You Know You’re From...Stevens Point: Jason Pientka
WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - “My goal is to paddle the whole Wisconsin River, all 436 miles, as fast as I possibly can.”
Born and bred in Stevens Point, Jason Pientka’s passion for being on the water comes naturally.
” I grew up on the Wisconsin River.”
But his love for rafting came later in life.
“12-15 years ago I was a huge fisherman,” Pientka said. “Next thing you know I seen somebody with a kayak crossing the rapids fishing. I was like, that’s what I need a kayak. Well, next thing you know I’m kayaking across the rapids to my fishing spots.”
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He honed his craft while being a dad. Once his daughter grew up and moved out, Jason moved to the U.P.
“2.5 years ago I moved up there. I wanted be a raft guide and that’s what I wanted to do for a living.”
It was there he met his girlfriend, Megan Easterling, also a raft guide.
“She knows I’ve got that little bit of crazy in me, but she backs me every part of it,” Pientka said with a laugh.
His latest craze...kayaking the Wisconsin River. 436 miles, faster than the current record of 150 hours.
“One of the big crucial things if I’m going to break this record is endurance and fatigue,” he said.
Add in another 26 dam obstacles.
“There’s a lot of homework involved to it. Lot of studying the river, knowing where to get out, where to put back in. Where to avoid around the dams.”
Longtime friend Jesse Mendieta will be part of the support team following along on land.
“If there’s an emergency, hey I need you over here at this spot. Just drop what I’m doing, go and help him out,” said Mendieta.
“It is a big mental game, too. You’ve really got to be on top of it,” added Pientka.
Record or not, his goal is to finish it off into the Mighty Mississippi.
“I hope to find out what I’m actually capable of. I’m curious to see how fast I can do it.”
As of Monday night, Jason has paddled 373 of the 436 miles. His journey started at approximately 5:45 a.m. on Wednesday, April 14. His record clock expires at 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday morning. Megan tells me he’s sleeping in Muscoda, with 63 miles to go. But Jason had a rough Monday and is unsure if he’ll be able to finish. A great ride regardless.
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