Going Blog Solo and Retiring my 1Woman3GreatRivers Blogsite. You can now find me here, and only here (well, and FB).

Expect the unexpected. Changes come in all sizes and shapes. Our lives are dynamic, and so are our blogs…Since I imported all my content from 1Woman3GreatRivers last weekend, my blog appearance got knocked out of whack. Turns out this theme has been discontinued. I appreciate your patience while I play around with new themes and take on new changes.

A lot of chapters have opened up in my life since completing the three Great Rivers Expeditions. I’ve been teaching 7th grade Science, changing school districts, guiding on the Mississippi, participating in river cleanups, visiting friends and family in California, and suffering through four years of chronic back pain.

I’ve exported all of my posts from the other site, 1Woman3GreatRivers, back home to LoveYourBigMuddy. The last post I added on the other blog site was two years ago yesterday, April 27, 2017, when I left Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, for Atlin Lake and the Llewellyn Glacier, British Columbia, the Yukon River’s source. It was nearly impossible to post anything while on the Yukon because of its remoteness. Satellite posts were accomplished on my Expedition Facebook page, but I could not post photos unless I had WiFi, and that was a struggle to get access to as well. (You can visit that FB page and go to 2017, June through July, to follow that trip.) SO NOW, I am consolidating and going full-scale LoveYourBigMuddy blog again. It is hard enough maintaining one blog, but TWO? Impossible for me.

This summer I am going to start writing my book about the LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition. I’ll be recovering from back surgery beginning in two weeks, so the time is right. My brother, Jim Sullens, will help me with editing, and I’ve received a lot of good advice from author friends of mine. Also, sharing stories from the journey recently have made me realize that I HAVE A LOT of stories to tell. Then, there are the Mississippi AND the Yukon Rivers, too!

I’ll be in the river town of New Haven, MO, this weekend (May 4, 2019) for Miller Landing Days, a celebration of their historic culture and river history. I am listed as ‘story telling’ so that will be another avenue of review and preparation for writing. I’ll have t-shirts available to give away, or for a small donation.

I hope to share my progress on this LoveYourBigMuddy blog, hopefully getting it revved up again. I hope to post stories and photos to document further the adventure of it all. It may very well be that I have several chapters just on the first few days of the trip. I mean, a broken radiator, sleeping in our car at a truck stop in Wyoming after taking a wrong turn in a blizzard, a 6-hour ski into the source at the Continental Divide turned into 30 hours with no means for fire, food, or sleeping gear, day one on the water I nearly swamped my boat in a strainer and sprained my hand getting out of that mess, and the next day I ran into a shoreline snag on two different occasions, and popped TWO holes in my boat! SO MANY STORIES!

Welcome back to this LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition blog site. Please feel free to provide comments and ask questions. I will no longer be posting on 1Woman3GreatRivers, and will delete it soon. See You On The River!!!

Details Details-The Who, What, and Where of Last Minute Preparations

I will be traveling right to left, beginning at the source on Atlin Lake and the Llewelyn Glacier, and ending in the Bering Sea near Norton Sound, looks like.

Lots to do, lots to do. Last day of school was last Thursday, so there was only so much I could do while school was in session. Teaching is an overtime job, with barely enough hours in the day. I have been taking care of a few major planning details over the last month, though.

I have activated my Inreach-Garmin satellite communicator. I will have lots of time in the airports during layovers to fuss with it. My flight to Whitehorse is 19 hours on three planes, so I am looking at a lot of down time. I have sent a test message to my Facebook Page so I am on my way to being prepared.

I’ll be carrying the start manual with me so I can work this thing to the max.

I have spent time twice in the last month assembling the Klepper T9 foldable kayak. I have a pretty good handle on it now. Today I will assemble one last time before leaving on Tuesday. I need to pack all my gear in little dry bags and figure out how everything will fit into the bowels of the boat. There are a lot of ribs to work around, making packing and unpacking a challenge in and of itself.

Small holes leading into small compartments. With only 14 feet of boat instead of 17 feet, I will be downsizing before I even start. Minimalist mentality.

Big thanks again to Cascade Designs for allowing me continued access to their PRO Discount for all of their gear companies: MSR (they make my tent and stove), Thermarest (the best sleeping pads), and Seal Line (source of my new dry bags).

Honestly, I am thinking the 20L bags won’t fit through my frame ribs. I need to figure this out today.

My assistant, Rio, keeping me focused on the task at hand. Is HE focused? On the river maybe…

I put together most of it on this dry run. A week later a did a full assembly, including lacing up the combing around the cockpit, and even took it for a little spin on a pond. Yes, this is indeed going to be an adventure…

I have been dehydrating vegetables, fruit and jerky 24-7 this past week. A drying session can take anywhere from 6 to 12 hours, so the assembly line must keep moving. I am trying to dry enough so that I can pack a bunch in my resupply box being mailed to the Yukon River Camp located where the Dalton Bridge crosses the river. I estimate it is a little under half way. Veggies, Knorr Sides, dry milk, coffee, dark chocolate are a few of the resupply items I’ll be mailing away.

First batch includes two of my favorites, broccoli and tomatoes. I am also drying onions, sweet peppers, jalepenos, mushrooms, yellow squash, carrots, apples, strawberries and beef jerky. Vacuum sealing completes the job.


Approximate location of the Yukon River Camp at the Dalton Bridge where I will be shipping a resupply package.

