Misterssippi Expedition Document

The Misterssippi Expedition 2012:

An Interactive Chronicle of the Mississippi River

1. The Expedition Ethos

A. Overview
B. Mission

2. Crew Member Detail

3. Logistics: On the River
A. Nutrition
B. Documentation
C. Schedule
D. Navigation
E. Emergencies
F. Accommodations

1. The Expedition Ethos

a. Overview

  • The Misterssippi Expedition is embarking on a two-month canoe journey down the entire length of the Mississippi River, simultaneously documenting the state of the Mississippi River for public outreach campaigns, (See http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/ 2012/ 02/13/a-street-view-for-rivers/#more-132439). As representatives of the EPA, Below the Surface (BTS), and sponsored by a series of private enterprises (Old Town Canoes, Clif Bar, Goal Zero Solar Panels, Moosejaw Sporting Goods, B-Nuts Gourmet Trail Mix), the Misterssippi Expedition is passionate about natural conservation by engaging the growing threat of industrial contamination, resource exploitation, and invasive species to America’s waterways.

b. Mission

  • Inspire responsible practices for healthy watersheds amongst individuals, corporations, and public entities by providing an accurate and engaging visual account of the Mississippi River.
  • Supersaturate ourselves in a full summer of Big Muddy Bliss.

2. Crew Member Detail

Name Relevant Experience Interests
Mark Downey
  • Master of Forestry,
    Nicholas School of the Environment
  • Open-water and river paddling, wilderness survival and first-aid, wildlife management, environmental education, roughing it, tying knots
Sustainability/creative destruction, forests, raccoons, writing, traveling, backpacking, transcendence, rock and roll, hearts on fire
Jonathan Sawyer
  • Master of Urban Planning, University of Southern California
  • Prior wilderness and paddling adventures, polymath, relative disconnect from electronic/digital domain
Healthy environments and populations, relationship between Humankind and the rest of Nature, experimenting with new ideas, learning from mistakes
Jeff Nelson
  • Master of Loon Calling (not literally)
  • B.A. Economics,Wheaton College
  • Lifetime open-water and river paddling, wilderness camping, international community development,
  • immunity to mosquito bites
Holistic community development in marginalized urban contexts, education, music / dance, simplicity, rest, Christ-following disciplines and service, Yoga, Zumba,  any class that does not offer a boot camp
David Larson
  • B.A. Biblical Studies / Theology,Wheaton College
  • Current Medical School Student, University of North Dakota
  • Prior wilderness and paddling expeditions, college athletics (track and field)
Emma Larson, the great outdoors, Scandinavian folklore, Pole vaulting, Karl Barth, dog training, weight training, Navy Seals training, potty training, America’s Funniest Home Videos
Ben Theimer
  • B.A. Biblical Studies / Theology,Wheaton College
  • Teacher Certification,University of Denver, Teach for America alumni
  • Current Divinity School Student, Duke University
  • Prior wilderness and paddling expeditions, college athletics (soccer captain)


3. Logistics: On the River
A. Nutrition

  • As the greatest financial cost the expedition, a sufficient, yet economic, diet is essential for personal maintenance and health given daily paddling of 10-12 hours per crew member. Light-to-moderate paddling demands roughly 300 Calories per hour for a 170 pound person, the mean weight of crew members; establishing a healthy equilibrium for crew members requires roughly 5,000 Calories per person per day.
  • The primary source of food will be from grocery stores near the river. Research has confirmed reliable sources for all sections of the river. Dried foods (e.g. peanuts) and foods requiring simple cooking (e.g. rice and beans) will provide the most balanced and economic nutrition given the storage requirements. Ideally, one meal a day will be composed of Ultimately, a wise diet will have a strong base of complex carbohydrates and high-calorie foods to keep crew member weight from dipping too low. Most perishable foods, particularly animal products that require refrigeration, cannot be effectively stored given the warm temperature, high humidity, and animals present at this time of year on all sections of the river. To account for these limitations, eating plant-based proteins with complete amino acid composition – like dried edamame – will be important.

B. Documentation

  • With the successful development of the Beyond the Surface “Streamview” mobile app (See http://www.belowthesurface.org), the Misterssippi Expedition will be posting up-to-date pictures for every mile of the river using iPhone or on digital cameras; with corresponding GPS points from a separate unit. These pictures will be uploaded to pre-populate the BTS Streamview website and other blogs.
  • Crew members are also contributing expedition-related posts to the Old Town Canoe website, Duke University alumni blog, BTS blog space with Outside Magazine, both during and following the expedition.

