This story shows that sometimes when you go in search of new whitewater you get more than you bargained for. Jordy Searle and Chris Korbulic planned to hike seven miles over a 6,400-foot pass to paddle the Napeequa River in the North Cascades, WA. But heavy snows set them a day behind schedule from the outset. Faced with the chance of missing his flight to Indonesia, Searle made the decision to turn around and walk back to the car.

That left Chris Korbulic alone in the wilderness. The 2016 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year honoree decided to continue on his mission solo to explore the Napeequa and, over the next few days, endured miles of grueling portages through epic terrain. Sometimes the journey is the reward… sometimes the journey is still just brutal.

More Video from C&K : “WHY” by NRS Films / Aerial footage from …re, Sweden

Korbulic is no stranger to solo first descents—check out his 2011 feat running Oregon’s Toketee Falls


Check out more films from Chris Korbulic, with his trip to Russia’s Altai.