Love Your River, for it is Truly Great

TO ALL OF MY LOVEYOURBIGMUDDY FOLLOWERS:

I have created a new blog site, 1Woman3Great Rivers Project @ 1woman3greatrivers.com, for my next adventure package. This new project will have me paddling from source to sea the three longest rivers on the continent: The Missouri River (done), The Mississippi River (2016), and The Yukon River (2017).

I am very excited about paddling these rivers and rigorous planning will begin soon. Actually, I’ve been working on it for several months. I do not want to lose you as followers, so please consider following my new blog site. I will try to arrange my new posts to copy over here, but I am still learning much about navigating between these two websites.

Here is a copy of my first and only post on my new site. Stay tuned for more to come.

Do what you love and love what you do!

Janet Moreland

1woman3greatrivers.com

 

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They don’t call it the “Big Muddy” for nothing, that’s for sure. Haha!

The Great Missouri River is referred to as the Big Muddy. But, hey, so is the Great Mississippi River. As numerous paddlers of both rivers know quite well, these two rivers can be, indeed, quite muddy. While paddling down the Missouri River on my LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition in 2013, I have to admit the mud was abundant on the upper stretches, but silky soft and rather clean. I know, right?! “That’s impossible,” you say. I actually found that going barefoot in this mire of mud was the best way to go. Once in the boat my feet washed off easily, and off I went. That’s not to say that I wasn’t glad when the earth hardened up. Joy filled my soul with the simple pleasure of dirt, rocks and sand replacing the squishy brown muck.

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In the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument following a multi-day rain deluge
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Ahhh, yes, the glorious sandy beaches of the lower Mississippi. Well, in 2013 they were glorious. 2015 was quite a different story with the river running flood stage all summer, and paddlers scrambling for dry land on which to sleep.
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A Mississippi Blue Hole is great for a refreshing swim and/or careful bath. Blue Holes are created when the main river drops below the level of the sand bar, losing its connection with the pool. What a sand bar!!

I will be heading north to Lake Itasca, MN, the source of the Mississippi “Big Muddy” River, this May to begin a source-to-sea paddle of this other great river as part of my 1Woman3GreatRivers Project. My goal is to solo paddle the three longest rivers in North America. The Missouri River is the longest river on the continent at 2,540 miles, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), with the Mississippi coming in a close second at 2,320 miles (per Environmental Protection Agency-EPA). The third longest river is the Yukon River at 1,980 miles (per USGS), which I will attempt to paddle in 2017 from its source at Atlin Lake’s Llewellyn Glacier, to the Bering Sea. Yukon River means “Great River” in the Gwich’in language. “The Gwich’in are the northernmost Indian Nation living in fifteen small villages scattered across a vast area extending from northeast Alaska in the U.S. to the northern Yukon and Northwest Territories in Canada .” (http://ourarcticrefuge.org/about-the-gwichin/)  More about the Gwich’in Nation, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and my 2017 Yukon Pursuit later.

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Yukon River

I look forward to paddling the entire Mississippi River this trip so I can understand more about our nation’s historic and cultural monument, and to build upon that very magical and personal relationship we started in 2013. Here is a video snippet from LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition taken in early November on the Lower Mississippi.  Love Your Big Mississippi  🙂

Now that I am teaching full time, my challenge is to complete my adventure in 60 days (70 days, perhaps, if we have no snow days), during my summer break. I am confident that my outcome will be successful and full of celebration, but my tempo will be vastly different from my Missouri River expedition, being challenged in strength, both physical and mental, and in endurance and stamina. Dictionary.com defines endurance as: “the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions.” 

I say, “Bring it on”!!!

I hope you will join me on this journey down our continent’s Great River to the Gulf.

Live slow ~ Paddle fast

Peace and Love, Janet

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Know your river. Touch your river. Love your river.

A Glimpse in the Rearview Mirror: 2013 (But, keep an eye on the road ahead)

Arrival at the Gulf of Mexico on December 5, 2013.
Arrival at the Gulf of Mexico on December 5, 2013.

On April 14, 2013, I left Columbia, MO, and set out on an extraordinary solo kayak voyage down the 4th longest river system in the world, the 3,800-mile Missouri-Mississippi River System. Upon completing the expedition on December 5, 2013, I became the first American, and first woman, to traverse the entire river system from source to sea. 

Okay. One step at a time. Breathe...
Okay. One step at a time. Breathe…
Packed up and ready to go on April 14, 2013
Packed up and ready to go on April 14, 2013

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My mission began as an empowerment model for our nation’s youth, showing them that dreams can be achieved through decision, desire, and details (and hard work). The mission soon flourished into an empowerment model not only for youth, but for adult women and men as well. At 57 years old, I was living proof that neither gender nor age should prevent you from pursuing your dream. Not only that, the expedition embraced education and environmental stewardship by bringing awareness to Missouri River Relief, a not-for-profit river clean-up and education organization. Our hope is to bring the Missouri River into the classroom, and the classroom out to the river. Touching the river, knowing the river, and loving the river are key ingredients to sustaining the health and vitality of our planet’s veins and arteries. 

Welcoming party in Memphis, TN
Welcoming party in Memphis, TN
Bringing the classroom out to the river.
Bringing the classroom out to the river. Photo by Missouri River Relief
The next generation
The next generation-Photo by Missouri River Relief

The adventure began on April 24, 2013, when Norman Miller and I skied into the ultimate source of the Missouri River, Brower’s Spring, in southern Montana near West Yellowstone. We planned for 7 hours and finished in 31 hours, much to our surprise. We spent the night in the mountains with no sleeping gear, food, or fire. Let the adventure begin! 

