Southward Bound

Crazy James Point Campsite
August 1, 2019

Dear Family & Friends:

It has been said “the first 100 miles are the hardest.” We are now past that point and I’m guessing/hoping that assessment is correct.

Our July 30 river ride from Bemidji to Cass Lake was the greatest. An easy paddle in stunningly beautiful country. About two hours out of Bimidji, we reached the most northerly point of the River.  From that point on, it is all South to the Gulf. We portaged around a dam which required us to empty our boats of our heavy gear, load our boats on wheels and navigate around the dam. This is really hard work.  All-in all, a great day. We camped at Star Island on Cass Lake.  The distance traveled was 25 miles.

The July 31 trip from Star Island to Lake Winnibigoshish was brutally difficult since we paddled into the wind most of the way.  Lake Winnibigoshish is, by far, the largest lake on the Mississippi River. It is also extremely dangerous because the exit route from the Lake is directly across the Lake from the entry route.  The Lake is prone to major weather changes, especially wind, which can create waves as large as those in the ocean during a raging storm. River paddlers are warned to stay close to shore and not make an attempt to directly cross the Lake. Last year, three paddlers ignored this warning and attempted to cross the Lake so as to shave time off their journey.  The wind picked up unexpectedly and all three died. We hugged the shore and made it Richards Townsite that was marked “no camping.” We camped there anyway. The distance travelled was 22 miles.

Today, August 1, we paddled thirteen miles across the Lake to another dam that required a portage.  This was tough paddling in very rough water. I was very nervous the whole way.  After portaging around the dam, we had lunch in a really nice park.  We are now resting in Crazy James Point Campsite overlooking the River. Our distance travelled today was 18-1/2 miles.

Our total distance travelled since day one is 122 miles.

God is good.


Heading out of Bemidji

Campsite view
Getting back on the River

“No camping” campsite

Portaging around a dam

On the way to Crazy James Point
Crazy James




15 thoughts on “Southward Bound

  1. Proud you hugged the shore and lived to blog about it. Many paddlers are not so careful. You will find that river people and police will forgive paddlers camping in parks etc as they know you don’t have many alternative locations. Photo shots are great.

  2. The spirit of Danny is with you, Bill!
    Great update and photos. Those dinner noodles look tasty.
    Am off to dive Scottish waters today.
    All best with your continuing Mississippi adventure!

  3. Bill. The D’Amico Family is following your trip very closely and are totally inspired by your adventure! We love your updates and can’t wait to hear or read the next one. Be safe and may God and Danny watch over you and your family! We love you!

  4. Looking great Bill and love your Everest two man tent….very nice! I am sure your left your “no camping spot” cleaner than you found it.

    “Keep on paddling!”

  5. Hi Bill, I hope you read these comments. 🙂 We live on the Mississippi River a bit north of Brainerd. We are about two days’ paddle from Aitken campground. We love to host source-to-sea paddlers and have a shower, laundry, camper, and can help with getting into town for provisions as well. You can reach me at [email protected].

  6. Check out Mississippi River Paddlers, and Mississippi River Angels on FaceBook. I am an angel at UMR 933.8, St Cloud/ Sartell/ Sauk Rapids. I can help you between the Blanchard dam UMR 956.4) and St Cloud dam (UMR 926.2)

  7. Your Canadian Follower here again. I agree…your notes/posts are riveting and I feel as if I am travelling with you, nervously, but fearlessly as well.

    I am praying for your safe travels.

  8. Bill, it sounds like you’re having fun. If there wasn’t a little excitement, I think you would be a little disappointed!!! Stay safe (I know you will) and enjoy the river!!! Best wishes, John

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