I'm in Minneapolis, 503 miles down the Mississippi River, a touch over one-fifth of the way through this journey, happy. A whirlwind of a year had afforded me barely any time on a Stand Up Paddleboard before this expedition began; in fact, an hour-long paddle in Queensland this May was the only direct 'training' I'd managed in six months before flying into Minnesota three weeks ago.
Paddling to the Source video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YZF6oWp_-o
The standard line is that the first two weeks of any journey is the warm-up, a chance to build up the body so it catches up with the psychological readiness that decent preparation is truly for. It's easy to forget the reality of this until you find yourself on the water, suddenly faced with a seven-mile paddle to the source of one of the world's major rivers, adrenaline ever so important to the success of this initial mission because your level of fitness is frankly disappointing!
Twenty days on from that initial paddle the game has changed. I'm now Kevin Costner from Waterworld, without all the rigging and arguable acting ability. I've been spending ten hours a day on a river that began two metres wide and has now swelled to 150 metres across, and growing. It is capable of summoning a whirlpool 30 metres across that has spun me 90 degrees in a split second. I respect the Mississippi, I have to, it'll keep me safe. My belongings are stuffed into two drybags, every item has its own place, the bags live upon my board and now take ten minutes to set-up, where once upon a time it took an hour!
It's a lovely feeling to find your rhythm, to settle into a completely new way of life, the idea of which scared you stiff just a month ago. I know the water, I know my board, I can tell within three strokes whether a weed has kindly attached itself to my fin. I feel at home now, I now sleep, eat, paddle and smile. This is my life for the next two and a bit months, the Mississippi River, standing up.
Adventurer | Author | Motivational Speaker