Up until now, all of our long distance traveling adventures have been by foot. We have probably always known that a bike trip would be in our future. But, a trip by water? That hadn’t ever come up in conversation. Until… about a year and half ago when our friend’s Qball and Safety Officer invited us to join them on a trip that they had slotted for the summer of 2017 – Canoeing the Mississippi River.
Our canoeing experience is fairly limited. Beardoh had done three week-long trips in the Boundary Water’s Canoe Area – but that was a long time ago – these trips were in his youth, in the late 80’s and early 90s. SweetPea had probably spent less than a handful of hours in a canoe before prepping for this trip. In prep for the trip, we have spent a couple weeks at Beardoh’s Mom’s place in northern Wisconsin, and we have been trying to get out on the canoe for 1-2 hours most days – we hope that serves us well.
Some facts about the Mississippi River:
- Length of the river is 2,320 miles
- It is the 3rd largest watershed in the world
- Passes through the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana
- The word Mississippi is an Ojibwe word misi-ziibi, meaning “Great River”
- There are 29 locks on the river
Challenges that we foresee:
- Finding good campsites
- Securing our canoes while going into towns for resupply, rest, and showers
- Contending with barge traffic
- Constant sun exposure
- All day-long arm workouts
We anticipate that the trip will take between two and three months, depending on the speed of the current as well as water levels in the most northern sections. Unlike our hiking trips, it is pretty difficult to determine an average daily pace. The pace will change and increase as we move south and the current increases. North of St Louis, where the locks are located, we may need to wait for our turn to go through the locks when there is other traffic (barges, etc.).
The aim for the trip is to paddle the entire length of the Mississippi River, from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. We are all experienced thru-hikers, but none of us have done extensive trips over water. This will be an interesting adventure.