Paddle Forward Crew Pushes into State of Mississippi

Nov 15, 2013

Rain and wind close in on Paddle Forward. Crew members Eric Immler and Martha Brummitt secure on of their tents.

Eleven explorers paddling five canoes down the Mississippi River are coming ever closer to their goal. Our virtual guide Martha Brummitt checks in as tje Paddle Forward crew approaches the state of Mississippi.

When we spoke, daylight had just emerged and Brummitt was “sterning.” That’s her word for “paddling at the stern of the canoe”.

The crew had more 60 miles to make up and provisions to fetch – the last Paddle Forward would need.

But Brummitt says, there’s no time for melancholy. She and the others have learned a lesson or two about keeping their wits - while navigating the mighty river AND solid ground. A couple nights ago, a howling wind and the slap of rain awoke them.

“A few people got outside and saw that the rain fly had ripped from the broken pole, so they patched it up and we moved a canoe to the upwind side of the three tents and used that as a wind blocker and sand was hitting us in the face. We couldn’t have any tent empty because I think they would have blown away.”

Barge traffic is keeping them on their toes now.

A marine radio allows them to listen in as vessels move up and down river, particularly through its busy channels. One barge captain heading upstream made it clear, the crew was not paddling swiftly enough.

Brummitt describes his agitated voice blasting over the radio.

“ I see one, two five six seven eight - there’s canoes all over the damn place. So we knew that we needed to get out of their way because we are more maneuverable than the big heavy barges, so we shimmied over outside of the barge channel and learned that we need to be even more preventive and stay clear out of their way at all times.”

Paddle Forward projects a November 26th arrival in New Orleans – two days before Thanksgiving.

Brummitt says squeezing the crew’s 10-week experience into a planned documentary is going to be tricky. I wonder if the voice of the aggravated barge captain will make the cut?

The crew spent time with St. George's Independent School students in Memphis, Tennessee.