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.
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!
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! 😉
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.
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!
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!
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.
And after February 21…
And after another 5 or more inches, which fell on February 26:
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.
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.”
Here is a photo of Sawtelle Peak:
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):
Next month I will be sipping from the waters of
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Enjoying four days off from substitute teaching this week-end. Friday was a teacher work day and Monday is Presidents’ Day, a holiday. Lots to do, lots to do. First thing to tend to is my boat.
The old keel strip has been removed. I just need to wipe it down and get all the goo off of it. Eddyline Kayaks will walk me through applying the new strip. It is a protective strip that keeps the bottom from getting too banged up when exiting the water onto shore. Hopefully, rocks will not be too big an issue on the trip.
I will also get the rudder hooked up with the cables, remove the old name, “Barbara May” and change to “Blue Moon.” I mean, how often does a trip like this cross your path? You got it: once in a blue moon. The next blue moon is in 2015, I believe. Anyway, I will also remove Bob Bellingham’s web site address, steadypaddling.com, and apply my own, http://www.loveyourbigmuddy.com. I think I will be ready for my maiden cruise after that.
The video is ready except for one last little edit. I may be able to post it here by the time I’m finished writing this post. Facebook is very easy to post things on quickly, but my blog is like home base. We’ve been together for quite a while now, growing together, so I’d like to post the video here first. It is short and sweet.
I will be starting a fundraising page with GoFundMe. I have been fighting the idea in my mind, whether or not to go “commercial.” I guess I will go for it, since I really do need the financial support. Substitute teaching is wonderful, but the pay is meager. I love the fact that many of my friends are donating on my “Donation Opportunities” blog page. Warms my heart and builds me up.
I will soon start my food supply list, get detailed on what clothing items I will bring, and take another day to invite companies to donate items. I feel as though the bigger companies are not interested since this is my first expedition. I am trying not to depend on their support. If fundraising goes well, I will purchase the items I need such as a tent, down sleeping bag, stove, GPS device, etc.
I visited with our local sport shop businesses in Columbia last week. The effort is proving to be beneficial. Walt’s Bicycle Fitness Wilderness will be donating a couple of items from my wish list. And, I am pretty sure Klunk Bicycles is donating a used mountain bike for the portion of my trip requiring a bike ride due to frozen waterways. Once officially donated, I will make an announcement. I really want to help promote our local businesses if I can.
I am watching the snow depth level at Lakeview very closely now. The first stretch of my trip will be determined by the winter conditions such as snow and ice-covered lakes and rivers. This link gives historic as well as daily snow levels and water input into the Red Rock River.
I am determined to get to Brower’s Spring no matter how much snow has fallen. I will have to rely on my ski mountaineering experience from my years living in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Staying strong and healthy until April is very important. I am running two miles every other day, rowing on the rowing machine, taking walks, and will soon start riding my mountain bike substantial distances. I always try to eat good and wholesome foods. Basically, high fiber and low fat is my norm. I have made the switch to 100% whole wheat breads and pasta, and I eat a green salad just about every night. I will miss having a glass of Chardonnay with dinner while on my trip. Maybe I can stowaway a bottle now and then.
I have topped the 200 “likes” number on my Facebook page. YaY! If you have not liked the page, please do so. As I mentioned before, I am able to post to FB much more than I do blog posts. These posts take time and careful consideration, which I am finding harder to do now that I am substitute teaching most days.
The Columbia Missourian, University of Missouri’s Journalism School newspaper, interviewed me last week and we will meet soon for a photo shoot. The Missourian produced the first piece of media about my trip way back last August (or September?), with Bob Bellingham’s paddle down the Missouri River being the main feature. You can find that article on my “Media” page. Now, my trip will be a feature article. I am happy about having our local press support my trip. Here is Ciera, the journalism student who interviewed me. She is just delightful.
