1-8 SEPTEMBER 2019 - ALL FULL UP
8-15 SEPTEMBER - TWO PLACES LEFT
In September 2019 I’ll be leading a week-long group adventure down the Lower Mississippi, starting in Memphis, TN. I’ve led several trips down this stretch of river alongside my good friend John Ruskey, the founder of the Quapaw Canoe Company.
I find it hard to recall a journey more memorable and formative than my source to sea descent of the Mississippi River in 2011. Since then I’ve been a regular visitor to the lower half of the river, thanks to a community of friendly paddlers, endless wild campsites on river banks and sandbars and those wide open skies we all dream of when we find ourselves spending way too much time in a city.
The trip also puts funding into the Quawpaw Canoe Company, which enables young people from the Clarksdale region to learn their skills as a river guide, ensuring a good vocation and continuing to protect the local environment.
Each time the adventure changes, as the water rises and falls. But I can guarantee an adventure of a lifetime, one that may be short but will stay with you forever.
This is a chance to escape and reassess life’s goals, but also to dip your feet in a pot full of potential. Learn how to canoe and paddleboard (no prior experience necessary), find yourself comfortable in a misunderstood environment and soak up the starry nights around a driftwood campfire.
All this and so much more, sandwiched between time in Memphis and Clarksdale, two towns which have played a huge part in the birth of the Blues, Rock n’Roll and the Civil Rights Movement.
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Beginning in Memphis, Tennessee, we spend one night together in the city and the next day set off from the famous Mud Island. We’ll spend five nights on the river, wild camping at night, enjoying wonderful food and enriching, challenging conversations. Then to Clarksdale, the home of the Blues, for live music, a slow southern pace of life and a final supper to wrap up a memorable week.
Wide open, remote spaces and water, water everywhere. There’s no better scenario for escaping life as we know it, cooking up a brand new life plan or simply building up your confidence and a set of outdoorsy skills to make your next adventure so much more achievable.
This isn’t all about changing the world and making a difference. Stopping off at epic places, wild camping on remote sandbars, swimming, paddleboarding, eagle and pelican watching and letting our hair down is all part of the package. Pack light, soak up the sun and recharge in between the deep bits by taking a wander around islands or along wide open sand bars at sunset. Or just jump in and have a swim as the river flows on by.
SKILLS & TEAMWORK
Remote locations plus a geographical journey provides the ideal scenario for learning. We don't require any previous skills ahead of a trip, but you will leave us well qualified to move forwards, whatever you plan on doing next. From paddling 30ft canoes and 14ft paddleboards, to making fires and slinging hammocks; welcome to the world’s best classroom!
MY FELLOW EXPEDITION LEADERS
John Ruskey is a canoe builder, youth leader and has been paddling the Mississippi River since 1982. He operates Quapaw Canoe Company from Clarksdale Mississippi and is writing the Rivergator: Paddler’s Guide to the Lower Mississippi River. He runs year-round workshops on canoe building, navigation and survival skills for the youth of the Lower Mississippi Valley.
There aren’t many humans who have paddled down the Mississippi wearing a wedding dress, but Em has and no, she didn’t fall off! After spending years in Sierra Leone Em returned to London to take over the reigns at SayYesMore, setting up endless events that bring people together in the great outdoors.
Day 1 (Sunday): Arrive in Memphis at 4pm, meet the team and stay in a local hotel
Day 2 (Monday): Head down to the river after breakfast, set off for the first day on the river (excess gear not needed on the trip travels to Clarksdale [our end point])
Days 3 to 6 (Tuesday -Friday): Life on the river - paddling & discussions by day, camping by night
Day 7 (Saturday): Final day on the river, arrive into Helena, pack up kit and head to Clarksdale
Day 8 (Sunday) : Depart Clarksdale after breakfast for a 1h30 shuttle back to Memphis
Trip Cost - £1350
This cost includes:
- All river craft and equipment, inc canoes and SUPs, lifejackets and paddles
- Professional guides
- Hotel accommodation for 2 nights
- All food provisions while on the river
- Shuttle from Clarksdale back to Memphis
- Travel to/from Memphis before and after the Mississippi Adventure
- Evening meal in Memphis on day 1 and Clarksdale on day 7
- Personal travel insurance
- Optional camping gear rental for river trip - tent, mat and sleeping bag for the week is £50
The Mighty Mississippi flows 99 miles out of Memphis down to Clarksdale in giant meandering loops into the verdant and fantastically fertile Mississippi Delta, the former cotton kingdom that gave birth to the Delta Blues.
The river leaves the city behind, carving elegant S-curves through deep woods as it meanders through Commerce Bend, Mhoon Bend and Walnut Bend, and then wanders down through a floodplain fifteen miles wide to the mouth of the St. Francis River, one of several tributaries that adds to the feeling of wildness.
Hundreds of thousands of acres of protected bottomland hardwood forest rest alongside the Mississippi in an incredible labyrinth of islands, forests, bayous, blue holes and back channels. Its the largest roadless area in the mid-south and where the road ends, the trail begins for paddlers. Giant islands in the river adds to the experience and we will enjoy wild open places, deep forests, hidden back channels, rich wildlife, and spectacular camping throughout.
"I thought I would have an adventure, hoped I would find some answers, and expected to get some clarity. Exploring Mindset did so much more in galvanising me, not just for the immediate future, but for my new direction in life - helping me to recognise where I can and will make a difference, on a personal, and social level. The friends I have made will be friends forever, and I know in 20 years time, I will look back at Exploring Mindset, those people and friendships, and see it as a turning point in my life."
David Ardill, Mississippi 2015
“A very special kind of adventure that will leave you with new friends and memories for life, as well as a notebook full of ideas and a newfound determination to make things happen.”
Anna Lundberg, Mississippi 2015
“I’ve never had more fun than I did on the Mississippi in 2015 (and I've done a lot of traveling in my lifetime!) The people who were drawn to this were the best people I’d ever met. The smile in my heart will last a lifetime, as will the friendships made on this trip. Truly, this is a life-changing, fun, laugh-out-loud-everyday event you cannot pass up.”
Alexis Ray, Mississippi 2015