Photographic Essay: By Light of the Full Wolf Moon

LMRD 821, Friday, Feb 5, 2021
The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch
“Voice of the Mississippi River”

Photos & Text by JOHN RUSKEY

Neal Moore:
22 Rivers, 22 States, 22 Months

During the light of the Full Wolf Moon, I was able to join Neal Moore for a short portion of his 22 Rivers project, in which he is paddling 22 Rivers across 22 States in 22 Months, from Astoria Oregon to the Statue of Liberty.
The west end of Cat Island is getting slammed by hurricanes and tropical storms, in places old woods are getting snapped over and covered in water.
We paddled over a forest of piney stumps in the high tide of the approaching full wolf moon.
Writer Boyce Upholt (l) jumped on board with Neal Moore (r) and myself (taking photo). Here we are making breakfast behind the wind protection of our camp tables. The Full Wolf Moon is setting behind us. Special thanks to Hank Baltar for land support!
Cordelling up the beach: We paddled (and cordelled) with Neal out and around Cat Island, the furthest west of the Mississippi barrier islands.
Cordelling is the ancient voyageur canoe tradition of pulling your vessel upstream — or in this case, down the beach against the wind.
Wild Island: we experienced the raw elements of nature: the wind, the waves, the sun, the water, and their effects upon creation.
The gales blew through with typical winter fierceness throughout trip, one night almost burying our 24′ long Cricket canoe!
I was sleeping next to canoe, in what i thought was a protected harbor in the lee of the canoe, with my head tucked deep within the folds of my mummy bag, and my face mask in place. But my sleeping bag filled with sand and I was forced to retreat inland and into the protection of the longleaf piney woods where Boyce was camped.
The ever cheerful Neal Moore stayed planted in the face of the wind in his trusty Moss Tent.
I slept out under the stars — and the howling light of the Full Wolf Moon.
Smuggler’s Cove: over the dunes behind camp, birds of prey thrived in a large inlet known as Smuggler’s Cove. Each avian has it’s own method of fishing: white pelicans circle on the water, pelicans dive in groups, osprey and eagles drop in like missles, individually, from on high.
The sand makes a temporary record of the passage of the wind and time — including the tracks of birds, animals, insects, blowing leaves, and a few visiting humans.
the shell of a horseshoe crab
the remains of a dead dolphin (we reported this carcass to the IMMS — the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies)
dolphin tail vertebrate
grasses growing in the stumps of pine trees snapped in previous hurricanes
mysterious lines and etchings, this one dileneated by the wind-waves of the previous night, later covered by a fresh layer of sand ripples
a tracing made by layers of mud and sand — looks like an aerial view of some of the bends of the Mississippi River
blue holes created by the surges of previous storms
the ever-enchanting patterns of sand grasses and their shadows
a living wind tunnel laboratory: every solid mass creates its own distinctive wind shadow, here with pieces of shell, and bits of plastic
we too are sculpted and wizened by the sun and wind, each in our own way
I prefer busted shells for the intimate glimpse into the secrets of marine architecture — revealing the patterns of the universe hidden within — like a representation of a galaxy, or maybe an x-ray of the interior swirlings of a whirlpool
we unburied Cricket canoe from the waves of sand that covered its sides…
…and set out into the waves
and now the brave and wide-eyed Neal Moore continues on down the coast, and then up the rivers of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee…
…as he begins the long upstream paddle into the Ohio River valley, and across the eastern divide into the Great Lakes, and then into the Hudson Valley — for arrival at America’s beacon of hope and freedom: the Statue of Liberty — in December 2021
Bon Voyage Neal! Our “paddle’s up” and the power of the howling Full Wolf Moon be with you!


You can follow Neal Moore’s 22 Rivers Expedition on the expedition website

A Glimpse of America’s Soul. Dubbed “a modern-day Huck Finn” by CNN, adventurer/storyteller Neal Moore’s work from North America, Africa, and the Far East has appeared in The New Yorker, Der Spiegel, and on CNN International.


You can read some of Boyce Upholt’s writing here: “exploring the wild at the end of the world & exploring the world at the end of the wild”


3 thoughts on “Photographic Essay: By Light of the Full Wolf Moon

  1. Thomas Eier

    In the year 2022 I pray the People who live along the 22 Rivers can meet Wambli JOHN RUSKEY and NEAL MOORE live and in Person to hear about our RIVERS one paddle stroke at a time. I would love for other River Rats to come up with a plan for teaching our future leaders how to protect ICHIWANA.

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