19 Jan Inlets to the Mighty Mississippi
The Mighty Mississippi River is the primary river of the largest drainage system in North America. Running 2,320 miles from Minnesota to Louisiana, it’s the fourth longest and tenth largest river in the world and its watershed drains 31 states and 2 Canadian provinces. In Louisiana, the Mississippi river is surrounded by levees, protecting the surrounding land from flooding, but adventuring in West Feliciana Parish we found a beautiful inlet with no levee and pic-nicked on the banks.
Despite a 100% forecast of rain, we start in St. Francisville, eating breakfast with my brother Neal and his wife Jennifer. Jennifer made individual apple blueberry loaves with fresh-picked blueberries, honeyberries and pecans from their land. Just delicious!
We embark on our adventure, the sky clear, but plenty of fresh mud to remind us of what’s ahead.
Below the highlands of St. Francisville, we encounter what’s left of Bayou Sara, an early settlement established in the early 1790s, which once held rank as the largest antebellum Mississippi River port between New Orleans and Memphis. Repeated flooding and fires destroyed this area and nothing remains of the town. The 1920’s saw the movement of any remaining structures to St. Francisville.
The mouth of the Red River, a major tributary of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers, empties into these two rivers after receiving its largest tributary, the Ouachita River, in West Feliciana Parish. The route that we take to explore this area is filled with hunting camps and as we get close to the banks of the river, we find large quantities of abandoned carcasses, mainly deer and wild boar. The rotting remains of 10 or more animals were left in large piles by the water’s edge, leading us to question whether they have been discarded for convenience of in order to cheat the law.
When we find a spot free of carrion, we set up a lovely little pic-nic by the river and watch the fast approaching fog glide over the water’s surface. Not five minutes later, the rain hits, coming down in heavy sheets and we scramble to get our things under the roof of the Rover and finish our meal. No rain is going to stop us – not sideways or dripping in some unpatched spots on the top – we don’t mind getting wet.
The ride back is a mud-filled one, cheering and silliness abounds as one wave of mud after another hits us. As much as I love over landing, mudding takes me back to my roots – a Louisiana girl for sure.