I am attempting to transition from LoveYourBigMuddy.com to my new site. Please visit and follow my new blogsite for the 1Woman3GreatRivers Project. I will be launching at the Mississippi River’s source, Lake Itasca, MN, on or about May 25. And, well, you know the routine…I will try and post more blog entries this trip along with my Facebook posts.
Expedition planning and spinning plates have a lot in common. Both are overwhelming, both require diligence and focus, and both will reward you with success and accomplishment, despite the intermingling with falls, drops and crashes. A plate spinner is persistent and does not ‘bag it’ when plates fall and shatter. An adventurer does not ‘bag it’ when planning confronts obstacles. Nope. They get back on the path called “onward” and forge ahead, come hell or high water! [idiom meaning “no matter what”]
Decision is the key! Decide to take a risk, and pursue an adventure. Decide to spin the plates, and keep picking them up, try again, spin ‘em, drop ‘em, try and try and try again. DECISION spawns DESIRE. This is the dynamic duo one needs to accomplish grandiose goals, pursue the unattainable, and conquer the impossible! Yes, spin plates and dance at the same time…
We practiced packing the boat yesterday. Thanks to Norm Miller, I’ll be running a pretty tight ship. At least it looks pretty trim.
we are heading to Sawtelle Peak for the ski in to the Missouri River’s ultimate source, Brower’s Spring. We will be skiing, and not paddling. The spring is just below the Continental Divide.
Our visit with Norm and his girlfriend, Kris Walker, has been heartwarming and incredibly fun. We will take away some very memorable moments lasting a lifetime!
Please be patient with me as I transition my computer tool from a laptop with Vista Business to an iPad. It is my first Mac experience aside from an iPhone I’ve only owned for two months. I hope to be able to keep you better updated.
Getting a little nervous now, and must work efficiently. Countdown 12 days, YIKES! I am scheduled to substitute teach the next three days. Then, off to St. Charles for the Missouri River Relief clean-up (arrive Fri-leave Sun), plus a crew meeting tonight at 6:30. Next week I will be putting all the puzzle pieces together, practicing packing the boat, and hoping that I get called for a teaching interview which will, ideally, land me a job for the next school year.
On Saturday night, April 13, my daughter, Haley, and my niece and her family, Rene, Kyle, and Sam, and I will be attending the Dance Showcase at the Columbia Performing Arts Center. My cousin, Jen Lee, teaches dancing there (she taught there when Haley was in Junior High) and puts together the grand finale of all the dance classes, the Showcase. Also, several of my students will be performing that night, Lauren, Kaylin and Rachel. They will be happy to see me there. They are such great dancers!
Sunday send-off will be the next day at Cooper’s Landing, April 14, 10:00AM. Wow! Ya, I’m a little nervous. Here is a list I composed between midnight and 2:00 AM last night. I keep paper and pen bedside. Every time I think of a little to-do item, I have to write it down, there are so many. These are just a few of the things that came to mind last night. Oh, and add American flag for the boat onto that list.
I conducted a loosely traditional christening ceremony before dropping Blue Moon in the water for her first voyage with her new name. This was last Sunday, March 31, and a fun time despite the fact I forgot my really cool christening script I found online. Technology prevailed and I was able to access the first paragraph, which I had posted earlier in the week. The rest was improvisation, and seemed perfectly acceptable to all present.
The, the flotilla had a most wonderful paddle under blue skies and mild temperatures. My Eddyline Shasta truly is a dream boat. Blue Moon, Sweet Dream. We bonded. Ya, we got this!
Wednesday evening, March 27, we had a wonderful heart-warming turn out for the Love Your Big Muddy Blues Benefit. Many of the finest musicians in Columbia played Red Hot Blues that night. Heidi Branaugh organized the event, with help from our committee, and things worked out beautifully. $1600 was raised to help with my expenses, and for that I am enormously grateful. Certainly, the evening was incredibly special and a memorable one for all. Much love in our community shined forth that night. And Shane Perrin, The Stand Up Guy, came to the event! What a wonderful supporter and inspiration. He planted a few seeds in my mind while visiting together! 😉
Media interest has picked up, which I suppose is to be expected. Ciera and Megan, journalism students at the University of Missouri, are working for the Columbia Missourian to get a story out soon. Ciera is working on a written article and Megan is working on a corresponding video story.
