87-year-old paddles the Mississippi River for Guinness Record
Published 7:30am Sunday, August 28, 2022
He closed his eyes. Initially, thought he was tired.
But upon further observation, it was clear that Dale “Greybeard” Sanders, 87, was in tears as he recalled the last seven years of his life.
From 2015 onwards, Sanders began chasing and setting records as the oldest person to achieve insurmountable feats, and last Saturday he broke the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest time to paddle down the Mississippi River. He made a stop in Vicksburg on his way to becoming an older man, a record he had previously held.
It was during this hiatus and after sharing a story about a woman in a competition to cross Minnesota’s Lake Pepin, that Sanders became emotional.
“It (Pepin Lake) is a very difficult lake to cross. It’s big and the wind is blowing. We were trying to get out one morning,” Sanders said.
But because of the wind, he said he and his crew were forced to wait it out for a more opportune time.
And because of the delay, the woman, whom Sanders said was always a day behind him, was able to “catch up” to him and in doing so share with him how it affected his life.
The woman, Sanders said, told him she had been in an accident and had suffered a serious back injury; So severe that doctors told her she would never be able to walk again and that she would need a wheelchair to move around.
But after seeing Sanders at age 80 and paddling down the Mississippi River, the woman told him she decided to reconsider her dire diagnosis.
“He said he said to himself, ‘I’m going to do what he’s doing. I’m going to work, and I’m going to start walking again,'” Sanders said. Put my heart in it and live it, eat it and sleep to recover,” the woman said, adding that it had only been a few months since she could walk again.
“And I cried. I couldn’t hold back the tears,” Sanders said.
Paddling the Mississippi River
“Most people think if you get out in a small boat and paddle the Mississippi you’re going to die,” Sanders said. “I’ve had a lot of people tell me that if I pedal it, I’m going to die.”
But if one uses “good common sense,” Sanders said, paddling in a small boat — like his 15-foot canoe — can be enjoyable.
“It’s not the monster river that everyone says it is. It’s a pleasure and surprisingly comfortable to paddle,” he said, linking the Mississippi River to some of the most “excellent” sand bars in the world. .
And while the Old Man River has beauty and comfort, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to be aware of the surroundings. There are sand abscesses in the Mississippi River and, of course, river traffic.
As for Sanders, he said, “barges break the routine and if you stay away from them, they’ll stay away from you because they can’t move fast enough.”
However, because he doesn’t wear his hearing aid while in the water, Sanders said he often looks back because he can’t hear the engine downriver.
He said, ‘I can’t hear them (barges) coming.
In addition, as a security measure, Sanders is accompanied by the traveling film crew, as well as Dan Faust, Matt Briggs, and Iraq War veteran Matt Taylor.
Taylor and Sanders both stayed the night at the home of Paul and Donna Ingram, who enlist the River Angels to assist paddlers along the Mississippi.
Taylor, who called Sanders one of the last great explorers, said it was “an honor to travel with him”.
Additional achievements and records
In 2016, Sanders became the oldest person to complete the Missouri American Water MR340, an endurance race in the state of Missouri.
Sanders said that only about one-third of competitors finish the race.
“But I finished it at 81 and became the oldest person to finish the race without being kicked out because of time. In other words, I basically stayed awake for 82 hours. Because if you stop sleeping you will Will not be able to take the time,” he said.
In 2017, Sanders completed a “thru-hike” on the Appalachian Trail and set the record as the oldest person to cover the full 2,190 miles.
“It took me 10 months (to finish),” Sanders said.
In 2018, Sanders said he took a vehicular journey and followed the path of Louis and Clark from St. Louis to Portland, descending the Oregon coast and then returning home.
“It’s not a record,” he said, but he acknowledged that the Oregon Coast is one of his favorite places.
In 2019, Sanders hiked the Florida National Scenic Trail/Florida Trail and holds the record for being the oldest person to do both.
In 2020, Sanders earned a Guinness Record when he became the oldest person to perform rim to rim to rim – R2R2R – the hike from the Grand Canyon’s south ridge to the north ridge and back.
In 2021, Sanders said he planned to extend the rest of the Eastern Continental Trail, which would start at the northern end of the Appalachian Trail and end in Belle Isle, Newfoundland, but because of COVID-19, Canada closed its borders. was shut down. ,
Why does sanders keep going
It is the joy she has experienced, as Sanders shared the story about the woman, and the satisfaction in knowing that she has had a positive impact on the lives of others that moves her.
“It’s nice to have a Guinness record. It’s nice to have two professional film crews behind me (during their 2022 trek down the Mississippi River), but the number one reason is that I have to beat every single one of these age records I’ve held. It’s satisfying to me because there are so many times I’ve been told, ‘I want to be like you when I get old or you’re older’ or something like that,” Sanders said.
“So many people are inspired, and they tell me that I have inspired their lives. I am a role model for older people and to be a role model for their life’s ambition to stay healthy. Really, really Really motivating (for me). I might even go out and do something again next year.”