Posts Tagged With: Norm Miller

Adventure Kayak Magazine Interview-February 20, 2014

AdventureKayakCoverPhoto

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…

Categories: Expedition, Missouri River | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Ultimate Source of the Missouri River-Brower’s Spring

Sawtelle Peak FAA Road gate.

Sawtelle Peak FAA Road gate.

The first thing we needed to do to get the Brower’s Spring was to get throught the Federal Aviation Administration gate that guards the road up Sawtelle Peak.  We needed to ske from one of the switchbacks over to Jefferson Peak and up and over the Continental Divide into the Hell Roaring Creek Drainage where the spring is located.

Curt Judy unlocked the gate for us so we could ski over to Jefferson Peak from the road switchback. Thanks, Curt!

Curt Judy unlocked the gate for us so we could ski over to Jefferson Peak from the road switchback. Thanks, Curt!

Mount Jefferson from on top of the bowl.

Mount Jefferson from on top of the bowl.

This is the top of Mount Jefferson which stands at 10,200 ft. We traversed the top of the bowl and dropped into the Hell Roaring Creek drainage off to the left.  This was a spectacular moment in the ski.

You can see the Teton Range from on top.

You can see the Teton Range from on top.

Sometime at the beginning of our ski in to the spring.

Sometime at the beginning of our ski in to the spring.

Your can see the triangle where I am standing and the push pin where the spring coordinates are, almost touching.

Your can see the triangle where I am standing and the push pin where the spring coordinates are, almost touching.

GPS showed me I was soooooo close to the spring.  The surroundings indicated to me that I was likely standing on or near the spring. I could feel it in my heart and soul. My heart was racing and I was excited.

Brower's Spring just inside the trees in center of photo.

Brower’s Spring just inside the trees in center of photo.

I skied out of those trees where I am sure I was on or near the spring. Rod Wellington, who has also been there, confirmed that the area looked familiar to him.

We even got some turns in.

We even got some turns in. Unfortunately, no photos of our figure eights. Darn!

We assumed that the trip would entail an easy seven-mile ski out of Hell Roaring Canyon.  We were mistaken. Because of the snow cover, we needed to be cautious of avalanche danger, and often fell prey to terrain traps, which produced steep drop-offs, false canyons, and unskiable gulleys.  Because of this, we were destined to stay over night, which neither of us prepared for. In fact, we absent-mindedly left the car with no means of fire or sleeping gear. We were both tense until we gave in to the fact we were staying the night.  Then, our priority switched to surviving the night. We never doubted our ability to do so.

We were at the top of that distant ridge at one point. You could see the Sawtoothe Range in Idaho.

We were at the top of that distant ridge at one point. You could see the Sawtoothe Range in Idaho. We had to be vigilant about avalanche danger.

Norm getting water from Hell Roaring Creek.

Norm getting water from Hell Roaring Creek. At this point we knew we were sleeping in the mountains.

Norm building the shelter.

Norm building the shelter. We both took part in this important project.

The PBR Haley threw in our pack. Happy we had the extra calories before a long cold night.

The PBR Haley threw in our pack. Happy we had the extra calories before a long cold night.

I shivered uncontrollably all night. I was only able to sleep for about five minutes. Norm was the same way. Somehow, the hours past and it was time to go. I am thankful to have survived and avoided hypothermia. I had trailmix to eat and a granola bar which we split. I had to eat one of the granola bars for calories just after going to bed. Perhaps, it helped, I could not tell.

Beautiful full moon night, despite the situation.

Beautiful full moon night, despite the situation.

Hell Roaring Creek

Hell Roaring Creek

We skied 12 miles instead of 7 because of terrain traps that forced us to back up and go another way.

We skied 12 miles instead of 7 because of terrain traps that forced us to
back up and go another way.

Grizzly Tracks.  We made ourselves known by talking at the bear for the last couple hours of our ski.

Grizzly tracks. We made ourselves known by talking at the bear for
the last couple hours of our ski.

The end finally in sight.  And, so were the bear tracks, which came up from the valley where Haley and Jeannie were.

The end finally in sight. And, so were the bear tracks, which came up from the valley where Haley and Jeannie were sleeping in the car.

Haley and Jeannie, support crew, waiting patiently for us. We had minimal contact with walkie talkies that we brought, so we were able to notify them of our overnight stay.

Haley and Jeannie, support crew, waiting patiently for us. We had minimal contact with walkie talkies that we brought, so we were able to notify them of our overnight stay.

Here is the grizzly track Haley took a photo of at the base of Hell Roaring Canyon, where we came out.

Here is the grizzly track Haley took a photo of
at the base of Hell Roaring Canyon, where we came out.

Job Well Done-Norm and Me

Oh my God, we did it! Good job!

Next came the bike ride, 90-some miles from the base of Hell Roaring Canyon to Clark Canyon Dam.  The ride took three days. The ride of all rides, the vistas were spectacular.

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Preparation @ Base Camp International

A short video of our preparation at Base Camp International – Livingston, MT. Thank you very much to Norm Miller & Kris Walker for the video and their gracious hospitality!

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Drivers, Are You Ready? Start Your Engines!

On Sunday, April 14, we enjoyed the warmth of our river community as they sent us on our way from Cooper’s Landing on the Missouri River. I find it intriguing that I will be paddling down the entire length of the river for the next 3.5 months beginning in Montana. I have been dreaming about this journey for over seven years. The time had actually come.

Last minute detail: loading the boat, with Dave Bandy.

We have been on the road for nine days. The trip thus far has been fantastic. We have driven on two-lane highways nearly 98% of the trip. Before we actually got out of town, Haley decorated the van.  “I got this, Mom, I used to be a cheerleader.” IMG_0155 We drove through some gorgeous countryside in northern Kansas and southeaster Nebraska.

Gorgeous country. Beautiful Haley.

Gorgeous country. Beautiful Haley.

In Phillipsburg, KS, we had a radiator leak which appeared to be a major obstacle.  The only radiator repair shop in town was completely booked for two days.  I had to drive over and talk to the owner, and tried to convince him that WE REALLY NEEDED HELP.  But, he just could not take us in, and so referred us to Wick’s Muffler and Auto Repair. What a wonderful referral THAT was! IMG_0166 Galen Wickham and his son Gabe got right on it!  Galen brought the car in the shop immediately to try and find the leak. The two of them traced it back to a pinhole leak in a steel hose off of the water pump.  A call was made to Hays, NE, 60 miles to the south.  We crossed our fingers…

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Galen Wickham, left, and son Gabe. Thanks again guys!

Yes, they had the part but all deliveries had already left town.  The best estimate for departure after car work would be about 5:30 that evening. However, I offered to drive to Hays myself and, as it turned out, that is what happened.  Galen loaned me his truck so I could pick up the part. Galen estimated a possible 1:00 departure as a result.  WOW!  Ending up at Galen’s shop was just short of a miracle!  We were back on the road by 2:00. Not only that, he was so intrigued by our expedition, he told his mom and dad and brother about it, and they all chipped in to pay for the repair.  Now, when does THAT ever happen?? Thanks again, Wickham family.  You guys ROCK! I will be telling this story for years. Ron from the local paper, The Advocate of Phillips County, stopped by to ask a few questions about the expedition. Off we went and arrived in Scottsbluff, NE, that night. We got a lovely room and Holiday Inn Express, and enjoyed a hot tub, swim, and had pizza delivered.  The next morning we watched the weather channel very closely while sitting in the breakfast nook at the hotel.  A winter storm was coming up through the panhandle of NE starting today, Tuesday, which is right where we were.  We debated for a couple hours, literally, whether to try and outrun the storm going north, as some guests had already left for Casper, WY.  Eventually, we decided to go for it. Turns out the storm would envelope the entire southeastern portion of WY, and over a foot of snow fell.  We ended up making it as far as Orin Junction, WY, and the roads all around us began to close.  We were 60 miles short of our Casper, WY, destination.  Fortunately, there was a small truck stop at the junction, and we immediately settled in once we knew forward progress was no longer available.

Sinclair Truck Stop at Orin Junction, WY

Sinclair Truck Stop at Orin Junction, WY

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The glorious Teton Mountain Range!

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The Grand Teton

We thoroughly enjoyed our layover at the truck stop, despite the fact we had to sleep in the car that night.  The truck stop closed at 10:00 and reopened at 5:00 AM.  We spent seven hours in the car as the snow fell all around us. The car turned into a makeshift igloo, it appeared, and we stayed warm and cozy wrapped in down sleeping bags, jackets, and a comforter.  What an adventure! image image Strangers are just an opportunity to make friends, and that’s what we all did at the truck stop.  We were thankful that we had such a pleasant and cozy place to hang out, and the food was to beat all. IMG_0201 IMG_0227 IMG_0230 IMG_0237 IMG_0245 Finally on Wednesday the road opened up to Douglas, which was 12 miles up the road.  We opted to make the drive and get a hotel.  Being able to sleep on a bed was nice, but the hotel was less than desirable.  We got out of there first thing in the morning and drove all the way to Jackson, Wyoming.  Our progress was somewhat slowed because of the photo opportunities along the way.  We found it difficult to pass up such beautiful countryside without stopping to take pictures.  I am sure we will not regret the many stops we made. IMG_0251 IMG_0262 IMG_0269 Jackson was a significant destination that we were all looking forward to, and very excited about.  We were finally in some serious mountain country! We were grateful for the chance to view the Teton Mountain Range, which appeared through the clouds majestically and with great grandeur! IMG_0272IMG_0288 IMG_0276 IMG_0306   We loved our stay in Jackson, and our accommodations at the Parkway Inn.  Because this time of year is considered the off-season, we were able to get discounted rates at the hotel.  We loved it!  We stayed two nights and refreshed ourselves by going for a walk, swimming, sitting in the hot tub, and doing laundry. IMG_0331 IMG_0345 IMG_0333 Saturday morning we embarked upon a full ‘day of travel.  We drove north up to Sawtelle Peak so I could check out the conditions of the road we plan on driving up to begin our ski into Brower’s Spring.  We then started driving down Red Rock Road towards Red Rock Pass, which is very close to the exit point of our ski.  Since it was 1:30 PM and temperatures were mild, we opted to stop short of the pass because of the mud.  We stopped and walked down the road and enjoyed a snack lunch while viewing the awesome mountains around which we were surrounded.

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We will be skiing in to Brower’s Spring from Sawtelle Peak tomorrow morning! The spring is behind the mts on the right.

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This was spotted out my car window in Idaho.

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The muddy road into Centennial Valley, where our ski trip will end at Hell Roaring Creek.

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Mountains are everywhere in Montana! Madison Range

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Jefferson River

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Beaver head River at Three Forks

We then drove up towards the Beaverhead and Jefferson River so I could take a look at the rivers I will be paddling within a week, or so.  This was a chance for me to connect with my route and visualize the environment of which I would soon become a part. Finally, we arrived at Base Camp International, Norm Miller and Kristen Walker’s house in Livingston, MT, where all paddlers of the Missouri River, or any river, are welcome to stop and regroup before setting out on the river.

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Norm and I have been in email and phone contact since I decided to embark upon this adventure, so despite the fact we had never met, I felt like we were good friends already.  Our stay here has been nothing less that warm and cozy.  We immediately felt like family, and have enjoyed each others’ company immensely.

Tomorrow we begin our journey into Brower’s Spring. Then, the bike ride to Clark Canyon Dam and finally, Blue Moon hits the water.

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Categories: Expedition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Part II: So, You Want to Paddle Down the Missouri River?

By Norm Miller, in his own words….continued from Part I

I recently followed a group of young guys paddling down the Mississippi. I don’t think they made it a week before the whole adventure fell apart. I’m not sure why as I don’t know the whole story, but I got the sense that there were many factors from personality conflicts, mental battles of the mind, and lack of “outdoor” experience. For the most part we have lost touch of our hunter gatherer traits. We in today’s society look at modern adventure as a novelty. When in fact just a 150-years ago it was a common thing. We hunted, worked the land, lived a more nomadic lifestyle, our entire day was survival or just getting by. The pioneers on the wagon trains, the early explorers and missionaries, etc., everything they did in the course of their day was what many now think of as hardship. We spend so little time now in the outdoors. If it rains or snows we seek the comforts of our houses never really experiencing nature and missing out on a lot of great things.

Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge (photo by James N. Perdue)

Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
(photo by James N. Perdue)

PLANNING:

The internet has changed everything! There is so much information out now that it shortens the planning by weeks and months. When I began my planning for my 2004-Lewis & Clark redux the internet was fairly new. I spent about 5 -years planning. Now with the help of paddling website, Facebook (“Missouri River Paddlers” site), books and the speed of finding information one can get all they need quickly.

Google Earth 3-D map of Brower's Spring area. (photo by Janet)

Google Earth 3-D map of Brower’s Spring area. (photo by Janet)

For starters buy David Millers book; The Complete Paddler!!! It is the bible for Mo River paddlers….more information than you can absorb! The book is broken down into 3-parts: The upper, middle and lower river sections, which are basically three different trips in many ways. The book contains a wealth of logistical information including valuable phone numbers, re-supply points, drinking water locations, map info etc., etc. However last year the river experienced a huge flood which destroyed many locations that are mentioned in the book. So this Mo Paddlers FB page probably helps “update” some of that information, with recent paddlers in 2012 blogging about these changes, such as Bob Bellingham and Dom Liboiron, to name two.

 The Complete Paddler

Buying maps/charts should be one of the main priorities however in hind site I would feel confident paddling the entire route without a map or at least a Rand McNally road atlas would work. I know paddlers who only used such maps and they were fine. In 2004 I may have went overboard with maps. I used the Corp nautical charts for the lower river….they are awesome and show all 5000+ wing dikes and every mile in DETAIL…which is helpful when paddling upstream, but not as critical when paddling downstream.

Rand McNally Map of Upper Missouri River

Rand McNally Map of Upper Missouri River

Going upstream I had to stay very close to shore….so this is where the real hazards are located. So knowing all these wing dikes helped me. The Corp maps of the big lakes are good too. Those lakes are huge!!! You can get lost. Some of the bays open up to a 30-mile wide expanse of water and on a flat horizon it is almost impossible to tell where the hell you are at.

Army Corps of Engineers Map - Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota

Army Corps of Engineers Map – Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota

The Montana section is great…I made copies off of a map program. There are many bends and fast currents in Montana. The maps helped me find camping areas AWAY from people and or private property. I always preferred to stealth camp! During my 200-day trip I camped downtown in St. Charles, Washington, Kansas City, Ft. Yates and nobody knew I was ever there!!! The art of stealth camping is an art form for sure. After 12-17 hours of paddling I was not in the mood to be social most of the time. So being away from people allowed me to do what I needed to do and get the proper rest.

As far as travel speed goes…that depends on the weather and how much you want to paddle. It’s not a race, but some paddlers prefer long long hours and to cover many miles…which is my style. Others are so slow, I have to wonder if walking would not be faster. It’s all a personal issue. However ON AVERAGE…from Three Fork to St. Louis, those that have paddled down the last 8 years have done it in about 90-120 days! That’s a good average. I had a friend in 1981 go from Three Forks to St. Louis in about 30- days!!!! The state of Montana is a huge state with some big bodies of water…in particular Ft. Peck Res. I would allow about a month to get through Montana. The slower you go the better. Why? Montana is beautiful with so many interesting places to check out….why rush? We have the only mountains you will encounter! Montana is very scenic, lots of wildlife, historic unchanged river sections, interesting towns such as Ft. Benton too.

The Dakota’s can be a mental test. You have Lake Sakakawea and Oahe and, boy let me tell you, they can drain you mentally. Expect WIND and …more WIND….then a couple minutes of calm and then more WIND! It also blows in all directions…not just from west to east. The winds can change direction every hour. What I noticed in 2004 was the wind would really start to kick up about 8 am….die down a bit between 11 am and 2pm, then pick up hard from 2pm until the sun set. Once the sun set it is rather calm until morning…sometimes it is like glass on the water. A good time to make up lost miles is paddle in the dark under a full moon when the water is placid. During the day time hours you just have to keep moving whenever there is a break. Sometimes you may have to sit on shore 1/2 hour, 4-hours or all day….just be ready when it abates to jump in your boat and start paddling. I was wind bound 4-days on Oahe without moving an inch. The winds were 40-60 mph and the seas well over 10 feet high.

Lake Sakakawea video by Dom Liboiron

Lake Oahe (Photo by Dom Liboiron)

Lake Oahe
(Photo by Dom Liboiron)

During those wind bound moments I usually read a book, slept, ate, fixed or cleaned gear or hiked around. Sometimes I would walk the shore for an hour or so to see what I could find. Near Ft. Yates I found a human skull in the sand. It was most likely that of a Native American from centuries ago, which was a cool find.

The Lower River from Yankton to St. Louis is fast moving if you are going downstream. One can paddle 40-80 miles a day through there depending on your energy level and river flows. Watch out for the barges, especially from behind…they can sneak up when the winds blowing and you will never hear them. It’s good to tuck behind a wing dike and let them pass before proceeding on.

FOOD AND WATER:

Don’t expect to filter water!!!! For one thing, there is so much agricultural runoff that you won’t want to drink it for fear for getting sick. Pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and toxic pollutants are dumped or flushed into the river daily….my words of wisdom are…..DONT BOTHER. Why do a trip of a lifetime and get sick the first week? Every town, house, marina, store and campground has drinking water. (David Millers book mentions about every possible place to get drinking water.) It’s not a remote trip like it was for Lewis and Clark.

You will encounter plenty of places to obtain water. I carried 4 one-gallon jugs which I filled every couple of days….or whenever I saw a pump I would top them off. I filled water in bars, people’s houses and even the government office buildings attached to the State Capitol of Missouri. One thing to consider is early season such as March-May most campgrounds DO NOT HAVE their pumps working yet so you will have to rely on towns and houses to fill up.

In 2004- I did food drops at post offices. I researched which Post Offices were close to the water and had a box of food mailed there…General Delivery to me. I spent the previous winter dehydrating food and preparing meals so I did not have to always buy from stores. This saved me a lot of money! One thing to consider with the post office drop is the hours of operation for each office. You will have to plan on picking your box up when they are open and make sure you consider that they are closed on weekends and holidays. I ran into this issue in Yankton where my package did not arrive when I got there on Friday…I had to wait until Monday before it opened up.

Here is one of Norm Miller's re-supply packs from his trip UP the Missouri River.

Here is one of Norm Miller’s re-supply packs from his trip UP the Missouri River.

Many people purchase food along the way. There are plenty of places to do so. However the variety may not be what you want or need. I tell everyone they should carry about 2-weeks at a time. ESPECIALLY the section when leaving Ft. Benton….there is a big gap of NO stores until you get to Wolf Point or Culbertson Mt. The town of Ft. Peck is LIMITED….basically a party store is all you have. That’s fine for some, not for me.

Dom Liboiron resupplying food.

A grocery store in South Dakota – where shotgun shells are conviently located in the produce department.
(Photo from Dom Liboiron’s web site: http://www.canoetoneworleans.com/pictures-of-my-trip.html)

You will also have plenty of opportunities to get food at restaurants or from generous river angles. Just read Bob Bellingham’s blog and you will see that he ate well and drank plenty all from the great people he met along the way. I too had people buy me dinner or make me breakfast along the way.

CANOE OR KAYAK?

I’m not going to get too involved with this topic, but I will mention a few things.

The route has been done in aluminum Grumman Canoes, Home made dug out canoes, high tech kevlar canoes and kayak and everything in between… even a 1000 mile section on SUP boards.

I highly recommend something comfortable!! After all why be miserable sitting from 10-17 hour a day in for two months in something you are not comfortable in? I used a Sea Wind decked canoe built by canoe legend Verlen Kruger who holds many world records in distance paddling including the longest paddle trip ever by anyone…a 2 1/2 year 28,000 miles trip through N. America.

Norm's Kruger canoe

Norm’s Kruger canoe

His boats, in my opinion, are the best solo expedition canoes on the market, as mentioned above…these boats hold THE records of distance travelling. They are strong, comfortable to sit in and hold a lot of gear without having to cram gear into small hatches like you would have in a sea kayak. I am never cramped in my boat. I oft times sat in it for 17-hours without ever get out. I never need to get out and stretch like I have to in a sea kayak. I’m biased on my choice but just make sure you know your boat. COMFORT should be maybe your #1 feature. If you have questions about boats…send me a message and I will go into more detail.

Bob Bellingham in his Shasta, which is now my Shasta, and my ride down the river.

Bob Bellingham in his Shasta, which is now my Shasta,
and my ride down the river.

GEAR:

Have a good tent. It will most likely not be any good when you finish. I recommend a NEW one when you start…..not one that you have had for the last 5 years. Think about this, if you are out 90-days…that is like 45 weekends of camping….or nearly 4 summers of camping– ever weekend!!! I went through 2 tents….both were NO good when finished. One was destroyed by a tornado in the Dakotas…my second one…just plain wore out!!!

One TIP with any tent is also a large plastic tarp. I used the tarp almost everyday. I would put the tarp overtop my entire tent many times during a hard rain….to not only keep leaking water out but it kept me entire tent dry, so I never had to pack it away wet. This is very important because if you pack it away wet each day, it never dries out and begins to mold and decay!! A tarp will cover everything you have from getting wet….so always a dry packed boat every day!!

Norm's tent

Norm’s tent

GOOD rain gear is important and I now even bring an umbrella!!! They make great sails and you don’t have to get out of the boat to put rain gear on for a 10-minute rainstorm. Just pull out the umbrella….pop it open, stay dry and put away after the many short rain storms. They make great shade too when in the Dakotas if you happen to be sitting around waiting out the wind….just sit under and enjoy the shade. Believe me there are no trees to block the 100-degree heat in the Dakotas.

Bob Bellingham showing me his sail when laying over at Cooper's Landing.  The sail is now mine.

Bob Bellingham demonstrating his sail when taking a break at Cooper’s Landing. The sail is now mine.

Dom Liboiron using his sail.

Dom Liboiron using his sail.

One of the best things I brought was a pair of knee-high boots!!! Waterproof is a must. You will encounter a LOT of mud on the lower Mo and I hate wet feet!!! These boots kept me dry and from getting trench foot which can be common if your feet never dry out.

Clothing:

I personally hate to get sunburned. In fact I’ve been burned too many times and go to a dermatologist every 6-months to get pre cancer spots removed. Sun is very damaging, just look at what it does to your tent after a short time….now imagine what it does to your skin. If you plan to paddle or be out in the sun for 3-months then cover up!!! You will get plenty of sun even if you cover up. I hope we as humans have moved beyond the “tan look” vanity thing. The benefits of sun protection are—

You will be less dehydrated and your need to drink water will be less. Don’t forget even though you are on a river, the availability of clean drinking water is not that common. SO by covering your body, you won’t require as much water and you will be less fatigued. I am amazed how many people paddle with no hat, short sleeve shirts and shorts! A 100-day trip with 10 hours of sun exposure each day adds up to 1000 hours! If you were to take two apples, one whole, the other peeled, the one that is peeled will dry up 10-times faster than the one that is unpeeled. So think of your clothing as an apple peeling! One of the first rules in desert survival is to put cloths ON! You never see Middle Eastern cultures or people wearing shorts and t-shirts do you? They are sometimes covered head to toe, long shirts, pants, etc., etc. I wear long sleeves and long pants, a brimmed hat, a handkerchief around my neck and gloves to protect myself from the sun. I also use 75 to 100 SPF sunscreen at all times. It makes your paddling more comfortable when you are not fried!!

A TYPICAL DAY:

Not sure there is a typical day, but at times they can be very repetitive. You may awake before the sun and start paddling before the wind begins….say 6-8 a.m. each day…..so you at least get a couple hours of paddling in before the wind starts. I was so comfortable being in my boat that I would oft time be in it for as much as 17-hours without ever getting out…even to go to the bathroom….which I did in a pee-bottle! When I wanted to eat/snack I would just stop paddling and dig into my lunch/food bag that I kept close by. If I was wind bound I would try and find shade. Sometimes I set up my tent in order to have shade or use and umbrella. Other times I would walk around and explore the countryside or go into a town, grab a burger or even do laundry. Wind bound moments was when I would use my solar rechargers. I carried two solar panels for my satellite phone, camera and laptop, which I carried.

