Vanessa Knight Begins Adventure Pedal-STL to SF

Vanessa (Ness) Knight was part of Dave Cornthwaite’s 1000 mile swim support crew this summer.  While Dave swam 1000 miles down the Missouri River, Vanessa SUP’d alongside, with Ben Stiff and Emily Bell, the entire way.

L-R: Ben, Em, Dave, and Ness

Vanessa headed out today from St. Louis to San Francisco on her own personal adventure expedition.  She is realizing a dream, like literally, a reoccuring dream I’ve had for decades: biking across the country.  You GO, girl.  Check her blog site out here.

Ness Knight

Hey Em, looking forward to hearing from you, and your future adventure endeavors!!!  Keep in touch!  😉

Dave’s Expedition 1000 crew, minus Vanessa–she struggled with food poisoning and hit the pillow early this night.
Sorry we missed talking to you, Ness.

Self-efficacy: A Blessing or a Burden?

Below Fort Benton. Photo by Norm Miller.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my trip down the Missouri River.  Most days, I long for the start day to arrive, even though I still have much preparation left to do.  I think about some of my conversations with Missouri River paddlers, as we visited on their stops at Cooper’s Landing, and the advice to “just go put your kayak in the river and go.”  This simple advice helps me keep the trip in perspective:  just enjoy the paddle and the “country”side.  Of course, there is the challenge, too.  My self-efficacious nature says, “bring it on”!  I absorb every piece of information and all video clips I can find on our Facebook Paddlers pages.  I make note of much advice from Norm Miller, my go-to expert.  I read about paddling expeditions, or expeditions in general, to learn about experiences requiring mental durability, physical stamina, and personal validation for embarking on extraordinary missions.

Thomas Walker, Tyler Ranes and Bob Bellingham passing through Cooper’s and sharing their stories.
Enjoying Mark Kalch’s enthusiasm at Cooper’s during his stop-over.

Expeditions are not for everyone.  But for some, the need to set goals beyond the borders of your box and the zones of your comfort are always within mental range.  In my twenties living in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, my peers and I were always pushing the limits of security by skiing where most people don’t, high up on the mountain tops or across the mountain range.  In my thirties, my peers and I on the coast endeavored to break through windsurfing securities by attempting to sail the uncompromising waves at Ocean Beach and, of course, at the mouth of San Francisco Bay (you DON’T want to break down with an outgoing tide, just sayin’.)  Perhaps it is a matter of insecurity, always striving for the satisfaction of defying your personal limits.  I don’t know.  Perhaps it is growing up with two older brothers and always believing I could do ANYthing they could do.  I once climbed out on a limb of a tree when I was five years old, my brothers watching, undoubtedly on a dare.  The challenge ended with a fall and a mild concussion (maybe that’s it!).  Perhaps it is a love for the wilderness and the need to get access to it.  Part of it HAS to be the challenge.

Mt. Williamson group from Bear Valley in early 80s. Took two days, half of us made it to the summit. Glad we made it safely up, then down.
Chute skiing in Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (before road opening).
S.F. Bay-sailing with the big dogs.


“People with high assurance in their capabilities approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than as threats to be avoided.”
–Albert Bandura

Looking down at the Brower’s Spring drainage (in the middle) from Sawtelle Peak. Photo by Norm Miller.

My mental challenge right now, which I have been confronted with since I committed to this expedition:  where do I start?  Do I make it a river “source” start, which adds 300 miles, two weeks, major expedition conditions (skiing in to Brower’s Spring at 8,800 ft in April?), and access to some incredibly beautiful wilderness, including a wildlife refuge?  Or, do I just put my kayak in the river at the mouth of the Missouri and start paddling?

Hell Roaring Creek below Brower’s Spring. This would be a ski or snowshoe stretch (I think 7 miles in and 7 out), not to be paddled.
Norm Miller (left) and Mark Kalch (right) at Hell Roaring Creek below Brower’s Spring, which is back up in the mountains behind them.

Watch Norm Miller’s video of Mark Kalch sharing his experience as he made his way down the stretch from the “source” to the “headwaters” of the Missouri River.  Much of this section leaves little to be desired…  Click here

Mark heading off just below Three Forks. Plenty of incredible wilderness to behold. Photo by Norm Miller.

