Later this week, Hayley Shephard will be on her way south to get ready for her solo circumnavigation around South Georgia Island, hoping to become the first sea kayaker to complete the trip, as well as raising awareness of the plight of the albatross, one of the largest sea birds on the planet, whose numbers are dwindling and may soon become extinct. The paddle is about 500km long and in a very isolated place. South Georgia is in the very south Atlantic Ocean, sort of between the Falklands, Antarctica, and the middle of nowhere. Although born in New Zealand, she now calls Vancouver Island home and has lots of experience kayaking the BC west coast and in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. You can follow her progress on her main blog, and she's also got a gear blog.
Hayley's is not the only expedition that piqued my interest. In December of 2009, Jake Stachovak put in to the cold waters of the icy Wisconsin river and began his Portage to Portage Paddle, an 8000km paddle around the eastern United States via the Mississippi, the Gulf Coast, the eastern seaboard, the canals of New York and the Great Lakes.
He's had some good days (like the day he paddled 150 km), and some bad days (like New Year's Day when he was maced by teenagers), and it makes for great reading. And pictures.
Follow his blog here.
blog is not being updated very often at the moment, but you can follow their progress on their SPOT map.
Also passing through the same area is another expedition of three Argentine paddlers who hope to be the first kayakers to paddle the entire coast of Argentina. Check out their blog here.
blog, or on Facebook.
The Inukshuk Expedition will set out in an attempt to become the first kayakers to paddle the 4000 km Northwest Passage in one season.
They plan to start at Inuvik and arrive 85 days later on Pond Inlet on Baffin Island, and according to the website the expedition will "contribute to the state of knowledge regarding the amount, timing, and salinity of fresh water that fluxes from the Arctic Ocean through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago towards the North Atlantic...This is a topical subject and the data collected during the expedition will help marine scientists gauge the effects of the ongoing change in the ocean/sea-ice/atmosphere system, its impact on the global climate and Arctic indigenous peoples who depend on the ecosystem for subsistence."
Indeed, it is because of climate change and the warming of the Arctic regions that the Passage will be ice-free long enough to attempt the voyage in one season.
Their website is here, and their Facebook page is here.
His blog is here, and Adventure Kayak magazine has an interview with him here on their spiffy new website. Bonne chance, Mathieu!
And even closer to home, Joe O'Blenis continues his preperations for his Vancouver Island circumnavigation speed record attempt later this year. He hopes to paddle the 1150 km in under 17 days, and is planning a June 15 launch date. Follow his blog here.
Finally, there's the Kamchatka Project. This summer, seven whitewater kayakers are heading to the Kamchatka Peninsula in Siberia not only to run the rivers, but also explore and this ecologically fragile and diverse area.
One of the paddlers is Bryan Smith, maker of the Eastern Horizons and Pacific Horizons kayaking DVDs. He hasn't been twiddling his thumbs waiting waiting for the Kamchatka expedition to start. He spent last year working on a new project called The Season. It's a 22 episode web-based show that follows five athletes -- a climber, a boulderer, a snow boarder, a mountain biker, and a kayaker -- through the course of a season. The trailer (embedded below) features some astonishing camera work and I'm looking forward to the finished series.
David Johnston over at Paddling Instructor has been covering The Season as well. Here is some more great footage from the project, as well as an interview with Bryan Smith.