After a 30-year absence I was delighted to be ski mountaineering again.
After a 30-year absence I was delighted to be ski mountaineering again.
Our shelter for the night and our celebratory beer now turned calorie provider.
Our impromptu shelter and our celebratory beer, now turned carbo provider.
Conditions could have been life-threatening with any kind of weather. As it was, we layed awake all night shivering.
Conditions could have been life-threatening with any kind of weather. As it was, we just layed awake all night shivering.

The next leg involved biking 100 miles through the Centennial Valley. This dirt road traversed Red Rock River to Clark Canyon Dam. The Red Rock River is not paddler friendly as it is full of man-made dams composed of barbed wire, wood, electrical wire, and corrugated sheet metal. I put my kayak in the Beaverhead River below Clark Canyon Dam on May 1, 2013. The Beaverhead eventually turns into the Jefferson River, which becomes the Missouri River about 200 miles downstream at Three Forks, MT.

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Any amount of rain would have rendered this road useless for travel, car OR bike, because of the mud. My expedition was blessed with ideal weather conditions.
Red Rock River obstruction
Red Rock River obstruction, one of dozens, making paddling slow, laborious, and dangerous.

My first day was a test of will as I became entangled in a tree strainer, spraining my hand and nearly dumping my boat. On day two, I put two holes in my boat, thankfully above water line, as the swift and narrow Beaverhead River made it difficult to avoid collisions with snags along shore. Nothing a little duct tape couldn’t fix! After 11 days of paddling I arrived at Three Forks, where I then regrouped at Norm Millers’ Base Camp International in Livingston, MT, patched the holes in my boat, and set off down the Missouri River at Three Forks on May 15, 2013. The rest, really, is history as I proceeded to live life on the river, with simplicity and joy, for the next seven months.

This photo, along with the sunset pic below, were the most popular expedition posts. Taken on the Beaverhead River, Day 1 on the water.
A bad omen? Perish the thought. Onward! On the Beaverhead River
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The Beaverhead River, where you can find a predicament around every corner.
First-time fiberglass patcher-two holes
First-time fiberglass patcher-two holes, no less.
On the Jefferson River. Photo courtesy of Norm Miller
On the Jefferson River (with duct tape patches). Photo courtesy of Norm Miller

I will cherish this expedition until the day I die.  I experienced challenging decision-making, marvelously mellow mornings, exasperating electrical storms, wild wind and waves, stunning sunsets, random acts of kindness, unforgettable human river angels, the wonders of wildlife, big huge barges, even bigger and huger freighters ;), and frightening fog. Last but not least I met a whole world of beautiful and extraordinary supporters up and down the river to whom I cannot give enough thanks, and whom I now consider river family.

Please enjoy a few expedition photos I picked out, in no logical order, but which are among some of my favorites. You may remember…

Friends from the first day to the last. Love my pelicans.
Friends from the first day to the last. Love my pelicans.
Hiking on windy Fort Peck Lake
Hiking on windy Fort Peck Lake
Have never seen another quite so stunning as this sunset
Have never seen another quite so stunning as this sunset
Well, it IS the Big Muddy!
Well, it IS the Big Muddy!
The morning after the worst electrical storm of the trip. Fort Peck Lake
The morning after the worst electrical storm of the trip. Fort Peck Lake
Nearing the Montana-North Dakota border
Below Fort Peck Lake, I think. Still muddy, but getting better.
Gates of the Rocky Mountains
Gates of the Rocky Mountains – Holter Lake, MT
Gates of the Rocky Mountains. Hard to leave this wondrous place
Gates of the Rocky Mountains. Hard to leave this wondrous place. Corps of Discovery camped right across the river.
The stoic bald eagle
The stoic bald eagle
Tow and barge on the Mississippi River
Tow and barge on the Mississippi River
A very special heart stone found just below the Ohio River confluence
A very special heart stone found just below the Ohio River confluence
New Orleans
New Orleans
Sharing the Mississippi River with tankers and freighters, always keeping one eye in front and one eye to the rear. They are quiet vessels.
Sharing the lower Mississippi River with tankers and freighters, always keeping one eye in front and one eye to the rear. They are quiet vessels.
My stellar support crew in the Gulf fog
My stellar Gulf support crew in the Gulf fog
The fog just lifted as we began crossing the Head of Passes. Nothing short of a miracle.
The fog just lifted as we began crossing the Head of Passes using a hand-held GPS device. This was a super exhilarating moment. Unforgettable. Even the ship pilot crossing the pass remembers the moment I came into view.
Yes, the pilot of this ship. Pilottown crew were stellar support on this stretch manning the radio communication.
Yes, the pilot of this ship. Pilottown crew provided much comfort on this stretch with their radio communication and hospitality. I am so thankful for them.
Grizzly bear track below Hell Roaring Canyon. Photo taken by my daughter Haley who was sleeping in a car with Jeannie, waiting for us to come out after a 24 hour delay.
Grizzly bear track below Hell Roaring Canyon. Photo taken by my daughter Haley who was sleeping in a car with Jeannie, waiting for us to come out after a 24 hour delay.
Buffalo skull next to my camp that speaks historical volumes
Buffalo skull found next to my camp below Fort Benton, MT, that speaks historical volumes.
Bridge City Marina, home of special river angels
Bridge City Marina in Mobridge, SD, home of very special river angel, Michael Norder and his lovely family.
Hole in the Wall, Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument
Hole in the Wall, Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, MT
Making camp
Making camp
Curious Pronghorn Deer
Curious pronghorn antelope in Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge
Sweet heart blue hole on the Mississippi River
Sweet heart blue hole on the middle Mississippi River
The Natchez of New Orleans.
The Natchez of New Orleans.
Great Horned Owl Babies in Great Falls, MT
Great Horned Owl Babies in Great Falls, MT
One of several lone pelicans escorting me down the South Pass to bid me farewell, I think
One of several lone pelicans escorting me down the South Pass to bid me farewell. BFF

Please visit my sponsor page at the top of my site to see the wonderful companies that believed in me and helped me out in some way to ease the financial burden. Special thanks to Patagonia for their generous clothing sponsorship. Eddyline for their excellent service with my boat as well as donating the best paddle I could ever imaging taking, a Swift Paddle. Many heart-felt thanks to all of Columbia, Mo’s outdoor shops for donating items to LoveYourBigMuddy. Huge thanks especially to our Klunk Bikes for re’cycling’ me a bike, which I love very much to this day.

