Book Recounts Woman’s Grueling 2021 Canoe Trip from Montana to the Gulf
I first met Amanda Hoenes (via phone) in April 2022.
At the time, the Marine Corps veteran had recently completed the amazing accomplishment of being one of just a handful of solo women to successfully canoe from the Headwaters of the Missouri River to the Gulf of Mexico.
Fewer than ten women have completed the epic journey.
She and her newly-adopted shelter dog Hank launched from Three Forks on July 11, 2021, and made it to the Gulf in just over six months. I had an opportunity to interview her in April last year and I found her story fascinating. Read the article on the link below.
A challenge from the start.
A Missouri native, Hoenes lived in Bozeman for a few years, before settling into an IT career in Wisconsin. COVID altered her work life - as it did for many - so she dipped into her savings, bought a camper, and spent some time traveling the US. While contemplating what to do next, she was inspired to take on the challenge of canoeing the 3,600-mile trip from Montana to Louisana. When she informed her family of her plans her Grandmother said,
"Oh it was just hard to believe. I mean, when Amanda first told her mother and her mother broke it to me. It was like, Let's pray about this, maybe she'll change her mind. And of course, she didn't."
In her freshly published book Digging Deeper, Hoenes said she in the beginning she was her own worst critic and was far from confident about her adventurous plan, forbidding her parents from discussing her idea with others, for fear she would back out.
Battling wind was the biggest enemy.
Amanda joined the Marine Corps at age 19 in 2001, mainly as a means to get away, learn new things, and see new places. A few short months after she enlisted, 9/11 happened. What should have been a relatively easy enlistment with the Corps, just turned very, very real and she ended up serving on a casualty evacuation team stationed in Iraq. Undoubtedly, the principles instilled by Uncle Sam came in useful on the oftentimes grueling journey on the Missouri River and Mighty Mississippi.
Fans of the river should really read her book.
Hoenes kindly sent me a copy of her self-published book, Digging Deeper a few months ago, and I sat down and read it cover-to-cover over Father's Day weekend. The diary-style account is captivating. She shares her major struggles (and joys) along the way, including random gunfire while camping one night on a riverbank in South Dakota, cold, fatigue, almost sinking her canoe on Fort Peck Reservoir, a scary situation with barge traffic on the Mississippi... and the wind. Always the wind. A canoeist's worst enemy.
Throughout the journey, she also met dozens of kind people, known as river angels in the cross-country canoe/kayak community, who helped with encouragement and nourishment, both physically and mentally. Her book reminded me to put small, daily struggles into perspective. It's available on Amazon for $19.99 (paperback) or $33.55 hardcover. You might find it on local bookstore shelves in their Montana section too.
Take a listen to my April 2022 interview with Amanda Hoenes below.