July 25, 2019
Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

Dear Family & Friends:

By the time you read this, I will be underway on my canoe trip down the Mississippi River. I am beyond ready and excited.

I arrived in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota on July 16, after our trip to Egeland, North Dakota to stay at Sharon’s childhood home. I have been staying with Elizabeth and Mark at their lakeside home. Elizabeth is Sharon’s cousin.  My beautiful canoe arrived on July 19.  I have been practicing on Detroit Lakes.  The canoe is sleek and fast and rides beautifully. It cuts through the waves like butter and throws off almost no spray. This is the perfect canoe for my trip.

On July 21, I travelled to Lake Itasca to plan my trip and find a good put-in point. Lake Itasca is the headwaters of the Mighty Mississippi. Today, I practiced self-rescue on Detroit Lakes.  Self-rescue is finding a way to renter the canoe if it capsizes or throws me into the River.  After a problematic practice trial with the wrong equipment, I finally figured this out.

I have a lot of gear to load in the boat. Almost more than the gear I take to climb Mt. Everest. Hopefully, this weight will make it harder for the canoe to capsize.

I hope to make it to Coffee Pot Landing on my first day tomorrow. This is 15-miles from the headwaters at Lake Itasca. More likely, I will stop at Wanagan Campsite, which is 5-miles from the headwaters.

Like my first Mt. Everest expedition in 2007, I feel a mixture of excitement, anticipation and sheer terror.

I want to thank Elizabeth and Mark for the amazing hospitality they showed me at their home in Detroit Lakes. They allowed me to practice on their lake and ferried my canoe from Detroit Lakes to the headwaters.  I could not have started this trip without them. God Bless you Elizabeth and Mark.