And to every person that was able to donate financially, I know who you are and you will NOT be forgotten. Particularly my local Riverbilly family and those contributing to the Blues Benefit. Click here to see who these tremendous supporters of LoveYourBigMuddy are. This was YOUR expedition! THANK YOU! If you see a photo you would like on this post and it is part of your donation reward, please email me and let me know. I will be posting more photos shortly.

For a comprehensive view of media articles and podcasts, click here to visit my media page, located at the top of the site.

Lastly, warm thoughts go out to the crew at Canoe and Kayak Magazine, and to all of the individuals who took a moment to vote LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition into the “Spirit of Adventure” Award arena for 2014. Certainly, the honor was all mine to receive the award in the midst of an incredible paddling family. YOU, too, can be a candidate for such a cool recognition. Just…

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Dave Shively, editor, and one of many very cool people who have created this outstanding paddling magazine and helped to create an international paddling family. Three cheers!!! Click here to visit the award ceremony.

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…remember to keep your eyes on the road ahead. Don’t quit your DayDream. And, dream BIG!

LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition on Facebook. see what’s up…

Oh, one last thing, a toast to LoveYourBigMuddy

Still reeling from the high

Post-Expedition Update (July1-2014): Lower Brule Sioux Reservation, SD

Sunset on Lake Sharpe
Sunset on Lake Sharpe, SD
“So, Janet, what’s your next adventure?” A popular question about which I have been asked many times. For awhile there I began to believe I could go on another expedition. I began researching the Amazon River and contacted my friends on Facebook who have paddled it already, namely Mark Kalch and West Hanson. Man oh man, what an awesome adventure THAT would be! Not only do I have an interest in South America, but to paddle the second longest river in the world??? Solo?! We are talking real-deal adventure! Too bad about the Class V+ white water on that 500-mile section…hmmm, do I REALLY want to risk my life? How could I ever pay for such a thing? How long will it take? How DO those adventurers DO it???
Back to reality. Spending 7.5 months on an expedition is costly. I am so thankful for my supporters along the way who carried me through financially, but the money hole that awaited me post-expedition was, or is, enormous. I left on my expedition with pocket change, and came home with the same.
That said, I began researching an adventure that was drifting around in the back of my mind, something I have always been interested in and have wanted to learn more about. I needed to find an adventure during which I could work and make some money. To begin my inquiry I made the initial phone call to the Lower Brule Sioux Indian Reservation School in south-central South Dakota. I wondered if they needed any teachers. This could be a cultural journey for which I could get paid while immersed in it. I had started the ball rolling, one that is currently moving right along at a pretty good clip. In fact, I will be moving to South Dakota next month to teach 6th-grade at the Lower Brule Day school. Now, ask me what my next adventure is going to be!  🙂
This boat ramp was not on my map but a welcome sight since I did not have time to make it to Lower Brule this day.
Upriver from the town of Lower Brule, this boat ramp was not on my map but a welcome sight since I did not have time to make it to Lower Brule this day.
This boat ramp was so beautiful and a pleasant place to camp.
This boat ramp was so beautiful and a pleasant place to camp.
Not a whole lot to do once I set up camp at the Little Bend Boat Ramp, so I picked up trash.
Not a whole lot to do once I set up camp at the Little Bend Boat Ramp, so I picked up trash.
I had lots of company at the boat ramp camp
I had lots of company at the boat ramp camp
Busy boat ramp popular with the fishermen and families. Everyone was very friendly, that night and the next morning. The fishermen were there at the crack of dawn, as I recall.
Busy boat ramp popular with the fishermen and families. Everyone was very friendly, that night and the next morning. The fishermen were there at the crack of dawn, as I recall.
I visited Lower Brule Sioux reservation while on expedition. I landed in Chamberlain, South Dakota, on Thursday, August 9, 2013, which is downstream a few hours, below Big Bend Dam. My campsite was at the beautiful American Creek Campground located on the waterfront shore of Lake Francis Case. Jessica Giard was my river contact in Chamberlain, at that time the editor of the local town paper. We enjoyed each other’s company very much and made arrangements to drive to the Powwow at Lower Brule on Sunday, August 11, 2013.
A photo of me during expedition taken by fellow long-distance paddler David Forbes. We met at Big Bend Dam and paddled to Chamberlain together.
A photo of me during expedition taken by fellow long-distance paddler David Forbes. We met at Big Bend Dam and paddled to Chamberlain together.
David Forbes, me, and Jessica Andrews Giard enjoying dinner together at the Marina in Chamberlain, SD.
David Forbes, me, and Jessica Andrews Giard, Chamberlain River Angel, enjoying dinner together at the Marina in Chamberlain, SD.
I was intrigued with the Powwow event and the display of American Indian culture. Lower Brule reservation is located right on the shores of Lake Sharpe. I took lots of photos, met some unique and interesting individuals, and thoroughly enjoyed the regalia, dancing and music at the event, the latter of which consisted of many different drum circles. This was a highlight of my expedition.
My favorite photo of the journey, these American Indian girls smiled so big for the photo. They appear to be near the age I will be teaching this year, which is 6th grade.
My favorite photo of the journey, these American Indian girls smiled so big for the photo. They appear to be near the age I will be teaching this year, which is 6th grade.
I think this was the opening dance when all participate. Spectacular!
I think this was the opening dance when all participate. Spectacular!
The costume, drums and dance made for some spell-binding events
The regalia, drums and dance made for some spell-binding events.
One of the many drum circles competing at the Powwow
One of the many drum circles competing at the Powwow
Jessica Giard, Chamberlain river angel, asking a few questions for a write-up in the Chamberlain newspaper.
Jessica Andrews Giard, Chamberlain river angel, asking a few questions for a write-up in the Chamberlain newspaper.
I was awestruck at the traditional costumes on display this day.
I was awestruck at the traditional regalia on display this day.
Truth be known, this one melted my heart.
Truth be known, this one melted my heart.
Lower Brule is reorganizing its school system to achieve sustainable success. The Tribal Council is working with AIII (A-Triple i), the American Indian Institute for Innovation, making uplifting and relevant changes to achieve post-secondary attendance by graduating high school students who will, ultimately, return to the reservation with their education, leadership skills and innovative ideas. The schools are hoping to achieve an increase in performance standards. I believe the changes in-progress will manifest success and benefits to the Lower Brule community.
Preferring not to commute the 30 minutes to Chamberlain to live, leaving school at the bell and returning at 7:00 AM, I asked the consulting team leading the reorganization if they could find me housing on the reservation. Indeed, they DID find for me a modest inexpensive home to rent just a few blocks from the school. I felt this arrangement was important for immersion with the community and building relationships.
LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition was a life-changing journey like I never expected. After seven and one-half months living simply on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, I now know that my days will continue to be unique while trying to avoid ordinary affairs. Living life outside of the box is stimulating and rewarding. I refuse to melt into an armchair positioned in front of a television or a desk chair in front of a computer screen (well, maybe a little of the latter). Life is so short and at 57 years I can feel the pressure of time passing. So much to do and so little time!
I took this photo on glassy waters as I paddled past Lower Brule.
I took this photo on glassy waters as I paddled past Lower Brule.
A little northern squall heading right for me on Lake Sharpe near Lower Brule. After I hauled everything up out of the water and covered up with a tarp, the storm broke apart. That was good, I guess, even though I was prepared for it.
It did not take long for this northern squall to move in. Luckily it broke up over the river after I had moved my boat and gear and me away from the water.
The journey is not over until the mission bears fruit. The goals of LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition include 1) empowering youth (women and men) to confidently pursue their dreams and desires 2) conducting effective education in the natural environment, which includes bringing the Missouri River into the classroom and the classroom out to the river and 3) preparing the next generation for impactful stewardship of our nation’s waterways. Purposeful living embodies the spirit of adventure. Yep, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Coming out from under my tarp which I used to cover me in a squall. The rain never really came as the storm broke up over the river.
Coming out from under my tarp which I used to cover myself in a squall.
Do what you love, and love what you do!
See you on the river!! syotr
Sunrise on Lake Sharpe
Sunrise on Lake Sharpe
See You On The River!
See You On The River!