Loved talking with Elizabeth Labauch, who wrote a blog post about the expedition for Footprint Magazine. Footprint Magazine is produced by Sustain Mizzou, an environmental student group at the University of Missouri. Tina Casagrand does a great job of keeping the magazine vibrant. Liz did a great piece from a somewhat different perspective. You can read her article posted to the Media Coverage Page on this blog.
I met with Simon Rose and Rene on the KFRU Morning Meeting yesterday. Be sure and check out the on-air interview, also posted on the Media Coverage Page at the top of my blog.
Right now I am waiting for Philip White to call. He wants to interview me for The SUP magazine online. Cool. He also writes for Canoe and Kayak. Doubly cool.
Just got off the phone with Philip. Great friendly conversation. I’ll keep you posted.
And finally, Leslie Kolovich and I did a podcast for her SUP radio show, Paddle for the Planet. Most enjoyable conversation with her, on and off air. Leslie is passionate for paddling AND the planet. Check out our podcast interview in the Media Coverage drop down list. And, check out her SUP Radio Show where she interviews, and supports, the paddling communities everywhere!
Well, folks, got another blog post out here, didn’t I? That wasn’t even on my ToDo list. I will strive to keep you faithful followers updated during my trip. I anticipate I will be very busy taking photos, videos, charging up the laptop, writing in my journal, paddling onward, and keeping my hands clean. They don’t call it the Big Muddy for nothing, you know!
Feel free to suggest, inspire, encourage, and entertain by leaving a comment any time. Always appreciated! Cheers!
“For thousands of years, we have gone to sea. We have crafted vessels to carry us and we have called them by name. These ships will nurture and care for us through perilous seas, and so we affectionately call them “she.” To them we toast, and ask to celebrate “BLUE MOON.” Then everybody raises their glass filled with champagne or your favorite non-alcoholic beverage and shouts, “TO THE SAILORS OF OLD…TO BLUE MOON.” Everybody takes a sip.
That is the start of the script for the christening ceremony. Tomorrow, a.k.a., Easter Sunday, Blue Moon will take her first ride in the Missouri River as the Blue Moon. For those of you who are not aware, Bob Bellingham of Australia paddled down the Missouri River last summer in the same boat, which was then the Barbara May. In the spirit of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” I have purchased Bob’s boat for my expedition, and she is no stranger to the river.
The Barbara May brought Bob down the river, from Three Forks to St. Louis, in 89 days. Ideally, Blue Moon will replicate that schedule so that I arrive in St. Louis on August 1st (give or take a couple of days). Tomorrow, I will conduct a short ceremony in order to loosely hold on to the tradition of renaming and/or christening a boat. Those paddling with me, and anyone else interested, are invited to take part.
Today, I hope to apply this blog site address onto the sides of Blue Moon.
Things are really revving up, gear-wise. Packages are showing up on my porch, such as the lettering for my web address, my solar panel, compression dry sacks, my sleeping bag, a camera, cleaner for the boat deck, etc.
I spent 3 hours in Batteries + yesterday trying to assemble an appropriate electronic system to charge my laptop from the roll-up solar panel. Solar panels do not advertise laptop charging. Normally, they are geared for only the smaller electronic appliances, i.e., iPhone, iPad, camera, or GPS. After yesterday, I’m ready to teach a Physics lesson for sure.
I had to get a 12V battery, which I learned, come in a wide variety of sizes and corresponding weights. I need a battery that will not be too big, but that will charge my laptop up in a reasonable amount of time and/or charging sessions. I won’t go into any details because my brain is still tired from yesterday’s numerous calculations. Big thanks to Herb for patiently assisting me in assembling a system! And thanks to Chad, Batteries+ store owner, who gave me a business account, which results in a small discount on all of the accessories I bought…
for my roll-up solar charger. Big thanks to Julia at PowerFilmSolar for the discount, too.
