There’s no feeling like being dropped off on a wilderness railway siding, watching the train disappear and realizing that the only way back to civilization is to paddle out, downriver. Ontario’s Algoma Central Railway is one of Canada’s few railways that will accept canoes as baggage. Here’s three worthy river-tripping options off the 296-mile line that bisects northern Ontario.
Last summer, C&K Managing Editor Dave Shively and Staff Photographer Robert Zaleski headed up to Baffin Island to paddle the famed Soper River south to the Hudson Strait. Or so they thought.Read the full story in our May “North Issue” available on newsstands now, and see the photo essay flipbook video extra here
On October 26, 2011, a hole was blasted in the base of the 95-year-old, 125-foot Condit Dam, located on Washington’s White Salmon River. The explosion marked the beginning of a national river restoration effort that was documented by Portland, Ore., paddler/filmmaker Andy Maser in the short film The Craziest Idea, which was recently named Best Professional Documentary at the NPFF.
The silence is eerie. We’ve stopped paddling completely. Watching and waiting. And watching, and waiting. Paddles down, binoculars up. An overhanging branch shakes high on a towering yellow cedar flanking us on shore. A raptor launches over our sea kayaks and heads up the estuary, the flapping of its wings piercing the silence.
We paddle through the night, guessing our direction from Orion reclining on the artificial canyon walls. Beyond the last portage in early morning, the water was salt, mussels clung to the rocks and seagulls took to the air at our approach. Beyond the breakwater, the sea pulses with the minute swell of diminishing energies. At this time of the year, titanic storms batter the coastline with 20-foot waves and driving snow. As we turn our tiny canoe north, the Black Sea extends to the horizon in glassy calm before melding with the clear, cold December sky. Fortune smiles.
Tyler Fox grew up in small-town Ontario (Marmora, that is), but currently splits his time between the Ottawa River and Okere Falls, New Zealand. “Doesn’t everyone have a Northern and Southern Hemisphere home?” he asks. Umm, if we could only be so lucky. At least we can live vicariously through the 29-year-old on the bleeding edge of freestyle kayaking, watching his latest video edit. We caught up with Fox to get some answers, and to have him weigh in on where he sees the sport of freestyle kayaking now, and where he sees it going.
Leaving Belgrade, we charged downstream on the Danube as the Serbian national police had given us seven days to leave the country or face imprisonment. We had made it past the gate, literally: As we crossed into Romania, we were emerging from the Iron Gates, the Portile de Fier, a gorge that stops and starts for over 100 kilometers, and in places shows 3,000-foot granite faces soaring from the water’s edge.
I’ve been in Mexico 13 days and haven’t been tired, hungover, sore, or nervous on the way to the river. Today I am all of those things as our driver, Israel, nonchalantly guides our rented SUV through the clogged main artery of the bustling Veracruz capital of Jalapa. Finally, it feels like a kayaking trip. I find the words in Spanish to ask Israel to stop for a lechero at the edge of the big city, a last-chance caffeine break before we enter the sparsely populated countryside where the Rio Alseseca and its narrow bedrock slides await.
Alexander Martin, 25, completed the first modern-day canoe expedition across America last year. This fall, Martin has been reporting from the field on his latest continent crossing — a two-man, 4,000-km journey across Europe. Martin sent in this correspondence from Belgrade, on the Danube River in central Serbia, at Kilometer 2,800.
National Geographic just released its annual Adventurer of the Year nominees. It was no surprise that two of paddling’s hardest, and most ambitious expeditions from the last year accounted for two of the 10 nominated adventures. Cast your vote for Jon Turk and Erik Boomer’s bold, 104-day, 1,495-statute-mile circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island, or Sanu Babu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa’s tandem paragliding flight off Mount Everest and ensuing paddle down the Ganges River to the Indian Ocean.
Do you know what a murmuration is, and have you ever witnessed such a dazzling display of avian behavior? The accompanying video shows an enormous flock of European starlings — a murmuration — swirling through the sky in a magnificent ballet that almost seems choreographed.
It’s not easy to set a record on the roof of the world—especially one that involves paddling. Everest has been climbed more than 3,000 times since the first ascent 58 years ago, so you’re going to have to do something very, very different if you want a record on the world’s tallest peak. It’s been skied down, climbed by a blind man, an amputee, a 13-year-old and a 76-year-old.