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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

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On June 8, Woodmore High School graduate Madelyn Hille, 23, began her canoe trip down the entire 2,500 miles of the Mississippi River.

She is joined by a partner, Adam Hoffmeister, 25. Together, they are canoeing the headwaters at Itasca State Park in Minnesota until they reach the Gulf of Mexico in New Orleans. Hille and Hoffmeister have been together for three years. They both share a love for adventure and traveling.

“We have the chance to live like Mark Twain and Jack Kerouac rather than just reading about their adventures in books,” said Hille.

They chose to travel down the Mississippi River because it is specifically in the heart of the Midwest.MadelynHille2

Hille, an aspiring photojournalist, will be documenting the trip. She plans to portray the youth of America and how today’s youth choose to live their lives.

During this trip, Hille plans on beginning her first photography journal of all the new sights she will encounter. She is giving the journal the title, Capturing the Mississippi. Everyone has an opportunity to view pictures of Hille’s journey by visiting kickstarter.com. This website will include the many pictures that may later be published in the journal.

Hille said the trip is about her experience as much as for those reading her journal.

“There’s something amazing about not knowing where you’re going to sleep at night,” said Hille. “I never plan to stop traveling, and I feel as though traveling helps me to grow as a person and helps me get to know myself better.”

The idea came to her when she was with friends passing conversation.

“You know one of those long summer nights when laughs are easy, the company’s fantastic, and every idea is a good idea? It came from there. We had actually set the date for 2012 but had a great opportunity we couldn’t possible pass up, so we pushed the due date back to 2013 and here we are. We’ve been planning this trip for nearly two years, and we’re finally ready,” Hille said.

“The biggest risk of this trip is the weather. We have been following The Farmer’s Almanac for 2013, but as we all know Mother Nature is never truly predictable. If there is a large rainstorm, we will seek shelter for a those days then resume paddling ASAP. Even in that event you can be sure we will document it all for CTM,” Hille says.

“Another possible challenge is if either of us was to get sick or injured during our trip. In the event that happens we would return home and publish CTM nonetheless but rework the formatting.”

Even though Hille and Hoffmeister are taking on the Mississippi River without any help, others may join their progress online.

“I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is yes — we would love for you to come along with us,” wrote Hille on her blog. “But, we know you all have personal obligations and those pesky commitments, but never fear — this is where the really cool part starts.”


Gone for 72 days…
Hille has already calculated how long the trip should take.

“We created an elaborate equation, calculating wind speed, rain fall, and paddling variation, etc. (”just kidding,” she adds about paddling)…and came up with August 17th. The average length we’ve calculated is 72 days for a trip from the headwaters of the Mississippi to the Gulf,” Hille says.

She says the bulk of funds raised on Kickstarter is going towards producing the photo book Capturing the Mississippi, or “CTM.” Any excess will go towards food and toiletry costs during the trip and travel expenses to get from Indianapolis to Minnesota and from New Orleans back to Indianapolis.

“At the end of each day I will pick a photo that best sums up that day’s events, whether that is an amazing sunrise over Memphis, meeting some awesome people at the local pub, stumbling upon a summer festival, or getting lost in the never ending forest of weeds and hydro plants. At the end of the trip I will compile these photos into one photo book and it will tell the complete story of our trip, and you get to be right there with us,” Hille writes.

According to kickstarter.com, which is set up for fundraising projects, Hille has 46 backers and on June 2 reached her $3,000 goal, raising $3,336. The finished journal should bring even more attention.

“Because we don’t know the exact number of days the trip will take us, Capturing the Mississippi will be somewhere between 50 to 100 pages. The average length of this trip is around 70 days so that means the book would be 70 pages. Since we plan on finishing our trip in mid-August, you should plan on receiving your copy of CTM and other prizes in November.

“We have set up some awesome prizes in addition to a deluxe signed copy of Capturing the Mississippi. Some of those include high quality prints, post cards sent by us during our trip’s duration, an e-book of CTM, and many more.”

To read her blog on kickstarter.com, type in “Madelyn Hille.” There is also video of the trip already downloaded on the website.

“If you are a dreamer and want to be a part of a great American adventure, this is for you. This photo book and trip are a celebration of youth, freedom, wanderlust, and making dreams come true. We are at that amazing time in our life when the entire world lies before us, and we want to live this moment to its fullest and document it for all to remember,” Hille says.

“Don’t you want to make the dreams of these crazy kids happen? It’s easy to just let your dreams pass you by in the current of life (pun intended), but this is our chance to fulfill this adventure and for you to be part of it through the art of photography. So put that life jacket on and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime. This is going to be an amazing trip and we cannot do it without you.”

(This article by Woodmore graduate Karli Keaton is reprinted with permission from the student publication Woodmore To Window with updates from Kickstarter.com provided by The Press).

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