One of the employees at Batteries+ suggested a wind turbine for the boat. Holy cow, that’s brilliant! I’m sure I’ll be thinking a lot about that on those windy days on the lakes!
I have been dehydrating lots of food and vacuum sealing small packages. Why have I not been doing this for the last 30 years? The beef jerky is out of this world! And, the bananas, green apples, pineapple, etc. are all soooo delicious! I’ve also dried tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, peppers, and spaghetti sauce. Yep, spaghetti sauce. Starting on broccoli today. These veggies will be wonderful to throw into my side dish pasta meals.
I now have my tent, sleeping bag, stove, Thermarest, paddling gear, under layers, neoprene boots and shoes, Teva sandals, portable hard drive, three cameras, an iPhone, a laptop (which I’ve owned for a long time and hope it performs), maps, drybags, compression dry bags, compass, whistle, wheeleez for portaging, and a lot of little items that I had to pick up as I walked through Walt’s Wilderness store. Little things like a first-aid kit, meal kit, coffee french-press with cup set, moleskin, caribiners, and a wide-mouth water bottle for my alfalfa sprouts. I even picked up my one and only packaged freeze-dried meal: camp eggs! I love eggs and will need to cook up this package for some special occasion, which could be anything, like one full day with zero wind!! I may be missing my eggs on this trip.
I will test my gear this week-end when I go to Missouri River Relief’s MO River clean-up in St. Charles. Seven years have passed since I started back to school and have not had an opportunity to go to a river clean-up since. These clean-up events are a must-do activity for everyone, ESPECIALLY, river communities. The sense of accomplishment, camaraderie, and contribution to society cannot be fully appreciated until you take part in one. I am so looking forward to being with fellow river stewards, cleaning up the trash, and trying out the gear that I will become one with for the next 3 and 1/2 months. I definitely have to make sure that French Press works. Gotta have my cup of Joe to get my day on track!
Stay tuned for an upcoming post in which I will share with you the red-hot heart-warming LoveYourBigMuddy Blues Benefit from last Wednesday, March 27.
I am totally immersed in preparations for the trip while still trying to substitute teach enough days to ‘pay the rent,’ so to speak. Spring Break comes next week so I will not be able to work. This will be a good time to tie up a lot of loose ends.
We brought my Eddyline Shasta kayak into the house the other day because I needed to apply a keel strip for protection and the weather has been too cold. The temperature needs to be at least 70 degrees, so into the house it came. I went ahead and applied the new boat name letters, too. I am very pleased with the outcome. Next, I will apply this blog’s web address on the side along with some of my sponsorship decals. Isn’t it pretty? Handsome?
Alpine Shop in Columbia is sponsoring me with some significant gear items. Thank you, Brennan! He has donated a camp stove-MSR Reactor system (yes!), a Thermarest mattress (3 in thick. excellent!), and a Sea to Summit sleeping bag liner. They will also communicate my links and updates on their social media sites and to their email recipients. You should stop by the shop and check out their new expanded paddling section. They are becoming a premier paddling retailer in mid-MO.
I ordered my tent, a Hubba Hubba 2P tent from Walt’s Bike & Wilderness Shop. Besides a Patagonia balaklava, polarized sunglasses and SealSkinz paddling gloves, they were able to give me a 10% discount on my tent. Every little bit helps. Thanks, Sarah.
After four of my emails were ignored by PowerFilmsSolar, I talked to Julie on the phone, mainly because I needed to purchase my solar charging system and a friend, Barb Giles, offered to donate funds to purchase it. We weren’t sure what exactly what I needed, so when I talked to Julie, she ended up apologizing for them ignoring me, and offered me a pro-discount on a 14R roll up solar charger. Thanks, Julie! And, THANK YOU, BARB!
I’ll order my sleeping bag today, and a GoPro camera. GoPro has not responded to my sponsorship proposal, nor has Cascade Designs for a sleeping bag. That’s okay, though. I am content with all the things I have been given. Oh, and I will probably purchase a GPS device, but not sure yet. Norm Miller will have one we can use to get to Brower’s Spring.
