The Yukon River-I’ll be traveling from the right side to the left, ending up at the Bering Sea…exciting!
Join me at LoveYourBigMuddy.com going forward. I’ve exported all of my posts from this site to LoveYourBigMuddy. The last post I added on this blog site was two years ago yesterday when I left Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, for Atlin Lake and the Lewellyn Glacier, British Columbia, the Yukon River’s source. It was nearly impossible to post anything on the Yukon because of its remoteness. (Satellite posts were accomplished on my Expedition Facebook page, but I could not post photos unless I had WiFi, but that was a struggle to get access to as well. You can visit that FB page and go to 2017, June through July, to follow that trip.) SO NOW, I am consolidating and going full-scale LoveYourBigMuddy blog again. It is hard enough maintaining one blog, but TWO? Impossible for me.
A lot of chapters have opened up in my life since completing the three Great Rivers Expeditions. I’ve been teaching 7th grade Science, changing school districts, guiding on the Mississippi, participating in river cleanups, visiting friends and family in California, and suffering through four years of chronic back pain.
This summer I am going to start writing my book about the LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition. I’ll be recovering from back surgery beginning in two weeks, so the time is right. My brother, Jim Sullens, will help me with editing, and I’ve received a lot of good advice from author friends of mine. Also, sharing stories from the journey recently have made me realize that I have A LOT of stories to tell. Then, there is the Mississippi AND the Yukon Rivers!
I’ll be in the river town of New Haven, MO, this weekend (May 4, 2019) for Miller Landing Days, a celebration of their historic culture and river history. I am listed as ‘story telling’ so that will be another avenue of review and preparation for writing. I’ll have t-shirts available to give away, or for a small donation.
I hope to share my progress on my LoveYourBigMuddy blog, hopefully getting it revved up again. I hope to post stories and photos to document further the adventure of it all. It may very well be that I have several chapters just on the first few days of the trip. I mean, a broken radiator, sleeping in our car at a truck stop in Wyoming after taking a wrong turn in a blizzard, a 6-hour ski into the source at the Continental Divide turned into 30 hours with no means for fire, food, or sleeping gear, day one on the water I nearly swamped my boat in a strainer and sprained my hand getting out of that mess, and the next day I ran into a shoreline snag on two different occasions, and popped TWO holes in my boat! SO MANY STORIES!
Join and follow at LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition blog site, and/or FB page. Please feel free to provide comments and ask questions. This will be my last post on this site.
The Yukon River-I’ll be traveling from the right side to the left, ending up at the Bering Sea…exciting!
Sunset at Red’s Landing, north of St. Louis
Mississippi’s grand exit into the Gulf of Mexico
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.
Arriving at Sunset ramp in Rock Island, Monday, June 20. Nearly a month has gone by since starting on May 25, 2016. Wow, how time flies!
My good friend and paddling partner to the Twin Cities, Bill Nedderman, was a happy man when the DNR camp was situated next to the Grand Rapids library. He loves libraries!
Sunrise camped on an island. So lovely to wake up to.
You can follow my progress using my SPOT tracker, just like my other expeditions. Click on this link to access tracking. You will find my messages posted on my loveyourbigmuddy expedition page. My concern is power as i do not have my solar panel this time. SPOT takes batteries so i can keep it going. I will post messages using my satellite communicator. I should be back in Whitehorse in a couple weeks. I hope to work out kinks by then. Cheers all! Heading to Atlin in an hour so it may be a Monday splash. Going with the flow!!!
I arrived in Whitehorse yesterday, but nothing boring about the trip.
I will post here some of my Facebook “LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition” page posts because that is my main media for sharing.
Here we go…
I practiced packing in the kayak Tuesday morning. The foldable kayak is only 14′, three feet shorter than my other boat, Blue Moon. And, the owner who loaned it to me is a minimalist, of which i am NOT. I think i did pretty good for my practice run.
I made it in time to the airport for a burger before departure, but international search was cumbersome:
Air Canada would not let me on the plane b/c two minutes late because i was redirected through security for 3 ounces of water in my water bottle. I ‘missed’ my flight!! Let the adventure begin!! (I was actually quite ticked off!)
