Showing posts with label Kayaking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kayaking. Show all posts

Video: Spring Cleaning with Pro Kayaker Dane Jackson

We all have our approach to spring cleaning around our homes, but pro kayaker Dane Jackson has taken it to another level. He recently traveled to my backyard in Tennessee to spend some time on a river there cleaning up trash and other debris to help make it a better environment for everyone. The early spring trip meant cool weather and fast water, but the results were pretty great. Jackson was able to help motivate a number of other paddlers to come out and join him and work to clean up the area. Check out their efforts in the video below.

Video: Paddling Carnage Rapids in Spain

Spring rains and melt-off always cause rivers to swell and bring some challenging rapids to a lot of waterways. Case in point in this video, in which pro paddler Anil Serrasolses takes us on a tour of Carnage Rapids in Spain. Just how wild and dangerous is this run? Aniol starts the video by saying "I'm pretty stoked I did not drown." That pretty much says it all. Crazy stuff.

Video: Kayaking Down a Drainage Ditch in a Tandem Kayak

Three years ago I shared a video of kayaker Ben Marr as he paddled down a drainage ditch in British Columbia, setting off a slew of copycats that followed. Now, Ben has returned to that same spot to run the drainage ditch again, this time in a tandem kayak with his buddy Russ Sturges in tow. Check out their antics in the clip below, which demonstrates that like most things in life, having a partner just makes it more fun.

Video: Kayaking Along an Underground River

Kayaks can take us to some pretty amazing places that are often unreachable on foot. Case in point, in this video we actually go underground in Mexico to explore a cave with Rafa Ortiz and Leo Ibarra, who discover a waterway that is faster and more turbulent than they expected.

Video: A World Record Kayak Run on the Rio Santo Domingo in Mexico

Want to see a wild and crazy kayak run unlike any other? Check out the video below that features Rafa Ortiz and friends as they make six drops along a stretch of the Rio Santo Domingo river in Mexico, through Class IV and V+ rapids, setting a world record for running the toughest navigable part of that stretch of water. They had one wild ride along the way to say the least, as Ortiz continues to push boundaries in kayak exploration and adventure. Don't try this at home kids.

Video: Kayaking Through Underground Caves in Mexico

In this video, we join kayakers Rafa Ortiz, Jared Meehan, and Andrew Pollock as they head to southern Mexico to explore a system of underground rivers that pass through an intricate cave system. There aren't any massive waterfalls to drop, or Class V rapids to run, but there is a great sense of exploration and adventure as they paddle through this otherworldly environment. Catch a glimpse of a part of our planet that few ever get a chance to see, and marvel at what these intrepid kayakers find as they drift along.

Two Young Adventurers Are Kayaking 2000-Miles Across the Caribbean to Miami

Two American adventurers are in the middle of an epic paddle that will see them travel more than 2000 miles (3218 km) across the Caribbean Sea in a tandem kayak. The journey began back on October 1, but is now nearing completion as the two young men close in on their finish line. 

Dubbed The Golden Arc Expedition by Will McCreadie and George Parry – both 21-years old – the trip began on the island of Grenada and will end when the pair reach Miami, which they hope to do by the end of the month. That will end about two months of island hopping as they've made their way across the Caribbean. Along the way, they have stopped in Nevis, Turks and Caicos, the Dominican Republic, and  Puerto Rico. Currently, they are paddling through the Bahamas on their way to Florida. 

Throughout the course of the journey, McCreadie and Perry have faced some serious challenges. As you might expect, the ocean hasn't always been kind, as the two men have had to deal with high seas and strong winds. They've also suffered dehydration, heat exhaustion, and sleep deprivation, as they have sometimes paddled for as much as 30 hours straight during open ocean crossings. Still, reading their dispatches they remain upbeat and determined to reach the end of their journey on schedule. 

The two men undertook this challenge to raise funds for the Get Exploring Trust, an organization that awards grants to get people outside and pursuing activities that they are passionate about. It encourages people from all kinds of backgrounds to step out of their comfort zone and encourage them to explore the world around us. The grants are not particularly large, but they may cover costs such as purchasing a good pair of hiking boots, paying for an outdoor training course, or transportation to reach a destination. The whole point of GET is to simply help young, adventurous people to go after their dreams. Something that we at The Adventure Blog can obviously get behind. 

