San­ders, 80, nears St. Louis on Miss. jour­ney

The Commercial Appeal - - Baseball - By Larry Rea Got an out­doors item of note? Email Larry Rea at lrout­[email protected] or go to his web­site at lrout­doors.com; lis­ten to Larry Rea on Out­doors with Larry Rea on Satur­day morn­ings from 6-7:30 on ESPN 790-AM.

On this Fourth of July week­end, Dale San­ders of Bartlett hopes to watch a fire­works show at the Gate­way Arch in down­town St. Louis. At least that was his mid­week plan as the self­pro­claimed “Grey Beard Ad­ven­turer” con­tin­ues his source-to-sea pad­dle down the Mis­sis­sippi River.

For that to hap­pen San­ders said he hoped to pad­dle 62 miles, 36 on one day and 26 the next, as he hopes to ar­rive in Mem­phis on July 18.

“At least the river is high and fast,” said San­ders, who is pad­dling the river to raise do­na­tions and aware­ness of Type 1 ju­ve­nile di­a­betes and to be­come the oldest per­son to ever com­plete the 2,340-mile jour­ney from Lake Itasca in cen­tral Min­nesota to the Gulf of Mex­ico.

San­ders turned 80 on Flag Day, June 14.

“We have to av­er­age 30 miles a day from Min­neapo­lis to Mem­phis,” he said as he took a break at Han­ni­bal, Mis­souri. “It hasn’t been just the weather that we’ve had to deal with. It has been a mul­ti­tude of things.”

Such as the 29 locks and dams be­tween La Crosse, Wis­con­sin, and Al­ton, Mis­souri.

“The is­sue that we have now is that there are a cou­ple of locks that are closed down­stream due to high wa­ter,” San­ders said. “We don’t know what we are go­ing to do.”

Ear­lier this week he and his en­tourage of fel­low pad­dlers — TV crew, sup­port team, etc. — had to pad­dle down a spill­way. All the flood­gates were also closed at Han­ni­bal, forc­ing the group to put wheels un­der the fully loaded canoe and push it over the dike.

San­ders, pad­dling solo in his canoe, said he spends be­tween seven and 12 hours on the river each day, av­er­ag­ing about nine hours. He plans to hike the Ap­palachian Trail in two years, which would earn him an­other record, for be­ing the oldest per­son to com­plete the en­tire trail from North Ge­or­gia to Maine.

“Right now, all I’m think­ing about is get­ting to Mem­phis (on July 18) and go­ing on to the Gulf of Mex­ico,” he said.

To keep up with San­ders’ jour­ney go to his Face­book page, grey­bear­dad­ven­turer.com, wa­ter­s­lesstrav­eled.com or ad­ven­ture­i­tus­pro­duc­tions.com. You can also track him at find­mespot.com.

Look­ing good: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice re­cently re­leased its re­port on “2015 Trends in Duck Breed­ing Pop­u­la­tions,” based on sur­veys con­ducted in May and early June by FWS and the Cana­dian Wildlife Ser­vice. Over­all duck num­bers in the sur­vey area are sta­tis­ti­cally sim­i­lar to last year and re­main strong. To­tal pop­u­la­tions were es­ti­mated at 49.5 mil­lion breed­ing ducks in the tra­di­tional sur­vey area, which is 51 per­cent above the 1955-2014 long-term av­er­age and the high­est count on record. Last year’s es­ti­mate was 49.2 mil­lion birds.

Con­di­tions ob­served across the U.S. and Cana­dian sur­vey ar­eas were drier than last year. To­tal pond counts for the U.S. and Canada com­bined were 6.3 mil­lion, 12 per­cent be­low the 2014 es­ti­mate of 7.2 mil­lion and 21 per­cent above the long-term av­er­age.

Among species es­ti­mates were: mal­lards — 11.6 mil­lion, which is sim­i­lar to the 2014 es­ti­mate and 51 per­cent above the long-term av­er­age; gad­wall — 3.8 mil­lion, which is sim­i­lar to the 2014 es­ti­mate and 100 per­cent above the long-term av­er­age; green-winged teal — 4.1 mil­lion, 19 per­cent above the 2014 es­ti­mate and 98 per­cent above the long-term av­er­age; and can­vas­backs: 0.76 mil­lion, sim­i­lar to the 2014 es­ti­mate and 30 per­cent above the long-term av­er­age. All num­bers are avail­able at ducks.org/Duck­Num­bers.

Check it out: As of July 1, a new li­cense struc­ture was put in place by the Ten­nessee Wildlife Re­sources Agency, in­clud­ing a guide li­cense (any in­di­vid­ual who ac­cepts com­pen­sa­tion for pro­vid­ing as­sis­tant to an­other per­son(s) in any act of hunt­ing, fish­ing and trap­ping). In ad­di­tion, a “high im­pact” user per­mit is now re­quired on des­ig­nated Wildlife Man­age­ment Ar­eas owned by the TWRA for hoofed rid­ers, off-road ve­hi­cle users and bi­cy­clists.

Safe boat­ing: The TWRA par­tic­i­pated in the sev­enth an­nual Op­er­a­tion Dry Wa­ter week­end, which has been held the week­end be­fore the July 4 hol­i­day since its in­cep­tion. Re­ports from the TWRA’s four re­gions re­sulted in zero boat­ing un­der the in­flu­ence) ar­rests across the state. TWRA boat­ing of­fi­cers checked more than 2,800 ves­sels, is­sued 141 ci­ta­tions, 116 warn­ings, made four other ar­rests and as­sisted 110 boaters. The num­ber of boaters as­sisted was an in­crease from 36 in 2014.

PHOTO SUB­MIT­TED Eighty-year-old Dale San­ders (left, with Richard So­journer) is try­ing to be­come the oldest per­son to com­plete the 2,340-mile pad­dle from Lake Itasca in Min­nesota to the Gulf of Mex­ico. He hopes to ar­rive in Mem­phis on July 18.

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