There’s my plane, six minutes past departure time, still sitting there, without me on it.
BUT THEN, as soon as i sat back down after photo-journaling the incident, they came and got me, something about couldn’t find my bags (4 of them, mind you!), and the plane had to be delayed. So, off i went, now quite polite, and slept all the way to Toronto.
Whew! Close call. Must’ve been angels on the wings…
The whole flight scheduled took 19 hours, three flights: St. Louis to Toronto to Vancouver (eight-hour layover) to Whitehorse. The flights were all wonderful, but best of all was the last segment to Whitehorse:
The magic is beginning to swirl around the expedition. I was blessed with another perfect flight on Canada Air AND a port-side seat looking west. We flew RIGHT OVER Atlin Lake, Llewelyn Glacier, and the Atlin River which is my exit stream off Atlin Lake. Oh, the thrill was incredible!!! Kid in a candy shop! WOW!
The source i am headed to is Llewelyn Glacier in the upper center of the photo. SO AWESOME!
Next Lake is Tagish, which was showing some signs of glacial waters.
I am camped now with a rental car and gathering the very lasy of my gear, trying not to accumulate too much. I picked up a new canister of Bear Spray, and a wool blend shirt for cold nights. I bought a burger and fries last night, YUM, and a Starbuck’s coffee this morning, YUM, after trying to get a shower in, but no darn hot water.
Feeling good now, at the library watching the river go by, Yukon River, that is, and squeezing in one last blog post. Earlier i sat by the river by camp and wrote this post:
The Great River Yukon making a couple twists and turns before presenting itself to the city of Whitehorse. Of course, there IS a paved path in a sweeping multi-mile loop up and down both sides of the river, with vista benches strategically placed, bicycles content to carry their happy riders, strollers with tiny passengers who are comforted by the babbling of their river sibling, dogs with swinging tails walking their obedient owners, joggers jogging, and walkers chatting.
Whitehorse is a hard-core river town in the middle of the Yukon wilderness. Life is ‘in’ the ‘outdoors’ (at least in the summer), as it should be. Strive to love what YOU do, inside and out, and do what you love.
Peace Out. Fasten your seat belts. We’re going on an adventure!!!
Lots to do, lots to do. Last day of school was last Thursday, so there was only so much I could do while school was in session. Teaching is an overtime job, with barely enough hours in the day. I have been taking care of a few major planning details over the last month, though.
I have activated my Inreach-Garmin satellite communicator. I will have lots of time in the airports during layovers to fuss with it. My flight to Whitehorse is 19 hours on three planes, so I am looking at a lot of down time. I have sent a test message to my Facebook Page so I am on my way to being prepared.
I have spent time twice in the last month assembling the Klepper T9 foldable kayak. I have a pretty good handle on it now. Today I will assemble one last time before leaving on Tuesday. I need to pack all my gear in little dry bags and figure out how everything will fit into the bowels of the boat. There are a lot of ribs to work around, making packing and unpacking a challenge in and of itself.
Big thanks again to Cascade Designs for allowing me continued access to their PRO Discount for all of their gear companies: MSR (they make my tent and stove), Thermarest (the best sleeping pads), and Seal Line (source of my new dry bags).
I have been dehydrating vegetables, fruit and jerky 24-7 this past week. A drying session can take anywhere from 6 to 12 hours, so the assembly line must keep moving. I am trying to dry enough so that I can pack a bunch in my resupply box being mailed to the Yukon River Camp located where the Dalton Bridge crosses the river. I estimate it is a little under half way. Veggies, Knorr Sides, dry milk, coffee, dark chocolate are a few of the resupply items I’ll be mailing away.
EDDYLINE KAYAKS-I’m just saying, I wasn’t going to pursue corporate sponsorship for this expedition, but Eddyline Kayaks, they’ve supported me all the way. They are the sweet friendship every expeditioner should have with a company. We weren’t able to feasibly work out boat support, but paddles have been a key component of their contribution to my success. Carbon paddles are extremely important for me as the feather weight makes so much difference in my case (more about that at another time). I asked them for a new carbon paddle and, without hesitation, I was granted one.
