(Opposite) Gary Bridgman traversed the river to help bring more awareness. (Left) William FitzGerald and Bridgman canoe across the serene
for an adventure. The first day featured an 18-mile hike through a network of swamps. The next day, when they finally were able to use their canoe, was even more difficult, marked by tiring portages across land and delays to hoist the vessel and gear-together weighing some 200 pounds-over countless tree branches extending over the river. They covered a mere five miles. "Sometimes, there'd be three trees together," says Bridgman. 'That was very draining." As if the natural obstacles weren't enough, the two arrived at a bridge to find that a stashed cooler full of drinks, ice and food had been stolen. Early in their week, Bridgman and FitzGerald began to benefit from an unlikely ally-rain. A rising tiver on Monday allowed them to cover in four hours what usually is a 10-hour trip. Further downpours swelled the river even more. And when the two emerged from a cypress swamp region known as Ghost River and reached Moscow, the river was so swift "it was like entering an expressway," remembers
Bridgman. They were making an estimated six to seven miles in some areas. The two communicated by radio and cell phone to supporters on land, checking in at predetermined points. Conservancy members and supporters also contributed meals andon the three nights they didn't camp-provided "hard shelter." Early Friday, May 1, while camping in Kennedy Park in Memphis, Bridgman and FitzGerald received a visit from police concerned about possible vagrants on a city facility. Upon learning about the river trip, the officers allowed them to stay and even offered some safety advice, Bridgman says. The primary sponsors for the trip were the conservancy and Outdoors Inc., which helped with equipment. Bridgeman said BellSouth Mobility also provided use of a cell phone. The distance of the trip was estimated at 100 miles, with some of the most difficult coming near tbe d. High water on the Mississippi has backed into the Wolf and killtd--;~:. rent, and to make matters works, Bridgman and FitzGerald were fighting a headwind . "It was strenuous," Bridgeman says. PHOTOS BY RAY SKlNNER AND CHARLES E. ASKEW
K A P P A PH I p I Mark E. Timmes esigning and constructing an opera- Fraternally yours, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER \~,, .. · Stephen Whitby (I...