Time to Rock and Roll. It is April 14.

The day has finally arrived.  I have been losing sleep for nine months since I made the decision to paddle down the Missouri.  Once I decided to take on this challenge, it was another month, or two or three, before I made the decision to start at the source.  I knew I would regret not making the extra 298 miles if I started at Three Forks instead of Brower’s Spring.

The base of the mountains Norm and I will be coming out of after our ski into Brower's Spring.  (Photo by Norm Miller)
The base of the mountains Norm and I will be coming out of
after our ski into Brower’s Spring.
(Photo by Norm Miller)

The time is 3:23 AM.  My alarm is set for 4:30 AM.  I feel like I have an extra hour so I’m trying to get in one last “quick” blog post before we take off.  Now, THAT’s a challenge!

The Columbia Daily Tribune, our local newspaper, is supposed to publish a story this morning.  I just checked on it.  Yep, it’s there.  Here is the link for “PRIMED TO PADDLE: Kayaker ready to tackle river’s entire length.”  I will post the story under my Media page once the article becomes NOT available online, unless you have a subscription.

Yesterday was a very busy day packing.  I actually spent two days hard at it.  Three and one half months requires thinking through all of your needs, and wants, then trying to downsize the load.  I’m not very good at that.  Thankfully, Haley arrived after lunch and really helped me accomplish this daunting task.  She is very organized and more rational than me when it comes to, “Is it really a need, or merely a want.”



We took a moment to take a picture with our matching “Say YES More” T-shirts.  ‘Say Yes More’ is Dave Cornthwaite’s campaign, of which I am an ambassador.  The first medium T-shirt was itty-bitty,  so I gave it to Haley and he sent me a larger one.  Find out more about Dave’s exciting adventures on his Website.

T-shirts for Dave Cornthwaite’s “Say Yes More” ambassador program.

Last night we enjoyed spending time with my niece, Rene Freels, and her husband, Kyle, and son, Sam.  We enjoyed fabulous food (as usual) at El Maguey, not to mention their $1.25 margaritas.  This is my favorite restaurant in town.

We then enjoyed going down to the river to meet a lot of my river friends who were enjoying a campfire, pot luck barbeque, and acoustic guitar music.  We have access to a spot right next to Cooper’s Landing where we have get-togethers sometimes.  We also stopped by Cooper’s and I was able to introduce them to many more wonderful people in our river community.  We had a great evening.  I was happy to introduce them to a little slice of my world.  Unfortunately, no photos.

Once home again, I began to round up all of the little loose-end items such as dental floss, water bottles, hairbrush, shampoo and other things that I actually use until I leave.  I started a batch of strawberry/banana fruit roll-ups in the dehydrator, too.

This morning I will do one last batch of laundry, gather all of my food and try to sort some of it out into portions.  I need to make my custom trail mix as well.  Then, once light starts dawning on this part of the earth, the kayaks will go on the car, and I’ll pack the car with all of my stuff.  We just left everything on the porch since the weather is good and we have Minnie, our wonderful, and loud, watchdog.  No one can approach the house without her approval.


The weather looks rough for the next few days in this area, and on our drive up north.  It is my understanding that snow has been falling in Montana.  I try not to let the weather reports get me emotionally stirred up.  I am taking things one step at a time, and making decisions as opportunities present themselves.  You might say I am “Going with the Flow.”  Yes, I like the sound of that. Here is my awesome road crew, Haley, Jeannie Kuntz, and me.

Haley, Jeannie, and Me:  Hittin' the road this morning at 10:00.
Haley, Jeannie, and Me: Hittin’ the road this morning at 10:00.

My extra hour has turned into two after posting photos.  Still, not bad.  But, gotta go!

Cheers!  See you on the water!  Montana here we come!  YeeHaw!

Pelicans Dancing  (Photo by Norm Miller)
Pelicans Dancing (Photo by Norm Miller)

(One hour, 30-minute blog post!  That is a new personal record.  That is good, real good.)  🙂

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

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

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

Let the adventure begin!

New Mizzou graduate plans record-setting kayaking expedition

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

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

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

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

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

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

Extreme journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wilderness and wildlife

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

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

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

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

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

Trailblazing teacher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teachable moments

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

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

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

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

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

First Press About my Expedition

Bob demonstrating how the sail works.

Greetings!  Bob Bellingham from Australia, after 12 weeks paddling the Missouri River from the headwaters in Montana, stayed overnight at Cooper’s Landing last Wednesday, August 22.  He is only five or six days from St. Louis, his final destination.

While we were looking at his boat and gear on the boat ramp, Tom and Tyler paddled up.  They are two free-spirited 20 year-old men paddling in a canoe from Great Falls, Montana, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

The two, and Bob, have been leap-frogging down the river on their own individual journeys.  What a nice evening sharing river stories, eating Thai food, and listening to a couple from Guatemala play music!  I know, right? In Columbia, Missouri!

Earlier in the evening Tess and Zach from the Columbia Missourian, one of our local papers in town, came down to interview Bob and me.  This is a nice story about Bob and his journey, and my first local press regarding my expedition.  It’s pretty special.  (Thank you, John Schneller)

You can find the article from Friday, August 24, here:  Columbia Missourian.

L-R: Zac the photographer, Bob the paddler, Tess the writer.

A photo of me, and Bob, from the article.