Nate Denofre became the first American double amputee to cross “from source to sea” on the Mississippi River. The epic canoer wants people to know that “What one person can do, another can do.”
His Journey Along the Mississippi River
Denofre began his journey on May 9 alongside his wife Christa and their dog Marcie. In total, the trek was 2,300 miles and was completed on August 31. Disabled veteran Don Jokinen also joined the couple for more than half of the trip.
The team dealt with a snowstorm at the beginning of their trip. At points, they paddled 50 miles a day.
Denofre called the journey the “Paddling to Preserve.” The goal was to raise money for the Courage Incorporated nonprofit, which helps adults and veterans with disabilities on adventures in the wild that are free of cost.
Denofre was born with amniotic band syndrome which caused him to be born without legs below the knees. He is a licensed wilderness guide.
This wasn’t his first time raising money by accomplishing a seemingly impossible feat. In 2014 he spent 159 days backpacking and canoeing across the Upper Peninsula. The trip gave him the idea to create the nonprofit alongside his friend Erik Conradson.
The “River Angels”
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that “river angels” helped the team in their long journey. They offered the trio places to stay and food. When the team lost their GoPro camera and SD card in July, the river angels found the gear and returned it to them.
During the final trek of their journey, the couple changed their plans due to two approaching hurricanes. They canoed along the Atchafalaya River to complete their journey. Denofre said it was always safety first above anything else. They rested while the storms came rolling through. On August 29, they set out to finish their mission with just 80 miles left.
“Plans change with the weather. We have to adapt. … We said we’re bringing that flag to the Gulf, and that’s damn well what we’re going to do,” he said in a video according to the outlet. He said that the trip was uncomfortable with the terrain and living in a tent almost every night. He admitted that it was more of a mental challenge than physical challenge.