60-year-old kayaker aims to become first to travel Miss. River
Published 12:04 am Tuesday, August 26, 2014
NATCHEZ — Ellen Mcdonah made a grand entrance to Natchez Monday evening via kayak.
On her journey to become the first woman to ever kayak the entire Mississippi River, Day 92 of her voyage brought Mcdonah to Natchez with “river angel” Layne Logue. As Mcdonah explained it, a river angel is someone who lives along the river cities and helps long-distance paddlers by offering a place to stay.
Logue, who served as Mcdonah’s river angel in Vicksburg, found out what Mcdonah was doing and decided to make the trip to Natchez with her.
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The trip offered more than a strong wind. A few miles away from the boat ramp under the hill, Mcdonah and Logue came across a severe thunderstorm.
“We were only a few miles away and then kaboom,” said Mcdonah, who’s been kayaking for the last 40 years.
Frightened at first encounter, Mcdonah was animated in retelling the story once she and Logue reached the boat ramp.
“I’m paddling down there like lickity-split,” said Mcdonah, who is from Galesville, Wisc. “My buddy Layne goes, ‘turn around, come back!’”
The weather couldn’t dishearten Mcdonah, as she pulled up to the ramp with a smile on her face. At 60 years old, Mcdonah celebrated her birthday on the water in Lake Itasca in Minnesota, where she first started her kayaking journey down the Mississippi River in May.
“I celebrated my birthday by no portage,” said Mcdonah, who was happy about not having to carry her water craft over land.
What inspired Mcdonah to kayak the Mississippi river wasn’t just her passion to become the first female to do it. A retired schoolteacher, Mcdonah said her vocation in life has always been art. Mcdonah uses oil to paint scenes either from pictures she’s taken or from memory. The 2,320-mile trek down the river gave her plenty of sights to offer inspiration. She’ll use that inspiration to thank the river angels who helped guide her along the river, collecting their addresses and sending art to thank them for their assistance along the way.
Mcdonah anticipates another two or three weeks of kayaking before she wraps a bow on her goal.