As far as this particular adventure, I could think of worse places to kayak through than the Caribbean Sea. Still, having just been there recently myself, I do know how hot it can get under the blazing sun, and kayaking 2000 miles is an impressive accomplishment no matter where it is done. Will and George haven't had to rough it completely however. During their stop over in Nevis for instance, they stayed at the Four Seasons while they recuperated some. We should all be so lucky on our own expeditions. 

Video: Above Bellingham - Drone Footage From an Adventure City

Bellingham, Washington is a city that has a lot to offer in terms of outdoor adventure, much of which you'll see in this video, which was captured using a drone to stunning effect. The clip starts a bit slow, and you'll probably wonder why it is worth sharing, but as it goes along the landscapes and opportunities for adventure reveal themselves. By the end, you'll be wanting to visit Bellingham yourself.

ABOVE BELLINGHAM - 4K Drone Film from Kjell Redal on Vimeo.

Gear Closet: Five Ten Eddy Water Shoes

One of my favorite pairs of shoes that I've tested this year has been the Five Ten Access approach shoe, which I loved for their light weight, comfort, and durability. Since I reviewed them a month back, those shoes have become a staple in my wardrobe, accompanying me on many outdoor excursions. Because of this, I had high expectation of the new Eddy water shoe from Five Ten as well. The latest edition to the company's catalog brings Five Ten's years of experience to footwear designed to be worn in and around wet environments, delivering a fantastic option for paddlers, boaters, or just about anyone else who spends time out on the water.

Designed to be thin and lightweight, the Eddy was created to provide good protection for your feet, without becoming big and cumbersome. This allows them to fit nicely inside the cockpit of a kayak, including smaller play boats. I came to appreciate this design choice not because I needed the extra room, but because some of my larger water shoes often make it difficult to find the pedals that control the rudder on a sea kayak for instance. With these thin shoes, that wasn't a problem, and as a result I felt more connected with the boat in general.

Of course, that's just one element that I came to appreciate with these shoes. As you would expect, they offer quick-drying synthetic materials on the upper that allow water to pass through without retaining excess moisture, and thereby adding any amount of significant weight. The Eddy is also outfitted with plenty of drainage holes that help with this process too. The results are a shoe that is meant to be used on the water, but can be completely dry in about 15 minutes, allowing you to transition seamlessly back to land as well.

The sole of the shoe is made from Five Ten's Stealth S1 rubber, which was initially designed for use on the company's climbing shoes. This helps to give the Eddy a surprisingly great grip on slick, wet surfaces, making it easier to cross tough portages or to scramble in and out of your boat in rocky environments. That same Stealth S1 rubber extends up and around the toe, allowing the wearer to use it to maintain a grip while climbing in and out of the water. Those materials also provide an added protective barrier that isn't always common in this type of footwear.

All of these nice design elements don't mean much however if the shoe isn't comfortable to wear. Fortunately, Five Ten has us well covered there, as the Eddys feel great on your feet both in and out of the water. Better yet, they don't happen to look like a water shoe at first glance, which means you'll feel at home wearing them hiking to the put-in, during your waterborne adventures, and afterwards when you're grabbing lunch and a beer at the local pub.

As a frequent traveler, I always try to limit the number of pairs of shoes I take with me on my trips to no more than two. But, depending on the type of excursion I'm setting out on, I may need to add another pair or two to my bag. The Eddy is a versatile enough water shoe that I wouldn't hesitate to bring it along on any trip that involves spending time on the water. It is not only lightweight and comfortable, but it is also highly packable too. That means it can slip into your duffle bag or backpack without taking up too much room or adding undue bulk – something that endears me to just about any piece of gear.