I can’t help but think I would regret not starting at the ultimate source at Brower’s Spring, being soooo close.  However, the thought of just putting in at Three Forks gives me a more peaceful easy feeling as well as an assurance of some incredibly beautiful wilderness, without the expedition extremes.  Oh, the burden of a self-efficacious nature!  🙂

Students Getting Out There! I love it!

Our local Douglas High School students braving the cold weather to learn first hand about river stewardship and environmental responsibility.  You guys ROCK!  From Missouri River Relief’s FB page:

“A big thanks to Douglass High school students for braving the river with us today and their teacher John Reid for making it happen! We also enjoyed the company of some local “rotarians”, one of our new sponsors, a photo-journalism student, our faithful dog Sombra, and a couple sailing the Mighty Mo. in a canoe complete with a homemade sail! What a day! More photos to come soon hopefully.”

AND…Sioux City, Iowa, middle-school students contribute to, and learn about, environmental responsibility in their local watershed…

Three cheers to these outstanding and inspirational learners!  You guys ROCK!  That is soooo cool!

Check them out HERE!

Dreaming of days, and nights, on the river

I lay here watching the lightning and listening to the thunder outside.  I have just put down Dave Miller’s “The Complete Paddler.”  I am trying to imagine laying in my bed on the banks of the river, in the midst of wilderness, perhaps a storm outside my tent, and wondering if I’ll be imagining this very night in which I’m dreaming of my 3-month trek down the Missouri River.  I am safe and warm and dry right now.  Will this be something I long for then, just as I am longing for the isolation and adventure now?  (photo by Norm Miller)

Three Cheers to our Inconspicuous Victors this last Week-end!!!

Victory in St. Joseph!

So many victories on the rivers this last week end!  Hats off and kudos to these awe-inspiring challenges and extraordinary achievements.  But the humblest of all heroes are in St. Joseph and they deserve our attention, too.  First, though, a recap of events:

Mark Kalch is first man to paddle the Missouri River from source to Gulf, completing two out of seven of the longest rivers on seven continents.

Dave Corthwaite swims 1000 miles of the Missouri River and pulls into the St. Louis Arch having completed his trek with his team.

Tyler Ranes and Tom Walker finish their (aluminum) canoe trip from Great Falls, Montana, to New Orleans.

Brent Mills and Hunter from Greenville, South Carolina had reached the Gulf the very morning Mark Kalch did, having paddled the length of the Mississippi River from Lake Ithasca.

 Dom Liboiron Canoeing to New Orleans in Memory of my Uncle Mitch, Rod Wellington , and Matthew Batton are still paddling on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.

But let me tell you about the unsung heroes on the Missouri River.  The citizens of St. Joseph, Missouri, under the leadership of Missouri River Relief, spent a cold day on the river cleaning up trash from its river banks on Saturday.  Different strokes for different folks (no pun intended), these adults, children, men, and women reaped unforgettable rewards and earned quiet respect because of their selfless service to help make our Big Muddy one of the cleanest and finest rivers in all the land.

Three cheers to River Relief and the folks in St. Joseph!!!  You should stand tall among the victories that graced our mighty waterways this last week-end, October 6, 2012.

(Clean up photos by Rachel Beck )

Lots of Activity on the River(s) Lately

Dear interested readers:

Today, October 6, 2012, we congratulate two phenomenal adventure accomplishments.

One, Mark Kalch reaches the Gulf of Mexico yesterday after paddling from the Missouri River source at Brower’s Spring in Montana beginning in June.  He has been paddling every day for over four months and has become the first man to paddle solo the entire Missouri River and watershed, which is approximately 3780 miles, and the longest river in North America.  Congratulations Mark!

