Friday, November 14, 2008

Vikings discover Buck Island?

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From: "Quapaw Canoe Company" <john@island63.com>
Date: Fri, 14 Nov 2008 12:42:33 -0600
To: helena<helena@island63.com>
Subject: Vikings discover Buck Island?

Helena Dispatch Vol 1, No. 6

Quapaw Canoe Company, Helena Outpost

Founder/River Guide, John Ruskey

john@island63.com

 

Winter Hours: Sat & Sun, 9am-5pm, or by appointment. 

 

We will be closed this Sunday Nov 16th due to a day-long class on "Canoeing the Big River," held in conjunction with Phillips Community College U. of Arkansas.  We will be closed the weekend of Nov 29/30th for the same reason (last class is an overnight, with potluck Supper on the Sandbar and a Sunday fireside brunch graduation ceremony).

 

Has anyone seen the BBC documentary "Steven Fry visits America?"  We guided Mr. Fry and 15 cameramen and roadies to Buck Island last February.  The BBC TV  Programme is now showing in London & the greater United Kingdom.  Book to be published by Harpers' Collins in May 2009.  We'll let you know when it's available.  Quapaw Canoe Company represents the state of Arkansas in the travelogue.

 

Vikings discover Buck Island?

Report from river guide Mark Tremblay:

 

Quapaw Canoe Company Helena outpost was handed an awesome responsibility on Thursday the 22nd of October.  Over .001% of the entire population of Iceland took a sunset tour and night paddle on Buck Island.  What started as four novice paddlers inquiring about opportunities for 'a good time' in Helena turned into an absolutely profound night on the shores of the Big River.  After the sun mellowed and fell behind Crowley's Ridge, the night sky speckled itself for the occasion.  Throughout the night, a dozen or so shooting stars showered down over our willow fire.

 

—Even though the only wood in Iceland is Siberian driftwood, and the whale harvest is ten times the size of its apple harvest---the apples we were roasting over the wood fire brought out the patriotism in our guests.  After merely an hour, we were all moved to song.

 

My Icelandic brothers and sisters sang 1,000-year-old folk songs in their native tongue, songs about a woman longing for her man out at sea fishing the dangerous waters of the north.  Or the whaler being lonely and thinking of his love before the ocean swell took him under.  And the only American folk songs I could think of were "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and "Roll Out the Barrel." 

 

It was a spectacular night, with deer and bobcat spottings, shooting stars, and an easy atmosphere for such different cultures to diffuse.  After a still-water paddle at two in the morning and a vicious portage back to the outpost all .001% of  Iceland was off, back to the land of the midnight sun and northern lights.  Beautiful Northern Lights they claim to take for granted as much as we do our Mississippi River.

 

Anyone need to shake the early winter blues?  Enter the Christmas Season with a rejuvenating ride down the Delta, along the Lower Mississippi Water Trail.  Thanks to the American Land Conservancy and others, the dots in the water trail are being connected!

 

Memphis to Vicksburg

Low Water Tour of the Mississippi Delta

Photos & text © 2008 John Ruskey, Quapaw Canoe Company

 

Choctaw Island -- Sunrise & 2 Willows

 

Last Spring we departed Memphis on our "High Water Tour of the Mississippi Delta" (we thought we were on the crest, but it just kept rising & rising as we paddled south under the Memphis bridges and into the Delta -- we didn't realize just how high the water would get, and neither did the forecasters at the NOAA Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center!)

 

Starting Monday, Dec 1st from Mud Island in Memphis we will once again push off for a guided tour of the Mississippi Delta, this time at Low Water.  Winter paddling, winter camping.  The Quapaw Canoe Company Low Water Tour of the Mississippi Delta.  Dec 1-19th.  Paddle one week, paddle it all.  Our philosophy: "any day on the river is a good day."  Quapaw means "the downstream people" – we'll let the river do most of the paddling – when the wind is favorable!

 

1,2,3,4:  Do the numbers: 1 city (Helena) and only 2 bridges (Helena & Greenville),

3 hundred miles of river, and 4 states (Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas & Lousiana). 

The incredible wilderness paddling of the Mississippi Delta.  The trees are taller than the casinos.  With rest stops filled with live blues music & museum visits at Helena, Clarksdale & Greenville.  The Fall winged migration is happening.  The Louisiana Black Bears are looking for good hollow cypress to winter in.  Birds, Blues and Bears.  And 300 miles of river.

 

Leave downtown Memphis (the best view you will ever get of the city!) and scoot under the last Memphis bridges at the last bluff (Nat'l Ornamental Metal Museum Bluff, Blues on the Bluff) and within 5 miles the city falls completely behind and the big islands take over, huge sandbars & gravel bars, endless forests, and a river running through it all. The biggest river in North America.  The Lower Mississippi is the longest free-flowing river in the Western Hemisphere between the McKenzie and the rio Negro (with approx. 1200 miles of free-flowing water below St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico).  This should be a National Wild & Scenic River for its great beauty & world class paddling.

 

What else can we say to get you on board?  Our main goal is to bring good attention to the river, in the way only paddlers can bring.  Experience leads to understanding.  Understanding leads to better housekeeping.  Better housekeeping means a cleaner river.  A cleaner river means healthier & happier people.  What else?  It will clear your mind.  You will enter the Christmas season refreshed with overflowing love for all.  You will return home with renewed appreciation of your country, your hair tossed by the wind, your face burnished by the sun, the heart opened and your imagination set free.

 

(Coming March/April 2009: Annual High Water Tour)

 

Week One: Dec 1-7: Memphis to Clarksdale

 

Dec 1 Meet & push off from Memphis (MM736)

 

Dec 2 Tunica Riverpark Museum

 

 

Dec 3 Walnut Bend

 

Dec 4 Helena, Delta Cultural Center

 

Dec 5-6, Clarksdale Friday & Saturday night blues

Visit Clarksdale's Delta Blues Museum

 

Dec 7, rest day, re-supply

 

Week Two: Dec 8-15: Clarksdale to Greenville

Monday December 8th head out again from Quapaw Landing (MM638)

 

Dec 8 Island Wilderness below Quapaw

 

Dec 9 Mouth of the White River

 

Dec 10 Big Island, Mouth of the Arkansas River

 

Dec 11 Choctaw Island

 

Dec 12 The Greenville Bends Old Channel

 

Dec 12-13, Friday & Saturday campfire smoked steaks

Touring & juking in the Greenville area

 

Warfield Point State Park, Greenville

Dec 14 rest day, re-supply

 

Week Three: Dec 15-19: Greenville to Vicksburg

Monday, Dec 15, head out again from Warfield Point (MM537)

 

Dec 16 American Bar, Kentucky Bend

 

Dec 17 Shipland Wildlife Management Area

 

Dec 18 Willow Island, Paw-Paw Channel

 

Dec 19 Mouth of the Yazoo River, Vicksburg (MM437)

 

Photos & text © 2008 John Ruskey, Quapaw Canoe Company

 

 

 

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