Around the bend: Cape to Memphis By Dave Hardesty

Saturday, February 6, 2010
Danny meeting the first barge of the day. (Submitted photo)

Last month, TBY profiled Dave Hardesty and Danny Rees, two men who kayaked the Mississippi River from Cape Girardeau south to mile zero. In upcoming issues of TBY, Dave Hardesty will share a day-by-day account of the trip, which he chronicled in his journal.

Day one: Saturday, Sept. 22, 2007

Left Cape from Red Star boat ramp at 0700, calm winds, about 62 degrees.

Stopped at mile 25 just above Dogtooth Bend for lunch at 1130.

Met four cabin cruisers coming out of the Diversion Channel just below Cape Girardeau. I guess they spent the night there. The lead cruiser idled up next to us at Grey's Point and asked where we were headed. They were going to Nashville and then through the Intercoastal Waterway back to Texas where they were from.

We are camped just below the I-57 bridge. We can see it from our campsite here on the Missouri side of the river. Those same cruisers are anchored near the bridge. They sure didn't cover many miles today. We guessed they are close to the bridge hoping for a good cell phone signal; we are, too.

Paddling was very good today. We had a light breeze in our face all day except when going north around Dogtooth Bend. Then it was pretty hot for about an hour.

Our camp is across the river from the 6.5 mile marker. We made 46.5 miles today. That is a new personal record for me.

Having a paddling partner along makes a world of difference. I started this trip last year on Aug. 1 and called it quits after two days! A combination of extreme heat, not enough water and lack of motivation made for a short trip. Danny Rees has joined me this year for the 270 miles from Cape Girardeau to Memphis. He is an experienced kayaker and a very strong paddler. He is good company, too; a dedicated Christian who lives his faith. I'm glad he agreed to come along.

Marla, Dad, Danny's wife, Colleen, and their friend A.J. saw us off at Red Star ramp this morning. I think both wives were a little less tense at our parting since we weren't traveling alone this time. Danny has done a lot of solo kayaking, too.

We paddled and talked a lot in the first half of the day, keeping a good pace as we talked. Sometimes we would get far apart and just enjoy our own thoughts. Danny is a much stronger paddler than me but says I should set the pace. Good thing, because I couldn't keep up with his!

We are 6.5 miles from the Ohio River and hope to make it to Columbus, Ky., about 30 miles from here, and then to Hickman, Ky., by day two.

This is the first night I've spent in my new tent Marla gave me for Christmas. It has lots of ventilation but the breeze we had all day has died down and I am laying here sweating. I can't write outside because the mosquitoes are thick and hungry. It is supposed to get down in the 60s tonight so it will be good sleeping weather.

Lynn Medlin from Caruthersville called this evening. He is going to meet us at the C-ville boat ramp and help us get restocked with whatever we need by then. That will be much appreciated.

Marla called just as we got off the river. She was concerned since I hadn't called yet. I called Dad after we ate. He and some of the other vets went to a Democratic picnic in Cape today. He said he had some good catfish but was glad to leave when the speeches started.

It is almost 8 p.m. and I am very tired. Think I'll read my Bible a little and turn in for the night.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: