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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Honestly, I am thinking the 20L bags won’t fit through my frame ribs. I need to figure this out today.
My assistant, Rio, keeping me focused on the task at hand. Is HE focused? On the river maybe…
I put together most of it on this dry run. A week later a did a full assembly, including lacing up the combing around the cockpit, and even took it for a little spin on a pond. Yes, this is indeed going to be an adventure…

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hi Janet,

Good to hear from you!

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

Music to my ears, Hans. Thanks so much!


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

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

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


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


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

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

Bill Nedderman showing me how to assemble his Klepper T-9 foldable kayak last August. I will need to assemble the kayak on my own at least a couple of times. And, I’ll need to splash it before I go. I don’t want any surprises when it’s time to take off.
Packing and unpacking gear in this boat will be challenging. No shoving or dropping bags inside, they’ll need to be placed. And, strategically placed as well. My patience will be tried daily in many ways.
Version 2
This ride is a big change from Blue Moon. I have to go foldable because of the necessity to fly. I wish I could drive up but I have a new school year to return to in August. Efficiency and a light load are key. Oh, and careful paddling.

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

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

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

LoveYourBigMuddyExpedition-FB Page

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

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

Version 3
Do what you love and love what you do

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

Can You Spin Plates AND Dance? -Planning an Expedition

Change is Good
Change is Good [Logo design by Jonathan Lauten]

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.

A gift from our Natchez River Family
A gift Tee from our Natchez, Mississippi River Family

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!).

The Great Mississippi River-2016
The Great Mississippi River-2016
The Great Yukon River-2017
The Great Yukon River-2017
M&Ms Lab was a big hit

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.”  []

Photo Credit: Florian Schulz []
Photo Credit: Florian Schulz []

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

LoveYourBigMuddy Presentations

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! 🙂

My new expedition cards with John Ruskey's Rivergator Map on the back. Rivergator is an online paddler's guide for the Middle/Lower Mississippi River. Visit at
My new expedition cards with John Ruskey’s Mississippi River Map on the back. Rivergator is an online paddler’s guide for the Middle/Lower Mississippi River. For more information and maps, visit

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.

Much love-


Peace out

The Great Missouri River near Columbia, MO, Cooper’s Landing, Plowboy Bend, Rivermile 170


“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

Love Your River, for it is Truly Great


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

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

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

Do what you love and love what you do!

Janet Moreland


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

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

In the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument following a multi-day rain deluge
Ahhh, yes, the glorious sandy beaches of the lower Mississippi. Well, in 2013 they were glorious. 2015 was quite a different story with the river running flood stage all summer, and paddlers scrambling for dry land on which to sleep.
IMG_7470 copy
A Mississippi Blue Hole is great for a refreshing swim and/or careful bath. Blue Holes are created when the main river drops below the level of the sand bar, losing its connection with the pool. What a sand bar!!

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

Yukon River

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

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

I say, “Bring it on”!!!

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

Live slow ~ Paddle fast

Peace and Love, Janet


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition on Facebook. see what’s up…

Oh, one last thing, a toast to LoveYourBigMuddy

Still reeling from the high

Trimming the Boat Before Take Off


Fitting the puzzle pieces together.
Fitting the puzzle pieces together.


Compact fit. Of course, ther is a lot of stuff in the hatches, too.
Compact fit. Of course, ther is a lot of stuff in the hatches, too.

We practiced packing the boat yesterday. Thanks to Norm Miller, I’ll be running a pretty tight ship. At least it looks pretty trim.

Norm demonstrating how to get out of the spray skirt should The boat tumble over.
Norm demonstrating how to get out of the spray skirt should The boat tumble over.


Sail simulation.
Sail simulation.

we are heading to Sawtelle Peak for the ski in to the Missouri River’s ultimate source, Brower’s Spring. We will be skiing, and not paddling. The spring is just below the Continental Divide.

Our visit with Norm and his girlfriend, Kris Walker, has been heartwarming and incredibly fun. We will take away some very memorable moments lasting a lifetime!

Please be patient with me as I transition my computer tool from a laptop with Vista Business to an iPad. It is my first Mac experience aside from an iPhone I’ve only owned for two months. I hope to be able to keep you better updated.

Off we go!



Efficiency is key

Getting a little nervous now, and must work efficiently.  Countdown 12 days, YIKES!  I am scheduled to substitute teach the next three days.  Then, off to St. Charles for the Missouri River Relief clean-up (arrive Fri-leave Sun), plus a crew meeting tonight at 6:30.  Next week I will be putting all the puzzle pieces together, practicing packing the boat, and hoping that I get called for a teaching interview which will, ideally, land me a job for the next school year.

