Field Notes: A Journey Down the Missouri

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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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