"For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it." ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mississippi River: Super Highway of Adventure

Living in Illinois and working in St Louis I drive over the Mississippi river two times each day, five days each week.  Sometimes more.  For most of my life the Mississippi was never looked upon as a source of recreation.  Any recreation on the water was done at Carlyle lake, a longer drive than the river but "cleaner".  I think Dave Cornthwaite was a bit shocked on his stand up paddleboard journey that more people didn't use the river for recreation.  I told him that at least in the St Louis area the Mississippi is just not thought of in that way.  It is seen more as a highway for barges and other commercial interests.

What I have discovered though is that while the locals may turn their backs to the river it is actually a super highway of adventure.

The first time I ever heard anyone suggest a trip down the length of the Mississippi was around ten years ago.  The guy was all talk and I knew he would never do it (and he never did), but I was blown away by the enormity of the challenge.  Since that day ten years ago my life has changed considerably and in the past few years I have become more aware of the world of adventure and in that awareness have realized that in 2011 no less than three people endeavored to stand up paddle board the length of the river on three different journeys.  Alex Linnell was first, followed by Dave Cornthwaite, and last and in this case especially not least was Matthew Crofton .  All three men hopped on a board and headed south until they reached the Gulf of Mexico. They only saw the adventure that was before them, and not the misgivings some locals might have about it being a "dirty" river unsuited for their purposes.

2012 proves to be another busy year on the mighty Mississippi, in fact it may even be busier than 2011.  So far I know that Matt Fraser, Sam Norman, and Harry Hogg will be paddling their kayaks from Lake Itasca in Minnesota all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico for their Mississippi Challenge.  Then there is Mark Kalch who will be paddling from the source of the Missouri river in Montana all the way to the confluence with the Mississippi and down to the gulf as part of his 7Rivers 7Continents project.  Another adventurer coming down the Missouri-Mississippi route is Andy Campbell who starting in 2012 will be working his way around the world, in a wheelchair, "but not just a wheelchair" according to his website.  Lastly and while not technically in the Mississippi, Dave Cornthwaite will be returning to swim 1000miles on the Missouri river ending at the confluence with the Mississippi.

This coming weekend I will be attending the Alpine Shop Great Canoe and Kayak Event to hear Michael Clark of Big Muddy Adventures speak about circumnavigating the city of St Louis.  Apparently he and some friends paddled the River Ring around St Louis (Mississippi, Missouri, Meramec, Bourbeuse ).  What an amazing accomplishment and until I read the announcement a couple days ago something I had never even considered and from what I understand they plan to do it again in 2012.

Wherever you live stop and take a look around with a fresh perspective, you might be surprised at all the opportunities that you never realized where available to you.  Adventures are born from creative minds that see the possible, although often times difficult path before them.

Look for more information on all of these adventures here at Trail and Error.


  1. Cool stuff Patrick! Look forward to reading about you doing the river ring at some point. No doubt about it.

    1. Thanks Mike. I'm not sure if the river ring is for me or not, but I have been looking for other things to circumnavigate.