Here is a map of two potential starting routes. I can paddle a loop (gold route) down to the glacier on Atlin Lake, or travel down behind Teresa Island (pink route) with maximum wind protection. I would backtrack to get out, so I’m partial to the loop (gold). The road goes right to Warren Bay and a campsite is located there. I will find someone in Whitehorse to shuttle my rental car back to town after dropping me off. I am welling up with excitement at the thought of this stunning section of the trip. Taking it slow and easy to absorb and enjoy the beauty will be my MO–method of operation. 🙂
Once I get back up to the top of Teresa Island, I will head down the Atlin River to begin the long journey to the Sea.
I have already had conversations with some Atlin locals. I intend to have more. If it were easy, everyone would do it. We’ve got ourselves an adventure here, folks! Climb aboard!
ONE MORE THING: My Atlin contact and now known as, Atlin Lake River Angel, Hans wrote in an email to me yesterday:
Good to hear from you!
Atlin Lake started opening up a few days ago – there is no longer ice from town all the way south as far as we can see. After next week it should be all melted and ready for any adventures.”
Music to my ears, Hans. Thanks so much!
ATLIN WEATHER FOR NEXT WEEK??? Sweet stuff…
Do what you love and love what you do. Until next time…
Don’t forget to follow along on my Facebook Page: LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition. And, I am going to try and post on Instagram, too, for my students who are following me. #loveyourbigmuddy
Exactly one month until lift-off. Lots of preparation and planning, and school responsibilities, too.
I’ve decided to avoid the sponsorship request route for my Yukon River Expedition. I don’t like the hustle it involves, and I am uncomfortable selling myself. I have plenty of gear, but may enhance with additional rain outerwear. And, of course, I need a satellite phone and service due to the remoteness of the river’s flow. Well, I think I do. I just found out from World Class paddler, Martin Trahan, who paddled the Yukon last year, that he used his smart phone for all his Facebook posting. There is wifi in all of the villages. A satellite phone allows texting anytime, anywhere. Hmmmm. So, I have to decide whether I need a sat phone. Currently, my SPOT service @ $150, travel (one way out-one way back), and food will be the bulk of my expenses.
Once again, I am coining this Yukon Pursuit the People’s Expedition. I will paddle and share my journey for those who dream, imagine, wonder, or believe they can reach for their own star. I am not a famous athlete or high profile adventurer. I am a paddler who strives to set lofty goals, to step out of my “box”, and to model for others that they can reach for the stars and be successful, too. Make a decision, the desire will grow, and the details will fall into place. Go for it! Follow me on my Facebook Page: LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition
Believing is a powerful state of mind. Positive believing can move mountains (and paddle long rivers). It starts in your head. Join me.
And, support me if you are willing and able. All donations are precious to me. Let’s DO this! 1woman3greatrivers.com Depart: May 23, 2017
See you on the river (syotr), The Great River Yukon
The tides ebb and flow, the rivers rise and fall; the constant fluctuations of life necessitate thoughtful discretion and purposeful direction. The Great River Yukon is there. I am ready (kinda). Though the challenges of life remain steady, the time to paddle the Yukon is now. I welcome you to come dance with me down this free-flowing journey we’ll call adventure.
Stay tuned. Departure May 24. Shouting out a huge thanks to David Lynch, whom I do not know, for recently donating $100 on my website, 1woman3greatrivers.com. Your support will help me overcome my biggest hurdle, finances. You have inspired me. Now, MY desire is to INSPIRE.
Yukon River solo source-to-sea: Llewellyn Glacier, Atlin Lake, BC, to Emmonak on the Bering Sea, AK.
Since I do all of my posting on Facebook, I figured I should investigate how to post my FB posts here for the friends that don’t do Facebook. I have a few dear friends that do not.
So, I’m preparing and planning for the Yukon River now that I have a week-long break from school. Hopefully, embedding my FB posts here will work all right, and I can post while on expedition, for a change. Here are a couple of posts since Thursday when I finally got a break from the busy life of a 7th grade science teacher. Whew!
And the rest of the message:
“This is a violation of life.
Show the world what you stand for.
#NODAPL (No Dakota Access Pipeline) –No oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plains. Ever.