Adventure Kayak Magazine Interview-February 20, 2014

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I just received an email from Virginia Marshall today letting me know that they had published our Q & A interview conducted last month. I like it. Hope you do to.

Also, look for another expedition post soon about the Missouri River stretch between Fort Peck Dam and Fort Union (at the Montana-North Dakota Border).  Still going through lots and lots of photos and videos. Oh, and I made my first iMovie video short. I’ll post that once I figure out how to do it.

Cheers! Hope you enjoy the interview…

On the Jefferson River. Photo courtesy of Norm Miller
On the Jefferson River. Photo courtesy of Norm Miller

Q&A with Big Muddy Paddler

  • Janet Moreland paddled 3,800 miles down the Missouri River. She’s just getting started.

Janet Moreland believes it is never too late to pursue your passions. The 56-year-old mother from Columbia, Missouri, graduated from university with a degree in education in December 2012. Less than four months later, she set out in Blue Moon, her 17-foot Eddyline Shasta tandem kayak, on a 3,800-mile expedition from the headwaters of the Missouri River at Brower’s Spring, Montana, to the Gulf of Mexico. On December 5, 2013, she became the first woman to complete a solo, source-to-sea descent of the Missouri/Mississippi River system, the fourth longest river in the world.

Who is Janet Moreland?

I love the outdoors and strive to immerse myself in the natural environment whenever possible. I spent much of my youth in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains ski mountaineering, and windsurfing the northern California rivers, bays and waves. I began canoeing rivers when I moved to Missouri in 1994, and started kayaking the Missouri River in 2001 after moving to Columbia, MO, in 1996.

You can often find me three miles down the road from my house on or near the Missouri River at Mile 170, Cooper’s Landing, where I spend much of my time walking my dog, paddling, or enjoying the company of our large river community.

 

Do you remember the moment you decided to walk out your door to take on a solo Missouri River source to sea? What was the biggest factor that motivated you?

One of the biggest motivating factors was the notion that I would be the first woman to paddle the entire length of the Missouri River solo. This turned out to be very inspiring for many women, students, and men, following my expedition. Later, I realized I would also become the first American to journey from source to sea.

 

You write on your blog that your mission for this trip included empowerment, education and environmental stewardship. How do you meet these lofty goals and paddle 3,800 miles?

Well, the journey is not over until the mission bears fruit. I am still actively working on realizing these goals. The first step in my trip was to complete the paddle successfully. Many who followed my trip on Facebook or on my blog were very inspired that a 56-year-old woman was attempting such a grand and challenging expedition. Also, I wanted to model for school-age children that they can overcome challenging obstacles and be successful in achieving their goals. Many of my students from last year were excited about my attempt, and followed me on social media.

