Coast to Coast: An Epic Open Canoe Expedition

Coursing Through America

From April to November of 2018, Jillian Brown and Martin Trahan aim to paddle in an open canoe across America; from the Pacific Ocean in Astoria (Oregon) to the Atlantic Ocean at the tip of Florida.

The 7,645 kilometer trip will take 7 months of battling currents, rapids, wind, and rain.

Jillian learned online about Martin and his team’s plan to paddle from sea to sea from other serious paddlers. The plan for Coursing Through America hatched as part of a contest sponsored by Canoe and Kayak Magazine. Martin was part of an original team of four men who planned to complete the trip together. As life would have it three of the original team had to bow out making way for Jillian to step into being a part of an adventure of a lifetime!

The Right Stuff

Jillian believes it takes a certain type of person to complete a journey like Coursing Through America. An affinity to water is key. Being willing to sleep in a tent, out in the wild, for months on end in any weather is also important. It takes the kind of person who deeply respects the wild–someone who enjoys being present to observe the ecology of their surroundings.

An affinity for nature in the raw is not the only need for an epic journey. So, too, is trust. Jillian is clear that trust between partners and team mates is of utmost importance. When you are alone for weeks in the wild you have to trust that your teammate has your back. And, you have to have theirs!

Jillian and Martin are the only official team members and will start and finish the trip together. They will be joined for short stints by paddlers, photographers and videographers. These guests will offer support and companionship while helping to document the journey. Jillian, a talented photographer, will focus on dipping paddle to water.

Preparing for the Trip of a Lifetime

For Jillian, preparation starts with ensuring she is mentally prepared and centered. Focusing on one word from an inspirational quote becomes her theme for the day. That, and smiling. Simple, but true: Jillian finds that the more she smiles, the better she feels.


To paddle, to explore may be my means to get away, but it is truly my way of coming home.

Jillian hikes two hours each day with her dog, works with a paddling instructor, and adjusts her diet. The expedition food will include dehydrated meals, cricket protein, dried fruits. Jillian and Martin will supplement with foraged items such as fish and berries. Jillian knows that long periods on dehydrated food impact her digestive system so she's preparing her G.I. tract now by eating less calories, less proteins, and adding dehydrated foods to her meals.

Jillian and Martin will only carry enough food with them to last about three weeks. A one day stop every two or three weeks will let them recharge batteries, post stories, and restock food. They'll stop for five days in St. Louis the starting point for Louis & Clark's historic expedition. In St. Louis they'll share stories about long river paddling excursions with local adventurers. Jillian is eager to meet as many paddlers as possible!

Sharing the Vision

But that’s not all to think about. Another consideration when epic adventures take you away from home for months is money. Income is at a standstill. Jillian and Martin won Canoe Kayak Magazine and NRS’ Adventure grant that subsidizes part of their journey. Sponsors help provide gear and food. Donors to assist with insurance, emergencies, and "back home" financial commitments are still welcome.

As important, is family to support your dream and welcome you home. Jillian is grateful for her parents unfailing support. They will drive across Canada to bid her bon voyage when Coursing Through America begins. Once Jillian is under way, they will head back home with their grandpuppy in tow.

Jillian Brown and her parents in a canoe

Jillian knows her parents are proud of her. She's motivated by their faith in her to always do her best and to show that everything they taught her is not wasted. She hopes to inspire other people to connect with nature and go on their own adventures, even small ones. She reminds us that adventure is what you make it. Observe birds in your backyard, go for a walk, or watch a sunset. You may not have the experience or confidence to paddle upstream across thousands of kilometers, but you can take time to enjoy nature.

Most us are happy with adventure that is close to home. Jillian and Martin's adventure spans 210 days, 7645 kilometers, 7 rivers, 2 oceans and a gulf. It will be epic.

A journey of lifetime: Coursing Through America!

Jillian Brown is the owner of Jillian Brown Photography. Follow her on Instagram and sign up on the Coursing Through America website to track their journey. Jillian will be doing an in-person appearance at the Paddle Expo on April 22nd and she’d love to meet you there! Wild Coast Fruit is happy to help Jillian and Martin fuel their adventure by providing delicious dried blueberries and cranberries for them to snack on along the way.