My Kokatat gear should be arriving any day. That will complete my paddling gear. I’m excited about looking it all over. Once I have all of my gear, I will need to start puzzle piecing everything into the boat. That will be the biggest challenge. I normally carry everything but the kitchen sink with me, everywhere I go. My first backpacking trip, when I was 16-years old, was unforgettable because I was ribbed extensively due to all the stuff I had to unload out of my pack. I cannot remember details, but somewhat recall a big tube of Crest toothpaste being the brunt of long-lasting jokes. Hey, one has got to keep their teeth brushed, right?
Veteran paddlers have offered a lot of good advice about food to bring. I posted a request for their thoughts on the “Missouri River Paddlers” Facebook Group as well as the “Expedition Canoe and Kayakers” Facebook Group. I received a lot of great ideas, a few of which I have included here:
Dale Sanders: Tortillas – most any eatable food can be roled into them, very satisfying meal and they have long “shelf life” and available at most grocery stores. Try Nutella rolled in – delicious.
West Hansen Keep it simple: instant oatmeal with Starbucks Via for breakfast. Mid morning sip 1200 calorie bike bottle of SPIZ (half vanilla/half chocolate). Lunch: can of tuna with Cholula sauce and some dehydrated fruits. Mid afternoon – same SPIZ drink. Supper, dehydrated meal with some canned meat mixed in for calories. When racing, I up my SPIZ mix with some extra maltodextrin electrolytes. Sometimes I add a Starbucks Via to the SPIZ. Then we call it SPAZ.
Kathy Norpell Kurzhals: Tuna, tortillas wraps ( cheese sticks, pb&honey, foil chicken breast), brown minute rice with any seasonings, chicken helpers and tuna helpers, pita bread with pepperoni and squeeze tomato paste and cheese-pizza!, polenta, quinoa, even mac’n cheese…….
Marin Medak: Beef jerky is one of my favorites. Then mini Snickers, and also some fruits – bananas, oranges, apples.
I will include other “good advice” contributions in an upcoming post. I learned a lot from all of these experienced paddlers. As a result of the good advice, I have purchased a dehydrator and seal-a-meal machine to vacuum seal the food. So far I have dried beef, apples, bananas, pineapple, and blueberries. Next, I will dry vegetables, more beef, some fruit roll-ups, and some sauces. Yes, you can dry spaghetti sauce like a fruit roll up, and just add water bring it back to sauce. Cool, eh?
I have just started throwing interesting food items in my basket when I come across them. Mostly, they are side-dish pastas and rice, which will be wonderful to have after long days of paddling. I will also make my own trail mix.
I am going to buy some Tanka Bars, too, made and sold by the Oglala Lakotas on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The bars, and bites, are made with buffalo and cranberries, and are all natural (and delicious, too). Check out a location that sells them near you and HELP SUPPORT the Pine Ridge Reservation Oglala Lakotas! The Tonka Bars will serve as my energy protein bars. I’ve never been ‘into’ Cliff Bars or other types of energy bars.
Fundraising continues with the hope that I can be financial sustained during my 3 1/2 month excursion. I am looking forward to the Love Your Big Muddy Blues Benefit on Wednesday, March 27. The event will be held at a local pub, MoJoe’s (THANK YOU, MOJOE’S!!), on a full-moon night with some of the best blues musicians in Columbia, MO. It is a jam, so musicians can step up to the stage and contribute their talents.
The host musicians include John D’Agostino, Dennis Ternamian, Alan Loshbaugh, and Charlie Waddell. Other musicians playing music are Scott McCullough, Zed Zardoz, and Debbie D’Agostino, John’s sister. The D’Agostino family have been blessed with beautiful voices. Johnny D will be taking names for the jam. Naked Dave will be MC for the event (Go Dave!), so YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS THIS EVENT! Free appetizers made with tender loving local care will be provided. And, buy lots of raffle tickets because you get to choose your own reward! The more tickets, the more chances to win a great prize! Big thanks to the committee, headed by Heidi Brunaugh. Love you guys!
It has been a couple of weeks since I started removing the old name and website from the Shasta. Slight delay because of a heap of snow dumped on us over the course of two weeks. It has been cold and the snow still covers the majority of ground. This photo is from BEFORE the first storm, which dumped around 8-10 inches on February 21.