Regarding education, I tried to share as much of my experience on the river as I could, including some cultural and historical information. I wanted to increase awareness of Missouri River Relief, a dynamic non-profit organization dedicated to the stewardship of the Missouri River, as well as educating our youth and communities about the river, on the river. While I was on my expedition, River Relief was conducting river cleanup events on the river from St. Louis to Washington to Kansas City to Omaha.

Who are your paddling heroes, who inspired you and who continues to?

Well, Norman Miller was my go-to guy when deciding and planning this expedition. He was a motivating factor as well. He paddled up the Missouri River in 2004 for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial celebration. He followed their route up the river, over the Rocky Mountains, and back on the water to the Pacific Ocean.

I made a point of meeting all of the 2012 long-distance paddlers (LDPs) on the Missouri River when they passed by Cooper’s Landing. I enjoyed talking to all of them about their journey and took mental notes. So, some heroes include Dave Miller, author of The Complete Paddler, and the one who planted the seed in 2005 when he passed through Cooper’s Landing (Norman Miller watered that seed last summer), Bob Bellingham, Mark Kalch, Dave Cornthwaite (swimmer), Rod Wellington, and Dominique Liboiron. The LDPs I paddled with this year, Reed and Josh, Shawn Hollingsworth, and Scott Mestrezat are also my heroes, and I consider them my river brothers.

The MR340 paddlers are also my heroes. Anyone who immerses themselves in a 340-mile race across the state, on the Missouri River, is inspiring to me and a hero in my book. Stand-up paddle boarder, Shane Perrin, is my hero in this regard.

 

What kayak did you use to take on the Beaverhead, Jefferson, Missouri and Mississippi rivers during your Source to Sea expedition, and why?

I paddled an Eddyline Shasta kayak on my journey. Paddlers Andy Bugh, 2011, and Bob Bellingham, 2012, paddled the same kayak. In fact, I bought Bob’s kayak from him before he flew home to Australia. The boat is a 17’ tandem open cockpit carbonlite kayak and very stable. And, the open cockpit makes it more roomy that the standard plastic mold sea kayak. I did not want to be cramped inside a tight cockpit. I love my boat. We could go anywhere in extreme conditions and I never felt nervous about capsizing.

The Shasta was challenging on the Beaverhead because the river is narrow, windy, swift and shallow. I had a 12.5’ plastic kayak with me, but my support crew needed to head back to Missouri so I just put in with Blue Moon, my Shasta, and went for it. I put two holes in it on the second day. Oh well, they were above water line and duct tape fixed it until I stopped over at Norman Miller’s house near Three Forks and I fiberglass patched the holes.

Photo courtesy of Norm Miller
Photo courtesy of Norm Miller

What were the highlights of this journey? Was there anywhere along the route that you would highly recommend to paddlers that they might not know about?

There are so many highlights of the journey that I cannot name them all. I will say that the ski in to Brower’s Spring at the source was a highlight. We planned on a seven-hour ski, but it took us 31 hours. We were totally unprepared to spend the night, but we managed. The Jefferson River in Montana was a beautiful stretch of river. Fort Peck Lake was some serious wilderness paddling. I had already gone two weeks without internet in the Missouri River Breaks National Monument, and then another two weeks on Fort Peck Lake. I felt very isolated and exposed to wilderness. I loved it. I have had wilderness yearnings all my life, and that experience fulfilled them. And, the Mississippi River turned out to be a wonderful romantic experience. I fell in love with the sandbars, the tow and barges, the freighters, the wildlife, and the river. My Mississippi River experience far surpassed my expectations.

 

Favorite location you pitched your tent? Least favorite?

Numerous favorite locations I called home for a night, or two. One that sticks out was on the Mississippi River just below the Arkansas River confluence across from the Chicot City navigation light. I camped on a sandbar shelf, which positioned me up, and looking out, over a narrow bend in the river. I was protected from the north by a long hedge of willow trees. I love being up high, and I love having the tow and barges passing close by. The tow and barges have a romantic feel to me because I believe the pilots of these boats would be navigating the river in steamboats if they were living in that era. The river is their life, so I felt at home navigating amongst them. The fog on the river the next morning was exquisite and I managed to capture the moment with photography.

Least favorite camp was on Fort Peck Lake in a low-lying cove with no trees and covered with mud. It was here that I experienced one of the several severe electrical storms on my trip. I bolted out of this site first thing in the morning, wallowing in mud. Ugh.

 

Reading your blog, one is struck by the many helpful, hospitable folks you met along your journey. Can you tell us about a few who stand out most in your mind?

This is a very difficult question to answer. There are sooooo many river angels. People up and down the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers were very supportive and wanted to be a part of my success. People were constantly asking me if I needed anything, offering food and a place to sleep, gear needs, coming out to paddle with me, picking me up off the river and taking me into their homes, sharing their lives and families with me. Some were strangers who just gave me cash because that was the only way they had to support me and help me. It was unbelievable. The people who cared about me and my success are the greatest memories of this expedition.

 

Did you ever come across people who just didn’t get what you were doing, or told you it was dangerous or foolish?

On the drive up to Montana we had to replace a windshield wiper and the manager of the store, upon explaining to him what I was doing responded by saying, “Well, THAT seems like a big waste of time. Why would you want to do THAT?” Then, his employee came out and replaced the wiper, and offered kind words of encouragement. I learned early on that such an expedition is not for everybody.

