A 40 foot container of medical humanitarian aid for Shirati KMT designated hospital in Rorya, Mara, TANZANIA was shipped out of MedShare’s distribution center in San Leandro, California.  Over one thousand individual pieces of equipment and supplies were selected by the hospital director Dr. Bwire Chirangi and included on the container, including ambulatory bags, hospital beds, surgical drapes, sterilization packing, an anesthesia machine, patient gowns, an ultrasound, stainless steel surgical tools, and much more.

In this photo, MedShare staff and volunteers and the local Shirati supporting group called AISCS stand in front of the container destined for Tanzania.  AISCS is a local group that helps African immigrants and has various projects with the Shirati Hospital including an improved water system. AISCS founder and president, Mrs. Christine Nyanda-Chacha, welcomed me to San Francisco and gave me the beautiful green shirt from her community.  It was a very exciting day and although I had hoped the fundraiser would be successful, I had no idea that it would have such a big impact.  Truly, the donations made are going to be well used and have served the double purpose of environmental conservation and providing healthcare supplies to those in need.

MedShare staff and AISCSFortunately, I was able to be present for the shipment ceremony at MedShare and have these photos to share.  Why was my kayak in the photo?  Well, I’m starting a new job in the Bay Area and was in the process of moving there.  While driving cross-country from Atlanta to San Francisco I learned about the ceremony and so I drove through the night so I could be there for this special event.  Since finding the recipient hospital, the coordinated efforts by MedShare and Shirati hospital to select and verify the supplies took only four weeks.  A job well done!

Ron loading the boxes.

The container will take about 6 weeks to cross the Pacific and Indian oceans by freight ship.  So stay tuned for delivery.

MedShare found a well deserving recipient of the fundraised medical supplies: the Shirati KMT Hospital in northwest Tanzania. The hospital is in a rural region a few miles from Lake Victoria and has 200 beds serving an area of approximately 200,000 people.  The hospital has an inspiring story being formed with sustained support from Tanzanians and Mennonite missionaries. It has already overcome major hurdles training the Tanzanian staff via a nursing school and getting water and electricity to the hospital.

Shirati KMT is at the front line in the fight against malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, and the current AIDS catastrophe.  More history of the hospital can be found here and the location of Shirati can be seen here.  Their non-profit facility is chronically under-resourced and MedShare is helping bridge their need for medical equipment and supplies.  The container sponsored by the CauseToPaddle project will be a great start and future projects will continue to strengthen the Shirati Hospital.  Watch this excellent video where Dr. Chirangi describes his community.

Thank you all for helping support the Shirati Hospital and its community with your donations.  In the coming months, the Shirati Hospital and MedShare will prepare the list of supplies to be sent and go through some review processes.  MedShare does an excellent job of waste-reduction not only by bringing surplus medical supplies into their warehouse but they also have review processes with the recipient to ensure that the right supplies are sent and will be fully utilized.

I thank you all for supporting the CauseToPaddle project and making it a successful fundraiser.  It has been quite an adventure and I thank you all for joining me on it!

After 4.5 months and 2306 miles, I am done!!  The daily interactions with wildlife, grand views of coastline and mountains, and my unexpected finding – the beauty of the ocean in so many shades have imprinted themselves on my memory and I look forward to sharing stories with you all over the coming months.  I’ve posted Leg 5 pictures of Kenai Fjords on Picasa here:

Leg 5: Seward to Homer

and plenty of video content on Youtube here, including my last few weeks on the Kenai Peninsula, a passing with Orca, some zany otter, black bear, and paddling amongst humpbacks, big swells, icebergs, spires and glaciers.  The Homer News wrote this article about my kayak, Her Majesty Turtle, finishing the trip in Homer.  She is famous now!

