I have gotten a few questions from some inquisitive followers about the trip. Here are the questions and answers, feel free to email me questions and I will try and post 'em.
How are you going to prepare for the weather?
Well, first and foremost I will be relying on my own judgement for most of my day to day weather decisions. Having grown up out West in Colorado, I am very familiar with fast moving storms and understand the serious implications of being stuck out in open areas in a lightning storm. For most of my day to day weather decisions, I will be using my CB radio.
There are several points on my trip where I will be relying on others for assistance. My uncle, Dave Johnston, who lives in Ely, MN will be tracking my progress. Before my major reservoir crossings on Oahe, Fort Peck, Sakakawea, I will be conferencing with Dave about major weather systems moving in from the North. I feel that this will allow me to more accurately establish a plan of attack for these large reservoirs. I will also be conferencing with my uncle frequently on the Lower Mississippi as I will be finishing this section during the onset of hurricane season.
What kind of training are you doing to prepare for the rigors of this adventure? Or are you going to ease your self into it and plan and gaining momentum as you move down the river?
I have my training divided into two general areas. First, my skills training. I will be taking the Current Designs Storm GT out once a week on the weekends to really get a feel for the intricacies of the boat. I also will be taking it out a fair bit into some local rivers like the Rivanna and work on my rolls and capsizing. Practicing getting back into the boat far from shore after a bail-out will also be an important skill to have dialed cold before I head out since some of the reservoirs I will be paddling through will be pretty massive.
The second part of my training will be my overall fitness. Because I am in med school and my schedule is pretty tight, I have had to develop a pretty intense workout program because I won't be able to be on the water every day. I am working with Bill Thompson at Rocky Top Gym in Charlottesville; he has been my trainer for most of my major climbs over the past three years and I have been very happy with the results.
The training will be a 5.5 month program beginning in January focusing on building all-around fitness and core strength with Kettle Bells. For all of you not familiar with kettle bells, they are these iron balls that you swing around in various patterns. This workout was originally developed in Russia and I haven't found any better workout for all-around fitness.
The first two months will be dedicated to increasing my overall strength, I will be doing more fewer reps with heavier weight. The second two months will be developed to increasing my endurance and I will be doing more reps, no rest and less weight. The last month and half will be devoted to what Bill calls "pain training." I will be doing reps with reasonable weight, but without rest and at a really high number of reps. This part of the sequence will help me fine tune my mental ability to push through various levels of discomfort while continuing to improve my overall fitness.
When I start up the program in January, I will post my workouts (weight, reps and exercise) if people at home want to follow along.
Now when I actually start on the river, there will be a 1.5-2 week period where my body will be fully adjusting to life on the water. This aspect of the trip will be inevitable as I will have been in the Hospital for the majority of my time leading up to the trip. I am sure that the pain, blisters and back cramps are going to be very obvious to me. However, I know that my training with Bill will have made me pretty strong by that time, and that should help my body deal with the conversion from hospital life to river life.
Are you going to be wearing the same clothes for four months?
Yes and no. While some of the clothing that I take on the trip like my synthetic long underwear tops and bottoms will be the same, not all of my gear will follow me the whole way. I will be leaving my cold weather paddling gear such as my synthetic down and my fleece pants in St. Louis when I pass through. I don't think I will be needing my down jacket in the 99% humidity and 100 degree days paddling through New Orleans!
What about food?
I will be resupplying frequently at sites along the river. There will a couple of sections in Montana and North Dakota where stops will be few and far between, however the most I food I am planning on taking with me is for about 3 weeks.
Will you pull over and get out every time you need to relieve yourself?
Well it depends on the #. #1 is pretty easy to accomplish just sitting in the boat. With some careful aim and some stability, the goal can be accomplished. #2 is a bit more problematic. I will be pulling over to the bank for that. There will be a section on my trip where I will be having to carry out my waste, which is always interesting. I have had to do this before while climbing up in Alaska, and it wasn't ever particularly pleasant. However, it is important especially on sections of the river that see a lot of usage.
Keep the questions coming!