All of us LDPs this year can tell the same story of people warning us about Fort Peck Lake and how people die on that lake. They all told us the same warnings: winds come out of nowhere and huge swells and waves will swamp you and people drown on the lake all the time. Very discouraging messages, and taken with an element of caution. Fort Peck Lake made us all stronger and wiser for Lake Sakakawea, 178 miles long, and Oahe Lake, 230 miles long, the two huge lakes still ahead on our journeys.

 

Was there ever a point you would rather have been doing something else, or a place you just couldn’t wait to escape due to unhappy circumstances?

I never experienced unhappy circumstances that discouraged me. I never felt that I would not complete this expedition, or that it was a burden. I loved every minute of this journey and was very sad when the river ran out and I had no more paddling to do. I can never duplicate this journey. It is over. I want to share it, though, in presentations and writing, and will get a book out there in due time.

 

What advice would you offer to anyone contemplating a long trip or solo journey?

Do what you love and love what you do. If there is any doubt as to the journey you are embarking on, and whether you will be content or successful, take some time to consider if you are doing the right thing.  Consider your reasons for doing it. Your mission is an important motivator.  If you are inspiring others, you will likely succeed and be fulfilled while doing it.

 

What’s next for you?

I have lots of things I am thinking about, including writing a book, teaching school full time, and presenting my experience around the country. That said, I am scheduled to be the featured speaker at the Quiet Water Symposium on March 1, 2014, in East Lansing, Michigan. I also have [another] major river expedition I have begun researching.

As told to Virginia Marshall

To see the story online, click here

Do what you love and love what you do.

Live fast and paddle slow…

The Goal: The Gulf of Mexico…Check! December 5, 2013

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I finally did it! I made it all the way to the Gulf if Mexico, but not without some very harrowing and tense moments in the Southern Louisiana fog. Fog? Who knew? That was an oversight on my part. Forgot about the fog.

This is my amazing support crew that helped get me through the fog, through the Head of Passes, down South Pass to the Gulf, and back to Venice in a thick fog bank. What an epic finish to an unforgettable journey. Big THANKS to my support crew, the Bar Pilots and their crews in Venice and Pilottown, and to all of my supporters who cheered me on every single day!

My unforgettable crew and dear friends and daughter:

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L-R: Mark Dierking, Denise Goforth, Mwah, Jamie Stevenson, Haley Moreland (my sweet daughter), and Deb Miller. Extraordinary!!

And the stellar crew at Pilottown:

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Pilottown Crew to the rescue! L-R: Josh, Eric, Adam, Booher, Leon and Shawn. What a comfort these guys were after being in a very uncomfortable fog. Thank you, gentlemen! You are the best!

Pilots at Venice Bar Pilot’s Association:

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Bear (R) and Allen (L)

Our first attempt to make it to the Gulf was on December 4. We were doing pretty good on the East shore, although the fog was lingering on that side. By the time we passed Pilottown in the fog, we were engulfed. At one point we all heard a boat coming right toward us. I was out of the channel, and so was my support boat, but I didn’t know it. They were in only three feet of water. Hearing the boat coming closer and closer, but not seeing it, I was terrified they would be run down by a big fishing boat. I screamed at them to turn around. They appeared to be frozen staring into the fog. Oh. My. God. Will I witness their demise???? Thankfully, no. After the boat passed us by, we all knew we were finished for now. I got on the phone to Pilottown and asked them if we could come ashore.

“Of course, we will be expecting you,” they replied.

When we arrived 15 minutes later, they immediately took us under their wing, brought us inside, fed us from a smorgasborg outlay of food, shared their ‘mission control,’ and educated us on their system for bringing big ships up from the Gulf to New Orleans. Most importantly, they explained the Fog Predictor, which indicated a lift in the fog at 9:00AM until midnight tomorrow, December 5. We set our goal to the Gulf for tomorrow. They invited to breakfast, too. So nice and comforting, these river angels.

The Pilottown crew directed us to the back room where we feasted. From sadness to gladness, comfort on many levels.
The Pilottown crew directed us to the back room where we feasted. From sadness to gladness, comfort on many levels.
The fog predictor. The gap in the red and green lines on the top indicates our window to shoot the pass and get back home. I tell ya, adventure in its purest form.
The fog predictor. The gap in the red and green lines on the top indicates our window to shoot the pass and get back home. I tell ya, adventure in its purest form.

 

As you can imagine, I was VERY ready to reach the Gulf of Mexico.
As you can imagine, I was VERY ready to reach the Gulf of Mexico
the next morning.
A tiny portion of the breakfast offered to us by the Pilottown crew.
A tiny portion of the breakfast offered to us by the Pilottown crew.
The fog was thick the 10 miles from Venice to Pilottown, which is located one mile above Mile Zero. The Gulf of Mexico is 12 miles from Mile Zero down South Pass.
The fog was thick the 10 miles from Venice to Pilottown, which is located one mile above Mile Zero. The Gulf of Mexico is 12 miles from Mile Zero down South Pass. South Pass is the route I had chosen to reach the Gulf.

On the final dash to the Gulf, my greatest concern was the fog in the Head of Passes. This is a wide open space from which three branches of channelized water run to the Gulf. The Southwest Pass is the shipping lane for tankers, freighters, and container ships, Loutre Pass is mainly small craft and fishing boats, and South Pass fishing craft. Tankers come up SW Pass and cross through the Head of Passes to the West Bank near Pilottown. As you can imagine, in the fog, this is a dangerous route through which to paddle.

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Just prior to leaving Pilottown, three Plaquemines Parish Marine Sheriffs pull up in their boat on their way down to Port Eads, located one mile upriver from the Gulf down South Pass. When I found this out, I somewhat pleaded with them to guide us through the fog through the Head of Passes with their radar. As you can see in this photo, I was gravely concerned. I could not get them to commit, for whatever reason, so we determined to just go for it with the support we had from the Pilottown crew, and the Venice pilots, who drive the ships up the Pass.

