Well, it's official. I'm bailing on the idea of paddling to Florida. Instead, I will paddle down the Missouri River to St. Louis, MO, and then head up the Mississippi River to the Illinois River. From there I will travel to Lake Michigan and then on to my home state (Michigan) and to my sister's house in Holland. She promised me a bucket of beer if I made it to the dock at her house in Florida, I'll be holding her to that when I get to MI.
Watching the river gauges on the lower Mississippi and Ohio rivers this week made it clear that it's going to be a mess down south for several more weeks. It's possible the water levels would have dropped by the time I arrived but I was concerned about the muck and silt left by the flooding. Quite frankly, I didn't want to spend 1-2 weeks camping in sticky goo. Thus, the decision to head north.
The new route will still have me paddling 1200 miles (versus 1700 for the other route) but I can be a little less stressed about making it to my goal by July 4th. In fact, I should be to Michigan by the end of June. Another plus is that I can take the train home to Lincoln and then drive up later this summer or early fall and get my canoe and equipment. I didn't have a plan how to get home from Florida or where my gear would be stored so there is at least some good news in making a major route change.
This trip was always about equipping myself for a 1000+ mile adventure and learning how to do an expedition length excursion. In some ways I feel I'm copping out but I guess 1200 miles is still a bit of a challenge. :) Oh well, the maps have been downloaded and I've worked up a new daily mileage goal sheet. Since I'm carrying my food the entire trip nothing has really changed in my preparations. I'm all ready to go...
Launch is tomorrow morning from Nebraska City. Wish me luck!