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!!!
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 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
ATLIN WEATHER FOR NEXT WEEK??? Sweet stuff…
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
Exactly one month until lift-off. Lots of preparation and planning, and school responsibilities, too.
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.
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
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
See you on the river (syotr), The Great River Yukon
The tides ebb and flow, the rivers rise and fall; the constant fluctuations of life necessitate thoughtful discretion and purposeful direction. The Great River Yukon is there. I am ready (kinda). Though the challenges of life remain steady, the time to paddle the Yukon is now. I welcome you to come dance with me down this free-flowing journey we’ll call adventure.
Stay tuned. Departure May 24. Shouting out a huge thanks to David Lynch, whom I do not know, for recently donating $100 on my website, 1woman3greatrivers.com. Your support will help me overcome my biggest hurdle, finances. You have inspired me. Now, MY desire is to INSPIRE.
Yukon River solo source-to-sea: Llewellyn Glacier, Atlin Lake, BC, to Emmonak on the Bering Sea, AK.
I AM CURRENTLY IN ROCK ISLAND, QUAD CITIES, WITH A DEAR RIVER SISTER, JO MASON AND HER HUSBAND, JOE. I AM TRAVELING VERY QUICKLY DOWN THE RIVER AND CANNOT FIND THE TIME TO POST ON THIS BLOG. PLEASE FOLLOW MY FACEBOOK PAGE, LOVEYOURBIGMUDDY EXPEDITION, TO FOLLOW ME DOWN THE RIVER. I WILL POST MORE TO THE BLOG BUT IT MAY BE AWHILE. COOKIN’ WITH GAS TRYING TO GET TO GULF ON TIME. HAVING A BLAST!
Please join me on my Facebook page. Hope you are able to do what you love, and love what you do! See you on the river! -Janet
Expedition planning and spinning plates have a lot in common. Both are overwhelming, both require diligence and focus, and both will reward you with success and accomplishment, despite the intermingling with falls, drops and crashes. A plate spinner is persistent and does not ‘bag it’ when plates fall and shatter. An adventurer does not ‘bag it’ when planning confronts obstacles. Nope. They get back on the path called “onward” and forge ahead, come hell or high water! [idiom meaning “no matter what”]
Decision is the key! Decide to take a risk, and pursue an adventure. Decide to spin the plates, and keep picking them up, try again, spin ‘em, drop ‘em, try and try and try again. DECISION spawns DESIRE. This is the dynamic duo one needs to accomplish grandiose goals, pursue the unattainable, and conquer the impossible! Yes, spin plates and dance at the same time.
Rarely does one embark upon an expedition without some hesitation at first. Do I have the time? Do I have the money? Do I have the strength? Do I have obligations? Do I have the courage? Some, perhaps, may have organized their life in such a way that everything is under control, including time and financial needs. That may take a lifetime of planning. Most of us river rats do not fall into that category. More often than not we feel the appeal, then become compelled to begin the pursuit. Granted, it takes time to actually say, “YES, I’m doing it!” But, once the urge becomes a “decision,” priorities begin to shift, creativity soars, goals appear, and your life transforms.
I was meant to do this. I was born to do this. Everything in my life, the experiences, the challenges, the stumbles, the victories, have led me to this project. The time is now, as I cannot pretend I am still a youth. Well, at heart of course. I did run a trail yesterday and felt just as good as when I WAS a youth. However, taking on two expeditions in planning, yes, both the Miss and Yukon as they cannot be separated, AND teaching 7th grade Science has its overwhelmingments (I just made up that word, ha!).
This idea to paddle the three longest rivers in North America blossomed early last fall. As I tossed it around for several months, thinking mostly about the Yukon River paddle, the more I wanted to do it, and believed I could do it. However, the logistical details of paddling the Yukon this summer spun around in my mind and led to more and more sleepless nights. I realized I could not plan a Yukon paddle and teach full time with peace of mind. So, I rearranged the rivers and placed the Mississippi River on this summer’s calendar and things began to fall into place. I am looking forward to connecting the upper Mississippi to the magical lower Mississippi with a ride down the river’s full length.
Since my February 1 official announcement, I have been busy, but mostly focused on teaching, which is my priority. This website was an early expedition priority, a ‘must have’ in order to make an announcement by February 1. I managed to get it started just in time (hurray, a plate was spinning) but, seriously, I had to wait two months until this 5-day Spring Break before I could make a new post. So, call me crazy. I am calling on all strengths and fortitudes to conquer this 1Woman3GreatRivers goal.
While planning for the imminent Mississippi River plunge on May 25 at Lake Itasca, MN, which will be here before we know it, I am working diligently to craft my mission for the Yukon River. I want to help bring awareness to the Arctic indigenous Gwich’in Nation’s plight to acquire permanent wilderness designation for the Coastal Plains of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This will help protect the birthing and nursing habitat of the Porcupine Caribou, a creature that is closely connected to the Gwich’in people’s culture, heritage, sustenance, and future survival. The Coastal Plains are still vulnerable to oil and gas industry drilling. I am currently awaiting contact from them before I forge ahead with this mission in mind.
“The Arctic Refuge coastal plain encompasses approximately 1.2 million acres and serves as the biological heart of the entire refuge. Polar and brown bears, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves and muskox are just a few of the more than 250 animal species that depend on the coastal plain. Millions of birds, representing some 125 species, migrate to the coastal plain to nest, rear their young and feed. The coastal plain is not only one of the most significant onshore polar bear denning habitats in the United States but also the most important habitat for the Porcupine caribou herd.” [http://refugeassociation.org/advocacy/refuge-issues/arctic/]
In the meantime I am currently spinning more and more plates, and learning how to dance at the same time.
Many adventurers and explorers have numerous preparations and planning tasks, but these are a few of mine:
Contacting companies for sponsorship or gear support
Establishing communication with the Gwich’in Steering Committee
Applying for a National Geographic Explorers Grant
Applying for a Timmissartok Foundation Grant
Preparing Blue Moon for expedition
Reserving an educational activity booth at the St. Louis Earth Day Event on April 24
Finding a reasonably priced rental vehicle to travel to the Mississippi source, Lake Itasca.
Establishing my solar charging/storage system
Dehydrating vegetables and jerky
Developing a Curriculum Vitae (CV) for grants
Applying for a Passport
Getting my taxes done
Having bumper stickers made
Designing a 1Woman3GreatRivers Project poster
Checking airfare to and from Alaska and British Columbia
Developing a budget
Submitting photos for The Mississippi River Photo Shoot Out
Printing photos for signature and sending to LoveYourBigMuddy supporters
Starting a physical fitness program: Trail running, bike riding, dog walking, and paddling
Brainstorming a custom sprayskirt design for Blue Moon
Posting blog updates
Learning how to use Garmin GPS device
Learning how to use GoPro camera
Eat, sleep, planning for and going to work
Finding pink crocs! Help! 🙂
All THAT said, as river time approaches, my soul begins to be reminded of the peace of mind and joyful heart that comes with slipping away from the river shore, gently rocking on the water, contemplating life and its wonderments, making decisions only by me, anticipating what’s around the next bend, bonding with the good people of the river, living without excess, simply, with the stars and the moon and, yes, the mosquitos. Life is short. Find your pleasure. And, if you cannot seem to get the plates to spin, just dance, dance, dance.
“Nothing worthwhile was ever accomplished without the will to start, the enthusiasm to continue and, regardless of temporary obstacles, the persistence to complete.” – Waite Phillips
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.
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.
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: “theabilityorstrengthtocontinueorlast, especiallydespitefatigue,stress,orother adverseconditions.”
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.