The rain turns to sleet as we gain elevation; ahead and across the valley, clear accumulation shows the depravity of an early October snowstorm in Germany’s Black Forest. Sweat still rising from furrowed brows, we cross the snow line, coughing into stiff hands and stretching sore muscles. We get back into our positions, the canoe between us, and continue our portage.
This Saturday Nov. 5, at high noon, the first of more than 150 racers will charge down the steepest half-mile of the Green River Narrows in Henderson County, N.C. Locals call it the greatest race in the world. We think they’re right. Here’s why.
I knew I had forgotten something when coming to Brazil. I realized what it was—to learn Portuguese—when I tried to ask how long the drive would be. Thanks to my book, Beginning Portuguese, which I’d glanced at on the plane, I could at least ask our driver where the laundromat was and count to 999 as his Land Rover bounced up the long, insanely bumpy driveway to his farm, Fazenda Bonito.
It’s not too often that kayaker Keith Wikle is disappointed when gale force winds blow through the Great Lakes. Last weekend, when 40-knot northerlies lashed the southern shores of the Third Coast with two-story breakers, Wikle rejoiced in surfing 14-footers on Lake Michigan outside his home in Kalamazoo, Mich.
This summer ended with First Descents coming to Canada for the first time. The decade-old, ever-expanding nonprofit uses kayaking to clear the heads of people who escaped a deadly disease, and helps them navigate chutes and boulders to the next stage of their lives. By all accounts, it’s a powerful program for campers, volunteers and staff in this burgeoning phenomenon within the paddling community.
On the third day of a weeklong, early spring canoe trip in northern Ontario, my trip mates start calling me Shackleton. We’ve been icebound on sprawling Smoothwater Lake since the end of Day One, when we dragged, pushed and occasionally paddled across 10 miles of ice, slush and short-lived leads of open water. From this sweeping sand beach on Smoothwater’s east side, it’s disappointingly obvious that zeal outweighed logic in planning this early season trip across 75 miles of prime canoe country in search of the lake that carries my family name. Breakup is days away, and our expedition is fast becoming a failure.
On this Sunday afternoon in early May, the Petite Bostonnais River is anything but small. As 600 cfs barrels down the narrow granite gauntlet, a cross-section of the world’s top paddlers stare into the crux of the racecourse: a weir-hole entrance to a chaotic and continuous 60-foot slide with serious face-shredding potential—all of it feeding into an enormous re-circulating hole. Avoiding that sucking man-trap meant threading a seemingly impossible line to the right after more than a minute of all-out paddling through a succession of multi-tiered Class V drops.
Last Thursday, July 21, Skip Ciccarelli set a new standard for the fastest through-paddle of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Ciccarelli, a high school shop teacher from central Massachusetts, completed the 740-mile route across parts of four northeastern states and one Canadian province in 25 days—besting the previous record by a full seven days.
On Saturday, July 23, kayaker Josh Tart will set off on the Ohio River in Cincinnati on one of North America’s classic water routes. The so-called “Great Loop” traces the perimeter of the eastern United States. What sets Tart’s expedition apart from the countless pleasure boaters and odd sea kayakers and canoeists…
To say Concord, Mass., resident P.G. Downes (1909-1959) was ahead of his time is an understatement. Between 1936 and 1947, the Harvard-educated schoolteacher spent his summers exploring the then-unmapped reaches of the Canadian subarctic, sensitively documenting the plight of fading aboriginal cultures and creating detailed maps of the waterways he followed by wood and canvas canoe.
After 460 grueling miles of turbulent waters, frigid cold nights, aching bodies and 50-plus hours of paddling on the Yukon River, the two-time defending champion team, The Texans, emerged victorious as the winner of the 13th Annual Yukon River Quest on Friday. As their boat came to a stop on the banks of the Yukon River, the three-time winners dawned humbling smiles.
It is a cool, overcast morning (12 degrees C) and paddlers are slowly making their way to the edge of the Yukon River with boats in tow. By 11:30 a.m. yesterday, June 29, the banks are packed—support crews, boats, fans and officials—for the start of the 13th annual Yukon River Quest, a 460 mile (740km) paddle down the Yukon River.
On Monday, June 27, Skip Ciccarelli will set out to shatter the speed record for paddling the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, which stretches from Old Forge, NY to Fort Kent, Maine. His goal is to complete the 740-mile journey in 27 days; the current record, held by Mike Stavola (aka Kayakathon Man), is just over 32 days.