Eleven-member Mississippi River expedition - Paddle Forward - has covered four weeks of its 2300 mile journey. Whitefish Bay native Martha Brummitt brings us up to speed.
Brummitt says an average day on the river can add up to 11 hours of paddling. Sometimes, such as earlier this week, the team sets out well before dawn because of the weather forecast.
“We knew that the next day was going to be really windy, so we woke up at 3 in the morning and paddled starting at about 4 o’clock.”
Brummitt says they passed barges along the way.
”We were really close together with our head lamps on. It didn’t feel like we were on water. When you looked out, you couldn’t really tell you were on a body of water. And as the sun started to rise, the ducks started to fly. And that day we paddled around 30 miles.”
Word seems to be spreading about the Paddle Forward expedition. Big River Magazine shared the news and caught the eye of Winona Minnesota resident Bert Gile.
“He had been going on the river for the river for several days waiting for us to paddle down...He paddled with us for a couple of miles and showed us a part of the river we wouldn’t have seen, if it hadn’t been for Burt. We got to see a boathouse community where people live in a little house floating on big rafts.”
It’s called The Latsch Island Boathouse Community, and it dates back more than a century.
Brummitt says the number of interesting encounters is multiplying, yet she savors the early morning paddling and the times cell phones and communication gizmos go off-line.
But, Paddle Forward seems destined to not fall under the radar. When the canoes passed through Lock 9 north of Cassville Wisconsin, the lockmaster passed along a note from the U.S. Coast Guard.
“They want us to be in communication with them at 6 in the morning and 6 at night – just to let them know where we are and that we’re okay.”