Why did you choose this expedition as a fundraiser?
Coming from a multi-sport endurance racing background I had only a brief taste of an expedition -- a week long kayak paddling circumnavigation of the Bay of Green Bay -- which merely wet the appetite.
My fundraising efforts prior to this have taken various forms. Most notably was directing a paddle sport race for 7 years, and counting, in which all net proceeds went to wildlife rehab organizations that care for injured and orphaned wildlife.
This expedition is one in which the extreme aspects require a significant time investment, preparation, and perhaps some skill which, together, tends to limit most paddlers from making an attempt.
The mystique of the Mississippi River leaves a desire to experience her every current and curve.
The loons and bullfrogs are begging to be heard, the marshes intersected, and the wood ducks captured in film.
The trumpeter swans, bald eagles, and blue herons command reverence.
While I don't need funding for myself I felt this would be something worthy of attention in order to raise funds for a great cause.
I'd love to share my experiences and respect for the natural world. Hopefully that will rub off on folks who wouldn't normally experience a similar adventure directly.
It allows me a platform to tell your stories about what has moved you to support NAMI. I want to retell your stories in either written form or live through daily video updates.
You want to retell our personal stories?
Absolutely, if you are open to that. Share with me your struggles or message of hope with respect to mental illness -- whether you're discussing yourself or a loved one. Awareness can only weaken stigma. You tell me why you donated and what your story is and I will absolutely tell your story on camera whether you wish to use a first name and location or remain anonymous. The default will be only first name.
Will you have support?
On occasion I may receive an offer to camp on someone's private property and to refill water bladders. There are River Angels along the way who are some of the kindest souls you could meet. For the most part I will camp on sandbars or on the shoreline under the stars and build a small fire to cook my meals. I will travel extremely light relative to the distance on this minimalist adventure. My like-minded Father would love to be taking part in this trip himself and both of my parents remain on the alert for any opportunity to provide remote support. Due to the pandemic I forbid them from getting involved physically.
When will you start/finish?
Start on June 6 and end before August (possibly early to mid July). Due to COVID-19 I will avoid public facilities and maintain social distance. By removing what could have been a special experience to meet some great people along the way I'm guessing my trip duration will be inevitably tightened.
What kind of a kayak are using?
I've been extremely fortunate and humbled to have support from both P&H Custom Sea Kayaks and Epic Kayaks. If I had my choice of any two kayaks on the market I would have chosen the exact two models by these respective brands. The P&H Valkyrie and Epic 18X are going to rock in the headwaters and beyond. If you follow "NAMIpaddle" on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube channel you'll learn plenty more about these boats. Don't get me started here; I may not stop writing!
What's the deal with Epic and P&H?
I proudly own two Epic Kayaks and have always owned at least one Epic model over the last 15 years. I'm extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with them on this endeavor. Their expert advice has made me a much better paddler in a variety of conditions. They're also one of the sponsors for the Paddle Bender race I direct each year. I pay homage.
P&H is new to me but I'm so happy to have had an introduction recently! The Valkyrie was the 2020 Sea Kayak Of The Year award winner. Now that I've learned more and tested it I can understand why.
The combination of these boats will provide me the opportunity for a speedy descent down the Mighty Miss.
Is Epic the company owned by Greg Barton, two time Olympic Gold Medalist?
One last thing. Why did you name the expedition "Crossing Muddy Waters?
First, the Mississippi River is one of several rivers affectionately known as the Big Muddy due to the large amount of dirt and silt it carries by force. It seems analogous to navigating the murky waters of mental illness where the path ahead can often seem about as clear as mud. And the other reason is because it shares the name of one of my favorite songs by my all time favorite trio, I'm With Her. Those beautiful women need no talent to turn heads but when they begin to sing and play their own unique style of bluegrass there is no other place in the world you'd rather be. They could be the sirens of lore.