Fresh off Appalachian Trail, former Marine paddling Mississippi River

Closing in on 30 and coming off a three-year stretch he likens to a country song, Jared McCallum decided he needed more adventure.

So the former Marine from Florida set out April 1 to hike the Appalachian Trail. Nevermind that he’d never hiked before – or even camped.

In August, as he neared the end of his five-month, 2,180-mile adventure, McCallum decided the best way to get home would be to paddle 2,350 miles back down the Mississippi River. Nevermind that he’d never canoed in his life.

He found a canoe on Craigslist, picked up a redbone coon hound for company and hitched a ride to Lake Itasca.

“I was looking for experience and adventure,” he said. “What better way than to hike a trail or paddle a river?”

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