Archive for the 'P&H News' Category
Distance: 3780 miles / 6083 kilometres
The 7 rivers 7 continents project is a multi-year undertaking to make paddling descents of the longest river on each continent. 22 000 miles in total.
Amazon River(South America) – 6937 km (4300 miles) – completed 2007/2008
Missouri- Mississippi River (North America) – 6083 km (3780 miles) – completed 2012
Nile River(Africa) – 6650 km (4132 miles)
Yangtze River(Asia) – 6300 km (3916 miles)
Volga River(Europe) – 3645 km (2266 miles)
Murray-Darling River(Australia) – 3370 km (2904 miles)
Onyx River(Antarctica) – 40 km (25 miles)
My descent of North America’s longest river system, the Missouri-Mississippi River took 117 days paddling 3780 miles across the USA. The descent began at the river’s utmost source, Brower’s Spring in Montana’s Centennial Mountains. The spring lies at an altitude of approximately 2680m above sea level. In early June when I began my descent the spring was still covered by at least 1.5 metres of snow.
On the 11th June I set off from my established base camp amongst the dense pine trees towards the spring. I followed the upper most waterway known as Hell Roaring Creek; a steep narrow creek as closely as possible. After 5 hours of ascent I was forced on to snow shoes. In my hand I carried bear spray and called out to bears till my voice became hoarse. Finally, following 7 hours of hard uphill slog I reached the spring. Waypoint marked, images recorded, my descent could begin.
For several hours, Hell Roaring Creek alternately ran free and was covered by old snow and ice. At this time, impossible to run. Too much snow and not enough water. After another 5 hours of descent I stumbled exhausted into my camp, day 1 over.
As I passed the wildlife refuge office I arranged with the manager, Bill West to transport my kayak from my camp to the outlet of the lower lake. Bill was happy to do so and in his pickup we explored the refuge on the way to collect the boat. Bill dropped my kayak off and deposited me back at the office in order that I might not break my human-powered journey. With the sun setting I marched out the final 4 miles to my boat. Bill had told me to keep an eye out for a wolf pack in the area. Sure enough at dinner that evening they showed up, with little fear of my headlamp and yelling. Bigger and much more bold than coyotes they watched a while before disappearing into the night.
Piloting a near 17 foot boat round a sharp bend on a 18 foot wide fast flowing river takes some doing. It was an intense beginning to a 4000 mile journey, but the Scorpio handled it all with ease. I pulled hard on my paddle, utilising every stroke in my arsenal.
Soon enough, trees in the river became secondary obstacles. Ranchers had begun to place fences across the narrow river. At first, a few strands of wire appeared. Sometimes I could duck underneath. Other times it meant a quick exit, pushing the kayak beneath the lowest strand and submerging myself completely into the icy water. Frustrating but all part of the journey. Next, strands of electric fence criss crossed my path. Were they live? I had no plans to find out and avoided them as best I could. Barbed wire fences were next. Exiting a fast corner to see clusters of sharp wire blocking my way necessitated some pretty quick thinking. Here and there I got caught up on the strands but managed to escape the worst. The final fence variation was a hybrid of barbed wire and roofing iron completely blocking my path. It was often a case of “WTF?”, but with no one around to complain to I simply pushed on.
The near 300 miles from Brower’s Spring to Three Forks took a little under a fortnight. It was both a beautiful and isolated descent, as well as being frustrating and mundane in it’s sameness. For days on end the river sat a metre or so below the river bank, short grass and an occasional cow poking it’s nose over the edge.
Below Clark Canyon Reservoir the river became the Beaverhead. Now, less isolated and suddenly busy. Not with paddlers but fly fisherman in drift boats. So common, sitting in deep pockets of river, it was an ordeal just keeping out of their way. Sometimes a wave from an old timer but mostly their eyes never left the quivering end of their fishing poles.
Beyond the town of Twin Bridges the Beaverhead meets the Big Hole River to form the Jefferson. My spirits soared on this stretch of waterway. Clear, fast and wide it flowed. Fields of green grass, colourful flowers and groves of cottonwoods lined the banks. This is paddling I thought.