On Saturday night, April 13, my daughter, Haley, and my niece and her family, Rene, Kyle, and Sam, and I will be attending the Dance Showcase at the Columbia Performing Arts Center.  My cousin, Jen Lee, teaches dancing there (she taught there when Haley was in Junior High) and puts together the grand finale of all the dance classes, the Showcase.  Also, several of my students will be performing that night, Lauren, Kaylin and Rachel.  They will be happy to see me there.  They are such great dancers!

Sunday send-off will be the next day at Cooper’s Landing, April 14, 10:00AM.  Wow!  Ya, I’m a little nervous.  Here is a list I composed between midnight and 2:00 AM last night.  I keep paper and pen bedside.  Every time I think of a little to-do item, I have to write it down, there are so many. These are just a few of the things that came to mind last night.  Oh, and add American flag for the boat onto that list.

Midnight To Do List-April 2, 2013
Midnight To Do List-April 2, 2013

I conducted a loosely traditional christening ceremony before dropping Blue Moon in the water for her first voyage with her new name.  This was last Sunday, March 31, and a fun time despite the fact I forgot my really cool christening script I found online. Technology prevailed and I was able to  access the first paragraph, which I had posted earlier in the week.  The rest was improvisation, and seemed perfectly acceptable to all present.

The, the flotilla had a most wonderful paddle under blue skies and mild temperatures.  My Eddyline Shasta truly is a dream boat.  Blue Moon, Sweet Dream.  We bonded.  Ya, we got this!

Blue Moon (next I have to apply the blog address, maybe today) handled tenderly by Joe Kellenberger and Michael Stacy.
Megan May setting up cameras for her Missourian video story.  She has been following me around getting footage.
Megan May setting up cameras for her Missourian video story.
She has been following me around getting footage.
Reading the script off my iPhone.
Reading the script off my iPhone.
First time in the water as "Blue Moon."
First time in the water as “Blue Moon.”
The christening cruise crew
The christening cruise crew, L-R: Amanda Faith and Theo, Alison Kellenberger, daughter Hannah, Janet Moreland, Joe Kellenberger and Talia, Michael Stacy, Jonathan Lauten
Tally, riding shotgun? With Joe.
Theo, first time on the river, with Amanda.
The Joseph M. LaBarge, Roger and Barbara Giles' vessel.
We met up with The Joseph M. LaBarge, Roger and Barbara Giles’ vessel, at Eagle Bluffs.

Wednesday evening, March 27, we had a wonderful heart-warming turn out for the Love Your Big Muddy Blues Benefit.  Many of the finest musicians in Columbia played Red Hot Blues that night.  Heidi Branaugh organized the event, with help from our committee, and things worked out beautifully.  $1600 was raised to help with my expenses, and for that I am enormously grateful.  Certainly, the evening was incredibly special and a memorable one for all.  Much love in our community shined forth that night.  And Shane Perrin, The Stand Up Guy, came to the event!  What a wonderful supporter and inspiration.  He planted a few seeds in my mind while visiting together!  😉

Talking about paddling rivers.  Fun stuff!
Talking with Shane Perrin about paddling rivers. Likin’ it!!
My daughter, Haley, will be part of my support for the first week or two.
My daughter, Haley, will be part of my support for the first week or two.
Johnny D'Agostino and Alan Loshbaugh
Johnny D’Agostino and Alan Loshbaugh, so great!
Band-Sax and Harp
L-R, Scott McCullough, Charley Waddill on drums,
Tony Lotven with sax in hand and Alan Loshbaugh
Charlie Brown Boogie Down Dance Contest
Charlie Brown Boogie Down Dance Contest
L-R, Dennis Ternamian, Charley Waddill and Jim Quisenberry
L-R, Dennis Ternamian, Charley Waddill and Jim Quisenberry
Dave and Band
L-R, Zed Zardov, Scott McCullough, Dave Bandy, Charley Waddill


And our most gracious and talented host, Heidi, announcing the raffle winners.
And our most gracious and talented host, Heidi, announcing the raffle winners.
Raffle items
Lovely raffle items donated by beautiful people.
Complimentary appetizers

Media interest has picked up, which I suppose is to be expected.  Ciera and Megan, journalism students at the University of Missouri, are working for the Columbia Missourian to get a story out soon.  Ciera is working on a written article and Megan is working on a corresponding video story.

Ciera started her story awhile back. Should publish soon.
Ciera started her story awhile back. Should publish soon.
Megan May getting shots for her video story.  Here, we applied the new name to the boat in the house since the temps outside were too cold.
Megan May getting shots for her video story. Here, we applied the new name to the boat in the house since the temps outside were too cold.

Loved talking with Elizabeth Labauch, who wrote a blog post about the expedition for Footprint Magazine.  Footprint Magazine is produced by Sustain Mizzou, an environmental student group at the University of Missouri.  Tina Casagrand does a great job of keeping the magazine vibrant.  Liz did a great piece from a somewhat different perspective.  You can read her article posted to the Media Coverage Page on this blog.

