Kayakers make landfall in Vicksburg

Published 10:45 am Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Brad Talent and Austin Graham are on a mission to conquer the currents of the Mississippi River.

On Monday, the two 24-year-olds passed through Vicksburg as part of a six-month kayaking journey that began in eastern Canada and will end in Gulfport. By the trip’s end — timed only by the roll of the river — the two will have traveled 3,000 miles.

Despite the harsh weather, Talent, of Louisiana, and Graham, of Tennessee, have enjoyed the experience.

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“We ran into some cold weather in the Missouri area when we were caught in an ice storm, but it’s been great,” Talent said. “Nothing bad has happened.”

The two said that kayaking hasn’t always been a hobby of theirs.

“Going into this, we really didn’t have a lot of kayaking experience,” said Graham. “I have kayaked before, but it nothing compared to this 3,000 mile trip.”

The two kayakers said that they have had some experiences that they will always remember.

“While we were traveling, a dragonfly suddenly landed in my beard and latched on to me until we made it to some land,” said Talent. “During the second day of the trip, we kayaked with whales. The whale was literally in between our boats and it hopped up and looked at us. It was pretty cool,” said Graham.

Talent and Graham met last year while hiking the Appalachian National Scenic Trail that runs from Georgia to Maine. The two have encountered some scary moments while on the trip.

“We both have come close to having hyperthermia and flipping over when no land was in sight,” said Talent.

“We made huge sails of 12 feet tall. We were going pretty fast when a huge gust came toward us just before we knew it,” said Graham.

Talent said that danger can strike at anytime when the two are on the kayak.

“We almost got hit by a barge while on the Ohio River,” said Talent. “To make things worse, the batteries in our head lamps went out.”

The two said that once this task is completed, they plan to take their kayaks on other rivers.

“We’re looking to do some white water kayaking,” said Talent. “We want to do something more extreme and more adventurous. There have been times on this trip when it got boring because it is repetitious,” said Talent.