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feet for commercial traffic. The river ranges in width from 20 to 30 feet at Lake Itasca, to 11 miles at Lake Winnibigoshish, both in Minnesota. “It’s the world’s busiest commercial waterway and a serious undertaking in a 15-foot, 65-pound plastic kayak,” Buckley said. “It takes a tennis ball 90 days to go down the Mississippi, from source to sea, but it took me 120 days ~ way too long. I paddled, on average, 20 miles per day. I completed some 40- and 50mile days, with a maximum of 63 miles in one day. The current in the channel was so fast that it helped me to paddle. I lost ten pounds on the trip. Only about 50 people a year attempt to kayak the Great River.”

If that wasn’t enough of a challenge, fish, insects, lice, and barges gave Buckley some unwanted e xc itement . A si a n c a r p, e a si ly disturbed by paddlers in shallow shoreline areas, f lew like bullets, five feet up in the air across the bow of the kayak. “Crazy and scar y,” described Buckley. Ticks crawled up the sides of his tent, and he was on the lookout for Zika mosquitoes, but that was nothing compared to the lice episode. “L ice are a common problem along the river and in local schools,” recounted Buckley. “They showed up on me from head to toe, and in par ticularly uncomfor table personal areas. I had to spend hundreds

Tow boats and barges were hazardous and intimidating companions on the Mississippi River. 51

March 2017 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times March 2017