When I first envisioned this expedition, weighed the sacrifices needed and considered the fundraising and kayaking challenges, I was charged with excitement for a goal that combined so many of my themes.  I had various anxieties and fears for the unknowns and consequences.  And now I can say that my fears were overcome one by one, that it didn’t kill me but indeed made me stronger, and that the remote places I visited and experiences had were worthy rewards.  As you look through the photos, I think you’ll be able to imagine for yourselves how few people ever walk on these beaches, and yet, how rich they are with human history.  I look forward to the next time that I can even paddle for just an afternoon.  Or better yet, twilight, which is my favorite time to be on the water with frequent wildlife sightings and the calm hues of changing light on the water.  Some things in life need time, lots and lots of unproductively slow time.  Kind of like enjoying time with my 2 yr old niece, Emma, who I’ve spent some wonderful time with recently.  To paddle an average of 21 miles per day over 4.5 months, roughly six days per week (111 paddling days out of 133), and maintain a comfortable and safe camp within a rainforest and harsh sea environment, time is the best resource to bring.  And certainly, it has been wonderful to have seen wildlife in many serendipitous circumstances, like five porcupine sightings at dinner, three wolf sightings that I still dream about, two pods of orca, seven black bear sightings, zero brown bear sightings (odd, yes, but not disappointed), and of course, frequent humpback, otter, seal, jumping salmon sightings, and a myriad of bird species.   

I’ll be sharing stories of the trip at REI stores in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and eventually The Gear Revival in Atlanta and hopefully you will be able to come or to spread the word amongst your friends.  Please see the schedule below or on each REI store events page.

  • Thursday August 26, 2010 – REI Seattle, WA. 7-8.30pm
  • Monday, August 30 – REI Saratoga, CA. 7-8.30pm
  • Tuesday, August 31 – MedShare in San Leandro at Noon, and  REI Berkeley 7-8.30pm
  • Wednesday, September 1 – REI Corte Madera, CA. 7-8.30pm
  • Tuesday, September 7 – REI Manhattan Beach, CA. 7-8.30pm
  • Wednesday, September 8 – REI Northridge, CA. 7-8.30pm
  • Thursday, September 9 – REI Santa Monica, CA. 7-8.30pm

We have almost met the $20,000+ goal, so my hope is that these talks will help go beyond that goal and raise awareness about MedShare’s wonderful program.  My appreciation of natural resources and their value matter much more to me now and MedShare’s reduction of 1 million cubic feet of waste to landfills certainly aid our environment.  For those of you who would like to donate or know someone who may, please use this link to donate to MedShare.

Yogihead albums are still available for download, so please email me if you made a donation and would like a copy.  A great thank you to Jeff Shiffman for his music, encouragement, and talents to help fundraise for MedShare. 

The Winner of the Fat Roll Challenge and the $100 gift certificate to Staples is Ian Aitken!  After months of paddling and a rationed high-fiber diet, I weighed 203 lbs.  Here is a video of the final weight measurement on July 26th.  Oddly enough, we raised $493 with the Fat Roll Challenge, but nobody made a guess but Ian who estimated 193 lbs, so he will now have some good bucks for graduate school.  Some donors said they were inspired to donate because of the challenge which is great so I’ll call it a success.  Thank you all for your donations.

In the coming weeks, I’ll continue posting videos and some blogs that I’ve neglected to write till now. So please stay tuned to the facebook page, blog, twitter, or YouTube.  Since finishing the trip, I’ve been in Atlanta with family.  And once I finish the speaking series on the west coast, I’ll be driving back to Atlanta for the foreseeable future.  So I hope to be able to catch up with friends on the west coast around the dates of the talks and then anyone in the Atlanta area following that. 

Thank you all for following and I hope that you are having a good summer, too!

So many things have happened, experiences had, friendships made, and stories shared during this Leg. Also, we are at $17,766.01 which means we are as close to the $20k goal as I am to finishing the trip!  Thank you to donors and those who have forwarded the news of this expedition.  Before I get started, I want to announce The Fat Roll Challenge!  If you can guess my finishing weight when I make it to my finishing city of Kenai, then you’ll win a $100 gift certificate from Staples, generously donated by Staples of Venice, CA.  Any new donation of $10 or higher earns a guess, so you can get $100 for your bid which is 10 times your investment…pretty good!  I’ve uploaded before and after videos of my fat rolls on YouTube here to help you, and here are a few other random facts to help you make a guess:

– On March 10, I weighed 219 pounds, but since then I’ve paddled about 18-20 miles per day for 6 days a week.

-I’ve eaten at least 120 oatmeal packets, 6 jars of peanut butter, 3 jars of Nutella, 10 gallons of gorp, and over 250 Clif/candy/energy bars.  All before dinner 🙂

-By the end of the trip, I’ll have finished the 12 x 20 lb priority mail packages of food that I shipped ahead for each leg of the trip, plus some supplemental breads, meats, cheeses, and chocolate milk that I buy from stores.