Easily the most challenging are the “Big 3”. Fort Peck Lake stretching more than 130 miles in length, it’s shores dry and bleak cover a greater distance the the entire coast of California. Little or no sign of man to be found. Multiple 3-5 mile open water crossings to be made on a lake where the wind can go from still to gale force in 30 seconds.
Lake Sakakawea, more than 150 miles long and 10 miles at it’s widest point. Less isolated than Peck it’s shores are more uniform and easier to follow. Entering from it’s western end is a game of guesswork. A muddy delta with multiple braids blocks access to open water for many miles. Maps are useless in this ever changing environment. Instinct combined with trial and error led me to the lake proper.
Finally, the 230 mile long Lake Oahe appears. Between 1 and 4 miles wide the lake has a reputation for being the most difficult to traverse on the entire river. Being windbound for 4 days or more is not uncommon. I made the crossing in 8.5 days, losing just a day and a half to wind.
My mind conjured up easy days paddling, the swift current aiding me along. The first day out of Yankton into a stiff headwind and driving rain brought me to my senses. Even though I was back to reality I was unswayed in my paddle to the ocean.
Days in my kayak were long. I tried to be on the water at 7am and would paddle till 7pm, never leaving the water. My alarm would sound like a jackhammer to my ears at 05:30 hrs every morning. Dragging myself from my warm sleeping bag I would conjure up coffee and instant oats. The task of breaking camp was smooth after a couple of months on river. Rather than stop for the toilet I carried a pee bottle and instead of pulling ashore for lunch I would chow down on chocolate bars, oat bars, trail mix and beef jerky throughout the day. As the sun began to set the search for a campsite would begin. This year, in a complete reversal to last the Missouri River is at low water. Many of the states through which it flows are in severe drought. The benefit this brought me was a plentiful supply of exposed sand bars on which to spend the night. Having found high ground, I would set up my tent and gather wood for a fire. Dinner comprised of packet rice and pouches of tuna or sardines. A fifth of the cost of dehydrated meals, just as light, if not quite as nutritious.
On a good long day of paddling between Yankton and St. Louis (where the Missouri meets the Mississippi) I could cover more than 70 miles. My cadence became so rhythmic that I could time my arrival at mile markers to less than a couple of minutes over an entire day. Some feat!
As the Missouri River mile markers ticked over and down towards 0, it signalled my approach to it’s confluence with the Mississippi River. First below 50, then below 20 and then 10. As mile 1 appeared the mighty Mississippi swung into view on river left. Before I knew it I was floating beyond the confluence point and into slack water where the 2 giant rivers meet. I looked up the Missouri from where I had come. All the way from the mountains of Montana to here. Slowly the current of the river took me in it’s grasp and the Missouri disappeared from view. My final look was one of sadness. I had met so many folk and experienced so many things up river. Now, the waterway was sure to be different. Slower, wider, busier. I plunged my paddle blade into the water and swung my boat downstream. Still well over a thousand miles remained on my journey to the gulf. I had better get going I thought.
St. Louis served well to resupply, repair and refresh me to continue on my way. I had been warned up river that the river below St. Louis flowed much more slowly than above. Navigating the Port of St. Louis took some concentration as barges and towboats chugged this way and that. Barges were parked in their hundreds on both river banks and anchored in the middle of the river as well. The wake from boat traffic and upstream wind gusts coupled with downstream water flow combined to make for an angry river. Waves came from all directions intent on upending my kayak. It took a couple of hours of constant paddle contact to clear this mess only to paddle into a severe storm. Caught unawares I sheltered behind a half sunken barge as trees were felled by the wind and sheets of rain cascaded down. By early evening the worst had passed and I paddled on to a marina whose docks had borne the brunt of the storm. Walkways were thrown askew and ropes a tangled mess. In spite of their own calamities the owners were more than happy for me to camp on their land.
A couple of days below St. Louis sees the Ohio River enter from river left. A mighty river in it’s own right, it adds to the already voluminous river I was paddling. Alas, rather than grow faster the river merely becomes wider. Old river towns slipped by. New Madrid and Caruthersville, two notable stops for resupply and a wander around for photos and a general explore. Once important stops on the river, now a viewing platform and a handful of loading docks for grain silos provide a tenuous link to the past.
