Moore canoeing on 22 rivers in 22 states to cross the United States
By Dan Swanson
NEBRASKA CITY – Neal Moore describes himself as an “internationalist” and river journalist as he attempts to take 22 rivers in 22 states and carve a new path across America, but arrived at Nebraska City Tuesday with the idea that the rivers are carving him.
Moore was born in Los Angeles and lived the majority of his life in Africa and East Asia. He said he is drawn by the idea of seeing his home country up close and personal from an open canoe.
The CNN contributor and Taiwan English teacher launched where The Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean and came upstream to the top of the Continental Divide at MacDonald Pass, Mont.
His journey includes sometimes pulling his canoe on wheels overland to connect the 22 rivers. He first put his canoe into the Missouri River at Helena, Mont.
Moore: “This is my second go-around. I tried this two years ago and I made it about 1,800 miles to Lake Sakakawea ( in North Dakota) and so I had confidence I could make my way up the rivers, over the divide and this time around actually go the distance.”
The long-distance paddler had earlier descended the Mississippi River and compared each river odyssey to a new chapter in his own life story.
Moore: “Every river acts different and so the Columbia, for example, you start off with the Columbia River bar, which is the most dangerous waterway in the entire world. Luckily this time around I had really good weather when I was coming across.”
Moore: “Coming up the Snake, it’s remote and it’s rugged and in the age of COVID there were not … in nine days of paddling the Snake not one boat, not one fisherman on that river. I didn’t see anybody for the first five days.”
He described the Clark Fork River in Idaho as a rock-bed river. After setting up camp, an upstream dam went from very little water to 30,000 cfs overnight.
Moore: “It washed out my canoe and most of my gear. I woke up and I was lucky enough not to be washed out myself.”
Moore: “These rivers were the first thoroughfares in North America. The first roads built in America were built along the side of these rivers. The first communities, the first settlements were on these rivers. There is so much history and to travel by canoe it’s sort of a nod to the Native Americans who came before us, as well.”
He said he is grateful for “river angels” who show him hospitality and river towns where there is a sense of history and grit.
Moore: “The big thinking is, as you piece these 22 rivers, as you connect these 22 rivers, and, of course, all of the stories along the way, by the time I make the Statue of Liberty there in New York City, when you add up all of these stories, when you look at the history – the people who have come before, the people who live here now – the history beneath the feet of the people I’m able to meet and befriend, you really have the story of America.”
He thanked the “river angels” at Nebraska City who provide hospitality for river paddlers.
He expects to make it to New Orleans by the end of 2020 and paddle down the Hudson River before the end of 2021.