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.
The 63rd annual edition of the FIBArk Whitewater Festival went down over the weekend in Salida, Colo., with a multitude of events on and off the water. By Sunday afternoon, we learned from the New Belgium beer vendors that festival goers had ghosted some 100 kegs of beer and another vendor nearby at the downtown park, the festival’s HQ, had sold some 700 to 800 roasted turkey legs.
ear-mutiny comes on Day Three of an early-season canoe trip in the wilds of northeastern Ontario. We came to Temagami, a 6,000 square-mile canoe-tripping paradise, to visit a lake that was named after my great-grandfather over a century ago. Marooned on icebound Smoothwater Lake, it’s painfully clear we’re not going to make it to Mihell Lake.
TOM BYERS’ DARK, DUSTY CANOE WORKSHOP IS CLUTTERED WITH EVERYTHING EXCEPT POWER TOOLS. The accomplished backwoods builder shapes immaculate birchbark craft by axe, knife, awl, and bit brace. Hundreds of feet of peeled jack pine roots join the pieces, all products of the northern forest-birchbark skin, white cedar ribs and sheathing, spruce gum-steeped in the indigenous heritage of this centuries-old alchemy.
Just as Brit Jeff Allen and Irish paddler Harry Whelan were completing a rocket-fast 25-day circumnavigation of Ireland in early May, a solo sea kayaker from Northern Ireland was getting started on her own attempt to paddle around the Emerald Isle’s 1,000-mile perimeter. Elaine “Shooter” Alexander, a British Canoe Union instructor and former world-class surf kayaker…
Just when they thought they couldn’t push it any harder, Britain’s Jeff Allen and Irish paddler Harry Whelan dug deep, emptied the tanks and crushed the 20-year-old speed record for sea kayaking around Ireland. They completed the circumnavigation in 25 days; the previous record was 33 days.
The first Whitewater Grand Prix wrapped up Saturday with a giant slalom race (see video, above) on a Class V section of gnarl on the Bras Louis River, in Quebec. As the sixth and final stage of the two-week long event, in Ontario and Quebec, Canada, the giant slalom also sorted out the final overall standings…
Erik Boomer and Jon Turk officially departed for their 100-something day attempt to circumnavigate Ellesmere Island on May 2, from Ottawa, Canada. As Boomer describes it, they will be linking together various puddle-jumping flights, including a stop-over on Baffin Island, until they reach the real “put-in.”
Patrick Camblin, event director of the Whitewater Grand Prix, was this morning scrambling down an embankment in order to access a nice-looking wave on the Saguenay River, in Quebec. “Two freestyle contests will be happening in the next few days, so we’re rallying all over and trying to find what our best bet is going to be for a spot,” he says. “We’re just arriving at a wave right now, actually…
Earlier this month, Darrin Kimbler launched his canoe at the mouth of the Columbia River, near Astoria, Ore., with his dog, Mike, and a full load of gear. If all goes according to plan—and according to Kimbler’s blog, CanoeAcrossAmerica.com, not all has gone according to plan already—Kimbler and Mike will paddle into Key West, Fla., in eight months time.
“So you’re starting to see what I mean about all the sanding?” says Ron Pellinen, my wooden canoe-building mentor, when I walk into his shop on a brisk March morning in Northern Ontario. Perched on an office chair in his workshop garage, Pellinen has just cut the power to the orbital sander he was using to smooth the contours of a thwart, one of the ash crosspieces that adds strength and structure to a canoe.
Being the publisher of the world’s biggest paddling magazine does have its perks. Last winter, for example, Larry Vermeeren of Small World Adventures (SWA) invited me down to Ecuador, where he has been running paddling trips since 1993. It was the best week of paddling I’ve ever had.
Among the many challenges awaiting sea kayakers Jeff Allen and Harry Whelan in their attempt to set a new speed record for circumnavigating Ireland, two stand out: The fickle weather and unforgiving cliffs of the Emerald Isle’s west coast, and the temptation of pints of Guinness in countless coastal pubs. Next week, Allen, a Brit, and Ireland-native Whelan will set off to try to break the 33-day circumnavigation record set in 1990 by Mick O’Meara, Dermot Blount, Brian Fanning and Karl Heery.