And after February 21…
And after another 5 or more inches, which fell on February 26:
But, speaking of snow, I talked to the person in charge of the gate to the road up Sawtelle Peak. Because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has an Air Traffic radar tower at the top, the road is gated to keep cars off the mountain when snow is present.
However, they plow the road for the employees, although 4-wheel drive is often necessary. The gentleman I spoke with was very favorable to helping us access the mountain road. He will get us past the gate so that we can ski to Brower’s from the switchback located in the upper right of this photo, below “Sawtelle Peak.”
Here is a photo of Sawtelle Peak:
And, a 3-D version from Google Earth, with switchback on far right straight across from Brower’s Spring (the green dot is the radar):
Next month I will be sipping from the waters of
Brower’s Spring, the ultimate source of the Missouri River near the Continental Divide! Of course, we will be digging through many feet of snow, no doubt. Norm Miller and I will be packing shovels.
So, that is great news!
I picked up my on/off road bike that Carl and Josh at Klunk Bicycle and Repair built for my stretch in the beginning when the waterway is frozen over. It is anticipated that this will be the case in the Centennial Valley, which is where we will come out of the mountains. There is a gravel road that follows right along the creeks and rivers and through the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.
I may have to ride my bike as far as 80 miles to Clark Canyon Reservoir. Good to be prepared for any situation.
Carl has offered to loan me the bike with the option to buy it. I became a bit attached after just a few loops around the parking lot. I am hoping to purchase it at some point. I look forward to riding it until I leave. Must practice, right? Here is a photo of the bike and crew:
We had a great meeting last week to discuss fundraising. What a wonderful group of supporters: Heidi Branaugh, Steve Schnarr, Melanie Cheney, Suzanne Cooper, Dory Colbert, Roger and Barb Giles, Jeff Barrow, and Ginger Masters. We agreed that a Love Your Big Muddy Blues Benefit would be great, particularly because Columbia, Missouri, is a mecca for musicians. We have a whole bunch of great musical artists, so we hope to have a dynamite show. We would like to hold the event at a local club, MoJo’s, on Wednesday, March 27, during happy hours: 5:00 to 8:30. We’ll provide appetizers and lots of stuff to raffle away. This is the same day that my expedition story will be featured in the Columbia Missourian. Should be a good day. Still waiting for confirmation on the location.
The outpouring of financial contributions is humbling. I am very grateful for my friends and their desire to help. Without their contributions, the expedition would still go on, but the financial burden would be difficult. Thank you to all who are able and willing to donate their precious moneys. I am very grateful. If you would like to donate, you may do so here on my Donations Opportunities Page, or go to my GoFundMe page at LoveYourBigMuddyExpedition 4 Education.
I am currently focusing on foods to take. I looked at dehydrators today and will likely purchase one to make jerky and dried vegetables. I have received a fantastic response to my request for food ideas on the Facebook Paddlers Pages that I am a part of. This has been very helpful, and relieves quite a bit of anxiety as to what I will be packing for food.
That’s it for now. Things are getting busy, sleep is difficult, writing blog posts takes time. I appreciate all of you who are following me. Thank you. Still trying to figure out the tweeting thing on Twitter.
Enjoying four days off from substitute teaching this week-end. Friday was a teacher work day and Monday is Presidents’ Day, a holiday. Lots to do, lots to do. First thing to tend to is my boat.
The old keel strip has been removed. I just need to wipe it down and get all the goo off of it. Eddyline Kayaks will walk me through applying the new strip. It is a protective strip that keeps the bottom from getting too banged up when exiting the water onto shore. Hopefully, rocks will not be too big an issue on the trip.
I will also get the rudder hooked up with the cables, remove the old name, “Barbara May” and change to “Blue Moon.” I mean, how often does a trip like this cross your path? You got it: once in a blue moon. The next blue moon is in 2015, I believe. Anyway, I will also remove Bob Bellingham’s web site address, steadypaddling.com, and apply my own, http://www.loveyourbigmuddy.com. I think I will be ready for my maiden cruise after that.