Your hot showers may be weeks apart, same with your laundry. I wore the same cloths almost everyday! You can periodically rinse them out in the river which also helps cool you down. A daily dip in the river is great for you.

Norm Miller Campsite from his Lewis and Clark Bicentennial paddle UP the Missouri River-2004

Norm Miller Campsite from his Lewis and Clark Bicentennial paddle UP the Missouri River-2004

Expect temperatures near 100F often through eastern Montana and the Dakotas. It’s very uncomfortable paddling, just keep plugging along! I would stop for the evening ONLY when the sun dropped below the horizon. I would then pull over right where I was at….and sometimes it was a stealth camp. Once the sun dropped below the horizon I would have about 1-hour before it was too dark to see. This hour of twilight allowed me to set up camp, cook, clean up, and update a blog….all without needing a head lamp. This method allowed me to go without a headlamp for all but about 2 hours in 6 months time! I was plenty tired after that and would fall immediately to sleep and usually not even wake the entire night. The following day was then repeated. Get use to being uncomfortable, hot, wet, smelly, soar, irritated, hungry, wind burned, and parched, yet happy as a clam!

Tom and Tyler from Great Falls, MT. Paddled from Great Falls to New Orleans.

Tom and Tyler from Great Falls, MT. Paddled from Great Falls to New Orleans.

I would typically look over my maps each night and try to imagine the next day’s terrain ahead. I would plan a “route” that took into consideration the wind directions I anticipated. Since I did not carry a weather radio I would often ask fishermen along the way if they heard of the weather forecast. When doing so, realize you will get 20-different answers for 20 different people. I would then compile all the info and then used deductive reasoning to come up with my own forecast. Same goes for “river conditions”!!!

Most people you meet will NOT BE CANOERS OR KAYAKERS, so they have NO clue as to what you require or your ability. TAKE ALL THEIR INFO with a grain of salt! Bob Bellingham told me he talked to some fishermen in North Dakota who told him upon he telling them that he was paddling to St. Louis….their response was, “YOU better check your maps, because this river doesn’t go to St. Louis!” Can you believe that!! I too had a similar situation whereas someone told me that Lewis & Clark didn’t pass through here. Writer Edward Abby is quoted as saying that “the reservoir fisherman is the lowest form of life on earth.” Well, I hate to say this but it sure is a different culture for sure.

SAFTEY: Be street smart and level headed. You are not in a race. It only takes one hair raising moment to put you in your place. Typically EVERY first time Thru-Paddler gets cocky and takes too big of risk especially at open water crossings….usually the first reservoir of Peck. You will get half way across and the wind will begin to blow and create huge waves. Be smart, not stupid!

Your biggest concern, besides the weather, is humans! The most dangerous thing you may encounter will be man. I prefer to camp away from people, away from campgrounds or anywhere where there is road access and potential for a lot of beer drinking. Dead end roads at the rivers edge are a mecca for high-school kids on Friday night to have huge parties. Find those little hide-a-ways tucked along the shores of the reservoirs or in the trees along the river. You will have plenty of social opportunities if you need that. I personally am more of an introvert and seek out the stealth and remote camps.

Norm Miller Stealth Camping

Norm Miller Stealth Camping

It’s good to check-in each night if you have a cell phone or SPOT beacon. This saves a lot of worrying on the home front. It also gives a reference point if you get hurt the following day as to where your last check-point was. Your friends and family back home will be concerned, so be considerate of them and let them know. There are some big gaps in cell-coverage especially in Montana. You may go a week or more. I don’t recommend Cellular One as a service. They suck!!! Mark Kalch had a C.O. phone and could not use it for almost 6 weeks! In 2004 I used a Satellite phone which has coverage anywhere.

As far as your personal safety, you have more of a worry if you are solo than if paddling with a partner. I recommend a can of Bear-Spray over a gun, but that is another topic I don’t care to get into. Just be smart and listen to your gut feelings. Be aware and observant.

I’m sure I forgot a lot but this will give you an idea what is involved in paddling from Montana to St. Louis. Everyone is different. It’s best to create your own experience using the skills and knowledge passed along by others. They have a lot of good information. I highly recommend contacting the Through-Paddlers on this face-book site and ask them as many questions as you can think of. I’m just 1-mans experience. The things that worked for me may not work for you and visa-versa. One thing that is very important is to be adaptive and able to adjust to your changing conditions…either daily or hourly.

Sunset on the Lower Missouri River (Photo by Jonathan Lauten)

Sunset on the Lower Missouri River (Photo by Jonathan Lauten)

Keep the round side down!

Cheers

Norm Miller

Livingston, Montana

Base Camp International

Categories: Missouri River, Reflection | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Updates on Sponsorship, Funding, Promotion, & Preparation

I spent nearly all day on the computer yesterday.  I find that easy to do these days.  Writing a single letter of request for a donation takes a lot of time.  I try and carefully consider what I am writing to each company.   Much time is taken just to research company websites, find a product that best meets my needs, search out a place to apply for sponsorship/product donation for that company, and/or find a marketing manager’s name to address on a letter.  Then, a clear and concise letter of request is composed (and they are all different) to personally address that company and their product.

RealityBudget

These days gear companies are pretty organized with their online sponsorship request systems (sign of the times).  Some companies will let you know that if your purpose does not fall into their provided categories, don’t even bother to apply (like REI and North Face).  Others will let you know that they will try and respond within 48 hours, five to ten business days, or within four months.  I realize that it is important to apply to several companies, however, you have to plan for many hours in order to search for sponsorships.

I found out pretty early on that some companies won’t bother with you if you are not a “celebrity” athlete.  I understand that.  That is why the companies that have chosen to help me out are incredibly special and I hope to reward them with ample promotion.  I am determined that my partnership with them will be a win-win situation.  Thanks again to big company in-kind donations from Eddyline Kayaks/Swift Paddles, SPOT, title nine, and Patagonia for supporting my expedition.