It took almost a fortnight to travel the 500 miles from St. Louis to the major city of Memphis. It had become clear that my dreams of hard fought 70 mile days may perhaps be over. Once more, fortunate to have friends in these here parts I spent 3 days exploring the city and readying myself for the final stretch with food, boat cleaning and catching up on much needed sleep.
As had become the norm, I left the relative comfort of an urban area into pelting rain and strong headwind. But, all the same, in my kayak, with dry jacket and spray deck on I was shielded completely from the elements. The nose of my kayak easily sliced through the offending chop.
100 or so miles below Memphis I reached the town of Helena, Arkansas. A small town typical of this section of river in that it was in an unfortunate decline. No jobs, little industry and not much hope for the future. I stopped here in order to meet up with a friend of a friend and somewhat of a legend on the Lower Mississippi, John Ruskey. John runs the Quapaw Canoe Company and builds, by hand dugout canoes, as well as running programs for disadvantaged and at risk youth. I spent an evening with John and some friends on nearby Buck Island as they readied themselves for the weekend’s coming Bear Dance Festival.
A couple of miles past New Orleans city centre lies the inter-coastal canal. From here to open water is 2 miles. A route that some long-distance paddlers choose. Unfortunately for them it is incorrect if they wish to claim a full descent of either the Missouri-Mississippi or Mississippi alone. On the river proper still lies some 90 miles or more of slow paddling.
At first light I paddled out of the marina and on to the river once more. At Pilot Town (a scattering of buildings housing the pilots who guide the tankers from the gulf to the river) I had to cross from river right to left. By now boat traffic had been added to by crab boats, fishing boats, transport boats and more. Holy heck! I spied an opening as a tanker appeared up river a good few miles off. By the time I had paddled across the river I avoided the Goliath by less than 50 metres. A close call. Below the Head of Passes and into the South Pass and things quieted down. Here and there a fishing boat on charter would appear and I even chatted with some Fish and Game officers inquiring as to my business down in the pass.
In a few miles a lighthouse appeared in the distance. Port Eads. Flattened in Hurricane Katrina, it was just now in the process of being reconstructed. A tiny port and a couple of buildings was all there was. As I neared the lighthouse I thought I could see the flash of paddles. Couldn’t be. All the way down here? It was. Well then they must be local and decided to paddle out for a day or two down in the bayou. Closer still I could see 2 kayaks their decks adorned like my own with spare paddles, deck bag etc. I couldn’t believe it. After 3780 miles and 117 days and 1 mile from the ocean I came across Brent and Hunter from South Carolina. An hour earlier they had completed their own long distance journey from Lake Itasca to the gulf following the 2350 mile Mississippi River.
We shook hands and smiled a lot. They had secured a lift back upstream to Venice. I wanted in on that ride! I bid them goodbye with a request to wait and paddled like a madman towards open ocean. Ever so slowly breakers came into view. I paddled out of the pass and rode high over the waves. To my left nothing but water and waves, to my right the same and in front the horizon. I was there.
I had paddled 3780 miles in 117 days. By beginning at the waterway’s utmost source, Brower’s Spring, I had become the first person to make a full source to sea descent of the longest river in North America.
Additionally I had become the first person to paddle from source to sea the longest rivers in North and South America respectively.
P&H Sea Kayaks is delighted to be supporting the Surfers Against Sewage Raffle. SAS is a registered charity focussed on the protection of the UK’s waves, oceans & beaches for all to access, use and enjoy safely and sustainably, through campaigning, volunteering, conservation, education and scientific research. For your chance to win one of our amazing sea kayaks buy some tickets using the link below!
Every year in Salt Lake City Utah the outdoor industry gathers to present their new offerings for the coming year, the designs, colours, innovations and ideas that will influence their product line up.
This year at OR we have a great cross section of offerings, first up, something many of you have been waiting for, our 2nd Generation skeg slider system, with a smoother more intuitive action, these have been in test over last season with Glenmore Lodge and Plas Y Brenin with excellent feedback from coaches and clients.