Competitively priced at $100, Five Ten brings a lot to the table with the Eddy. While there are plenty of other options for good water shoes that cost less than that – including the 3T Barefoot Warrior from Body Glove that I reviewed back in August – few of those other shoes offer as many technical advantages as Five Ten's offering. While the Barefoot Warrior is a better option for stand-up paddleboarders, I'd recommend the Eddy to anyone who finds themselves scrambling through rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water where the footing isn't always certain. This is a much more substantial shoe, that is only slightly bigger and heavier.

If you're in the market for some new water shoes, the Five Ten Eddy is a great choice. This is particularly true if you find yourself hiking over slick surfaces on your way to and from the water. I think you'll be extremely pleased with what this shoe has to offer, and the grippy rubber outsole will be a welcome option for those who need a little extra security along the way.

Reminder: October 14th is a National Day of Adventure

As I get ready to head out of the country once again tomorrow, I wanted to take this opportunity to remind everyone that next Friday – October 14, 2016 – had been declared a National Day of Adventure by Men's Journal and Victorinox, the company behind the iconic Swiss Army Knife.

While not an official holiday of course, the entire point of the NDOA is to encourage people to get outside, engage in their favorite outdoor activities, or perhaps even try something new. To that end, the two sponsors of the Day of Adventure have helped organize more than 30 events across the U.S. to give us all a starting point for getting our adventures off to a good start.

While I'll actually be in Spain on that day, I'll certainly take some time to hit a trail and do some hiking, or possibly even some snorkeling in the Mediterranean Sea. And since it is a Friday, hopefully some of you will take part in the celebration by heading out to enjoy your own adventures too. Why not skip out of work early, grab your mountain bike and take a ride on your favorite trail? Or, gather up some friends and take a scenic hike somewhere before grabbing some dinner and drinks afterwards. The whole point is to add a little excitement and adventure back into your life, something that hopefully we do on a more regular basis than one day a year, but it is a good place to get started never the less.

So, whether your like to ride, hike, run, paddle, fly, climb, or some other crazy outdoor activity, don't forget to set a little time aside to pursue that passion next Friday. After all, you'll never regret the days that you do the things you love, and you might just discover other passions along the way.

Get out there and enjoy!

Canadian Adventures: Paddling the Saguenay Fjord

As I mentioned in a previous piece about my recent trip to Quebec, Canada, the theme of the visit was "Must Love Water." As such, many of the activities that we took part in involved paddling a boat of some type. That included a stand-up paddleboard, a whitewater raft, and a canoe. But perhaps the best experience of the entire trip saw us loading up on sea kayaks and heading out onto the breathtaking Saguenay Fjord, a place of such natural beauty that it literally had to be seen to be believed.

After spending the better part of the week on waterways of one kind or another in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec I was beginning to think I had seen most of what there wast to experience there. After all, our whitewater run was a thrilling, adrenaline inducing affair, and even our canoe trip mixed in a taste of whitewater to keep things interesting as well. Both of those experiences took place in lovely settings with thick forests lining the shores of the rivers we were on, and scenic settings to pass through. As lovely as those settings were however, they couldn't compare with kayaking on the fjord.

On the day we were scheduled to go kayaking we spent the better part of the morning driving to the Parc National du Fjord-du-Sagueny (the Sagueny Fjord National Park) where we would eventually join our guide from OrganisAction, a local outfitter that organizes kayaking excursions there. The park itself has a lot to offer in addition to paddling. For instance, there are several self-guided hikes to take, each of which offers some great views of the surrounding landscape. But for the truly bold, there is also an impressive Via Ferrata that takes visitors high up onto the rocky cliffs on a trek that is is both beautiful and heart-stopping for entirely different reasons. Unfortunately, we weren't there to make that hike, so after a quick lunch it was off to find our guide and begin our waterborne adventure instead.

As usual with any guided kayaking excursion we had to first go through an orientation on how to paddle most efficiently, the best ways to enter and exit the boat, and how to steer the long sea kayaks that we would use on the fjord. I've had plenty of experience in this department and was more than ready to go, so thankfully it didn't take too long before we were dropping the kayaks into the water and setting out.