So donate $10 to MedShare, bid by emailing CauseToPaddle@gmail.com with your guess in pounds (rounded to the nearest whole number), and enter for a chance to win $100!  This is a great opportunity for those of you who have been following to donate a second or even third time:)

Click here for the pictures of the cross-Gulf ferry, Kim and Rudy’s visit, and Leg 4 in the Prince William Sound.

Mt St Elias, at just over 18,000 feet is just 10 miles from Icy Bay, making it one of the highest rises from tidewater in the world.

The Route: My highest concern for paddling between Seattle and Anchorage was the exposed Gulf of Alaska between Cape Spencer (near Glacier Bay) and Cordova, sometimes called The Lost Coast.   The only solo paddler to have done it, that I know of, is Paul Caffyn who is far more than a mere mortal but there have been a few other teams since.  After months of debating, I decided to skip it by taking a ferry across from Juneau to Whittier and then back to Cordova.  The major source of anxiety being launching and landing a fully loaded kayak in big swell with dumping waves onto steep beaches for a stretch of 120 miles that is prone to frequent storms that come all the way from the south pacific. Whereas I am solo without boat major repair experience, I figured it would be better to recognize my skill level and spend more time enjoying the Prince William Sound and the Kenai Peninsula rather than shooting for the moon.  As I passed Cape Spencer, Yakutat, Mt. St. Elias, Icy Bay, and Kayak Island all from the safety of the ferry, I was eager to see the coast and was fortunate to have good views of all of them so that they are now stuck in my mind. Lastly, I will probably finish in Kenai city instead of Anchorage because I dont want to deal with the tidal flats and my family would rather meet on the Kenai peninsula.

My friends: Kim, who has been a huge contributor and supporter of CauseToPaddle.org and MedShare met me in Whittier and we went paddling for a week to Blackstone Bay so she could see her first glacier and experience the rugged beauty of Alaska with all the senses that come from kayaking.  

Kim's first glaciers seen by kayak

We had some adventures with a heavy SE storm near the end of the trip, and Kim even got to experience her first hunkering day.  After 36 hours of rain and winds, the weather showed signs of improvement and we paddled back to Whittier in the wee hours of the night (1.30am – 6.45am) to enjoy the calm waters and take a shower before taking the ferry to Cordova.  We met up with Rudy on the dock and went to Cordova for some hiking and good ole camaraderie.  After so much time alone, I was looking forward to seeing my friends and am so grateful for the efforts they went to so they could get here. While on a hike to a cabin outside of Cordova, we were watching a beaver swim around his pond. 

Beaver on hike outside Cordova

As we started again, Kim slipped on some wet grass on the steep slope and fell a good 5 feet down with just one shriek!  With her keen sense of self, she heard a crack and knew her ankle was broken but was persistent that we should still go the remaining mile to the cabin for the night and then hike out the next day.  We applied an ace bandage around her swollen foot, found a tree branch for a crutch, and made our way over snow fields and creeks and uphill to the Power Ferry Cabin.  Rudy prepared a fire and after some ibuprofen, a good supper, and an ice pack of snow in a zip lock bag, Kim was taken care of as well as we could manage. 

3 fractures! and she still hiked out!

The next day, we used the satellite phone to call the forest service so they could open a gate and meet us at an easier junction in the trail.  But Cordova has much better first response than that!  They sent 9 folks, many of whom were volunteers, to meet us on the trail.  Kim, being the incredibly strong woman that she is, was able to hike out three miles using two walking poles and the assistance of the Cordova Fire Dept for the tricky sections.  When we made it to the hospital, and the X-ray showed a total of three broken bones, tibia, fibula, and calcaneus we were all shocked by how Kim was able to do it and in such high spirits!  We spent the rest of the weekend at the Childs Glacier and by the time they flew out, we were well known in Cordova.

Rudy, Kim, and me in front of Childs Glacier

Prince William Sound: The most wonderful things come to view when the fog rises or the mountains give you a peek at their world.  After saying goodbye to my friends in Cordova  and bringing cookies to the Fire Dept and Forest Service, I spent two reflective weeks paddling around Prince William Sound (PWS) as far north as the upper reaches of College and Columbia Fiords and as far to the south as Knight and Latouche Islands.  The quiet drizzle and foggy days that came even with high pressure systems were the protection for the glacier covered inland mountains and the cold peaks that spur out of the outer islands to encircle the Sound.  Living in this environment with only the nylon walls of my tent and the thin Kevlar of my kayak to shield me from the cold dampness made me so happy to be able to live this close to wildlife and nature yet feel self-reliant.  And after I left, there was no trace of my impact which does feel rewarding. 