Also on the P&H stand we have the prototype of the Hammer…
this is the next generation in our Play the Sea category, influenced by the Delphin with some creative new design thinking, white water edges, creek style volume and touring length, there are certainly some refinements to be made but is going to be a really exciting addition to the line up.
Rich Taylor talking to Rapid Media about the new Hammer
On the 9th June this year P&H Team Paddler Doug Cooper got married to Lara Tipper. As you would expect from Doug, Head of Paddlesports at Glenmore Lodge, there was only one way to travel to his wedding… that was in his trusty P&H Cetus MV Sea Kayak.
He got married to Lara on Clashnessie beach in the NW Highlands of Scotland and along with a team of three best men he paddled the 6km to the beach. The weather was dry, but atmospheric – leading to a slightly bumpy paddle and a bit of small surf on landing.
Doug and his best men paddled to the beach fully dressed for the wedding ceremony in their kilts, so they could step out of their kayaks ready to go. In addition to this Doug had a custom made paddling wedding outfit by Peak UK, all matching his kilt and ensuring he was the best-dressed paddler on the day! Lara was of course the best-dressed person on the beach, looking stunning in her dress.
The ceremony on the beach went great, the party that followed was as you would expect and then the next day to clear the hangovers Lara, Doug and friends went paddling of course!
Congratulations from everyone here at P&H!
Liscombe Lodge http://www.liscombelodge.ca/ is hidden gem located outside a small village about two and a half hours away from Halifax. It is one of only three resorts owned and operated by the Province of Nova Scotia.
On May 11 of this year 75 paddlers traveled from as far away as England and Seattle to gather for the 5th Annual Atlantic Paddle Symposium. www.atlanticpaddlesymposium.com . Light winds, warm dry weather, and easy swell made for three extremely pleasant days on the water.
The Atlantic Paddle Symposium is our region’s premier paddling event. The Atlantic Canada paddling community meets for a 4-day event focusing on skill development, outdoor, leadership, education and paddling safety. The Symposium facilitates relationship building, both within our regional paddling community and allows us to forge relationships with some of the best known paddlers and instructors in the world.
The schedule, as it has been in previous years, was packed with a variety of skills sessions for all levels, covering each of the four paddling styles supported by Paddle Canada paddling programs. Stand Up Paddling sessions were added (and enthusiastically received) to our roster of sessions for canoe, sea kayak and white water kayak.
The venue offered us great locations and a variery of conditions. Sean Morley, Christopher Lockyer and Mat Nelson ran rock hopping, sea kayak surfing, and Incident management sessions.
Highlights from this year’s event were:
Without the support from our sponsor this year we would not have been able to make the event so accessible and also would not have been able to have such a talented group of coaches.
Special Thanks to Sean Morley and Matt Nelson for making the trip to Nova Scotia. Hope to see you both back next year.
Picture gallery can be found at:
Sponsor a Coach:
Lendal Paddle (Christopher Lockyer), P&H sea kayaks (Matt Nelson)
Submitted by Christopher Lockyer www.committed2thecore.com
We are really excited to welcome Mark to the P&H family, Mark is a professional explorer and adventurer whose human powered expeditions have led him through the Omo Valley in Ethiopia and walking alone across the Islamic Republic of Iran to paddling in Southern Africa, Australia and South America. His expedition background is diverse.
Now his multi-year 7 rivers 7 continents project sees him paddling the longest river on each continent from source to sea. A combined distance of some 22 000 miles.
Amazon River (South America) – 6937 km (4300 miles) – completed 2007/2008
In 2008 he completed a successful descent of the entire Amazon River from it’s source high in the Andes of Peru to the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil. A journey lasting 153 days and covering a distance of 4300 miles.
In 2012 Mark paddles the longest river in North America alone, the Missouri-Mississippi. The 4th longest river system in the world and some 4000 miles long.
More than successful descents alone, his aim is for the 7 rivers 7 continents project to provide a unique insight into the life that rivers have built and sustain. The project will highlight the global struggle to protect rivers and the rights of communities that depend on them.
Well we are about 5 weeks out from the start
of the 2012 Atlantic Paddle Symposium. This will be the official kick start to the 2012 season on the North East Coast.