EDDYLINE KAYAKS-I’m just saying, I wasn’t going to pursue corporate sponsorship for this expedition, but Eddyline Kayaks, they’ve supported me all the way. They are the sweet friendship every expeditioner should have with a company. We weren’t able to feasibly work out boat support, but paddles have been a key component of their contribution to my success. Carbon paddles are extremely important for me as the feather weight makes so much difference in my case (more about that at another time). I asked them for a new carbon paddle and, without hesitation, I was granted one.

Thank you Lisa, and everyone at Eddyline, for your continued support of my loveyourbigmuddy expedition and, now, 1woman3greatrivers project. You have always been there to help me out, and for that I am hugely grateful.

I encourage all my followers to research Eddyline Kayaks and Paddles. Good people make good stuff!!!

Here is a map of two potential starting routes. I can paddle a loop (gold route) down to the glacier on Atlin Lake, or travel down behind Teresa Island (pink route) with maximum wind protection. I would backtrack to get out, so I’m partial to the loop (gold). The road goes right to Warren Bay and a campsite is located there. I will find someone in Whitehorse to shuttle my rental car back to town after dropping me off. I am welling up with excitement at the thought of this stunning section of the trip. Taking it slow and easy to absorb and enjoy the beauty will be my MO–method of operation. 🙂

Once I get back up to the top of Teresa Island, I will head down the Atlin River to begin the long journey to the Sea.

Archie Satterfield, author of “Exploring the Yukon River,” writes: “It is recommended that you hire a guide in Atlin to help you down the Atlin River. The 3-km-long river drops 15 meters and runs at about nine knots; it is filled with rapids, boulders, backwashes and shallows. It is very dangerous for canoes and kayaks, less so for larger boats.” He goes on to say, “Obviously, many boats and canoes have run the river with absolute safety, and this is not intended to scare everyone away from it, but it is meant to encourage caution.”

I have already had conversations with some Atlin locals. I intend to have more. If it were easy, everyone would do it. We’ve got ourselves an adventure here, folks! Climb aboard!

ONE MORE THING: My Atlin contact and now known as, Atlin Lake River Angel, Hans wrote in an email to me yesterday:

“Hi Janet,

Good to hear from you!

Atlin Lake started opening up a few days ago – there is no longer ice from town all the way south as far as we can see.
After next week it should be all melted and ready for any adventures.”

Music to my ears, Hans. Thanks so much!


I should arrive to glorious weather in Atlin around Saturday. All systems GO! Ya Ya! Doin’ the Happy Dance. Cheers!

Do what you love and love what you do. Until next time…

Don’t forget to follow along on my Facebook Page: LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition. And, I am going to try and post on Instagram, too, for my students who are following me. #loveyourbigmuddy


I can hear the tic toc of the river-time clock


I can hear the tic toc of the river-time clock. 

Exactly one month until lift-off. Lots of preparation and planning, and school responsibilities, too.

Bill Nedderman showing me how to assemble his Klepper T-9 foldable kayak last August. I will need to assemble the kayak on my own at least a couple of times. And, I’ll need to splash it before I go. I don’t want any surprises when it’s time to take off.

Packing and unpacking gear in this boat will be challenging. No shoving or dropping bags inside, they’ll need to be placed. And, strategically placed as well. My patience will be tried daily in many ways.

Version 2
This ride is a big change from Blue Moon. I have to go foldable because of the necessity to fly. I wish I could drive up but I have a new school year to return to in August. Efficiency and a light load are key. Oh, and careful paddling.

I’ve decided to avoid the sponsorship request route for my Yukon River Expedition. I don’t like the hustle it involves, and I am uncomfortable selling myself. I have plenty of gear, but may enhance with additional rain outerwear. And, of course, I need a satellite phone and service due to the remoteness of the river’s flow. Well, I think I do. I just found out from World Class paddler, Martin Trahan, who paddled the Yukon last year, that he used his smart phone for all his Facebook posting. There is wifi in all of the villages. A satellite phone allows texting anytime, anywhere. Hmmmm. So, I have to decide whether I need a sat phone. Currently, my SPOT service @ $150, travel (one way out-one way back), and food will be the bulk of my expenses. 

Photo by Jason Kolsch, Pull of the North Expedition 2016, with Martin Trahan. Martin is paddling the Missouri-Mississippi next summer (more like clear across the country: Seattle to tip of Florida) so we have exchanged lots of information. He has been a tremendous resource for me.

Once again, I am coining this Yukon Pursuit the People’s Expedition. I will paddle and share my journey for those who dream, imagine, wonder, or believe they can reach for their own star. I am not a famous athlete or high profile adventurer. I am a paddler who strives to set lofty goals, to step out of my “box”, and to model for others that they can reach for the stars and be successful, too. Make a decision, the desire will grow, and the details will fall into place. Go for it!  Follow me on my Facebook Page: LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition

LoveYourBigMuddyExpedition-FB Page

Believing is a powerful state of mind. Positive believing can move mountains (and paddle long rivers). It starts in your head. Join me.

And, support me if you are willing and able. All donations are precious to me. Let’s DO this!  1woman3greatrivers.com  Depart: May 23, 2017

Version 3
Do what you love and love what you do

See you on the river (syotr), The Great River Yukon

Love Your River, for it is Truly Great


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



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.

In the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument following a multi-day rain deluge

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.

IMG_7470 copy
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.

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


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

Adventure Kayak Magazine Interview-February 20, 2014


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


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:

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

And the stellar crew at Pilottown:

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:

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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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