C. Schedule

  • The expedition is broken into 11 stages, ranging from 2-7 days of anticipated travel time. Understanding and anticipating conditions for each stage is important for greater travel efficiency and safety. The expected start date is Monday June 4, 2012 and the anticipated date of completion is Thursday July 26, 2012, allowing 51 days of travel and 3 rest days. This schedule is subject to changes arising due to weather, fatigue, or recreation opportunities.
  • A typical day for the crew will consist of the following:
  • Sunrise wake-up, hearty breakfast, warm-up and stretch, 5-7 hours of canoeing, 2-hour lunchtime rest avoiding the sun until noon (highest altitude/intensity), 4-5 hours of canoeing before setting up camp, dinner, individual / communal documentation.
  • Stage 1: Lake Itasca to Bemidji – Days 1-3

Length: 62 miles
Anticipated Travel Time: 3 days (21 miles per day)
Sunrise / Sunset: 5:30am / 9:15pm

  • Stage 2: Bemidji to Brainerd – Days 4-10

Length: 287 miles
Anticipated Travel Time: 7 days (41 miles per day)
Sunrise / Sunset: 5:30am / 9:15pm

  • Stage 3: Brainerd to Coon Rapids Dam/Northwestern Minneapolis Suburbs – Days 11-13

Length: 133 miles
Anticipated Travel Time: 3 days (44 miles per day)
Sunrise / Sunset: 5:30am / 9:00pm

*Take Day 14 off in Minneapolis with friends and family.

  • Stage 4: Coon Rapids Dam/Northwestern Minneapolis Suburbs to La Crosse – Days 15-18

Length: 178 miles
Anticipated Travel Time: 4 days (45 miles per day)
Sunrise / Sunset: 5:30am / 9:00pm


  • Stage 5: La Crosse to Quad Cities – Days 19-23

Length: 209 miles
Anticipated Travel Time: 5 days (42 miles per day)
Sunrise / Sunset: 5:30am / 8:45pm

  • Stage 6: Quad Cities to St. Louis – Days 24-30

Length: 311 miles
Anticipated Travel Time: 7 days (44 miles per day)
Sunrise / Sunset: 5:30am / 8:30pm
*Spend Days 31-32 in St. Louis and pick up more crew members.


  • Stage 7: St. Louis to Memphis – Days 33-39

Length: 386 miles
Anticipated Travel Time: 7 days (55 miles per day)
Sunrise / Sunset: 5:45am / 8:30pm


  • Stage 8: Memphis to Vicksburg – Days 40-45

Length: 296 miles
Anticipated Travel Time: 6 days (49 miles per day)
Sunrise / Sunset: 6:00am / 8:15pm


  • Stage 9: Vicksburg to Baton Rouge – Days 46-49

Length: 211 miles
Anticipated Travel Time: 4 days (53 miles per day)
Sunrise / Sunset: 6:15am / 8:15pm


  • Stage 10: Baton Rouge to New Orleans – Days 50-52

Length: 155 miles
Anticipated Travel Time: 3 days (52 miles per day)
Sunrise / Sunset: 6:15am / 8:00pm

  • Stage 11: New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico – Days 53-54

Length: 83 miles
Anticipated Travel Time: 2 days (42 miles per day)
Sunrise / Sunset: 6:15am / 8:00pm

D. Navigation

  • High resolution USGS topographical maps will guide the Misterssippi Expedition down the entire river; we have access to electronic versions of the topos and will be either printing them or getting the hard-copies from USGS through BTS. GPS navigation with the help of corporate sponsorship would aid the far-northern reaches of the Mississippi where the river braids out, but the team is prepared to rely on analog orienteering.
  • Furthermore, the team has researched navigational dangers associated with cities, barges, and locks and dams; they will anticipate and deal wisely with these challenges.

E. Emergencies

  • On the Misterssippi Expedition, preparation and prevention are the greatest tools to handle emergencies. Each canoe is equipped with a first-aid kit and all members are required to wear life jackets at all times while on the river. Two members of the expedition have first-aid and open-water rescue training, and CPR and lifeguard certification (lapsed). In the case of imminent conditions, the expedition is equipped with a weather radio.

F. Accommodations

  • The team will be tent-camping each night on the river banks, except near major population centers such as the Twin Cities, St. Louis, Memphis, and New Orleans; in cities, we will lodge with friends or in hostels. Each night the canoes will be chained to trees and to each other near the camp sites. Two crew members will sleep in each tent, unless one pisses the others off, in which case, he’ll sleep alone outside.
  • Bathing will be possible in the river north of the Twin Cities (with bio-friendly soap made by one of the crew members). After the Twin Cities, bathing will happen opportunistically at campgrounds, hoses, houses, and in rain storms.


3 thoughts on “Misterssippi Expedition Document

  1. Mark S

    Trying to contact you guys to see if i can hook up with you in next few days. uncle mark

  2. Nice answer back in return of this question with genuine arguments and describing all
    on the topic of that.

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