Blog posts in Kayaking

Big October Ahead!

Today I am embarking on a month-long adventure in Peru. First, I’ll be joining a team of injured veterans as part of our third Soldiers to Summits expedition, set high in the Peruvian Andes. S2S is part of my No Barriers organization in which we use mountain journeys as both a metaphor and training ground for setting goals, building world-class teams, innovating through adversity and stepping up to lead and serve others again.

Grand Canyon practice run

I’m back from our 12-day practice run of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. This trip was a test run for myself and my team to assess whether coming back to kayak all 225 miles is a real possibility or just a pipedream. Now that I’m back and have had some time to reflect, I feel I have a good shot at pulling this off. Starting off the trip, I listened carefully to the advice of my friend, Harlan Taney, who has kayaked the Grand over a hundred times. He told me, “Hey, you have to get to a point where you have fun in these rapids.

Round 2: Usumacinta River, Mexico

In March, my team and I traveled to Mexico to kayak the Usumacinta River again. We returned to the Usu because it’s as an easy winter training ground. Getting there is simple, just fly to Houston and then to Chiapas, Mexico. It’s relatively safe—there haven’t been any kidnappings since the 90’s. And it’s a high volume river that is good practice for the Grand Canyon. The Usu is also quite the contrast to the Colorado River because it cuts through a very dramatic limestone gorge with steep walls that rise up higher than El Capitan and you are surrounded by jungle.

Vote for the Webby

Last November, the New York Times published an article about me that was written by Erik Olsen. He also produced a short film, called "Paddling Blind," that is now up for a Webby Award. Please take a moment and vote for Erik's film!

Launching on the Grand!

In the next hour or so, I'm launching for my trial run down the Grand Canyon! We have a great team that will assist me and it should be an incredible two-week adventure. The goal of this trip is to test out systems and try running some of the rapids so I know what I'll be in for when we make the complete descent next year. I will try to send some posts from the river but satellite connections aren't the greatest at the bottom of the Big Ditch. I've also pre-scheduled some other blog posts while I'm away, including a more detailed report on last month's kayaking trip in Mexico. Stay tuned!

Fast and Rocky!

Rocky Contos is an amazing whitewater guide who organized my kayaking trips to Mexico and Peru last year. Here is a great article in Outside magazine about Rocky's quest to become the first person to truly descend the Amazon from the source to the sea. I'll be heading back to Mexico with Rocky soon and have some other adventures in mind with him in the future.

New York Times article on blind kayaking

The New York Times just published a great article about me! Written by Eric Olson, it gives a pretty good look at what I've been up to lately. There's even a 7+ minute video of me training at the National Whitewater Center. But dude, I really don't say "gnar" that much!

Kayak Training Continues

My first trip to the National Whitewater Center in Charlotte didn’t bode well. In the very first rapid, called Entrance Exam, I flunked when I flipped and ended up taking a long swim. I was completely overwhelmed by the chaos of the river and was on the verge of quitting and going home. But eventually I got back in my boat and kept at it. This fall, I made my third trip to the NWC and things are going swimmingly, which is to say I’m not swimming as often! One of the things that I love about this new sport is that reconnects me with the challenges and joys of the learning process.

Peru Kayaking Adventure

This summer, I was originally planning to kayak Hell’s Canyon on the Snake River as part of my training for the Grand Canyon, But my friend Rocky Contos at SierraRios Adventures contacted me about some trips he had planned in Peru. As you may recall, In January, a group of us joined Rocky on a descent of the Usumacinta River in Mexico. We had such a good time that I didn’t hesitate to go on another adventure with Rocky.

Canoe & Kayak Feature Article

The August issue of Canoe & Kayak magazine has a profile about me and my kayak training, which you can now read online. There's also a video shot by the Denver Post earlier this summer. Check it out!