Going Full Length - the Mississippi River

In 2010 Mike Link and Kate Crowley spent 4 ½ months walking around Lake Superior because of their concern and interest in our fresh water systems and how we relate to them.  Now they are bringing the same focus that propelled them around the Great Lake to the Mississippi River where they are engaged in three years of observation and exploration of the Great River.  In 2012 they took a road trip to explore the communities, the food, and the stories that surround the Mississippi.  Beginning the last week of March (this year) they will engage in an exploration from the water that will explore the various watercraft and people of the river. In 2014 they will bike from the Gulf to Lake Itasca following spring migration.
This second leg of their journey will be documented on their http://fulllengthmississippi .org website, the Full Length Superior Facebook page, their Eclectic Traveler’s Blog, YouTube, and on the blog for Globe.gov which reaches 26,000+ schools around the world.
This trip will not be done in a sequential way, although they intend to cover the entire river.  Instead they will conform to the schedules of the boats they will ride and sometimes even cover the same waters more than once.   The important thing is to see the river from the water and to hear the stories of those who love, live and work on the Mississippi.  This effort will include canoeing the first 380 miles, taking a Go-Float electric boat from Aitkin to the Twin Cities, riding through Minneapolis on a voyageur canoe, through St Paul on a stand up paddleboard, sailing across Lake Pepin, riding in a dugout with Quapaw Canoes below St Louis, and going from Memphis to New Orleans on the American Cruise Line’s Queen of the Mississippi.   And more – barges, pontoon boats, riverboats of all sorts.
Minnesota is the great distributor of fresh water.  We sit in the middle of the North American Continent and the Minnesota DNR lists 11,842 lakes that are over 10 acres in size and 6,564 natural rivers and streams that drain through the great lakes, to Hudson Bay and to the Gulf of Mexico.  But that is only part of the story that Mike and Kate want to explore, as their book Going Full Circle demonstrates - the story of  water is more than an isolated geographic place, it is also the story of people and their love and use and abuse of that water.  It is not just about Hydrogen and Oxygen that create water, but how we relate to water that will affect the future generations.
This project began to form in our minds as the Full Circle Superior hike was ending.  Lake Superior is 31,700 square miles - 1555 miles around - with a watershed of 49,300 square miles.  The Mississippi River is 2350 miles long with an average 1 mile width - 2350 square miles with a watershed of 1,200,000 square miles - that is the difference between a small and a gigantic watershed.


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