It didn't take long to figure out just why this region was declared a national park in Canada. A few paddles away from the dock and the impressive landscape began to take shape. High cliffs rose all around us, while tranquil water ran all the way from our put-in spot out into the middle of the fjord itself. On that day, with the sun shining high overhead and the clear blue water all around us, it was simply a magnificent place to be.

For those who don't know, a fjord is a long, narrow inlet that has typically been carved by a glacier, and has high, towering cliffs all around it. A true fjord is fed by salt water from the ocean, but in the case of the Saguenay Fjord, there is salt water underneath with a current of fresh water, fed from the Saguenay River, on top. This makes it a unique environment where both fresh and salt water fish and mammals can be found. In some parts of the fjord it is possible to spot whales or even Greenland sharks, while a variety of salmon and other fish from the river exist in the same space.

Our group paddled out into this aquatic wonderland with our jaws hanging open. Over the course of our week together we had seen some truly beautiful places, but this one the crowning jewel of the experience for sure. Paddling along the cool, but refreshing water was a relaxing affair, even when we took our boats out into the middle of the fjord itself. From there, we were afforded the best views of the waterway, able to look west towards the mouth of the river and east where the deep blue waters drifted off into the distance. I'm sure on a day where the weather isn't cooperative the fjord could be a harsh place to be, but on this day it was perfect.

One of the highlights of a kayak trip out onto the Saguenay Fjord is spotting the famous Virgin Mary Statue that adorns one of the cliff tops there. While not quite as large and imposing as the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio, it is still a memorable sight to behold. The state was placed there by a local trader named Charles Napoleon Robitaille back in 1881. A few years prior to that, Robitaille was traveling across the frozen ice when it gave way beneath him. As he was pulled into the freezing cold water, he prayed to the Virgin Mary to save him, and somehow he found himself alive, out of the fjord, and on solid ice. After that, he vowed to do something to both commemorate the experience and thank the higher powers that he had lived. He made good on his promise and later had the statue installed.

Even from the water below the tall cliffs, the white statue of the Virgin Mary stands out against the lush green trees. The monument was another unique element to a place that was already amazing to look upon, and the story of how it got there only adds to the mystique of the place.

After spending several hours paddling the fjord it was time to head back to the shore, but not before making a detour along the opposite shore to catch a glimpse of a beautiful waterfall that tumbled down the rock face there. As we paddled we could see several such waterfalls in the distance, so it was nice to see one up close too. It was a brief stop over however, and before long we were steaming our way across the open water once again.

While we were out on the water, the tide had obviously come in. The dock that we had used as a put in earlier in the day had been sitting high and dry on the beach, allowing us to wade in a short distance before setting out. Now however, it was floating on the surface of the fjord, and the water had risen up to our waists. That made for a soggier exit, but the water felt good after a warm afternoon.

After dragging our boats back up on shore, it was time to say goodbye to our guide and the fjord. It was certainly a memorable day in the kayaks however, and one that I would love to do again. In fact, our guide mentioned that there are some primitive campsites along the shore of the fjord that stretch for miles. He said that adventurous kayakers like to paddle down the fjord and stay at those campsites as they go. With a good kayak, plenty of supplies and gear, it would be possible to go for days in this remote, and pristine wilderness. That sounds like the kind of trip I would enjoy doing.

If you're in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region in the summer, a visit to the national park is a must-do adventure. Even if you can't get out on the water in a kayak – which I HIGHLY recommend you do – at least go for a hike and take in the surrounding landscape. It is a place that will definitely leave a lasting impression.

Kayakers Complete Greenland to Scotland Challenge

For the better part of the summer we've been following the progress of Olly Hicks and George Bullard, two British adventurers that had undertaken the difficult challenge of kayaking from Greenland to Scotland, and endeavor that included several legs of the journey that required them to be out on the open ocean for days at a time. Over the weekend, the pair reached their final destination at last, bring an end to their odyssey that was both mentally and physically taxing.