Eddyline-croplogo_swift

patagonia-logoSPOT_logo_2c_sm_tag_URL_ol

So, yesterday I requested donations from Katadyn Group (Optimus stove and freeze-dried/dehydrated foods), Sea to Summit (sleeping bag and dry sacks), GoPro (camera), and Smith Optics (sunglasses).  I spent quite a bit of time trying to find a Marketing Manager for Apple to request a Mac Book Pro.  I know, what are the chances?  But, if you don’t ask, you don’t even get a shot.  I will have to send them a snail mail letter, pretty sure, and that doesn’t mean it will get read.  I will also ask Sprint if they will give me six months of all-data service for an I-Phone that I can’t buy yet.  A long-shot but, again, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Think BIG!

Other companies I have sent requests to are Garmin (GPS), Marmot (sleeping bag), InReach (denied because I’m not a celebrity adventurer), Cascade Designs (tent, stove, Thermarest pad), PowerFilm, Inc. (solar-powered roll-up panel), Kokatat (paddling clothes), and KC Paddlers.  Still waiting for a response from these folks.  Others yet to contact are Seal Line (dry bags, PFD (life jacket)), Teva (sandals), other tent and sleeping bag companies, and a backpack company.  I will need to find more paddling companies to research for gear.

I have not asked any companies for money.  I think they like to see some successful accomplishments before they sponsor an expedition with cash.  Hopefully, someone will connect with what I am doing and jump on board…soon.

Even more special are some of my dear friends who have donated financially.  Thank you Bill and Anne Diehl, and Karen and Ric McCann – good friends from Bear Valley days.  Also,  my dear friend Deb Miller and best friend, Dave Bandy.  You are the first.  Thank you so much!!!

I am beginning to try some foods to bring along.  I have a few Knorr side dishes to try at $1 a pop, which include mashed potatoes, rice dishes, and pasta, of course.  I want to make sure I have plenty of comfort foods.  I will try and contact some companies for food donations.  Not sure who yet.

IMG_1816

So, this is the bulk of the work I have to do.  Hopefully, I will not have to purchase a tent and sleeping bag.  After five months of not working due to student teaching, and substituting part time for $70/day, I will soon need to take out a loan, or launch into a fundraising campaign, or both.  I’d like to avoid another loan.  My student loans are enough to keep me occupied.

My boat is all set except to remove the old keel protection strip and apply a new one, which Eddyline has provided.  I need to sand some scratches and fill them up.  And, I need to set up my rudder.  Oh, I have to rechristen the boat with the new name:  Blue Moon.

Shasta-gear_Bob

I have ordered 200 more stickers after giving away the first 100.  The blog address will be larger on the new ones.

L-R, Dave Cornthwaite, Rod Wellington, Dale Sanders

L-R, Dave Cornthwaite, Rod Wellington, Dale Sanders

I  also designed a new business card last night because the first batch did not turn out visually as nice as it appeared on the computer screen.  No surprise.  You get what you pay for and they were cheap.  Here is a picture (a little fuzzy) of my new design I created with MOO.  They should arrive in about a week.

business-card-MOO-autoEdit-crop

The promo video will be ready in a week or so.  Thank you Jim Karpowicz and Tom Newcomb of Black Truck Pictures.  I hope to start an organized fundraising campaign then, perhaps with GoFundMe, or something of that nature.  You can visit my Donation Opportunities page, which I have set up with tier-level rewards for financial donations.  Please consider donating financially to help with the success of the expedition.

This sign points to Red Rock Mountain and Mount Jefferson, situated on the Continental Divide. This sign is visible here at the entrance to Alaska Basin in Montana. Looking east.

This sign points to Red Rock Mountain and Mount Jefferson, situated on the Continental Divide. Sawtelle Peak is behind and to the right and will be our entry into Brower’s Spring.

Norm Miller will be skiing into Brower’s Spring with me and has tracked down a pair of skis and boots from his friend who is loaning them to me.  I am thankful for that.  I may try and find a bike donation, or just bring my own.  It is nothing special, and pretty heavy, but it is a comfortable ride.  Someone may have to talk some sense into me to try and get a good bike to ride the sixty or more miles from the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge to Clark Canyon Reservoir where I am planning to put in a boat.

Pronghorn and calf

Pronghorn and calf at wildlife refuge

The Red Rock River on that stretch is complicated by private land with barbed-wire fences crossing through the river, electrical fencing doing the same, corrugated sheet-metal dams, and snag piles forcing numerous portages and body submerges.  The road follows that stretch on which I will ride my bike.

Hell Roaring Canyon and Creek, exiting the mountains. (Nemesis Mt. to the left of canyon.)

Hell Roaring Canyon and Creek, exiting the mountains. (Nemesis Mt. to the left of canyon.)  This is where we will come out of the canyon.  Our route heads back and winds way up to the left.

Finally, I spend a fair amount of time on my blog posts.  I try to make them interesting with good visual accompaniments.  They take much longer, sometimes hours, than my more spontaneous updates on my Facebook page:  Love Your Big Muddy Expedition.  If you have not, please like my FB page.  Sponsors like to see lots of page “likes.”  Of course, I like to see the support.  You actually are supporting my expedition indirectly by liking and following my pages and blog.  THANK YOU!

Love Your Big Muddy Expedition

Love Your Big Muddy Expedition

So, if you are wondering when this epic adventure begins, it already has.  I will be leaving for Montana with my daughter and a friend on the morning of April 14, the day after my Science Teacher Certification Exam.  I hope to start the trek with my ski into Brower’s Spring on or near April 20th.  Maybe I will find myself at Three Forks on May 1st.  That would be ideal.   I cannot wait to see the mountains and begin the adventure of my lifetime.  Or, perhaps the first of many.  Cheers!

Winter view of the Centennials here. Wind blows frequently to obscure the road completely with snow in February.

Winter view of the Centennials here. Wind blows frequently to obscure the road completely with snow in February (hopefully, not April!).

Categories: Planning, Sponsorship | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Let the adventure begin! | Mizzou Wire | University of Missouri

Sunset on the Missouri River, Cooper's Landing, Columbia, MO

Let the adventure begin! | Mizzou Wire | University of Missouri.

Let the adventure begin!

New Mizzou graduate plans record-setting kayaking expedition

  • Story by Nancy Moen
  • Photos by Shane Epping
  • Published: Dec. 7, 2012

December Mizzou graduate Janet Moreland plans to make history on a solo kayaking expedition this spring — and hopes to incorporate her adventures into a middle school curriculum. She’s equipped with 16 years of kayaking experience and a brand-new bachelor’s degree from the MU College of Education.

