Chris Markham, The River Hiker

The River Book

Adventure On The River

In Chris Markham's Mississippi Odyssey, readers immediately become part of the author's childhood dream of hitchhiking boat rides down the Mississippi River. The adventure begins when Chris wades into the river below Itasca Lake, Minnesota, and then walks or hitches rides along the banks of the upper river.

Lake Itasca, mother of the Mississippi

It is not an easy "dream road", however. The first day out Chris was confronted (and was eventually helped) by a group of suspicious young Native Americans. Then, reaching the navigable stretch of the river at the Twin Cities, where Chris begins "boat hiking" the river, he takes us into a world where strangers are not always welcome--the dominion of the rivermen who work and sweat on the decks of towboats and barges.

After some setbacks and disappointments, Chris is accepted and we become part of this special breed as they roughhouse in the kitchen and in the pilothouse, share their stern-line talk and tales.

In a style that flows as steadily as the Mississippi, we are carried down every navigable mile, standing on the deck of the houseboat Sangria, living on the river aboard the towboats Mike Harris and Harriet-M, making the run to the sea aboard the freighter Mayo Lykes, bound for Casablanca and Algiers. It is an American adventure for any age, and "when we finish Mississippi Odyssey, we know we have been there." Howard Linn Edsall.

"Chris Markham set out an expedition of one to see the mighty Mississippi for himself. Alone and without introduction or recommendation, he entered the world of the river people to hitchhike by boat to the Gulf of Mexico. "Not all of us, however, enthusiastic as we might become, would have the courage, energy, perseverance . . . to undertake such an unusual venture. Nevertheless, Markham's Mississippi Odyssey is a veritable handbook for those who would try it." Cdr. E. J. Quinby, USN (Ret.).

(Recently found, this photo was believed lost during Sandy storm.) Buddy kinda coaxed me to the pilot’s chair during a locking. Then “the biggest fooler on the river” backed away from the controls, focused my camera on me and laughed, “Go ahead, Chris, and finish ‘er up,” which gave me a fright as the Harriet-M approached the gates . . . and Buddy had a new story to tell about me.

Copyright © 2018 Chris Markham
All rights reserved.
Contact: Chris Markham
"Chris . . . you've written a strong and beautiful and necessary book, and I am unsurprised..."
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.


Mississippi Odyssey is now available in EPUB, Kindle and NOOK formats, as well as trade paperback.

ISBN-10: 1504040619 • ISBN-13: 978-1504040617

The Story

This is the true story of how the author hitchhiked boat rides down the entire navigable stretch of the Mississippi River.
"It is probably very likely that Mr. Markham was in fact the first person to hitch the Mississippi River or any other river for that matter…." Guinness Superlatives Limited.

"Written in a direct, friendly style . . . a must for all ages . . . Chris has an ear for dialect and a sense of humor."
Catholic Weekly

"Need Ride Down River"

"It is a pleasant book . . . and it is a good choice for the public libraries of the region."
Library Journal

"I recommend it to anyone with wanderlust in his blood."
Alan Caruba