The video is ready except for one last little edit. I may be able to post it here by the time I’m finished writing this post. Facebook is very easy to post things on quickly, but my blog is like home base. We’ve been together for quite a while now, growing together, so I’d like to post the video here first. It is short and sweet.
I will be starting a fundraising page with GoFundMe. I have been fighting the idea in my mind, whether or not to go “commercial.” I guess I will go for it, since I really do need the financial support. Substitute teaching is wonderful, but the pay is meager. I love the fact that many of my friends are donating on my “Donation Opportunities” blog page. Warms my heart and builds me up.
I will soon start my food supply list, get detailed on what clothing items I will bring, and take another day to invite companies to donate items. I feel as though the bigger companies are not interested since this is my first expedition. I am trying not to depend on their support. If fundraising goes well, I will purchase the items I need such as a tent, down sleeping bag, stove, GPS device, etc.
I visited with our local sport shop businesses in Columbia last week. The effort is proving to be beneficial. Walt’s Bicycle Fitness Wilderness will be donating a couple of items from my wish list. And, I am pretty sure Klunk Bicycles is donating a used mountain bike for the portion of my trip requiring a bike ride due to frozen waterways. Once officially donated, I will make an announcement. I really want to help promote our local businesses if I can.
I am watching the snow depth level at Lakeview very closely now. The first stretch of my trip will be determined by the winter conditions such as snow and ice-covered lakes and rivers. This link gives historic as well as daily snow levels and water input into the Red Rock River.
I am determined to get to Brower’s Spring no matter how much snow has fallen. I will have to rely on my ski mountaineering experience from my years living in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Staying strong and healthy until April is very important. I am running two miles every other day, rowing on the rowing machine, taking walks, and will soon start riding my mountain bike substantial distances. I always try to eat good and wholesome foods. Basically, high fiber and low fat is my norm. I have made the switch to 100% whole wheat breads and pasta, and I eat a green salad just about every night. I will miss having a glass of Chardonnay with dinner while on my trip. Maybe I can stowaway a bottle now and then.
I have topped the 200 “likes” number on my Facebook page. YaY! If you have not liked the page, please do so. As I mentioned before, I am able to post to FB much more than I do blog posts. These posts take time and careful consideration, which I am finding harder to do now that I am substitute teaching most days.
The Columbia Missourian, University of Missouri’s Journalism School newspaper, interviewed me last week and we will meet soon for a photo shoot. The Missourian produced the first piece of media about my trip way back last August (or September?), with Bob Bellingham’s paddle down the Missouri River being the main feature. You can find that article on my “Media” page. Now, my trip will be a feature article. I am happy about having our local press support my trip. Here is Ciera, the journalism student who interviewed me. She is just delightful.
I started a Twitter account, @MoRivExpedition, so that I can utilize all the social media tools. I really don’t know much about Twitter. I am learning as I go. I am following a lot of cool adventure people, but only have two followers. That’s okay, though. I have no idea how to accumulate followers. I will just tweet little tweets now and then, and see how things progress. Once I get started on my trip, I cannot imagine having time to keep up with all the social media anyway. I will have to save my writing for the rainy days…or, snowy days…or, windy days.
Or, maybe on an occasional lovely day, I will take a break and hang out.
The seed displays are out at the stores, and that can mean only one thing: SPRING is right around the corner!! So, WOW, it will be time to go soon. Am I nervous? Sometimes yes, and sometimes yes.
And, speaking of seeds, I have a crazy idea to grow some leafy greens on the trip. I mean, 3 ½ months on the river? Some leafy greens would be nice. That said, the planting season in Montana doesn’t start until the first two weeks in June. My little portable terrarium might be ideal for some early planting! I have been brainstorming the perfect container for such a thing and currently have narrowed the choices down to a couple of good ones. Any suggestions out there? I’ll take them.
Today, I am going to build a “kayanoe” cradle for my kayak. The design is Michael Clark’s of Big Muddy Adventures. I took a picture while there so that I could build a set just like his. Once complete, I can lay my boat in it and get started removing the keel strip that needs replacing, and install the rudder. Eddyline Kayaks gave me a new strip to apply, and I am to call them when ready to put it on. Today is supposed to be 70 degrees, so I have picked up the lumber and will begin cutting wood this afternoon.
