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Man kayaking Mississippi River to raise mental health awareness has trip halted by Hurricane Ida

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 5:44 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A Tri-State man is back in Cincinnati after his Mississippi River kayaking trip was halted by Hurricane Ida.

Joseph Solomon’s goal is to kayak the entire length of the Mississippi River to raise awareness for mental health and to help local non-profit Adventure Crew.

Solomon’s journey was put on pause, and he recently returned from the three-month-long journey.

He started at the mouth of the river in Minnesota in early June.

“I had a few hang-ups along the way, but I was able to continue and paddle even through the adversity that I was facing,” remembers Solomon.

Solomon battles his own mental health illness and knows getting out in nature can be a form of healing.

“For me, overcoming all of these obstacles that I was facing along the Mississippi River shows that you don’t want to give up,” explains Solomon. “There were days where I did want to give up, but my friends would talk to me on the phone and talk me out of quitting, so I just kept going.”

Solomon also leaned on river angels.

These are people that live along the river that lend a helping hand to people like Solomon. They sometimes offer food, water, shelter or just company and some words of encouragement.

“Sometimes when I was at my lowest, someone would show up to assist and it really brought me back to you know, ‘hey if you’re living and breathing every morning, you might as well keep paddling,’” says Solomon.

He was just days away from finishing his paddle when Hurricane Ida battered the Gulf Coast, especially Louisiana and Mississippi.

That is when Solomon had to make the tough decision to get off the river and head away from the storm. He had made it 1,900 miles to Vicksburg, Mississippi.

“If you go from Vicksburg, Mississippi south, everything was destroyed by Hurricane Ida,” explains Solomon. “The opportunity to have river angels to help out along the way kind of diminished because they were trying to rebuild their lives themselves. So, I didn’t really want to paddle into a disaster zone like that.”

Solomon says he will go back to the Mississippi River and start where he left off in November. He has 450 miles left. He says he can average 45-50 miles a day and get that done in less than two weeks.

Solomon says he has unfinished business with the mighty Mississippi. But he knows he has already inspired others to push beyond their limits.

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