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Adventure on the Mississippi: Luke Kimmes stops in Hastings on his way to the Arctic Circle

Six canoers are traveling from New Orleans to the Arctic Circle, including Luke Kimmes. The canoers, with Kimmes in the front canoe, arrive in Hastings at about 11 a.m last Thursday. Star Gazette photo by Jane Lightbourn

As he walked along the Mississippi Riverfront in Hastings Thursday morning, Luke Kimmes used the word “awesome” more than once to describe the city and the river here.

What Kimmes and five of his friends are doing, in three canoes, could also be described as awesome. They are traveling by canoes from New Orleans to the Arctic Circle. Their journey began Jan. 2, just west of New Orleans, and they hope to reach the Arctic by September.

This was not the first time that Kimmes has been in Hastings — first time though by river. He is very familiar with it as his parents, Steve and Lavonne Kimmes, grew up here and he has many relatives here, including his grandmother Lorraine Kimmes.

The adventurers usually average about 20 miles a day, although the day before they arrived in Hastings they completed 25 miles thanks to the extremely windy conditions. They left Red Wing early in the morning and arrived in Hastings about 11 a.m. After lunch they were on their way to St. Paul.

“We camp out every night,” said Kimmes, explaining they carry tents and all the necessary supplies in their canoes. It means being outside in all kinds of weather and being prepared.

He is not new to adventures, Kimmes acknowledged. Example – he and his dog Buddy walked the Colorado trail. He teaches outdoor education in Colorado, is an avid climber and skis in the winter at Steamboat in Colorado. He loves the outdoors and is very comfortable with it.

When the idea of this trip was proposed, Kimmes liked it.

“(I liked) the fact that it was longer and it sounded exciting,” he said.

Father Steve Kimmes said his son “has the mental toughness to handle all aspects of the canoe trip – he’s proven that he can do it,” he said.

While most travel the Mississippi River heading south, Kimmes said that the likely colder weather in the north in the first part of the year led him and the others to travel north.

“We wanted to beat winter,” he said. And so far, they are on schedule.

Other members of the Rediscovering North America: A Journey from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean, are Adam Trigg of St. Cloud, Winchell Delano of St. Cloud, Jarrad Moore of Van Meter, Iowa, Daniel Flynn of St. Cloud and John Keaveny of S. Cloud. All have extensive experience in the outdoors.

For more information on their journey, visit