Foggy Mountains and Floating Glacier Ice

In PWS, I had my closest encounters with a breaching humpback and a pod of Killer Whales, not to mention the otters and eagles that I saw daily. 

From 150 feet above the ocean, I saw two Bald Eagles fight and tear at each other as they fell through the sky.  Like seeing a plane fall from the sky, their tangled form caught my eye.  Then they separated as one fled for refuge…but where could he hide from another eagle?  A top predator bent on attacking him was in enraged pursuit.  Just as fast, strong, and able with sharp talons and stealthy beak.  Normally it is the gulls that feel the wrath of the great eagle, but in this case, some social or breach of hunter’s code spurred this high speed aerial fight.  And then their great brown wings and strong legs met again in a twisting spiral that no longer soared but plummeted…falling down hundreds of feet at terminal velocity!  Until they hit the hard ocean surface, disappearing in a large wave…moments later I heard the CRASHING SPLASH!  Then one eagle spread its six foot wingspan and with one flap it took flight away from the water.  The other could not.  Its wings were broken leaving it still mightily thrashing to stay afloat, yet too far from shore to have hope.  It was unable to gracefully flee with fish in grip as it had probably done so many times, but rather it recognized its loss to his competitor, until the thrashes were fewer and farther between.   It was about a half mile from me, yet I couldn’t bring myself to go closer to this once great victor in the food chain.  I didn’t want his last moments to be scattered fear of a human taking advantage of his vulnerability.  In this case, it would be the fish that would pick from his bones.

Although many days I didn’t see another soul, I met many more people than I did in the Southeast, where I was generally too early to see other kayakers.  It is so fun to spread out the maps on the beach and share stories, advice on navigation, favorite camping locations, and most importantly, recognize the same excitement in people seeking the same connection with wilderness.  Gillnetting fisherman shared their fresh catch of salmon with me. 

Salmon Fisherman bringing in Gillnet

And the communities of Cordova and Seward are now lasting in my mind for their hospitality and the friends that I made there.  In Cordova, I met a Portland doctor who volunteered in Haiti and knew MedShare well. He was happy to make a donation and chat about kayaking for awhile.  In Seward, I even met and had potluck with Josh who made the movie ‘Paddle To Seattle.’  The kayaking community is so great because of their ability to be down to earth and know the needs of a fellow traveler, even when sometimes it is just meeting up to watch the World Cup.

The PWS is also well known for the tragic grounding of the Exxon Valdez oil freighter twenty-one years ago, which spilled at least 11 million gallons of crude oil into the Sound.  The spill devastated the same wildlife and coastline that I’m admiring daily.  I’ll blog more about that later.  As I’ve received updates since April of the horrifying deep sea spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I am struck silent by the overwhelming magnitude of this and how it persists without mitigating technology.  I shudder to think of man’s carelessness to consider environmental impacts fully and can only hope that as people see my pictures of Alaska, they can form more of a relationship to it so they can cherish it and value it higher than our dependence on oil.  Certainly, I want others to be able to experience the beauty of this wilderness with all their senses and I hope that you enjoy these pictures and what I can humbly share about this ineffable experience.

There are many many routines that I have per day that help me do everything from ensuring I don’t forget gear to helping me maintain a disciplined camp site including food storage that is as bombproof as possible.  Packing the boat for instance has changed in only a few ways since the very beginning of the trip which makes it quicker to load and easier for me to know if something is different and figure out why.  This blog will describe a few of the routines so you can get a picture of what kayak camping is about in order to explore the amazing wilderness of Alaska and BC.