Hicks and Bullard launched their expedition from the Denmark Strait in Greenland before proceeding across open water to Iceland. From their, the two men followed the Icelandic coastline until they reached the North Sea, from which point they turned their boat towards the Faroe Islands, a very remote destination located just north of the British Isles. Next they crossed 50 miles (80 km) of rough seas to  reach the tiny island of North Rona before pressing on with the final leg, which ended
at Balnakeil Bay in Scotland. Along the way they faced several stops and starts due to inclement weather and exhaustion, but all told they managed to cover approximately 1200 miles (1931 km) over the the length of their adventure.

The expedition came to and end in the early hours of Sunday, September 4. Tired, but sensing that the end was near, Olly and George pushed on, paddling through the night. They reached Balnakeil Bay before sunrise, and although the blog reports of their progress say that they were exhausted, they were happy to reach the end of the journey at long last.

While this expedition saw little attention from the media, it was an audacious one to say the least. The waters that these two men paddled through were incredibly challenging, with ice floes blocking their way and heavy seas often making things rough. There are sections of the route that even commercial ships take care not to pass through, and yet Olly and George did it in a 22-foot sea kayak. That's a pretty impressive accomplishment indeed.

Congratulations to both men on a job well done.

Video: The Ultimate Descent - From Everest to the Indian Ocean

In 2011, Sanobabu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tshiri Sherpa completed one of the most difficult and unexpected adventures in recent memory. The two men began by climbing to the summit of Everest, where they then deployed a paraglider and launched from the summit, flying down the Khumbu Valley to Namche Bazaar,  where they then embarked on the second stage of their journey – a kayaking trip down the Sun Kosi River that would ultimately take them to the Indian Ocean. Along the way they faced Class V rapids and the real threat of drowning, even as the Nepal military was searching for them since their Everest flight wasn't exactly sanctioned.

This video is from a news report about this crazy expedition. It was obviously filmed not long after they made the climb, flight, and paddle. The clip was recently posted online however, and for those that don't know the story, it is an interesting one. It was quite the adventure going from the summit of the world's tallest mountain to the sea level in just a few short weeks.

Gear Closet: Body Glove 3T Barefoot Warrior Water Shoes

We live in a great time for the outdoor industry. Not only is our gear getting better all the time, it is getting more technical and specialized too. Case in point, over the past few years I've gone from a guy who had just a few pairs of shoes in his closet to someone who now owns the perfect shoe for whatever outdoor activity I'm heading out to take part in. But recently, I added a new pair of footwear to my growing collection in the form of the 3T Barefoot Warrior water shoe from Body Glove, which have delivered lightweight versatility for all of my favorite waterborne adventures.

If you read my article yesterday about whitewater rafting in Quebec you know that my recent trip to that part of Canada was all about spending time on the water. In fact, while I was there I not only went rating, but canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding too. All of those activities were an opportunity to test the 3T Barefoot Warrior in a variety of different aquatic settings, and I can honestly say after using them for a week on the water, I came away very impressed.

These shoes feature a unique design that somewhat resembles Vibram's popular Five Fingers line. But where those shoes require you to jam all of your toes into individual slots, Body Glove has taken the wise step of using a three-toed design instead. As a result, I found it much easier to get the 3T Barefoot Warrior on than I ever did using the Five Fingers. That's because by big toe and second toe can easily slide into place, while the remaining three fit nicely into a larger compartment. On Vibram's offerings I always had to force those last three toes into their proper slots, which felt a bit unnatural to me.

Once the 3T Barefoot Warriors are on my feet, they feel far more natural and comfortable too, providing plenty of protection while still maintaining a good sense of balance too. In fact, up until I had these shoes I had always gone stand-up paddling barefoot as it helped to create the surest connection between my feet and the board I was using. But with Body Glove's shoes I was able to still keep my balance, even on a board that was not amongst the most stable that I have ever used.

As with any water shoe, drainage is of the utmost importance. Fortunately, Body Glove did a great job designing this shoe to allow water to move in and out quickly and easily. That same drainage system also serves to create ventilation for the foot when you're not in the water too, helping it to stay cooler while on land. As a result, you can easily transition in and out of the water without missing a beat.

