A 39-year-old paralegal from Marietta, Ga., climbs into his canoe about 11 a.m. Monday, ready for another nine-hour day on the Tennessee, the last of the rivers on his 3,000-mile journey.
The water at Ditto Landing is smooth and muddy. The wind blows from the west at about 5 mph, stronger than he likes.
He looks at the rain clouds gathering in the east and braces for the storms that are predicted for the afternoon. By then, he expects to be halfway to Guntersville, his destination for the day.
"My goal is to get to the dam, but there's going to be a lot of heavy current and wind,'' Shane Alfrey says.
Thus begins the 190th day of perhaps the first canoe trip from the Rockies to the Great Smoky Mountains.
Alfrey began his canoe trip June 26, 2003, in the Yellowstone River in Montana. He embarked on the trip because he had hiked the Appalachian Trail in 1986 and was ready for a trip of similar proportions.
After consulting the Library of Congress and other Web sites, he discovered no one had attempted to canoe the Yellowstone-to-Smoky Mountains route - a distance of 3,230 miles and two-thirds of the continental United States.
He plans to finish in late August, after passing the borders of 11 states and covering six rivers.
The most demanding stretch so far was 10 days last summer on Lake Oahe in South Dakota. He was so repulsed by the cattle flies, the mud banks and the 108-degree temperatures that he says he "spat'' on South Dakota as he passed into Nebraska.
The Ohio also tested him. The currents were so swift going upstream in Kentucky that he walked his canoe 70 miles, from Mayfield, Ky., to Aurora, Tenn.