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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hi Janet,

Good to hear from you!

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

Music to my ears, Hans. Thanks so much!


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

LoveYourBigMuddyExpedition-FB Page

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

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

Version 3
Do what you love and love what you do

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

Can You Spin Plates AND Dance? -Planning an Expedition

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

Expedition planning and spinning plates have a lot in common. Both are overwhelming, both require diligence and focus, and both will reward you with success and accomplishment, despite the intermingling with falls, drops and crashes. A plate spinner is persistent and does not ‘bag it’ when plates fall and shatter. An adventurer does not ‘bag it’ when planning confronts obstacles. Nope. They get back on the path called “onward” and forge ahead, come hell or high water! [idiom meaning “no matter what”]

Decision is the key! Decide to take a risk, and pursue an adventure. Decide to spin the plates, and keep picking them up, try again, spin ‘em, drop ‘em, try and try and try again. DECISION spawns DESIRE. This is the dynamic duo one needs to accomplish grandiose goals, pursue the unattainable, and conquer the impossible! Yes, spin plates and dance at the same time.

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

Rarely does one embark upon an expedition without some hesitation at first. Do I have the time? Do I have the money? Do I have the strength? Do I have obligations? Do I have the courage? Some, perhaps, may have organized their life in such a way that everything is under control, including time and financial needs. That may take a lifetime of planning. Most of us river rats do not fall into that category. More often than not we feel the appeal, then become compelled to begin the pursuit. Granted, it takes time to actually say, “YES, I’m doing it!” But, once the urge becomes a “decision,” priorities begin to shift, creativity soars, goals appear, and your life transforms.

I was meant to do this. I was born to do this. Everything in my life, the experiences, the challenges, the stumbles, the victories, have led me to this project. The time is now, as I cannot pretend I am still a youth. Well, at heart of course. I did run a trail yesterday and felt just as good as when I WAS a youth. However, taking on two expeditions in planning, yes, both the Miss and Yukon as they cannot be separated, AND teaching 7th grade Science has its overwhelmingments (I just made up that word, ha!).

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

This idea to paddle the three longest rivers in North America blossomed early last fall. As I tossed it around for several months, thinking mostly about the Yukon River paddle, the more I wanted to do it, and believed I could do it. However, the logistical details of paddling the Yukon this summer spun around in my mind and led to more and more sleepless nights. I realized I could not plan a Yukon paddle and teach full time with peace of mind. So, I rearranged the rivers and placed the Mississippi River on this summer’s calendar and things began to fall into place. I am looking forward to connecting the upper Mississippi to the magical lower Mississippi with a ride down the river’s full length.

Since my February 1 official announcement, I have been busy, but mostly focused on teaching, which is my priority. This website was an early expedition priority, a ‘must have’ in order to make an announcement by February 1. I managed to get it started just in time (hurray, a plate was spinning) but, seriously, I had to wait two months until this 5-day Spring Break before I could make a new post. So, call me crazy. I am calling on all strengths and fortitudes to conquer this 1Woman3GreatRivers goal. 

While planning for the imminent Mississippi River plunge on May 25 at Lake Itasca, MN, which will be here before we know it, I am working diligently to craft my mission for the Yukon River. I want to help bring awareness to the Arctic indigenous Gwich’in Nation’s plight to acquire permanent wilderness designation for the Coastal Plains of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This will help protect the birthing and nursing habitat of the Porcupine Caribou, a creature that is closely connected to the Gwich’in people’s culture, heritage, sustenance, and future survival. The Coastal Plains are still vulnerable to oil and gas industry drilling. I am currently awaiting contact from them before I forge ahead with this mission in mind. 

“The Arctic Refuge coastal plain encompasses approximately 1.2 million acres and serves as the biological heart of the entire refuge. Polar and brown bears, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves and muskox are just a few of the more than 250 animal species that depend on the coastal plain. Millions of birds, representing some 125 species, migrate to the coastal plain to nest, rear their young and feed. The coastal plain is not only one of the most significant onshore polar bear denning habitats in the United States but also the most important habitat for the Porcupine caribou herd.”  []

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

In the meantime I am currently spinning more and more plates, and learning how to dance at the same time.

Many adventurers and explorers have numerous preparations and planning tasks, but these are a few of mine:

Contacting companies for sponsorship or gear support

LoveYourBigMuddy Presentations

Establishing communication with the Gwich’in Steering Committee

Applying for a National Geographic Explorers Grant

Applying for a Timmissartok Foundation Grant

Preparing Blue Moon for expedition

Reserving an educational activity booth at the St. Louis Earth Day Event on April 24

Finding a reasonably priced rental vehicle to travel to the Mississippi source, Lake Itasca. 

Establishing my solar charging/storage system

Dehydrating vegetables and jerky

Developing a Curriculum Vitae (CV) for grants

Applying for a Passport

Getting my taxes done

Having bumper stickers made

Designing a 1Woman3GreatRivers Project poster

Checking airfare to and from Alaska and British Columbia

Developing a budget

Submitting photos for The Mississippi River Photo Shoot Out

Printing photos for signature and sending to LoveYourBigMuddy supporters 

Starting a physical fitness program: Trail running, bike riding, dog walking, and paddling 

Brainstorming a custom sprayskirt design for Blue Moon

Posting blog updates

Learning how to use Garmin GPS device

Learning how to use GoPro camera

Eat, sleep, planning for and going to work

Finding pink crocs! Help! 🙂

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

All THAT said, as river time approaches, my soul begins to be reminded of the peace of mind and joyful heart that comes with slipping away from the river shore, gently rocking on the water, contemplating life and its wonderments, making decisions only by me, anticipating what’s around the next bend, bonding with the good people of the river, living without excess, simply, with the stars and the moon and, yes, the mosquitos. Life is short. Find your pleasure. And, if you cannot seem to get the plates to spin, just dance, dance, dance.

Much love-


Peace out

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


“Nothing worthwhile was ever accomplished without the will to start, the enthusiasm to continue and, regardless of temporary obstacles, the persistence to complete.” – Waite Phillips