We all live downstream.”
I can’t help but think there is no time to lose. I’m going to speak out for what I believe in, politico or not.
AND, let’s try one more:
Achieving dreams involves three steps: Decision, Desire, and Details
Once you’ve made the decision to do something, then the desire begins to escalate. With great desire one can conquer mountains, one step at a time. Whatever it takes to make your dream come true, figure out a way. It is not always easy, but you CAN do it!
I AM CURRENTLY IN ROCK ISLAND, QUAD CITIES, WITH A DEAR RIVER SISTER, JO MASON AND HER HUSBAND, JOE. I AM TRAVELING VERY QUICKLY DOWN THE RIVER AND CANNOT FIND THE TIME TO POST ON THIS BLOG. PLEASE FOLLOW MY FACEBOOK PAGE, LOVEYOURBIGMUDDY EXPEDITION, TO FOLLOW ME DOWN THE RIVER. I WILL POST MORE TO THE BLOG BUT IT MAY BE AWHILE. COOKIN’ WITH GAS TRYING TO GET TO GULF ON TIME. HAVING A BLAST!
Please join me on my Facebook page. Hope you are able to do what you love, and love what you do! See you on the river! -Janet
I think it will hit me hard, the reality of living back on the river again. I still feel a disconnect between my teacher life and long-distance river expedition. However, In three more days the school year will end (on Thursday, May 19) and the freedom to relax and focus on the Great River Mississippi will be all mine. Short-lived, though, as we will be heading right on up to Lake Itasca, Minnesota, on Monday. Packing will likely be somewhat of a grab-n-go affair as I sift through my gear, currently laid out in an organized mess, but all in one place. Basics. Think: Basics. I need to travel trim and light. Can I do it? Oh, I can do the paddle, but trim and light??? Big challenge-haha!
Today is drizzly and cold in Columbia, a far cry from the warm sunny days of last weekend. I am trying to imagine that it’s just another day on the river, and rainy days will be a common, and even frequent, occurrence. An unexpected cold front with lots of wind necessitated a paddler rescue on the upper Mississippi a couple of days ago. He barely escaped hypothermia. I’m a bit of a fair weather paddler, but who isn’t? I love paddling in pleasant weather- sunny, colorful, peaceful and glassy. HA! I know I need to psych myself up for the miserable conditions as well. Paddling in rain is pretty cool if you can stay dry.
Last week my beautiful custom-made sprayskirt arrived from Eddyline Kayaks. They really wanted to get Blue Moon back out on the big river. I had decided to paddle my plastic Prijon Seayak, so I explained that I could take Blue Moon, an Eddyline Shasta kayak, but I will need to be able to paddle in the rain and stay dry, which meant I would have to have a bomber spray skirt. So, they asked a high-quality New York-based company to design a custom skirt for me. Seal Sprayskirts and I brainstormed about what I needed, and this skirt is the result of our mini think tank, and their quality skills. Isn’t it wonderful? And, thank you, Eddyline Kayaks, for the awesome paddle to go with.
Time is of the essence! The luxury of laying over extra days will not be the case this trip. I need to keep paddling. August 8 is my drop-dead deadline to be back in Columbia, and preparing for school will be again my priority. Paddle paddle!! In fact, Guinness World Records is working with me to create a new title for fastest time down the length of the Mississippi River. The old title about “rowing” down the river just was not acceptable to me, so I asked for some changes. Canoe and kayak paddlers do not row, we paddle. We do not use oars, we use paddles. And, some delineation needs to be made for solo or team, assisted or unassisted, male or female. Guinness changed the title to “fastest down the length of the Mississippi in a canoe/kayak. I am still waiting on the regulations they are designing. Let’s hope they took the other qualifiers into serious consideration. Nevertheless, I may be “setting” a record under the new premise, one which will be quite easy to break, I’m sure. This is what I wrote to them regarding the title change needed:
Dear Guinness World Records: I am contacting you with regard to: Application Reference: 160214002217ffsk
I have searched for the world record of the Fastest time to row the length of the Mississippi River – individual, but nothing comes up in “Explore Records” on your website. I know of the “team” that set the record of 18 days, but I am frustrated with the 42-day “rowing” record of which you speak, or mention.