Here is an earlier email sent to Norm Miller regarding his finish:  From Mark: “Done! Stoked! That South Pass below mile 0 is beautiful. Can you believe got down there about midday and guess what? 2 young fellas who had paddled down from Ithasca!!! Ha! Crazy! Cool. Brent and Hunter. They have a facebook page. Big muddy mississippi adventure or something. Crazy huh? This was at Port Eads about a mile from end. They had teed up a lift back so I sprinted my ass down to open ocean. Big waves. Did some video and photos then pulled onto sand and did some more. Paddled back up a mile and we hung out at the top of the lighthouse there. There loaded kayaks onto boat and back in Venice in 20 mins! Stoked! They have left now. Had no room in car back to New Orleans. But dont matter got to sort gear and clean boat. Hope to get a lift back Sat or Sun.M

Secondly, Dave Cornthwaite and his team: Ness, Em, and Ben, approach St. Louis this morning, October 6, 2012, after Dave swam 1,000 miles down the Missouri River.  We had the pleasure of meeting the team at Cooper’s Landing last Sunday and enjoyed their company immensely.  They are a charming bunch with an immense enthusiasm for challenge and adventure while raising money and awareness for breast cancer through the CoppaFeel organization.

Dave has a bag of 25 adventure trips he is in the midst of accomplishing, and Em is starting to step out of her “normal” box into a life of “challenge and adventure.”  You GO Girl!  Was not able to visit with Vanessa because she was healing from a bout with food poisoning.  Ben was busy enjoying bonfire and beers while at Cooper’s.  He adapted immediately to the Cooper’s Culture.
Word from Dave’s twitter feed one minute ago: they reached the STL Arch at 10:20 AM, about an hour ago.  Three cheers for the team!!!

Here is a clip from their first days:

The Early Days (includes a visit from Mark Kalch)

Here is a link to his blog post which, when I read it, I instantly became interested in their endeavor:  dave-corn

Hot off the press from Dave:  We made it! Journey No. 7 of Expedition1000 finished at 10:20am this morning, as my team and I reached St Louis Arch to finish an epic 1000-mile swim. Hard to believe its over, what a challenge! See for further updates and photos throughout the day. Yeah!

As for me, I am fully immersed in student teaching 8th grade Social Studies.  I am loving every minute, but not a day goes by that I don’t contemplate some aspect of the challenge ahead of me beginning in May.  Which will be more of a challenge, teaching middle school or paddling 2300 miles of the Missouri River in 3 months?  No clear answer yet!  All good!

Regarding planning, Eddyline and I are in communication.  They have asked me to send them a “wish list.”  Sweet! Thank you, Lisa!  I have corresponded with Kokatat and have sent them a wish list for paddling gear.  They will not be considering any expedition sponsorships until after January 1.  Dave Cornthwaite strongly suggests I consider taking a MacPro laptop and a Go Pro camera for uploading, downloading, writing, posting, tweeting, photographing, and authoring.   I am planning to apply to be a SPOT Ambassador.  I will have a spot locator no matter what, an absolute necessity according to Bob Bellingham.  The device will track my progress/location, send updates to designated family/friends, and serve as an emergency 911 communication device.  A tent, stove, and sleeping bag will be my most important sponsorship requests, which I will work on very soon.  With all of these items in my quiver, I will be nearly fully equipped.  Oh, and a solar charger.

Veteran Missouri River paddlers are planning a float gathering that would land them in the river with me at, or near, the beginning of my expedition. VERY excited about that possibility!  Among these paddlers are my coach,  Norm Miller, who, during the 2004 Lewis & Clark Bicentennial, paddled up the Missouri River from St. Louis to Montana, hiked over the Rockies, and paddled down to the Pacific following the route of The Corp of Discovery.  He is also host extraordinaire for all paddlers heading down the Big Muddy from Montana.  And, Dave Miller who authored the Missouri River paddler’s bible, The Complete Paddler, and visitor to Cooper’s Landing in 2003, when he laid over and hung out with us Riverbillies for around 10 days (we know how to have a good time!), has indicated he will be coming out from New York.  I am in the process of convincing my brother to come and float a week with me, too.  He has always been close at hand during my life’s adventures.

Oh, and University of Missouri’s photographer, Shane Epping, will meet with me on Sunday to take photos which will accompany a story on MizzouWire, the University’s Alumni Association electronic newsletter.  They are interested in my expedition and would like to post the story in December.

Okay, off I go to write up lesson plans, reflections, and a capstone paper.  Life is good.  Busy, but good.

Warm regards, Janet