I met with Simon Rose and Rene on the KFRU Morning Meeting yesterday.  Be sure and check out the on-air interview, also posted on the Media Coverage Page at the top of my blog.


Right now I am waiting for Philip White to call.  He wants to interview me for The SUP magazine online.  Cool.  He also writes for Canoe and Kayak.  Doubly cool.

Just got off the phone with Philip.  Great friendly conversation.  I’ll keep you posted.

And finally, Leslie Kolovich and I did a podcast for her SUP radio show, Paddle for the Planet.  Most enjoyable conversation with her, on and off air.  Leslie is passionate for paddling AND the planet.  Check out our podcast interview in the Media Coverage drop down list.  And, check out her SUP Radio Show where she interviews, and supports, the paddling communities everywhere!

Leslie Astin Kolovich

Well, folks, got another blog post out here, didn’t I?  That wasn’t even on my ToDo list.  I will strive to keep you faithful followers updated during my trip.  I anticipate I will be very busy taking photos, videos, charging up the laptop, writing in my journal, paddling onward, and keeping my hands clean.  They don’t call it the Big Muddy for nothing, you know!

Feel free to suggest, inspire, encourage, and entertain by leaving a comment any time.  Always appreciated!  Cheers!

Life is a journey.  Live fast ~ Paddle slow

See You On The River…

Boat, Brower’s, Bike and the Blues

It has been a couple of weeks since I started removing the old name and website from the Shasta.  Slight delay because of a heap of snow dumped on us over the course of two weeks.  It has been cold and the snow still covers the majority of ground.  This photo is from BEFORE the first storm, which dumped around 8-10 inches on February 21.

Before February 21.
Before February 21.

And after February 21…

Photo taken on February 22

And after another 5 or more inches, which fell on February 26:

Photo taken on March 2
Photo taken on March 2

But, speaking of snow, I talked to the person in charge of the gate to the road up Sawtelle Peak.  Because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has an Air Traffic radar tower at the top, the road is gated to keep cars off the mountain when snow is present.

FAA Radar on top of the mountain
FAA Radar on top of the mountain

However, they plow the road for the employees, although 4-wheel drive is often necessary.  The gentleman I spoke with was very favorable to helping us access the mountain road.  He will get us past the gate so that we can ski to Brower’s from the switchback located in the upper right  of this photo, below “Sawtelle Peak.”

Sawtelle Road switchback upper right, and Brower's Spring under the "3" in the center, at the end of Hellroaring Creek where white meets green on the map.
Sawtelle Road switchback upper right, and Brower’s Spring under the “3” in the center, at the end of Hellroaring Creek where white meets green on the map.

Here is a photo of Sawtelle Peak:

Summit of Sawtelle Peak
Summit of Sawtelle Peak NOT in April

And, a 3-D version from Google Earth, with switchback on far right straight across from Brower’s Spring (the green dot is the radar):

We’ll ski down Hell Roaring Canyon which sweeps left from Brower’s Spring through the center of the photo.

Next month I will be sipping from the waters of

Photo taken in June 2012 by Rod Wellington.
Photo taken in June 2012 by Rod Wellington.

Brower’s Spring, the ultimate source of the Missouri River near the Continental Divide!  Of course, we will be digging through many feet of snow, no doubt.  Norm Miller and I will be packing shovels.

So, that is great news!

I picked up my on/off road bike that Carl and Josh at Klunk Bicycle and Repair built for my stretch in the beginning when the waterway is frozen over.  It is anticipated that this will be the case in the Centennial Valley, which is where we will come out of the mountains.  There is a gravel road that follows right along the creeks and rivers and through the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.


I may have to ride my bike as far as 80 miles to Clark Canyon Reservoir.  Good to be prepared for any situation.


Carl has offered to loan me the bike with the option to buy it.  I became a bit attached after just a few loops around the parking lot.  I am hoping to purchase it at some point.  I look forward to riding it until I leave.  Must practice, right?  Here is a photo of the bike and crew:

L-R Josh, Carl, and me.  The bike, of course, is front and center.
L-R Josh, Carl, and me. The bike, of course, is front and center.

We had a great meeting last week to discuss fundraising.  What a wonderful group of supporters:  Heidi Branaugh, Steve Schnarr, Melanie Cheney, Suzanne Cooper, Dory Colbert, Roger and Barb Giles, Jeff Barrow, and Ginger Masters.  We agreed that a Love Your Big Muddy Blues Benefit would be great, particularly because Columbia, Missouri, is a mecca for musicians.  We have a whole bunch of great musical artists, so we hope to have a dynamite show.  We would like to hold the event at a local club, MoJo’s, on Wednesday, March 27, during happy hours: 5:00 to 8:30.  We’ll provide appetizers and lots of stuff to raffle away.  This is the same day that my expedition story will be featured in the Columbia Missourian.  Should be a good day. Still waiting for confirmation on the location.