“You ain’t never gonna fit all that stuff in there.” – friend in Port McNeill marina

How I fit all the stuff in Her Majesty Turtle

How can you possibly bring  items like a laptop, an electric shaver, a SLR camera, and hundreds of zip locked bags of food on a kayaking trip over 5 months?  There are so many issues to deal with, especially having emergency gear reachable from the cockpit, managing the corrosive effects of salt water, the potential flooding of the cockpit or some hatches, the magnetic deviation that metallic objects such as tent poles can have on my navigational compass.  Once a 30 mile paddle with George and Jeandrew became a 40 mile paddle in one day because of a compass that was deviated due to tent poles in the hatch beneath it so that lesson is still with me.  All of these little factors come into play when sorting dry bags, packing the boat, and so on.  Here is how I pack each hatch:

Rear Hatch: Tent, Rain Fly, Ground cloth, poles, stakes, tennis shoes, sleeping bag, 1st bear can, dry suit, and rope for hanging.

Day Hatch: Cooking Mess Kit, SLR Camera, Books, Pelican Case with Sat and Cell Phones, Flare gun, headlamp, bear spray, first aid bag, and repair kit.

Cockpit: 10L Dromedary bag for water, rope for bowline and tying up on shore, and a Gatorade bottle for peeing (tied down with elastic to the seat).

Front Hatch: 20L bag with Surplus food, Coat, clothes, netbook, electronics (MP3 player, spare batteries, etc), 2nd bear can, water filter, spare fuel, toiletry bag, rain pants, Nalgene water bottle, dirty clothes bag, Noah’s Tarp, and fuel bottle.  No strongly magnetic objects in this hatch to limit magnetic deviation of compass.  To be safe, metal objects should be farther than 3-4 times there longest dimension from the compass. Test to be sure by bringing objects close to the compass and then removing.

Deck: Rear side with 2 dry bags with lunch and snacks in one and sleeping pad/duct tape/mosquito head net in the other, and my Crocs attached with carabineer. Front side has spare paddle, and deck bag with chart case, bilge pump, float, maps, camera with pelican case, suntan lotion, and air horn.

Life Jacket (PFD): 1.5L water bag and tube, VH-F radio, strobe light, SPOT device, ACR PLB for back-up, emergency blanket, Laser Flare, Cliff Bar, swabby in zip lock to clean camera lens and glasses, knife, whistle, signaling mirror, and two Orion flares.  My baseball cap is attached to the PFD so I dont lose it in the wind. 

Water Filtration

This one is easy but essential to prevent guardia or other protozoa.  Boiling water would be far too fuel expensive for this long of a trip, so I much prefer filling up in towns, filtering from streams, or getting water straight from the glaciers.  I have two 10L dromedary bags, a Nalgene, and the 1.5L bag, so a total of 22.5 liters which can last me two weeks if need be.  But I normally just fill the one 10L bag and that lasts me 2-3 days.  BC and SE Alaska have water streams abundant and most charts indicate the major flows.  And near the glaciers, water filtration isn’t even necessary because I was at the source.  Any other time, I used my ceramic MSR filter, as seen in the picture.

Food Storage

So this is the food storage system to prevent bears/raccoon et al. from getting to food and toiletries.  (A) Bear canisters to the bottom right, and (B) hanging bags between trees.  Normally I only have to hang sfuff when I have surplus at the beginning of each leg to the trip and after that everything fits in the bear cans.  Recently I was lazy and left the bags in the kayak hatch and before I fell asleep, I heard a thump on the kayak, followed by silence.  The next morning I saw that the fuel bottles which were in the cockpit had fallen all over the place and there were some scratches near the hatch…probably a black bear in the area.  I saw scat nearby.  I’ll stick to hanging the bags.

This 2 to 1 rope tension system is very handy to hoist food bags high above the reach of bears without shredding your hands on rope.  It essentially reduces the weight lifted by the person in half.  Grizzlies especially can stand to 9 feet and reach very high.  Black bear have been known to climb trees, so the idea here is to suspend the food between two trees and have the bags around 20 feet high.

There are many many many more routines that I’ll eventually write up, but now it’s time for me to get packed up for Leg 4 because Kim is arriving soon and it’s time to paddle!

I named my Valley Aquanaut HV "Her Majesty Turtle"

I love this kayak!  Her Majesty was made in Nottingham, England by Valley Sea Kayaks, one of the most world-renowned sea kayak makers for performance in rough seas, expeditions, and long standing quality.  As a larger paddler, the key thing that I wanted was assurance of a wet reentry in rough conditions which the spacious cockpit of the Aquanaut HV kayak has.  Second to that, I wanted high storage capacity and as much speed as could still be got given the first two needs.  After sitting in one at Jen Kleck’s Aqua Adventures shop, I knew it was a good fit.  It fits three bear cans if need be and I’ve been able to bring all the miscellaneous items of gear simply because they fit and I can still keep 4 knots on flat water.

