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11 paddlers, one from Whitefish Bay, are taking on the Mississippi River.WUWM's Environmental Reporter Susan Bence will check in with Wisconsin native Martha Brummitt throughout her 10-week journey.

Paddle Forward Pushes Into Final Days of Mississippi Expedition


Next week, eleven explorers paddling the Mississippi River should arrive in New Orleans. Our virtual guide, Martha Brummitt says Paddle Forward has taken on a new member.

The full weekly update from Martha Brummitt.

The extra crew member is a dog. Martha Brummitt says it climbed aboard in Helena, Arkansas.

She’s a bit vague on a “pedigree “ – perhaps a mix of shepherd and chow, but Brummitt says the Paddle Forward crew had hoped to bring a dog along from the start.

“We showed up in Helena after a 61-mile day and a contact of ours named Zach met up with us later that night and brought over a dog that has been hanging around his house – a stray dog – and he offered to let us bring down with us to New Orleans. We named her Winnibigoshish after one of the first lakes we paddled through in the beginning of the trip. We bought some dog food, and she has her own bowl for food and water and she likes to sit in your lap as you travel.”

Helena, Arkansas holds another distinction for the crew. It took its first plunge INTO the river after a couple of long, steamy days paddling. Brummitt assessed the water quality as “swimmable”.

“It didn’t seem super dirty and we’ve heard from people that Helena is one of the cleaner spot on the river because it’s pretty far from any industrial power plants and people will often boil water from the river and eat it or drink it, so we felt fine taking a little bath in the river. It felt really refreshing.”


Extra PROVISIONS fell into Paddle Forward’s lap when it pulled onto a boat ramp for the night. Brummitt says the crew chanced upon a father and son who’s family started a hunting club more than 100 years ago.

She explains, as waves buffet her canoe.

“Called Marigold Hunting Camp and it’s on the Mississippi side of the river. We learned about the deer that they hunt and a little hog. And they gave us that hog and some venison steaks.  We cut it off the bone with our little Swiss Army knives. And we also made some batter out of flour and spices in a Frisbee and then dipped raw meat in the flour batter and fried it up in some oil and butter and it was so good!

That morning, as the crew was 290 miles from its final destination, Brummitt says the Mississippi stretches a mile wide. The shores are muddy, so rocks or bricks line sections to stave off erosion.

The question on Brummitt’s mind is, whom will she paddle with next.

“A couple of days ago, we said, oh! we’re only 10 days away from arriving. That means we’ll each only get to paddle with each other one more time and so every morning it’s a little bit of a scramble to see who we get to spend the day with in the canoe and for me, I really treasure that time with “one on one”.

I hope to catch up with Brummitt when the Paddle Forward crew arrives in New Orleans, perhaps after she’s had a good shower.