I asked them if they would guide us through the Head of Passes with their radar. They could not commit. We had to go ahead on our own.
I asked them if they would guide us through the Head of Passes with their radar. They could not commit. We had to go ahead on our own.
Off we went with great apprehension coupled with extraordinary determination.
Off we went with great apprehension coupled with extraordinary determination.
This photo I took during our attempt the day before. But, you get the picture. Tense moments to say the least.
I took this photo the day before. But, you get the picture.
Tense moments to say the least.

The Pilottown crew were phenomenal in communicating our whereabouts to the best of their ability. However, when they began asking the ship pilots if they had seen us, I knew we were on our own, so to speak. We had to navigate wisely through this stretch or catastrophe would be imminent. What we did know from my marine radio, was when a ship was coming up through the fog out of SW Pass, or down into the Head of Passes past Pilottown. Mark used his depth finder to try and avoid the channel, but at some point we had to cross.

Ship approaching in the fog.
Ship coming into view through the fog.

There was a moment when we were immersed in fog and very vulnerable. I began to paddle with my GPS as my guide, which is what the crew told us to do. How scary is that in the fog???? Very! As my heart began to sink further into my gut, I mustered everything I had to keep my composure, as we all were doing at that time. At that very moment, we heard a boat coming right for us. Oh my God! Will it see us in time to stop??? All we can do is wait as it gets closer. Then, appearing as though angels from the spiritual realm, the Sheriff’s boat appears and immediately they begin pointing out the channel light at South Pass.

Marine Sheriffs of Plaquemine Parish.
Marine Sheriffs of Plaquemines Parish. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

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Miraculously, the fog began lifting at that moment and we could then see all three passes! What a moment of joy and relief that was, never to be forgotten.

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Extreme JOY! I can see all of the Passes!
Extreme JOY! I can see all of the Passes!

I paddled harder than I had paddled on the entire journey, the 12-13 miles down South Pass. I took out my iPod and played river songs and sang at the top of my lungs, particularly Black Water by the Doobie Brothers. Playing music always gives me a much-needed boost of energy.

The highlight of my entire trip had to be when I saw my white pelican near the shore in South Pass. I couldn’t believe my eyes! He had come to see me through to the end, and provided that quiet comfort we both understood, that he had provided since day one of my paddling journey. I still shed a tear when I think about how perfect and complete this trip has been.

The perfect good bye and congratulations. I was immersed in joy and supercharged with energy after seeing my pelican friend.
The perfect good bye and congratulations. I was immersed in joy and supercharged with energy after seeing my pelican friend.

 

We had a clear shot to the Gulf, and most of the way back up the pass. We were not out of the woods yet. But we had made it to the Gulf of Mexico!

The crew landed before me so they could scope it out and take some photos of my arrival.
The crew landed before me so they could scope it out and
take some photos of my arrival.
The Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico
What a sweet moment of victory, seasoned with a dash of bittersweet. I had run out of river. A new chapter in my life was about to begin.
What a sweet moment of victory, seasoned with a dash of bittersweet. I had run out of river. A new chapter in my life was about to begin. I was thrilled.
Champagne, a swim in the water, and a big heartfelt thank you to all of my dear supporters. Then, we were "outta there!"
Champagne, a swim in the water, and a big heartfelt thank you to all of my dear supporters. Then, we were “outta there!”

We made it about 2/3 the way up South Pass when the fog settled in again. We were on a race against time and fog. We absolutely HAD to get back to Venice before dark. We moved as one with eyes and minds on high alert. As you can imagine, the victory was oh so sweet.

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We made it back to Venice safe and sound, just in the nick of time.
It was dark when we pulled up to the dock.
My faithful horse, Blue Moon, an Eddyline Shasta Kayak. What a sweet ride and loyal companion. I love my boat.
My faithful horse, Blue Moon, an Eddyline Shasta Kayak. What a sweet ride and loyal companion. I love my boat.
Thank you, Mark Dierking, for a stellar job piloting the support boat and keeping us all safe and alive. You are the best!
Thank you, Mark Dierking, for a stellar job piloting the support boat and keeping us all safe and alive. You are the best!
Jamie Stevenson, Denise's boyfriend, was the premium first mate and pillar of strength throughout. LoL! No, really, he was. We all were.
Jamie Stevenson, Denise’s boyfriend, was the premium first mate and pillar of strength throughout. LoL! No, really, he was. We all were.
(Inside, we were all feeling like he looks.)
Haley (L) and Denise (R) We were all so very happy to get back to Venice.
Haley (L) and Denise (R)
We were bonded and quite frankly, family, after these few days together. What an unforgettable experience!
Deb, one of my dearest and closest friends. Wow, what a ride, eh girlfriend?! We did it!
Deb, one of my dearest and closest friends.
Wow, what a ride, eh girlfriend?! We did it!

Our home away from home in Venice, Louisiana. The Lighthouse Lodge and Villas comped our villa for all but one night, the night that April donated to the expedition. Big thanks to April Durnin for donating to the expedition two free nights of lodging (one night for two rooms) at this fabulous hotel. We could not think of one single complaint. The villa was extraordinarily lovely.

The Lighthouse Lodge and Villas in Venice, LA. We give the villas five bright and golden stars. Loved it!
The Lighthouse Lodge and Villas in Venice, LA. We give the villas five bright and golden stars. Loved it!

I will be updating this blog in the days to come. That will help me sort through my photos and videos, and reminisce on the pleasures of this incredible journey. Then, of course, I will write a book, or books. I would like to write a memoir, a curriculum book with lesson plans and activities focused on the rivers and natural environment, and a coffee table book with some of my best photographs. Oh, and T-shirts. I want t-shirts made ASAP. Maybe a calendar right away. So much to do!