Her name is now Her Majesty Turtle for many personal reasons.  Since I’m living out of this vessel for almost six months and have left my apartment, she is like my turtle shell.  And since she is made with a high strength Kevlar-carbon layup she is as strong as a turtle shell, built for rough treatment and speeds about the same as a sea turtle, 3-5 knots.  It was recommended by a friend named Trish to have a gender neutral name to avoid the bad ju ju that comes from a maritime history of lady named boats that have shipwrecked or sank.  Therefore “Turtle” appeals.  Yet the commanding respect of “Her Majesty” was too funny to ignore and fits with my laptop, which I called “My Precious” throughout grad school.  While deciding between them, Kim asked, ‘why not have both names?’  And that did it, hence, she will be known as Her Majesty Turtle.


I had a few typical modifications made to my kayak although this already superb expedition kayak already had excellent features that I’ll discuss as well.

Aquanaut HV Features That I Admire

  • Curved bulkhead behind seat for quick and complete emptying of flooded cockpit.
  • British style sea kayak – skeg, good rocker, and fish-shaped design for stability. Very sporty and responsive giving me lots to continue learning from as I progress as paddler.
  • The skeg cable has an extra 3-4 inches near the hand deploy slide that can be utilized in the field if the cable kinks in the exposed section between skeg and hull.  Therefore you only need a replacement skeg kit if the described extension option isn’t adequate or the skeg blade is lost.
  • The details like strength building lamination under all the fasteners for deck rigging make it easy to change out the deck rigging many times without incurring leakage or damage to the holes.

Keel Strip

For most fiberglass or carbon kayaks, the keel is still the area that will be impacted the most from launching and landing and scrapes to the hull because it is often the first and last in contact.  This is really a materials problem where the gel coat above these materials doesn’t deal well with abrasion.  So I decided to add more layers to the keel which is frequently done for expeditions where a lot of damage is expected. 

The red keel strip was added to the hull

I went with Sterling in Bellingham, WA, based on a good recommendation.  As a kayak designer and repair guy for the best kayakers in the world, Sterling gets a firsthand view at failure modes for boats and can improve on them with his designs.  Some of the insights I liked were the off center skeg to reduce damage, ideas about flooding day hatches, and reducing cable kinks for skegs, which I personally dislike after replacing Solveig’s skeg cable (my plastic kayak).  An impressively, Sterling was able to color match the red trim color perfectly.

Sterling and I with Her Majesty


Skeg Loop

A quick job, this thru hole and rope loop help me clear the skeg of those nuisance rocks that bind the skeg from deploying instead of having to pull out a knife and clear it.  It is very useful when a friend is nearby and can pull on the loop to deploy the skeg while on the water.

Skeg loop for easy pull down


Compass Addition

A permanent compass at the fore deck is very valuable for tracking and navigation.  In Ryan’s back yard, I confirmed its calibration at 0 and 270 degrees magnetic against my other marine compass to be sure that it worked properly.  I should have done 4 directions, but the other compass hadn’t even been checked that well.  I did it by putting the 2nd ‘good’ compass far out along a 0 degree line made using other measurements and ensuring that the new Brunton 70P also read o degrees.  Then I aligned the lubber lines with the kayak and some distant points that I added.  Finally I fastened it to the boat with a little help of 3M sealant.  I used ¼ inch stainless screws instead of the ½ inch screws provided with the 70P Brunton compass on the recommendation of Rob Avery, and that was a very valuable recommendation because as it happens, the screws did come all the way through the Kevlar layer and if they were another ¼ inch long, they would certainly scrape me or gear at some point.

Checking and Fastening Compass

Yogihead Promotion for CauseToPaddle

As I enter the final two legs of my adventure I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to send you a special offer courtesy of Jeff Shiffman, friend and composer of “Yogihead” (www.yogihead.com or http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/yogihead-innovative-music/id350700553) – a particularly amazing set of tracks Jeff has composed and produced himself for anyone seeking to deepen their yoga practice or simply love ambient music to work, create or even paddle a kayak to. 🙂  My favorite tracks are Home and Overture.  Jeff is a good friend of mine in LA and is very generous to help fundraise for MedShare with his talents.