I started a Twitter account, @MoRivExpedition, so that I can utilize all the social media tools. I really don’t know much about Twitter. I am learning as I go. I am following a lot of cool adventure people, but only have two followers. That’s okay, though. I have no idea how to accumulate followers. I will just tweet little tweets now and then, and see how things progress. Once I get started on my trip, I cannot imagine having time to keep up with all the social media anyway. I will have to save my writing for the rainy days…or, snowy days…or, windy days.
Or, maybe on an occasional lovely day, I will take a break and hang out.
The seed displays are out at the stores, and that can mean only one thing: SPRING is right around the corner!! So, WOW, it will be time to go soon. Am I nervous? Sometimes yes, and sometimes yes.
And, speaking of seeds, I have a crazy idea to grow some leafy greens on the trip. I mean, 3 ½ months on the river? Some leafy greens would be nice. That said, the planting season in Montana doesn’t start until the first two weeks in June. My little portable terrarium might be ideal for some early planting! I have been brainstorming the perfect container for such a thing and currently have narrowed the choices down to a couple of good ones. Any suggestions out there? I’ll take them.
Today, I am going to build a “kayanoe” cradle for my kayak. The design is Michael Clark’s of Big Muddy Adventures. I took a picture while there so that I could build a set just like his. Once complete, I can lay my boat in it and get started removing the keel strip that needs replacing, and install the rudder. Eddyline Kayaks gave me a new strip to apply, and I am to call them when ready to put it on. Today is supposed to be 70 degrees, so I have picked up the lumber and will begin cutting wood this afternoon.
Thanks to Steve Schnarr and Melanie Cheney, my new neighbors and humble managers of Missouri River Relief, for the use of their large detached garage and electrical power. Another HUGE THANKS to them for giving me a dry bag. And Maryellen Self, THANK YOU, GIRL, for purchasing a new large dry bag for me from Sea to Summit. I am very grateful for all of your generosity.
Bill West of Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, located in the Centennial Valley just below Hell Roaring Canyon (the route to Brower’s Spring), sent me a link in which one can look up current snow depth Lakeview Ridge Snowtel Site as well as historical data from years past (also mentioned in a previous post). This will help me determine how much snow is in the area, and if we can drive up to the base of Hell Roaring Canyon, where it appears as though we will have to ski in the seven miles to Brower’s Spring, and out again.
The lookout road on Sawtelle Peak will undoubtedly be snow-covered and we have no way of getting up the switchbacks in order to ski over to Brower’s Spring. [Unless someone out there has snowmobile contacts in Montana, Idaho, or Yellowstone…?? Helicopter ride? Of course, it would have to be an in-kind donation :)]
These photos of Sawtelle Peak were taken from the website SummitPost.org
The following photos are taken from the Refuge Virtual Tour site that is not yet official. Bill Smith provided me with this link as well. You really should check it out. James Perdue has some gorgeous photos on that site.
Down in the Centennial Valley, the upper and lower lakes in the refuge will more than likely be frozen until May, so I am planning on riding a bike from Hell Roaring Canyon down to Clark Canyon Reservoir. The road follows right alongside the waterway. The ride will be approximately 80 miles. Praying that the road into that area is free of SNOW and not muddy sloshy. Plus, we REALLY need to be able to drive up to the base of Hell Roaring Canyon. The snow data link that Bill sent me is my life-line to the start of my expedition. In 2012 on April 20, the area had 11 inches of snow. In 2011 on April 20, the area had 47 inches of snow, nearly four feet! What will 2013 have in store for us???
My new motto for the expedition: GO WITH THE FLOW!
A draft of the promotion video will be sent to me on Friday. My new expedition cards came in last week, and I have a new batch of stickers with a larger web address for bumpers. Did I tell you about my terrarium? Crazy, I know. However, having something that is alive to take care of may be good for the soul. We’ll see. Nothing is set in stone. Heck, I may not have room. I am just going to GO WITH THE FLOW! 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have ordered 200 more stickers after giving away the first 100. The blog address will be larger on the new ones.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!