The outpouring of financial contributions is humbling.  I am very grateful for my friends and their desire to help.  Without their contributions, the expedition would still go on, but the financial burden would be difficult.  Thank you to all who are able and willing to donate their precious moneys.  I am very grateful.  If you would like to donate, you may do so here on my Donations Opportunities Page, or go to my GoFundMe page at LoveYourBigMuddyExpedition 4 Education.

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.

I am currently focusing on foods to take.  I looked at dehydrators today and will likely purchase one to make jerky and dried vegetables.  I have received a fantastic response to my request for food ideas on the Facebook Paddlers Pages that I am a part of.  This has been very helpful, and relieves quite a bit of anxiety as to what I will be packing for food.

Comfort foods
Comfort foods

That’s it for now.  Things are getting busy, sleep is difficult, writing blog posts takes time.  I appreciate all of you who are following me.  Thank you.  Still trying to figure out the tweeting thing on Twitter.

Life is good.  Live fast ~ Paddle slow

See you on the river!

P.S.  Will post more soon.  It is getting exciting!

Sponsorship – Near and Far





Again, I would like to thank Eddyline Kayaks-Swift Paddles, SPOT  and Patagonia for their in-kind donations to LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition.  And, thanks to Black Truck Pictures and Jim Karpowicz for producing the promo video for my GoFundMe page.

I have not yet had a chance to write about the companies who have recently begun sponsoring my expedition.  I will admit that I began to give up on some of the larger companies because they were not responding to my emails.  Companies such as Cascade Designs regarding MSR & Thermarest, Kokatat, PowerFilms, Garmin, and GoPro, to name a few.

Patience is a must as I realize they have hundreds of requests just like mine.  So, I  nudge them, but try not to annoy.  Kokatat, however, has recently brought me on board with sponsorship.  Kokatat is important to me not only because of their high quality gear, but because their home base is in Arcata, a small town on the north coast of California, and home to the first college I attended fresh out of high school (yes, that would be in 1974).


In the meantime, I determined to stop by and speak to the owners and/or managers of our local outdoor sports businesses to see if they would share in the wisdom that my proposal for support is a win-win deal for both of us.

I am happy to announce that all of our home-town businesses have come on board with in-kind donations, although I have not yet met with Alpine Shop.  We have an appointment to meet next week.

Having support from local businesses is important to me.  We should all be supporting each other at the grass-roots level.


Carl Kimbel of Klunk Bicycles, and his assistant Josh, is constructing a used road (on & off) bike for me to use in the event I will be riding alongside frozen waterways, which is anticipated.  From the Tribune article (click on photo above), Kimbel said the shop’s main appeal is its selection of used bikes. “We bring old bikes back to life,” he said.

I am very grateful for Carl’s bike (loan) donation, and I love his “grass-roots” business.

So, three cheers to Walt’s

Copy of waltlogowebidea23





and Klunk Bicycles !!!

Kokatat, premier technical paddling apparel and accessories, is offering me their sponsorship deal of 30% off wholesale.  I have been waiting “patiently” for their response as I really wanted their gear for my trip.  I will purchase, using my grassroots sponsorship donations (thank you all!), dry suit bibs with socks, a paddling jacket-shirt-pants-shorts, neoprene mitts and gloves and shoes.  Oh, and a personal flotation device (PFD).  My paddling clothing supply should be complete, except for some knee high neoprene boots, ideal for hopping out in swift water sharp turns obstructed by barbed-wire or sheet metal fencing.  That is, only if this section on The Red Rock River is not frozen over.

(Photo courtesy of Rod Wellington at
Red Rock River
(Photo courtesy of Rod Wellington at

I am now looking at acquiring essentials such as a tent (MSR 2P Hubba Hubba), down sleeping bag, stove, Thermarest pad, GPS device, roll-up solar charger,  TEVA sandals, and a GoPro camera.

And, for documenting my trip in preparation for books and video documentary publishing, I have one significant wish-list item:  a MacBookPro laptop.

Patience is a virtue.

Bob Bellingham’s MSR Hubba Hubba tent, complete with
gorgeous sunset on Oahe Lake.
Hey, is that sunset included?  I’ll take two, please!

If you would like to donate to my expedition, please visit my Donations Opportunities page on this blog, or my GoFundMe page online at

LoveYourBigMuddyExpedition 4 Education

Your support is sincerely and greatly appreciated.

Live fast ~ Paddle slow

See you on the river.

Love your Big Muddy!