At 56 and with a new bachelor’s degree from the MU College of Education, one nontraditional student leaves Mizzou to pursue an adventure she’s been dreaming of for years. In May, Janet Moreland will embark on a solo kayaking expedition of the Missouri River from its headwaters at Three Forks, Mont., to St. Louis, a 2,320-mile span of paddling and portaging.

Moreland hopes to become the first woman to navigate that length of the Missouri River solo by kayak and to use the expedition as a teaching tool for social studies and science classes. She views the river as a “living laboratory” for teaching middle-school students about cultural history, geography, the natural environment and social interactions.

Just the thought of the approaching adventure wakes her up at night. “Maybe I’m an adrenalin junkie,” Moreland says.

Moreland’s journey will take three months, far less time than the 20 years she invested in working on a bachelor’s degree in education.

Extreme journey

Moreland has been training for her river adventure for years. The self-described river rat has been kayaking for 16 years, with nine of those on the Missouri River. She runs two miles every other day and has been jogging most of her life.

Moreland will need mental endurance as well as physical stamina to be on the river for days on end. As lonely as the expedition seems, Moreland will find support from a network of kayakers.

There will be fishermen, boaters and towns along the way, but Moreland could spend 10 days to two weeks on the river with no sign of civilization. She says solitude doesn’t bother her; she once lived alone in a house on 220 acres: “I’ve always been extremely independent. The solitude is something I look forward to.”

The tradeoff is the extraordinary beauty she’ll experience. The first 300 miles of the expedition will be engagingly scenic, and if she’s paddling on a cloudy night, light from the towns will reflect off the clouds to show her the way.

But the seven to nine big lakes along the route will offer challenges. One of those lakes is 230 miles long. Moreland’s major concern, however, is wind. Gusts along the river can reach 70 miles an hour, and if the winds are too strong, she’ll need to paddle at night when they die down.

Moreland caught the lure of extreme kayaking seven years ago after meeting paddler Dave Miller, author of The Complete Paddler. Miller had stopped for breakfast at Cooper’s Landing on the Missouri River, where Moreland cooked on Saturday mornings.

She was further hooked after another paddler, Norm Miller of Montana, said he believed she could be the first woman to kayak the entire length of the river solo. In 2004, Norm Miller (no relation to Dave Miller) paddled and hiked the Lewis and Clark route.

Janet MorelandIn September Moreland retired from her job in the MU Sustainability Office. A longtime environmentalist, Moreland thrives on outdoor adventures.

Wilderness and wildlife

Moreland will take an assortment of essential supplies for her journey, and she’ll refresh her two-week food and water supply in the river towns.

She’ll pack an expedition tent that can handle wind, a cook stove, a two-wheel trailer to portage her kayak around the dams, a sleeping bag, warm clothes and boots. She’ll take a flint stone as an emergency fire starter and a hatchet for chopping firewood, building windbreaks and cutting her way through river brush and vegetation.

She’ll keep bear spray on hand for any encounters with grizzly bears.

Because cell phone service will be scarce, she’ll use a laptop to post blogs and update her journal, forming the basis of a book she plans to write. A video camera attached to her kayak will capture images.

Moreland’s students and the public can follow her adventures at loveyourbigmuddy.com.

Trailblazing teacher

“Life is a journey. Live fast. Paddle slow,” sums up Moreland’s philosophy of life and love of adventure. Her goal as a teacher is to show students that it’s possible to follow their dreams, even those dreams considered out of reach.

“Children need to learn to believe they can make things happen they didn’t think were possible, and I want women to know that, too,” she says.

A lifetime of challenges that would test any adventurous spirit has seriously overqualified Moreland for extreme adventure.

She lived alone in Hawaii in the most remote part of the island and in Yosemite National Park. She worked as the first certified female member of a ski patrol in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, routinely doing avalanche control with dynamite and sometimes “under-the-rope” skiing on unpatrolled slopes.

She taught wind surfing and tried skydiving. She worked as a commercial salmon fisher in Southeast Alaska and as a carpenter in Bear Valley, Calif., repairing snow-damaged houses and, with two other carpenters, building a redwood house “from the ground up.”

Moreland’s quest for an education degree began in San Francisco, when her daughter, Haley Rose, was in preschool. Attending college part time, Moreland took classes here and there, fitting course work between moves, jobs and family responsibilities.

She moved to Columbia in 1996 after two years in Springfield, Mo., and, in 2005, decided to get serious about a Mizzou degree while working at the university. She retired recently from the Sustainability Office, where she worked on MU’s projects in environmental responsibility.

Her interest in kayaking developed after she learned her house was just down the road from the Missouri River. She drove to Coopers Landing and discovered the river.

“All of a sudden Columbia became home for me,” she says.

Teachable moments

Moreland plans to use her solo kayaking adventure as the basis of a curriculum on river sustainability and stewardship, as well as to build self-esteem in adolescents.

She’s greatly appreciative of and works locally with Missouri River Relief, a volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to the health of the Missouri River. The organization connects children, teachers and the public to the Missouri River through clean-up activities and educational events.

Partly because of that group, the Missouri River is an “incredibly clean, beautiful wilderness waterway,” Moreland says.

Moreland’s river explorations will continue after she completes this summer’s expedition. She plans to paddle down the Mississippi River, from St. Louis to New Orleans, in summer 2014.

Moreland completed a student-teaching internship during the fall semester at Jefferson Junior High School. She will work as a substitute teacher for Columbia Public Schools in spring semester, while applying for a permanent position after her adventure.

Categories: Expedition, Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So, You Want to Paddle Down the Missouri River?

By Norm Miller, in his own words…

Norm Miller paddling UP the Missouri River in 2004, retracing the Lewis & Clark Trail: STL to the Pacific.

What does it take to paddle down the Mighty Missouri River from Montana to St. Louis?

I personally don’t think there is a formula as in hind sight, the experiences of others who have taken the challenge are all different. I think it maybe more of a personality type that can just go and take off for weeks or months…especially alone.

