Retired HPD Officer Sets His Sights on the Mighty Mississippi River

Henderson, KY 5/13/21– Paddling the entire length of the Mississippi River is a challenging task that only few have attempted. With the many dams, barges, incontrollable weather and wildlife to deal with, actually accomplishing the task seems impossible.

But, for Henderson’s own Tracy Green, paddling the 2,300+ miles will be a dream come true. On Saturday, Tracy will launch his almost 17-foot canoe from the headwaters of the Mississippi River near Bemidji, Minnesota, with the goal of paddling the entire river to Venice, Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico over the course of almost 3 months.

As a kid, Tracy grew up going on the rivers of Kentucky and has always had a love for the water. As he got older, he wanted to have something to paddle the water by himself “since you don’t always have someone that can go with you”, so he purchased his first kayak.

Tracy is well known in Henderson, KY from his 20 years of service to Henderson and the Henderson Police Department. He served Henderson as a patrol officer for 17 years beginning at the age of 22 and a detective for 3 years retiring at the age of 41.

Henderson Police Department, 20 Years of Service

While he has never paddled anything like the Mighty Miss, Tracy has paddled hundreds of miles on smaller rivers such as the Ohio River, a couple hundred miles of the Wabash River, the upper Green River, the White River and the Buffalo River in Tennessee. He says, in total, he has been planning for this trip for 10 years, mostly just waiting until after retirement.

With 10 years of planning, Tracy is hopeful that his thoroughly planned trip will go smoothly, “I am self-sustained. When I start, I will be carrying enough food for 3 to 4 weeks. My drinking/cooking water will be filtered from the river. After that period of time, I should be significantly closer to home and my wife will then be able to resupply me every two weeks or so, with food and any gear that might have become damaged, and need replaced.”

Something that is a concern for anyone in a small boat on the Mississippi River are the many locks, dams and other boat traffic — including massive barges in the upper stretches and ocean freighters near the river’s mouth. During the trip, Tracy will have 10 dams to portage between the headwaters and Minneapolis. After Minneapolis he will begin the core of engineer lock and dam system with a total of 26 lock and dams to negotiate. After St Louis, the river is free flowing with no more lock and dams.

The Mississippi starts out as literally a creek, some portions only 6 feet wide, requiring you to often have to drag or haul your canoe through, and it ends up as the world’s third largest river. Together with two of its tributaries, the Missouri and Ohio rivers, the Mississippi River is the world’s third-longest river system.

But, Tracy says, the challenge is part of what made him want to accomplish this dream. When asked if he had any fears, worries, or concerns about the trip, he says, “My only concern is the portion of the river from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, due to the amount of commercial river traffic.” 

Tracy’s wife, Andrea, was also asked the same question regarding fears, worries, or concerns about Tracy’s long adventure, “I have lots of emotions about Tracy going on this trip, but I am very excited that he gets this opportunity to fulfill this dream he has had for years.” She explained, “And of course I am nervous for him to go as well, but we have equipped him with all the safety features available. I am excited to have the opportunity to meet up with him to resupply his food and fix anything that needs repaired and to experience a little of this dream with him. I think being able to do that will help him get through the trip physically and emotionally. I know this is something he has dreamed about doing for years and I want to see him succeed!”

As far as his camping and the number of miles paddled per day, he says that will be on a day-by-day basis due to the weather playing a factor into each of those. He says he will try to paddle a certain number of miles a day, once that mileage is in, he will begin looking for a suitable camping area.

Tracy originally planned to leave May 1st, but due to the colder temperatures in Minnesota, the trip had to be pushed back 2 weeks.

When I asked Tracy who or what gave him the inspiration to take this journey and kayak the Mississippi River, his reply was quite motivating, “There is a quote from Henry David Thoreau’s book “Walden” that serves as my inspiration for my adventures.” He explained, “Thoreau stated “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

HendersonWatch and the Henderson community wish Tracy a safe journey to fulfill his lifelong dream. Safe Paddlin!

Dreams are the touchstones of our character…” #dreambig

Henry David Thoreau

-Nick Risley, HendersonWatch, LLC.

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