Made from lightweight, quick-drying materials the 3T Barefoot Warrior are durable and comfortable enough that you can wear them all day without fear. Other water shoes have tended to chafe my feet at times when I wasn't in the water, but I didn't experience that at all here. And while you may get some strange looks wearing them around town, if you do have to wear them in that environment, you're feet won't complain one bit.

If you're in the market for a lightweight and versatile pair of water shoes that you can use in a wide variety of activities, the 3T Barefoot Warrior is an excellent option. I personally really like how they fit on my feet and how well they hold their grip, even on slick surfaces. The fact that they are also highly comfortable is a nice bonus, while the three-toed design makes them easy to get on and off and aids balance too. At $59.99 I think these shoes are a steal, and I believe anyone who takes part in water sports with any regularity will agree. Whether you kayak, SUP, swim, snorkel, or raft, this is a shoe that you'll want in your closet too.

Find out more at

Greenland to Scotland Challenge: Kayakers Make Second Attempt on "Devil's Dance Floor"

Back in June I told you about the Greenland to Scotland Challenge, and attempt by British adventurers Olly Hicks and George Bullard to kayak from the coast of Greenland to the upper regions of Scotland, with some pretty hairy open water sections to contend with along the way. The duo got underway back on July 1 and have working to complete the expedition ever since. The early stages of the paddle went about as they expected, with the two men traveling from Greenland to Iceland with few problems, then slowing making their way around the Icelandic coast. But the most harrowing stage of the journey – dubbed the "Devil's Dance Floor" – is a sea crossing from Iceland to the Faroe Islands off the coast of Scotland that they had hoped to have finished by now. Now, after one aborted attempt, they're getting ready to try again.

Olly and George first tried to paddle across the Dance Floor a few weeks back. They set out from the coast of Iceland on July 23 on what they knew was the toughest leg of their entire journey. But after spending 36 hours on the open sea they received word that bad weather was heading their way. The coast guard advised that they turn back as conditions did not look good.

Fortunately, they were able to hitch a ride on a passing fishing boat and made it back to shore safe and sound. Since then, they've been working on that same fishing boat, earning their keep while they waited for the weather to improve. At long last they've gotten toe okay to proceed, and the forecast looks promising. So, yesterday they returned to the water have has started to cross this treacherous stretch of open water once again.

The boys now face 12 days of living in their kayak as they make their way to the Faroe Islands. During that time they will eat, sleep, and paddle in their boat, completely focused on making progress towards their goal. They have now entered the most crucial stage of this journey, and the next week and a half could be incredibly difficult and dangerous.

As of today, the weather seems to have turned in their favor. The wind is at their back and they are making good progress. In fact, according to their dispatches they have already covered more ground in 24 hours than they did in the first 36 hours out on the Dance Floor. They won't be able to maintain that speed of course, but it is helping to put them back on track. Hopefully the good luck will continue and they'll complete the crossing safely.

Good luck to Olly and George. Follow their progress here.

Video: Dropping the 115-Foot Puma Falls in Chile

At the age of 19, pro kayaker Aniol Serrasolses became the first person to drop over the 115-foot Puma falls in Chile. The impact of that drop was so strong that it actually ejected him from his boat. Recently, he decided to go back and give it another go, this time looking to paddle a clean line. This video takes us to this extremely difficult and technical waterfall with Aniol as he takes the plunge once again.

Video: Kayaking a Newly Discovered Canyon in Alaska

Thanks to the quick retreat of the Logan Glacier in Alaska, a new canyon along the Chitina River has been uncovered. Recently, pro kayaker Todd Wells and a team of friends traveled to this remote region in the Wrangell Mountains to attempt a first descent of the waters rushing through that canyon. This video takes us along with them as they visit a gorge that until recently remained completely unknown to man. Check it out below.

Outside Presents the 2016 Summer Gear Buyers Guide

Just in case you still need some help selecting the best gear for your summer outdoor adventures, Outside magazine has released its 2016 Summer Buyers Guide, outlining 369 items that will keep you safe, comfortable, and happy while pursuing your favorite activities.