Thanks to Steve Schnarr and Melanie Cheney, my new neighbors and humble managers of Missouri River Relief, for the use of their large detached garage and electrical power. Another HUGE THANKS to them for giving me a dry bag. And Maryellen Self, THANK YOU, GIRL, for purchasing a new large dry bag for me from Sea to Summit. I am very grateful for all of your generosity.
Bill West of Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, located in the Centennial Valley just below Hell Roaring Canyon (the route to Brower’s Spring), sent me a link in which one can look up current snow depth Lakeview Ridge Snowtel Site as well as historical data from years past (also mentioned in a previous post). This will help me determine how much snow is in the area, and if we can drive up to the base of Hell Roaring Canyon, where it appears as though we will have to ski in the seven miles to Brower’s Spring, and out again.
The lookout road on Sawtelle Peak will undoubtedly be snow-covered and we have no way of getting up the switchbacks in order to ski over to Brower’s Spring. [Unless someone out there has snowmobile contacts in Montana, Idaho, or Yellowstone…?? Helicopter ride? Of course, it would have to be an in-kind donation :)]
These photos of Sawtelle Peak were taken from the website SummitPost.org
The following photos are taken from the Refuge Virtual Tour site that is not yet official. Bill Smith provided me with this link as well. You really should check it out. James Perdue has some gorgeous photos on that site.
Down in the Centennial Valley, the upper and lower lakes in the refuge will more than likely be frozen until May, so I am planning on riding a bike from Hell Roaring Canyon down to Clark Canyon Reservoir. The road follows right alongside the waterway. The ride will be approximately 80 miles. Praying that the road into that area is free of SNOW and not muddy sloshy. Plus, we REALLY need to be able to drive up to the base of Hell Roaring Canyon. The snow data link that Bill sent me is my life-line to the start of my expedition. In 2012 on April 20, the area had 11 inches of snow. In 2011 on April 20, the area had 47 inches of snow, nearly four feet! What will 2013 have in store for us???
My new motto for the expedition: GO WITH THE FLOW!
A draft of the promotion video will be sent to me on Friday. My new expedition cards came in last week, and I have a new batch of stickers with a larger web address for bumpers. Did I tell you about my terrarium? Crazy, I know. However, having something that is alive to take care of may be good for the soul. We’ll see. Nothing is set in stone. Heck, I may not have room. I am just going to GO WITH THE FLOW! 🙂
I spent nearly all day on the computer yesterday. I find that easy to do these days. Writing a single letter of request for a donation takes a lot of time. I try and carefully consider what I am writing to each company. Much time is taken just to research company websites, find a product that best meets my needs, search out a place to apply for sponsorship/product donation for that company, and/or find a marketing manager’s name to address on a letter. Then, a clear and concise letter of request is composed (and they are all different) to personally address that company and their product.
These days gear companies are pretty organized with their online sponsorship request systems (sign of the times). Some companies will let you know that if your purpose does not fall into their provided categories, don’t even bother to apply (like REI and North Face). Others will let you know that they will try and respond within 48 hours, five to ten business days, or within four months. I realize that it is important to apply to several companies, however, you have to plan for many hours in order to search for sponsorships.
I found out pretty early on that some companies won’t bother with you if you are not a “celebrity” athlete. I understand that. That is why the companies that have chosen to help me out are incredibly special and I hope to reward them with ample promotion. I am determined that my partnership with them will be a win-win situation. Thanks again to big company in-kind donations from Eddyline Kayaks/Swift Paddles, SPOT, title nine, and Patagonia for supporting my expedition.
So, yesterday I requested donations from Katadyn Group (Optimus stove and freeze-dried/dehydrated foods), Sea to Summit (sleeping bag and dry sacks), GoPro (camera), and Smith Optics (sunglasses). I spent quite a bit of time trying to find a Marketing Manager for Apple to request a Mac Book Pro. I know, what are the chances? But, if you don’t ask, you don’t even get a shot. I will have to send them a snail mail letter, pretty sure, and that doesn’t mean it will get read. I will also ask Sprint if they will give me six months of all-data service for an I-Phone that I can’t buy yet. A long-shot but, again, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Think BIG!
