stretch (about 150 miles) of the Wisconsin River (also a tributary) last summer, from Whiting, WI to Merrimac, WI. Between these two points the river is pretty darn wide, approaching the Mississippi in width, and even wider when impounded by dams. My experiences (although somewhat limited) with these wider rivers is that they are pretty tame and predictable. I dealt with some really crazy weather conditions during my trip (high winds right in my face, waves up to three feet tall and whatnot), but I didn't have any "risky" conditions from the river itself.

The Mississippi is a huge thoroughfare for cargo vessels. This would work with, and against you at the same time. On one hand, water levels are carefully controlled with locks and dams to get the cargo to its destination without problems (so pushing yourself out of a swamp is HIGHLY unlikely), but on the other hand, you would be dealing with a lot of traffic. There is a certain etiquette to staying out of large boats path, just like being savvy in a train yard. A lot of traffic will also be recreational/fishing boats, which can vary widely in how "polite" they are to a small boater. Some will slow down and give you a break, others will speed up to create a big wake just to fuck with you. Not something that should discourage you, but something you will probably experience. Something that helped me on my trip was waking up wicked early, like 4 am, and getting on the water before people started showing up. This also helps with rough weather too, as wind is generally the highest at mid-day, so if you can get half a day in by then you can chill and fish or something when it gets shitty.

As far as boat choice goes, this mostly depends on how experienced you are with paddling. I am a canoe fan myself, and love them for how much fucking stuff you can pack in them. A decent aluminum canoe would run you about 150-300 bucks in my experience, and a cheaper plastic canoe could be found for 100 or less. The thing with canoes though is that they keep their value, so its likely that you could sell it for the price you bought it for at the end of your trip. CRAIGSLIST IS YOUR FRIEND.

Kayaks are stupid easy to navigate and generally run lighter in weight than canoes. I would also respectfully disagree with AlmostAlwaysLost and say that in my experience kayaks are more stable than canoes, especially if you haven't had much paddling experience, but they come with the trade off of less gear storage. Also, the fact that kayaks are enclosed makes water really hard to get out of them once it gets in. And it will get in. (Plus, if you get a decent size canoe, like 16-18 feet, you can sleep totally comfortably under them if you prop them up on your paddles, its really awesome actually)

Anyway, this sounds like an epic idea, and I would say its totally doable with some proper planning, like AlmostAlwaysLost said. The mississippi is a great river, you would probably have a fucking great time. I also have lived in Wisconsin for a long time, so if you have anymore general questions on weather, climate or whatever I could give it a shot at an answer.
 

VikingAdventurer

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About three and a half years ago, I had thought of doing the same thing, only I was gonna build my own raft out of 5-gallon water bottles and other upcycled materials.

I even had a friend of mine with an engineering background help me out with the design of the raft, to ensure its seaworthiness.

PLEASE keep us updated on how this idea (hopefully) pans out, as I would LOVE to hear/read a first-hand account of such an epic journey.
 

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