“We pooped in the sand like cats and left a stick in the sand so no one else would dig it up.”
That’s always the first thing I tell people when they ask about my trip paddling down the Mississippi with 12 strangers. The response is either horror or laughter.
There was also drinking river water tea/coffee (aka cowboy coffee).
Washing your hair while holding on to a paddleboard in the middle of the river at sunset.
Howling at the coyotes and waiting for them to answer back.
Making up sea shanties on a canoe while paddling in time with the person in front.
Playing piggy in the middle in the water and faceplanting.
Doing headstands on paddleboards (not me!).
Dancing in the sand and making musical instruments out of driftwood while someone plays guitar.
Licking Lindt truffles off the wrapper because it’s so hot they melted.
Radioing a tow boat to get some milk and paddleboarding over to it to collect, because the American guides underestimated the British need for milk in tea.
Identifying the animal footprints around your tent in the morning.
Going for nature walks and spotting beavers and eagles.
Having breakfast called Tower Rock Crunch – toasted oatmeal and apples, cinnamon, pineapple, berries, bacon, honey and peanut butter.
Washing our plates with sand and river water.
4 sand maps drawn
Teaching the Americans “Pooh Sticks”.
Hanging a hammock for sunset and attempting to chill out (I can’t do nothing so this didn’t work!)
Eating lush dinners: fish gumbo, beef stew, spaghetti and meatballs, beef and bean tacos, potato and cheese jumble.
Singing “she’ll be coming down the sand dune” to Bex when she went to her tent to fetch her Yorkshire tea, then having afternoon tea on the sandbar with Gilly’s flapjacks.
Singing made-up songs around the campfire.
Recording a hilarious music video to go with the song – which was about the milk adventure!
Getting back to Clarksdale and riding a canoe on a trailer behind a truck through town singing Proud Mary and stopping under a bridge for the chorus because of the acoustics.
Crashing a party at a blues club.
Getting a flight home cancelled and sleeping on the airport floor!
It was epic, and I don’t use that word lightly. Dave Cornthwaite from Yes Tribe runs these 5-day Mississippi paddling trips every October. I met Dave when I went to his storytelling/adventure festival in 2018 (then again in 2022 and 2023 – the latter as the official photographers), and I consider him a good friend – so when this trip came up and I was free, I had to go!
The trip in numbers!
17 giant bottles of water
5 delicious dinners cooked on driftwood fires
4 island campsites
3 songs written
1 poem written
2 canoe/paddleboard crashes
1 milk mission
2 group river bathing sessions
1 group hair braiding session
2 beaver spottings