April, 2010 A strong headwind picked up as we paddled North along the British Columbia coast. We stopped for an extended lunch to rest and wait for the wind to die. Amy cracked a book and was content reading in the sun, glancing up on occasion to see if the wind was letting up, and admire the snow capped mountains across the straight on Vancouver Island.
It was the first week of a 3 year journey across North America. I knew that paddling into the howling wind didn’t make sense. We had more than 11,000 miles to go. We needed to let our muscles and tendons slowly adjust to hours of continuous paddling.
I think one of the main reasons Amy and I were able to paddle into Key West, Florida and complete this journey almost 3 years to the day after I snapped this photo is our ability to provide balance to each other. I am always pushing ahead. Amy is good at stepping back and taking care of details that I miss, or knowing when we should stop rest.
Expedition Flashback September, 2014
The sun set behind us as we sailed East across Georgian Bay. We were in the middle of a 100 day, 2,000 mile journey from the Boundary Waters to Washington D.C. to help protect the Boundary Waters from a series of sulfide ore mines being proposed on the edge of the Nation’s most popular wilderness area. We had been canoeing and sailing for about a month and fall was in the air. The nights were starting to get cooler, and the leaves were bursting with color.
We had been sailing along with a brisk tailwind for much of the day, but as the sun set the wind slowly died. An hour later we would be anchored in a protected cove, cooking dinner and preparing for bed.
Our team of two Peruvians and 4 Americans were in the middle of a three week descent of the remote Pacaya River. The Pacaya River flows through the heart of Peru’s largest protected area, the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, which protects close to 5 million acres of rainforest. Finding a place to camp in the Purvian Amazon in the middle of the rainy season an be difficult because the floods into the forest. Finding a speck of dry land to camp on often required paddling or walking through the flooded forest in search of dry land. As my Peruvian friend Warren and I bushwacked through the dense forest looking for dry land and the end of a long day of paddling Warren started screaming in Spanish. I couldn’t understand his rapid, frantic words, but they caused me to freeze. It turned out I was about to set my hand down on this poisonous caterpillar.
I always think of Warren when I see this photo, he knows more about the forest than anyone I have ever met. I feel so lucky to have had the privilage to travel deep into the Amazon Rainforest on 4 occasions between 2005 and 2007. I look forward to our 5th adventure together.
Fall caught up to us as we were kayaking South down the coast of Maine on our way to Key West. When we launched our kayak into Lake Superior’s cold clear water in early May the days were getting longer, and we had the whole summer ahead of us. Four months later we found ourselves in a very different place, pushed South by the same primal urges felt by Whales leaving their summer feeding grounds, and the Geese streaming towards the suns warms in large Vs over head. As the days grew shorter and the nights colder we found our selves paddling with a new found purpose. When the ocean was calm we often paddled from dawn until dark. On this day landed on a tiny island near Acadia National Park as after sunset and scrambled to pitch our tent before darkness completely engulfed our rocky home for the night.
As Paul Schurke and I worked our way down the upper Rio Roosevelt we started encountering more and more of the major rapids that the 1914 Roosevelt Rondon Scientific Expedition spent days portaging around.
We had relatively light packs, and a 65 pound canoe, but it was still hard work in the equatorial sun. We were able to line the upper portion of this rapid, but the lower rapid was really big. We camped on a rock out crop just above the major rapids so we would be ready to complete to portage in the morning before the sun rose too high in the sky.
During the North American Odyssey Amy and I spent 10 days backpacking through the Tombstone Territorial Park in the Yukon Territory. This amazing wilderness covers a large swath north of Dawson City. We were told there were a couple miles of trails in one corner of the park, but we spent 10 days without seeing another human or human footprint. The ridge tops were blanketed with beautiful alpine tundra and provided amazing views and easy travel. Bushwacking through the alders, and crossing the bogs and ragging rivers in the valleys was another story.