Archives

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!

ATLIN WEATHER FOR NEXT WEEK??? Sweet stuff…

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

Off we GOOOOOO!

Advertisements

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

yukon-map-bigger

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.

IMG_5394

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.

IMG_5417

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. 

IMG_6641

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!  1woman3greatrivers.com  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

Sharing my Adventures on Facebook, on the Blog. Trying, anyway…Got it!

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!

Hollow side up!

Trim and Light, Can I Do It?

IMG_1883

LoveYourBigMuddy 2013, Blue Moon loaded on the Lower Mississippi. This year on the Mississippi all gear lays below the deck. I hope to scale down by half. Maybe.

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!

Resting spot for my paddling gear. Grab 'n Go will by my 'MO' (method of operation) this weekend.

Resting spot for my paddling gear. Grab ‘n Go will by my ‘MO’ (method of operation) this weekend.

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.

Near Tower Rock on the Middle Mississippi. This was a pretty good storm that finally drove me to shore when the lightning started.

Near Tower Rock on the Middle Mississippi during my LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition (2013). This was a pretty good storm that I sat out for a bit, then paddled on, then it finally drove me to shore when the lightning started. I don’t mess with lightning on the water. Soggy day.

This storm was a soaker. I paddled about six hours in the rain on my way down to Memphis. I spent an extra night on the river just drying out and recouping.

This storm was a soaker. I paddled about six hours in the rain on my way down to Memphis, also on expedition in 2013. I spent an extra night on the river just drying out and recouping. This spray skirt did not keep me dry.

My external rain gear, Kokatat hat and Patagonia GoreTex, keeps me dry, for the most part.

My external rain gear, Kokatat hat and Patagonia GoreTex, keeps me pretty dry, for the most part. Oh, and, not that I have ANY fashion sense, but my hat matches my new spray skirt. Heehee…

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.

I will be protected from rain and sun over my extra-large open cockpit, but when it rains I can just slip my skirt right over me and velcro it tight.

I will be protected from rain and sun over my extra-large open cockpit, but when it rains I can just slip my top-skirt right over me and velcro it tight.

I am feeling really good about paddling in the rain. I can still make the much needed miles I will have to paddle daily.

I am feeling really good about paddling in the rain. By doing so I can still make the much needed miles I will have to paddle daily, minimum 35 but more likely over 50.

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!

No child was left behind when it came to park paddling at the STL Earth Day Festival. Not one child passed up the opportunity to take a virtual paddle.

No child was left behind when it came to grass paddling at the STL Earth Day Festival 2016 in Forest Park. All of the children were eager for the opportunity to take a virtual ride down the river.

This kid's a natural!

This kid’s a natural!

For the love of paddling, kids flocked to my boat as well as Big Muddy Adventure's June Bug canoe next door. The neighborhood was busy.

For the love of paddling, kids flocked to my boat as well as Big Muddy Adventures‘ June Bug voyageur canoe next door. The Great Rivers neighborhood was busy, and FUN.

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.

Rene Freels, left, assisting with the 1Woman3GreatRivers Project, particularly the Yukon River leg.

Rene Freels, my lovely niece from STL, assisting me with the 1Woman3GreatRivers Project, particularly the Yukon River leg and connecting with the Arctic native Gwich’in Nation. Behind us is the rest of the neighborhood: 1Mississippi, Mississippi River Water Trail Association, Great Rivers Greenway, and Greenway Network

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!

December Chill

December Chill, taken near Helena, Arkansas, December 2013

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:

  1.  Great Rivers National Museum in Alton, IL
  2.   Jacoby Art Center in Alton, IL
  3. The Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary in West Alton, IL

Stay tuned, there’s more to come…be sure and “like” my LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition Facebook page where you can follow me down the Big Muddy…Mississippi, that is.

Do what you love, and love what you do!

SYOTR! 

(See you on the river!) (yep, soon)

Love Your River, For it is Truly Great.

IMG_2074

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.

IMG_1798

In the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument following a multi-day rain deluge

IMG_3586

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 .” (http://ourarcticrefuge.org/about-the-gwichin/)  More about the Gwich’in Nation, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and my 2017 Yukon Pursuit later.

yukonmap

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. Dictionary.com 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

IMG_3612

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