I will follow up this post with some videos as soon as possible. Until then, I hope you enjoyed the adventure of my final days.  I’ll be back to fill in the gap.

Shouting out a huge THANK YOU to each and every one of you who believed in me, the expedition, and who gave their heart and soul to support the journey.  MWAH!! Much love to all, Janet Moreland XOXO

Yep, paddle through to the Gulf. It just makes sense. August 21, 2013
Yep, paddle through to the Gulf. It just makes sense. Photo taken August 21, 2013

Do what you love and love what you do.

Love Your Big Muddy Expedition

3,700 River Miles

April 24, 2013 – December 5, 2013

First American Source-to-Sea Missouri River

First Solo Woman Source-to-Sea Missouri River

The Missouri River is the Longest River in North America

The Missouri/Mississippi River System is the Fourth Longest in the World.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Loveyourbigmuddy

WordPress App on the Mississippi River

I am laying in my tent listening to the chirp chirp of the bird and the pitter patter of sprinkling rain on the fly. Rivertime. Oh, rivertime.

I have never had a schedule until now, now that I have a week left to reach the Gulf of Mexico. Friends and family are flying and driving in to accompany me by boat to the FINISH. Rain just gets in the way. HOWEVER, I am playing with my WordPress App because I have the time. How wonderful it will be to post to my blog from my tent in the rain on the Mississippi River! I claim this rain delay as an efficient use of time!

I just left Baton Rouge yesterday and I am making my way down ever so much closer to New Orleans, then Venice, where the pavement ends at Mile 10, then down further to Mile 0 at Grand Pass and finally, the final 12 miles to the Gulf of Mexico.

I do not know what photos of the Mississippi to post. As you can imagine, my quiver of photos is massive in size. I am not even sure I know how to post photos with this app, or even post, period. Perhaps, I should post one from every hundred miles. That’s about 11 photos. Or, only sunrises and sunsets. Maybe just great campsites, or river angels or special moments??? I will just wing it and pick some that I like. Let’s see what happens. Hope you enjoy ‘Janet’s Picks.’

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This is way too cool! Nice App, WordPress.

I hope to be back soon. Thanks again for your patience. As the end draws near, I hope this is just the beginning of something really beautiful. Peace out!

Do what you love, and love what you do!

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(Well, this is the photo I accidentally deleted, instead of the duplicate. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get rid of that code. Too scared to mess with it. Still, a somewhat successful first attempt.)

Solo Kayaker Treks 3700 Mile Adventure to the Gulf of Mexico

Dale, Maryellen, and I got to the studio pretty early. We got to know the receptionist pretty well so we asked her to take a picture of us while we waited.
Dale, Maryellen, and I arrived at the studio pretty early. We got to know the receptionist well enough to ask her to take a picture of us while we waited.

I enjoyed doing a quick chat with Mary Beth and Alex on WREG TV in Memphis last Friday, October 18, the day after I arrived in Memphis.

Here is my link to the TV “Live at Nine” Show:

http://wreg.com/2013/10/18/solo-kayaker-treks-3700-mile-adventure-to-the-gulf-of-mexico/

Janet Moreland is woman on a mission and is paddling her way down the Mississippi River.

She actually started on this Missouri River in Montana and is making her way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Before she’s done, she will have traveled more than 3,700 miles on her exciting expedition

Posted on: 11:24 am, October 18, 2013, by

I had a fantastic welcoming when I arrived in Memphis.

Members of the Bluff City Canoe Club and the Wolf River Conservancy.
Members of the Bluff City Canoe Club and the Wolf River Conservancy. And, Maryellen Self traveled in from Kentucky!

I am laying over at Dale and Meriam’s beautiful home in Memphis.

Dale and Meriam Sanders' home in Memphis, TN, where I am laying over. Sweet!
Dale and Meriam Sanders’ home in Memphis, TN, where I am laying over. Sweet!

I went on a great overnight camp/guide party with Wolf River Conservancy, on the Wolf River.

The Wolf River with a little misty fog on top. This is part of the swamp section of the river. It is awesome!
The Wolf River with a little misty fog on top. This is part of the swamp section of the river. It is awesome!
This camp/moonlight paddle event was to recognize and appreciate the Wolf River Conservancy Guides for their selfless efforts on the river. Half of them paddle in after dark and appeared as a stream of little lights in the misty fog. It was surreal and magical. Then, half of them left in the full moon light but were challenged by a denser layer of fog around midnight. What an adventure for them!
This camp/moonlight paddle event was to recognize and appreciate the Wolf River Conservancy Guides for their selfless efforts on the river. Half of them paddled in after dark and appeared as a stream of little lights in the misty fog. It was surreal and magical. Then, half of them left in the full moon light but were challenged by a denser layer of fog around midnight. What an adventure for them! Then, a couple of guides stayed but had no overnight gear. We fixed them up warmly.

The rest of us had a great time hanging out around the fire, and spent a leisurely morning breaking camp. What fun it was paddling through the swamps of Ghost River and into Spirit Lake, where Cypress trees make up 65% of the forest, and Tupelo Gum trees the other 35%. Just incredible scenery!

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And, tomorrow I fly to Bend, Oregon to co-present at the Conservation Lands Foundation Friends Rendezvous for the entire weekend. WOW! From solitude on the Mississippi to LOTS going on.

I will try and post some Mississippi River photos from the last few weeks. What a fantastic river to paddle, and a whole new adventure. I probably won’t be going back to post the Missouri until after the expedition is over, which I anticipate will be close to the first of December.

Please check out my facebook page at LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition for Current Events!

Do what you love and love what you do!

Janet