Please understand that this is an UNASSISTED solo attempt in a KAYAK, which is propelled with a “paddle” and not oars. This is also a female solo attempt. This is an event that I encourage you to currently monitor or, at the very least, that you should be incorporating into your program. The sport of paddling canoes and kayaks is booming right now. Assisted and unassisted attempts are better represented in separate categories due to the difficulty comparisons. Unassisted paddling is down to earth, is as close to the sport’s original purpose as possible, and is extremely difficult and challenging.
Please consider my attempt as a gender specific, “unassisted,” paddling attempt that will be challenged by a multitude of females in the future as more and more women step out of their comfort zone and pursue their dreams, their wildest dreams! . Also, I would love to see the details behind the current “rowing” the Mississippi River record. Rowing really needs to be in a different category than paddling. They encompass two different purposes, styles, and experiences.
Thank you for your time and consideration of my request. I look forward to hearing back from you soon. My launch date at Lake Itasca is May 25, six days after my school year ends (I am a 7th grade Science teacher).
Warm regards, Janet Moreland
The new title for the record is now (drum roll please):
“Fastest time to travel the length of the Mississippi River by canoe/kayak”
Good. I’ll take. We’ll see what happens. Setting a record is not my priority, but it’s a motivator.
And, YES, the paddling world is booming. We saw a big representation of our next paddling generation at the St. Louis Earth Day Festival on April 19. Several of us river advocate groups, and me as an individual, developed a “neighborhood” for people to visit and hang out around. Thousands made their way through the neighborhood and TOO MUCH FUN was had by ALL!
Special thanks to my niece, Rene Freels, who has come on board as my project manager. She is promotion and fundraiser knowledgeable, and she has really good ideas. One of which was the idea of me getting a booth at the Earth Day event! AND, the notion of putting out a donation jar, which raised over $200 at the event. She has also guided me to an application for a National Geographic Explorers Grant as well as a Timmissartok Foundation Exploration Grant.
AND, that’s not all, Rene also convinced me to enter some photos in The Mississippi River Photo ShootOut contest, for which I had three of my photos accepted. One of them, December Chill, won a first place in the Scenic category. Rene has good ideas! Check it out, NatGeo!
The Mississippi River Photo ShootOut Exhibition will take place from May 14 to June 18, 2016.
Photos will be on display at the following locations:
Great Rivers National Museum in Alton, IL
Jacoby Art Center in Alton, IL
The Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary in West Alton, IL
Expedition planning and spinning plates have a lot in common. Both are overwhelming, both require diligence and focus, and both will reward you with success and accomplishment, despite the intermingling with falls, drops and crashes. A plate spinner is persistent and does not ‘bag it’ when plates fall and shatter. An adventurer does not ‘bag it’ when planning confronts obstacles. Nope. They get back on the path called “onward” and forge ahead, come hell or high water! [idiom meaning “no matter what”]
Decision is the key! Decide to take a risk, and pursue an adventure. Decide to spin the plates, and keep picking them up, try again, spin ‘em, drop ‘em, try and try and try again. DECISION spawns DESIRE. This is the dynamic duo one needs to accomplish grandiose goals, pursue the unattainable, and conquer the impossible! Yes, spin plates and dance at the same time.
Rarely does one embark upon an expedition without some hesitation at first. Do I have the time? Do I have the money? Do I have the strength? Do I have obligations? Do I have the courage? Some, perhaps, may have organized their life in such a way that everything is under control, including time and financial needs. That may take a lifetime of planning. Most of us river rats do not fall into that category. More often than not we feel the appeal, then become compelled to begin the pursuit. Granted, it takes time to actually say, “YES, I’m doing it!” But, once the urge becomes a “decision,” priorities begin to shift, creativity soars, goals appear, and your life transforms.
I was meant to do this. I was born to do this. Everything in my life, the experiences, the challenges, the stumbles, the victories, have led me to this project. The time is now, as I cannot pretend I am still a youth. Well, at heart of course. I did run a trail yesterday and felt just as good as when I WAS a youth. However, taking on two expeditions in planning, yes, both the Miss and Yukon as they cannot be separated, AND teaching 7th grade Science has its overwhelmingments (I just made up that word, ha!).