The Buyer's Guide is broken down into multiple categories, including Float, Hike, Bike, Run, Fitness, and Travel. Each of those listings is further divided into subcategories that include lists of great gear that is applicable to the activity. For instance, under hiking you'll find the best tents for 2016, as well as the best hiking shoes. Meanwhile, under the bike category you'll discover the best mountain bikes and accessories for a summer ride.

Naturally, with this many items to explore, it can take you quite a long time to sift through all of the options. But, if you're in the market for a new sleeping bag, kayak, camera, or other equipment, the experts at Outside can help you find exactly what you're looking for. There are some really great products to check out here, each of which has been curated by testers who have put these items through their paces over the past few months.

Check out the full list of items on the Outside Online website by clicking here.

British Adventurers to Paddle From Greenland to Scotland

Two British adventurers are preparing to set out on a challenging kayaking expedition that will take them across the Arctic Ocean and North Sea as they travel from Greenland to Scotland. Their journey is set to begin this Sunday and is expected to take upwards of six weeks to complete.

In just a few days time, Olly Hicks and George Bullard will leave the U.K. for Greenland where they will launch their In the Wake of the Finnmen expedition. This journey by sea will cover more than 1200 miles (1931 km) as they travel from the Denmark Strait to Iceland, follow the coastline of that country before daring the waters of the North Sea to head towards the Faroe Islands, a remote place located north of the British Isles. After that, they'll turn south to paddle 50 miles (80 km) to reach the tiny island of North Rona before pressing on with the final leg, which ends at Cape Wrath in Scotland.

All told, the two men expect to be padding for six weeks, with 12 nights actually spend out on the water in the open seas. The first three of those nights will take place on the crossing from Greenland to Iceland. The paddlers will then take their time kayaking along the shores of that country, regaining their strength and preparing for the challenges ahead. During that section of the expedition they'll cover about 20 miles (32 km) per day before pushing on to the Faroe Islands, which will force them to spend another six nights at sea. The final three nights will be when they make the final push across the North Sea to Cape Wrath. 

Olly and George will be paddling a modified Inuk Duo 6.8m sea kayak, which is designed to withstand the challenges and rigors of open water in remote seas. It has also been made for long distance paddling expeditions, with plenty of storage for gear and supplies. The kayak even has sealable cockpits, allowing the men to squeeze inside its hull to catch some sleep on those long nights at sea. 

The aim of the expedition is to prove that the Inuit people of the Arctic could have made a similar journey to populate island that are found in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. Hicks has called it the “Arctic Kon-Tiki expedition" in a nod to the famous Thor Heyerdahl expedition from 1947. Olly and George's boat is much smaller than Heyerdahl's however, with some very different challenges. 

This won't be be the first waterborne journey for Hicks. Back in 2005 he became the youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean at the age of 23. In 2008, we followed his attempt to row around Antarctica as well, and while other expeditions have taken him across the Tasman Sea and around Great Britain. In the future, he hopes to row around the world, taking another crack at the Southern Ocean off the coast of Antarctica once again. 

An Un-Cruise Adventure in Alaska

I've been so busy over the past couple of weeks that I haven't had a chance to share any stories from my recent trip to Alaska, a place that remains one of the best wilderness destinations on the planet. In terms of outdoor adventure and vast sections of land that remain widely unexplored, it is tough to top Alaska. Whether you like skiing, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, or kayaking, you'll find some  amazing places to pursue those activities. But my trip was a different kind of Alaskan adventure, one that many take on an annual basis, the very popular Alaskan cruise.

Now, before you start to think that this adventure blogger has gone soft, let me quickly point out that this wasn't your typical Alaskan cruise. Far from it in fact. I was invited to take part in a cruise through the Inside Passage with Un-Cruise Adventures, a company that does things a little differently than the mainstream cruise lines that most people use while visiting the area. How so you ask? Well, for starters the Un-Cruise fleet is made up of small ships, which means rather than sharing the vessel with hundreds – if not thousands – of other passengers, there were only about 70 travelers aboard my ship, the surprisingly well equipped Wilderness Explorer

This small ship experience allowed everyone on board the ship to interact with one another, getting to know everyone else to some degree. This was especially enhanced when we shared stories around the table during meal time, but also when travelers joined one another on some of the active excursions that are a part of the Un-Cruise itinerary as well. Unlike other Alaskan cruises, passengers don't just stay onboard the ship the entire time, often heading on shore to take a bushwhack hike or to board a kayak to paddle the clear, crisp waters that are found throughout the Inside Passage. Other options for exploring the area included guided walks along the beach, stand-up paddleboarding outings, and skiff tours aboard Zodiac inflatable boats.

