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