This idea to paddle the three longest rivers in North America blossomed early last fall. As I tossed it around for several months, thinking mostly about the Yukon River paddle, the more I wanted to do it, and believed I could do it. However, the logistical details of paddling the Yukon this summer spun around in my mind and led to more and more sleepless nights. I realized I could not plan a Yukon paddle and teach full time with peace of mind. So, I rearranged the rivers and placed the Mississippi River on this summer’s calendar and things began to fall into place. I am looking forward to connecting the upper Mississippi to the magical lower Mississippi with a ride down the river’s full length.
Since my February 1 official announcement, I have been busy, but mostly focused on teaching, which is my priority. This website was an early expedition priority, a ‘must have’ in order to make an announcement by February 1. I managed to get it started just in time (hurray, a plate was spinning) but, seriously, I had to wait two months until this 5-day Spring Break before I could make a new post. So, call me crazy. I am calling on all strengths and fortitudes to conquer this 1Woman3GreatRivers goal.
While planning for the imminent Mississippi River plunge on May 25 at Lake Itasca, MN, which will be here before we know it, I am working diligently to craft my mission for the Yukon River. I want to help bring awareness to the Arctic indigenous Gwich’in Nation’s plight to acquire permanent wilderness designation for the Coastal Plains of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This will help protect the birthing and nursing habitat of the Porcupine Caribou, a creature that is closely connected to the Gwich’in people’s culture, heritage, sustenance, and future survival. The Coastal Plains are still vulnerable to oil and gas industry drilling. I am currently awaiting contact from them before I forge ahead with this mission in mind.
“The Arctic Refuge coastal plain encompasses approximately 1.2 million acres and serves as the biological heart of the entire refuge. Polar and brown bears, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves and muskox are just a few of the more than 250 animal species that depend on the coastal plain. Millions of birds, representing some 125 species, migrate to the coastal plain to nest, rear their young and feed. The coastal plain is not only one of the most significant onshore polar bear denning habitats in the United States but also the most important habitat for the Porcupine caribou herd.” [http://refugeassociation.org/advocacy/refuge-issues/arctic/]
In the meantime I am currently spinning more and more plates, and learning how to dance at the same time.
Many adventurers and explorers have numerous preparations and planning tasks, but these are a few of mine:
Contacting companies for sponsorship or gear support
Establishing communication with the Gwich’in Steering Committee
Applying for a National Geographic Explorers Grant
Applying for a Timmissartok Foundation Grant
Preparing Blue Moon for expedition
Reserving an educational activity booth at the St. Louis Earth Day Event on April 24
Finding a reasonably priced rental vehicle to travel to the Mississippi source, Lake Itasca.
Establishing my solar charging/storage system
Dehydrating vegetables and jerky
Developing a Curriculum Vitae (CV) for grants
Applying for a Passport
Getting my taxes done
Having bumper stickers made
Designing a 1Woman3GreatRivers Project poster
Checking airfare to and from Alaska and British Columbia
Developing a budget
Submitting photos for The Mississippi River Photo Shoot Out
Printing photos for signature and sending to LoveYourBigMuddy supporters
Starting a physical fitness program: Trail running, bike riding, dog walking, and paddling
Brainstorming a custom sprayskirt design for Blue Moon
Posting blog updates
Learning how to use Garmin GPS device
Learning how to use GoPro camera
Eat, sleep, planning for and going to work
Finding pink crocs! Help! 🙂
All THAT said, as river time approaches, my soul begins to be reminded of the peace of mind and joyful heart that comes with slipping away from the river shore, gently rocking on the water, contemplating life and its wonderments, making decisions only by me, anticipating what’s around the next bend, bonding with the good people of the river, living without excess, simply, with the stars and the moon and, yes, the mosquitos. Life is short. Find your pleasure. And, if you cannot seem to get the plates to spin, just dance, dance, dance.
“Nothing worthwhile was ever accomplished without the will to start, the enthusiasm to continue and, regardless of temporary obstacles, the persistence to complete.” – Waite Phillips