The Atlantic Paddle Symposium is the premier paddling event in Atlantic Canada. It brings together the Atlantic Canada paddling community for a 4-day event focused on skill development, outdoor, leadership, education and paddling safety. The Symposium facilitates relationship building within the Atlantic Canada paddling community as well as among top paddling leaders within the sport.
For all the details on the event please visit the website Symposium Webpage
P&H Team members that will be at this years event:
Originating from the UK and now a resident of Marin Co, CA, Sean began kayaking at the age of ten with the Boy Scouts and often paddled alone, exploring the relatively sheltered waters on the south coast of Cornwall, England. He took part in his first kayak race in 1978 and has competed in many disciplines of paddle sport since then including white water slalom and downriver racing, maratho
n, sprint, wave ski, surf life saving and surf kayaking with success at national and international level. He began expedition sea kayaking in 1996 and in 1998 set a record for the fastest crossing of the Irish Sea. In 2004 he achieved his childhood dream by completing the first solo circumnavigation of the UK and Ireland by sea kayak; the first ever to include all of the inhabited islands. The 4500 mile expedition to
ok 183 days and is the longest kayak journey ever undertaken in British waters. His achievement was featured in the DVD ‘This is the Sea 2’ by Justine Curgenven (Cackle TV). Sean is an ACA Level 5 Coastal Kayak Instructor and Level 3 Surf Kayak Instructor.
Matt met Shawna and Leon at Body Boat Blade in 2004 and within a year began coaching for Body Boat Blade, progressing as a coach and paddler, fuelled by the passion for blending knowledge of the marine environment with the enthusiasm for a very physical, and engaging way to interact with the water. Since then, he has delved into whitewater, surf kayaking, rock gardening and expeditions. In 2008, he and his wife Djuna circumnavigated the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, while raising funds for an environmental no
n-profit. Matt appeared in Bryan Smith’s “Pacific Horizons”, and has been involved with other kayaking films focusing on technique. Matt is a coach level 3 and holds the five-star award for sea kayak. Matt is also a P&H team paddler, and teaches at symposiums in North America. Matt is featured in Pacific Horizons and in This is the Sea film series.
Christopher has been paddling since 1994 in locations as far away as the UK, New Zealand, Iceland, Norway as well as countless places in North America. A graduate of Acadia University with a degree in Recreation Management, Chris is currently the owner and driving force behind Committed to the Core Sea Kayak Coaching. www.committed2tecore.com He holds certifications with the British Canoe Union and Paddle Canada, is a former Outward Bound Instructor, and is KANAWA /Rapid Media magazine’s “Ask a Pro” Columnist
I hope to see you there
Christopher Lockyer – Executive director 2012 Atlantic Paddle Symposium
Alan has wanted to do this trip since school after reading about Nigel Dennis and Paul Caffin kayaking round the UK back in 1980. Loving the idea of the adventure they spoke of and the amazing places they passed he had an idea of kayaking out of the Clyde and back into the forth, this has grown into this trip.
Alan plans to kayak from the Solway Firth around the coast of Scotland taking in as many islands as possible and the Outer Hebrides, finishing in Eyemouth 3 months later. Alan paddles on behalf of three charities, The Erbs Palsy Group, The Children’s Hand Surgery and The Brachial Plexus Injury Service after their support and help in giving his son Cameron the use of his arm after he was born with Erbs palsy injury to his left arm.
Leaving – Solway Firth – Mid April
Return – Eyemouth – Mid July
P&H are pleased to be able to support the Eat, Sleep, Paddle – UK Circumnavigation – Paul Barrett and Eurion Brown
In spring 2012 Paul Barrett (left) and Eurion Brown (right) will set off on a 2700 mile paddle around mainland Britain in aid of Barnardo’s and the RNLI. Barnardo’s helps vulnerable children across the UK and helped Paul as a youngster so raising money for them was a natural choice. Eurion is a RNLI crew member. The trip will use only the ‘Best of British’ equipment to highlight the quality manufacture and companies based in the
Leaving – Sandbanks in Dorset around the 16th April 2012
Return – Dorset – Less than 120 Days later