|The Mississippi begins here
I have dreamed of paddling the Mississippi river for as long as I can remember. Until
recently all this trip has ever been was a dream. That all changed a year and a half ago
when I found out my dad had terminal cancer. This revelation caused me to take a look
at my own life. What would I do if someone told me I would be dead in a year?
I thought about regrets. Sure there are things in my life I regret doing, but I can't change
the past. I can only control my future. I don't want to look back and regret the things I
should have done, or the dreams that could have been reality. This year I am going to
paddle my sixteen and a half foot long kayak from lake Itasca in Minnesota to New
I have been seriously planning this trip for a year now, and knowing that it is coming has
helped me through a very difficult time in my life. No matter how bad things are going for
me at any given moment I know that on May 15th my dream begins.
This trip will be not only about the physical journey of over 2000 miles but a spiritual
sojourn as well. I will be spending over two months solo in my boat. I have had a very
difficult life. I am only 25 years old and have lost both of my parents. For as long as I can
remember there was an unwanted individual who has been, and to some extent still is,
making my life a living hell. And I've just plain fucked up quite a few times. I intend to
explain these things in detail as I make my way down the river.
I will mail back letters and pictures as I make my way down the country and they will be
added to this site so that everyone can come with me on my magical journey. I will also
update this site as my departure date of May 15th draws nearer.
Scroll down this page to read my journal as the trip is underway.
Join me as I live my dream of paddling the Mississippi!
Mississippi River Quest '06 - Introduction
This trip is dedicated to my father Clint Brooks. The Lord is lucky to
have you, but we sure miss you down here.
Today was my going away party. [check out the photo page] It's good to know that there
are so many people who care about me and what I'm doing. I'd like to thank everyone
for all their support and kindness as I prepared for my journey. I never could have
pulled this off without everyone's help.
In two days I will be in Minnesota at the headwaters of the Mississippi. It seems like
just yesterday it was six months away. I have all the gear I need and I've been paddling
my ass off the last few months. I'm as ready as I'm going to get.
Still, the river scares me. I realize my dream could cost me my life. I won't sleep well
the next few nights. It's one thing to tell everyone you're going to jump from an airplane;
it's another thing entirely to stand in the doorway looking at the ground thousands of feet
below. Monday I jump off and put my fate in God's hands. It's going to be a wild ride.
Look out below!
After a 7½ hour drive I made it to Lake Itasca. It's beautiful here - a crystal clear lake
lined with pine trees. The air is filled with the pine fragrance you only smell in the north
woods and the mountains.
When Kent and I arrived at the park we were pleased to find out we could camp here for
the low low price of only twenty five dollars. I will do my best to avoid paying to camp
again on this trip. When we got to our site Kent set up his tent and I decided to paddle
three miles down the lake to see the beginning of the Mississippi. There was a strong
headwind and light rain on my trip up the lake. Not exactly ideal paddling weather, but
pretty none the less. The rain stopped when I reached the head waters.
I had expected to see a small river, but this thing is tiny. At its widest point it is a
massive four feet across before flowing through a three foot diameter tile under the
road. I find this small river much more intimidating than a large one. It makes me feel a
long way from home and an eternity from New Orleans. Tomorrow I'll shove off and
leave the real world behind. Nothing about this is going to be easy, but I know all my
troubles will be worth while.
In the time it has taken me to write this letter, a woman has backed her Dodge van into
a tree after first getting out to see how close she was. The guy three spaces down has
set off the alarm on his PT Cruiser twice, and two loud drunks just backed their boat in
across from us. I will do my best to avoid public campgrounds in the future.
I will have a good talk with God tonight about my safety and try to get some sleep.
Tomorrow is a new day.