Other companies I have sent requests to are Garmin (GPS), Marmot (sleeping bag), InReach (denied because I’m not a celebrity adventurer), Cascade Designs (tent, stove, Thermarest pad), PowerFilm, Inc. (solar-powered roll-up panel), Kokatat (paddling clothes), and KC Paddlers. Still waiting for a response from these folks. Others yet to contact are Seal Line (dry bags, PFD (life jacket)), Teva (sandals), other tent and sleeping bag companies, and a backpack company. I will need to find more paddling companies to research for gear.
I have not asked any companies for money. I think they like to see some successful accomplishments before they sponsor an expedition with cash. Hopefully, someone will connect with what I am doing and jump on board…soon.
Even more special are some of my dear friends who have donated financially. Thank you Bill and Anne Diehl, and Karen and Ric McCann – good friends from Bear Valley days. Also, my dear friend Deb Miller and best friend, Dave Bandy. You are the first. Thank you so much!!!
I am beginning to try some foods to bring along. I have a few Knorr side dishes to try at $1 a pop, which include mashed potatoes, rice dishes, and pasta, of course. I want to make sure I have plenty of comfort foods. I will try and contact some companies for food donations. Not sure who yet.
So, this is the bulk of the work I have to do. Hopefully, I will not have to purchase a tent and sleeping bag. After five months of not working due to student teaching, and substituting part time for $70/day, I will soon need to take out a loan, or launch into a fundraising campaign, or both. I’d like to avoid another loan. My student loans are enough to keep me occupied.
My boat is all set except to remove the old keel protection strip and apply a new one, which Eddyline has provided. I need to sand some scratches and fill them up. And, I need to set up my rudder. Oh, I have to rechristen the boat with the new name: Blue Moon.
I have ordered 200 more stickers after giving away the first 100. The blog address will be larger on the new ones.
I also designed a new business card last night because the first batch did not turn out visually as nice as it appeared on the computer screen. No surprise. You get what you pay for and they were cheap. Here is a picture (a little fuzzy) of my new design I created with MOO. They should arrive in about a week.
The promo video will be ready in a week or so. Thank you Jim Karpowicz and Tom Newcomb of Black Truck Pictures. I hope to start an organized fundraising campaign then, perhaps with GoFundMe, or something of that nature. You can visit my Donation Opportunities page, which I have set up with tier-level rewards for financial donations. Please consider donating financially to help with the success of the expedition.
Norm Miller will be skiing into Brower’s Spring with me and has tracked down a pair of skis and boots from his friend who is loaning them to me. I am thankful for that. I may try and find a bike donation, or just bring my own. It is nothing special, and pretty heavy, but it is a comfortable ride. Someone may have to talk some sense into me to try and get a good bike to ride the sixty or more miles from the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge to Clark Canyon Reservoir where I am planning to put in a boat.
The Red Rock River on that stretch is complicated by private land with barbed-wire fences crossing through the river, electrical fencing doing the same, corrugated sheet-metal dams, and snag piles forcing numerous portages and body submerges. The road follows that stretch on which I will ride my bike.
Finally, I spend a fair amount of time on my blog posts. I try to make them interesting with good visual accompaniments. They take much longer, sometimes hours, than my more spontaneous updates on my Facebook page: Love Your Big Muddy Expedition. If you have not, please like my FB page. Sponsors like to see lots of page “likes.” Of course, I like to see the support. You actually are supporting my expedition indirectly by liking and following my pages and blog. THANK YOU!
So, if you are wondering when this epic adventure begins, it already has. I will be leaving for Montana with my daughter and a friend on the morning of April 14, the day after my Science Teacher Certification Exam. I hope to start the trek with my ski into Brower’s Spring on or near April 20th. Maybe I will find myself at Three Forks on May 1st. That would be ideal. I cannot wait to see the mountains and begin the adventure of my lifetime. Or, perhaps the first of many. Cheers!