Jeff has already received a number of positive accolades and critical support for his fresh approach to this genre and I am very honored to have his permission to offer you a free digital download copy of his album as a gesture of Jeff’s support to CausetoPaddle.  

For your first, or additional donation to Medshare of $10 or more through the Causetopaddle portal, you will receive direct from Cause To Paddle a download link of the Yogihead album for your enjoyment next internet check in.   You will also receive a thank you letter from Medshare for your tax deductible 501 (c) 3 donation. If you’ve already made a donation and would like the link, please email me or Kim and we can send it to you.

Think of it as a bit of Good Karma for the Cause 🙂    http://medshare.donorpages.com/BoxesofHope/expedition/

Some of Yogihead reviews:

“…delights the ears as it soothes the brain” – yogabear.org

“…perfect music to put on whenever I need a break from the stress of my workday.”

“Yogihead is hot. (take) a ride within your mind, on your yoga mat, or into your bedroom.” –beginwithin.ca

“…provide(s) a yoga practitioner with a great background for asana or meditation practice.” –yogabuddhist.com

This note comes to you from Petersburg which Louise and I have reached in 9 eventful paddling days. Unfortunately, this marks the end of Louise’s vacation so she will return to work and Conor will continue Leg 3 on his own.

But – wow, what an incredibly wonder-packed leg it has been so far!

After leaving Ketchikan, we paddled north through Clarence Strait. It was here that we had our first encounters with graceful giants – the humpback whales. On the second day out we sat transfixed by two mother-calf pairs that fed all around our boats. The sound was quiet except for their breathing and the calls of gulls and terns, diving for their remainders. Farther north at the confluence of Clarence Strait and Ernest Sound we watched a young male launch himself from the water in a spectacular series of four breaches. The penultimate experience may have been a very quiet moment on the water when we heard whale song transmitted through the water below and ring into the air. There was no mistaking it, we had entered the realm of the giants.

Humpbacks weren’t the only animals we shared the water with. Daily we have been treated to glimpses of dolphins, Dal’s Porpoises and, on one occasion (we swear), a group of Orcas in the distance. Numerous birds including Guillemots, Murres, Cormorants, Terns, and various ducks have worked the water’s surface and bald eagles were frequently visible overhead.

Humpback Whale Watching

Humpback Whale Watching

On reaching Ernest Sound we turned east and paddled along the east side of Deer Island. On Day 4 we reached the Anan Creek Bear Observatory at Anan Creek. In July and August when the salmon are running, Anan Creek is a prime location for brown and black bears. We didn’t have any bear sightings but, after periods of rain and swell, we had a clear and sunny evening. Time for the Roll Me Challenge ! Clad in his drysuit, Conor clocked out 17 perfect rolls. And then, he gave finished an additional 4, just for good measure. We’ve uploaded the video here and it’s worth checking out. Yes, Conor gets an ice-cream headache from the cold water. And yes, watching the red keel strip of his boat surface each time is a thrill. Thank you to all our wonderful donors for making the Roll Me Challenge so successful by raising over $3500 for MedShare !

The weather wasn’t always with us. Our crossing to Wrangell Island was in heavy rain and winds screaming to 35-40 knots. Fishermen we met in Wrangell town later asked “where were you when it blew up yesterday ?”. On the whole though the weather was cooperative and the days are getting noticeably longer ! Sunrise cracks the skies at 4am and the skies darken at 10 pm. These 18 hour days are just made for paddling !

Maybe the most humorous afternoon of the leg was crossing the Dry Strait. They don’t call them “Dry” without reason ! The Stikine River moves sediment around a delta as it enters the ocean so there are many shallow sections. After passing Dry Strait, we entered Frederick Sound and we didn’t time the tides perfectly and ended up walking about a mile into Le Conte Bay.

Walking on Tidal Flats before Le Conte Bay

Le Conte is the southernmost tidewater glacier in Alaska and an awesome sight to behold. We spent a morning paddling into the caved ice pack for a close view. Conor filmed a movie that will give you an idea of the ethereal, cold world of the ice pack, also uploaded on YouTube here.

