I rode over a day early with my good friend Thom to claim a camp site before the hordes of people arrived Friday. The plan worked and our respective groups had pretty good spots in the popular Arizona Hot Springs camp. During the six hour drive Thom endured my "one track mind" ramblings about this trip and offered, as always, balanced reflections on my plans and planning. Thank you Thom, as always, for your patience and friendship.
On the top of my list of concerns right now is the harsh month of cold weather and water I'm in for when first starting the trip. Any sane person that wanted to paddle a loop around the US, starting in the winter, might consider starting further south to get out of the snow and cold. It would make sense (for me too) to push the start date back one month and set out from New Orleans. The timing would still work for the rest of the trip and I'd complete the whole route while avoiding the worst of the winter weather. However, after hashing it out with Thom I had to admit to a fixation not only to completeling the loop, but starting and finishing from the same point, that point being Portage WI. The way it works out it may be the harshest start date possible but it's the "Portage to Portage Project" that I've been thinking of for all these years, not the "Big Loop to the Big Easy". More importantly it will mean a lot to me to be paddling HOME during the last months of the trip. Not just passing through on my way, once again, to someplace else.
So the planning continues including -20 deg. sleeping bags and four season tents. Today the plan is to introduce this trip to a larger segment of the paddling community and see if folks are interested in following along.