Field Notes: A Journey Down the Missouri

Building an Expedition from Scott Mestrezat on Vimeo.

Sometimes you just need to quit your finance job and paddle down the entire length of the Missouri River on a SUP. Right? Well, people like Scott Mestrezat do. The 27-year-old recently left on his 100-day, 2,341 mile-plus journey, forgoing his job, his girlfriend (she’s waiting for him) and his friends. We gave him a riverside ring to get the scoop.

SUP mag: How are things going?
SM: I’ve been on the trip for 10 days now and the scenery has been amazing. I’ve been paddling by mountains and along amazing rock cliffs. The weather’s been a factor: I’ve hit a few hailstorms and thunderstorms but nothing too bad.

SUP mag: What was your job before your journey?
SM: I worked in finance for about five years out of college. I was looking for something totally different.

SUP mag: Will you go back to that?
SM: No. I’m pretty much done with it. I’m going to pursue some residential real estate ventures trying to rehabilitate houses and sell them. I also want to do more photography.

SUP mag: So this is big shift for you?
SM: For as long as I could remember I just wanted to do a journey, something that would take a few months that I could get totally immersed in. Paddleboarding was it, I always liked it since I tried it in 2008. In 2009 I bought an inflatable. Since then, I’ve been on Lake Michigan a few times a week so I’m used to the waves.

SUP mag: How was the process of building the board?
SM: I found this kit for Chesapeake Light Craft where I could build it out of wood. I thought it would make it more interesting. I worked on it almost everyday. I had some experience with fiberglass so that helped but I think anyone could do it. It took about three-and-a-half weeks. You don’t even need a lot of specialized tools.

SUP mag: How is the board holding up?
SM: Structurally it’s doing really well. It’s strong and light. It’s scratched up but it’s nothing to worry about. It still looks great when it’s wet.

SUP mag: Your short was pretty dang good. What’s your filmmaking background?
SM: I have no formal training or background. Three years ago I got a GoPro and I’ve always enjoyed making little films and stuff. When I got it, I pretty much took it everywhere with me. I’ve been reading a lot online about editing and I’m really driven to keep improving. I’m filming as much as I can so I can put together a little documentary at the end of this.

SUP mag: Has it been pretty remote so far?
SM: There have been days when I don’t see people but civilization is not too far off. I know a couple miles off there’s a road. The next couple weeks will be the most remote part of the trip. I won’t have any cell service but I have a GPS tracker device if I run into life and death situations. I’ve never been that far away from civilization. I’m looking forward to it.

SUP mag: How’s the girlfriend handling it?
SM: She’s doing pretty well and has known about it before we started dating. She’s very supportive. I couldn’t ask for more from her. I’ll see her in Bismarck (North Dakota) in about a month. My friends have been amazing too.

SUP mag: Any concerns for your route?
SM: My biggest concern is a week-and-a-half from now I’m going to hit 137 miles of hard winds. I met a guy whose canoe and gear was thrown into the water and blew away in the night. He hasn’t recovered it.

SUP mag: Are you raising any money during the trip?
SM: I just got it set up where I can raise money for Big City Mountaineers, a program that gives wilderness experiences to under-served inner city kids. I’m doing it because I had tons of outdoor opportunities when I was younger and it shaped who I am. I think it’s important for others to get that as well.

SUP mag: Be safe out there, Scott.

To donate to Mestrezat’s cause, click here. Follow his journey here.

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