Louise in front of Le Conte Glacier

We have now arrived in Petersburg and lodged last night in the First Presbyterian Church. Thank you to Pastor Bob for offering us such warm and generous accommodation! Louise is packing for her ferry ride back to Ketchikan and Conor is preparing to head out again. We hope you have enjoyed this update 🙂

Much Love,
Conor and Louise

The Roll Me Challenge has officially raised $3577.01 for MedShare to send medical supplies since April 2 back in Powell River which brings the total raised so far to $16,391.01. Superb! Thank you all so much for your generosity and I hope that you will enjoy the pictures and of course, the WHOPPING 14 ESKIMO ROLLS that I will have to do for the Roll Me Challenge.

Between now and Petersburg, Louise and I will video-record the rolls and get it uploaded sometime after my head finishes thawing. For those of you who know my kayaking history, the funny thing is that I only started to roll recently because before then, I was in warm southern california and could get away with Cowboy rescues to get back in the boat. So it wont be pretty, but it will be fun and I appreciate y’alls enthusiasm to dunk me in the water 🙂

Hello Friends and Family!
After four quiet weeks and about 600 miles, I’m in Ketchikan, Alaska.  I’m pretty sure the total mileage is around 1000 miles since Seattle but will upload my updated Float Log later.  For those of you who are new to this email list, such as Louise’s friends who have made recent contributions, thank you for your support and I hope you enjoy the blogs, tweets, and pictures.  Also, we should have the SPOT location updates back up and running in the next few weeks, so keep an eye on the website.

I’ve uploaded photos of Leg 3 with some captions that I hope will at least give y’all some more info about what I’m doing and a visual for my daily life on the water.  Roughly I spend about 7 to 10 hours on the water, about 8 to 10 luxurious hours sleeping, a few hours loading/unloading the boat and making camp, some time for cooking, and nano-seconds for eating which I do voraciously 🙂  The story my 4 and a half month journey up the coast is still unraveling for you and me both J 

Leg 2: Port McNeill, BC to Ketchikan, AK

At this very moment, my kayaking partner for the next two weeks, Louise and I have packed up all our gear and are going to start our trip up to Petersburg.  We met in Ketchikan on Friday night and have spent a day and a half here to resupply and enjoy the area.  I’m softening up all too easily after two nights in a hotel, a haircut, eating at restaurants and all that good stuff. 

Thank you so much for your supportive emails and messages.  Of special note are emails from one of my first teachers, Sally Mitchell in Atlanta who read about this expedition in the AJC newspaper and has been inspiring me since then and most recently, a package from the St. Anne’s Soccer Team including a recent photograph of the team and a signed card with encouraging messages. I will have them in my chart case to guide me on the way up to Anchorage.  Thank you all for this! 

Also, I feel that I should give some background on kayaking trips in the Inside Passage between Seattle and SE Alaska.  From May through August, I would guess about 10-20 kayakers paddle the whole distance each year.  The weather during these months is generally the best and the seas calmest, although the weather here is very capricious and requires time and caution to complete any trip.  Since I wanted to challenge myself and make my time off from work most worthwhile, I decided to start early and kayak in March and April so that I could be in the Kenai Peninsula in July and August when optimal conditions are needed.  The Leg5 section will definitely be my most challenging.  As a result, I was the only kayak I knew of and I didn’t see another from the Gulf Islands near Victoria till Misty Fiords near Ketchikan.  It was actually very nice and I enjoyed the time alone amidst this nature very much.  There were some other recreational boats along the way as well as many tug boats, but thankfully, the cruise ships and ferries hadnt really begun going the route until May. 

I knew April was going to be pretty raining and rough, and looking back, I was lucky to only have 4 days off the water due to inclement weather.  Many of my tweets refer to the bothersome rain for camping, and that certainly was my sentiment, but I wouldn’t give it back for anything.  Hopefully the pictures you’ll see will show you the magnificent landscapes and nature that I have been seeing.  I will look fondly on these memories of clam shell beaches and small island archipelagos of British Columbia always.  Also, having completed the longest distance section of Leg 2, I am feeling very fit and strong and ready for the challenges ahead between here and Anchorage.  And to answer some of your questions, I feel safer out here than I ever did driving my daily commute on the I-405 in Los Angeles.  So many major collisions and a much higher probability of injury.

I hope that you are all well and am so glad to hear about recent engagements, baptisms, goings on, and look forward to connecting with you all more in the coming months.

Much Love, Conor