I am very comfortable being alone, which is not the same as being lonely. Some people are more secure with themselves than with a group of people. I’ve had friends tell me that they could never paddle and camp for weeks alone. When I hear this I get the sense that they don’t know themselves well enough. For me, it’s always been a way of life. I’ve been very independent all my life. Don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of friends to roam the neighborhood as a child, building forts, playing army, hiking and fishing and just plain escaping from our parents. I also spent many hours alone, comfortable being solo.

Norm’s expedition from St. Louis to Three Forks, MT, over the Rockies, and down to the Pacific Ocean took six months.

I often wondered that if everyone who has gone on a long paddle trip took the same personality profile, if we would all score the same rating? For the most part I am very shy, which some people find hard to believe. As a child I use to hide under my bed when relatives would come over, only to come out after they left. Now that I’m near 50-years old I feel more at ease around people, especially groups. But there are times when I must seek the shelter of my cave and go run off solo somewhere.

I personally feel more at ease when life is simple. I often feel I was born 200-years too late. I love to camp and enjoy the peace that I find along rivers or travelling abroad solo. I’m comfortable being in foreign countries and not knowing the language. I get by easily with sign language and drawing pictures to communicate to people.

To me if you can paddle all day, set up camp, cook your food, clean up your mess, go to bed, get up in the morning and repeat everything, then paddling two-three months is not that big a deal. It becomes far more of an emotional, spiritual, and psychological journey than a physical one. My mind is always at battle wondering about things, my well being, what if’s, do’s and don’ts. In 2004 while paddling up the Missouri I was at a constant battle with myself. The main issue was the slow pace in which I moved. I could have easily walked much faster than I was paddling. In the strong currents of the lower river, 2-mph hour was my tops speed. So, living in the 20th century with all the high-speed fast paced lives we all lived, slowing down to a snail’s pace was very difficult. I had to concentrate on the small picture, never the final destination. My mantra was “one stroke at a time will get you to the ocean.” I had to stay focused on the bend ahead, the distant tree or bridge and never the Pacific! I would have gone insane had I not slowed my mind set. “River Time” is what many paddlers talk about; slowing down the pace of the world, the natural environment and not the speedy rate that most follow.

Being able to adapt to changing conditions is another factor that is helpful. On my first big paddle trip I started off very set in my beliefs as to how the day should go. I didn’t accept change very easy. Well, that only lasted about a week and I knew that nature dictated much more than I ever imagined. The weather was the biggest factor. Wind and storms will tell you when you can and cannot paddle. So get use to watching the sky, feeling the wind, observing the weather. It truly tells a lot. After a week or two you can get much better than the weatherman at determining what the forecast will be for the day. There will be times when you just have to wait it out. I’ve spent days wind-bound to a tent, waiting for a break to proceed onward. Don’t be in a hurry. Enjoy the storms, the hail, the tornados, the flooding, the snow, the lightning and the intense sun. Explore the surrounding shore, the distant hillsides. I’ve spent hours in N. Canada on a remote river on my knees looking at stones. I’ve found some amazing things while wandering around waiting for the wind to abate; from Inuit burial grounds, old buildings, rare animal sightings, hot springs, and even a family gathering with plenty of cold beer. Being stranded in the wind is also a good time to rest, to catch up on that needed sleep. I’ve come to love the wind! It has become my friend. I no longer curse it but enjoy its gifts and wonder.

Wind-bound on Canyon Ferry Reservoir

to be continued…

Categories: Expedition, Missouri River | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lots of Activity on the River(s) Lately

Dear interested readers:

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a clip from their first days:

The Early Days (includes a visit from Mark Kalch)

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

Hot off the press from Dave:  We made it! Journey No. 7 of Expedition1000 finished at 10:20am this morning, as my team and I reached St Louis Arch to finish an epic 1000-mile swim. Hard to believe its over, what a challenge! See www.Facebook.com/expedition1000 for further updates and photos throughout the day. Yeah!

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

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

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

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

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

Warm regards, Janet

Categories: Expedition, Missouri River | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

On my way

I am ready to get the ball rolling in high gear.  My website will be developed enough to post for public in the next couple of days, I’m hoping, which is necessary before I can start contacting potential sponsors.  I am having trouble sleeping at night thinking about all the things that need to be done.

I am meeting with Missouri River Relief on Sunday to discuss the trip and our relationship in it together.  That will be a big step.  Last week I filled out a couple of website contact portals.  The initial one was to National Park Service, who claimed to be looking for projects to fund.  Another was the Army Corps of Engineers.  Much to my surprise, I heard from US Army Corps of Engineers yesterday!  Neil Bass said that since they’re a govt agency, they could not sponsor monetarily, but they would be happy to provide river info, aerial maps, and meet with me on the lower river with food resupplies.  Wow!  I was thrilled to hear that.  We will be in touch with each other after August.

I received my signed copy of The Complete Paddler by David Miller.  Started reading it the other day (at 2:00 AM) and could hardly put it down.  It is considered the “Bible” for paddling the MO River from its headwaters.  Made me realize that this is truly an impressive journey and far from being a vacation paddle (not that that was what I was thinking).  I think there will be lots of pleasure to be had in ways I’m not aware of yet.  This may be true with displeasures as well.  Got that.

The expedition is a perfect fit for me in so many ways.  I love the mountains, rivers, lakes, paddling, wildlife, outdoor challenges, Lewis and Clark’s expedition, and I enjoy solitude.  I also love meeting new people, so I am looking forward to the multiplicity of the journey.  I feel a craving for it.

Once I get some sponsorship letters mailed out, it will be time to slooooow down and focus on student teaching.  Three days of teacher planning will begin in mid-August, then school starts.  Teaching middle school may very well be a challenge that rivals a float down the entire Missouri River.  We’ll see.

I want to give special thanks to Norman Miller for coaching me through the initial phase of my decision to do this trip.  He supplied me with an enourmous amount of information and motivation.  He provided the water that started the seed growing, the seed that David Miller planted in my mind when he layed over for a week at Cooperslanding on the final leg of his trek down the river.  I think that was around 2004.

That’s it for now.  If you are actually reading this, thanks for your interest, and feel free to comment.  I still don’t know what I’m doing with this blog, but I’m learning.

Paddle fast ~ live slow

Hmmmm….perhaps right now “live fast ~ paddle slow” is more appropriate.

Life is good.

Janet

Race to the Dome 2012

Categories: Planning, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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