Personally, I'm not much of a cruise traveler. If you've read this blog for any length of time, you probably already know that I enjoy being active during my travels and prefer visiting places that I can explore under my own power. On an Un-Cruise you can do just that, thanks to the challenging hikes and great sea kayaking opportunities that actually allow you to get closer to the breathtaking Alaskan landscapes that are such a big draw to visitors.

Speaking of which, the Inside Passage delivered beautiful views at an astounding rate. Before going, I knew that the southeast section of Alaska was well know for its beautiful coasts, but even with that knowledge in mind, I was still surprised and astounded at what I found there. Snow capped peaks, rocky coves, icy fjords, towering waterfalls, and dense rainforest are all part of what you'll find there, with those elements coming together to create a place that is utterly unforgettable. More than once, I remarked that the places we were visiting looked like the should only exist in photos, but yet there they were splayed out in front of us.

Glacier Bay National Park was one of the crown jewels of the trip of course, giving us a chance to get close to some massive walls of ice that still exist in this part of the world. Most of the glaciers there are in full-retreat, but they remain impressive nonetheless. But over the course of the week, we continually came across gorgeous landscapes that are only accessible by boat. Some of those locations were so amazing that they easily rank amongst the most beautiful places I've ever seen, which is saying a lot when you consider some of the great places I've been privileged enough to visit over the years.

In addition to breathtaking landscapes, Alaska is also known for its great wildlife, and my Un-Cruise adventure didn't disappoint in that area either. On our second day out of Juneau for instance, we spotted a pod of orca whales that we watched for nearly an hour. Over the course of the week, we also had encounters with bears (often with cubs!), moose, mountain goats, seals, sea lions, mink, sea otters, bald eagles, and countless other species of birds. If you're like me, and love wild animals in their natural environments, the Un-Cruise won't disappoint in this department either.

Another example of how Un-Cruise differs from the standard Alaskan cruise is that while there is a detailed plan and itinerary for your travels with them, that plan often changes on a moment's notice. For example, one of our days out on the water our captain made the decision to travel 85 miles out of our way just to track down a pod of humpback whales. This was much to the delight of the passengers aboard the Wilderness Explorer of course, as we spent a great deal of time watching these amazing creatures swim through the area. We even witnessed several impressive breaches, as the whales leapt from the water to give us an even better view. It was a memorable experience to say the least, and one that we all appreciated.

My wife – who accompanied me on the trip – and I also had another memorable encounter with an animal while on a guided sea kayak excursion. One afternoon we went out on the water for a couple of hours, and while we had the opportunity to watch a brown bear and her cubs grazing in the grass along the shore, we later had an even better moment with a member of the local wildlife. While paddling, we had a harbor seal following us around for 45 minutes or an hour, occasionally poking his head out of the water to see what we were up to, and even swimming directly under our kayak. He was a cute and curious little fellow, and it was one of the highlights of our entire trip.

As you can no doubt tell, I had a wonderful time in Alaska, and a lot of that has to do with how professional and prepared the team from Un-Cruise were. The staff on our ship kept us well informed at all times of what was happening, and did an outstanding job of organizing our active excursions. On top of that, our cabins were always impeccably clean and the meals were delicious and plentiful. In short, it was tough not to come away impressed, and if I were recommending a cruise through the Inside Passage, I can't imagine doing it any other way than with Un-Cruise. Anything else is just sitting on a ship and watching the world go by.

Un-Cruise doesn't just operate in Alaska. The company also offers departures to the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, Panama, Mexico, and beyond. To check out all of their options, visit