No Barriers Grand Canyon Expedition Reflection

Some of you know I celebrated my birthday in the Grand Canyon during our No Barriers expedition. What an amazing place to have a birthday party. That night, the team gave me some very meaningful gifts. Rob Raker laid out an exhibit with crazily-shaped pieces of drift wood he’d been carefully collecting throughout the journey; one piece felt like an old man’s staff , another like a bent arm and another like a cello. After that we sat in a circle singing and playing the drums, guitars, and shakers brought by our band leader, Timmy O'Neill.

Kayaking Blind Grand Canyon Celebration

My recent No Barriers Grand Canyon expedition was my most physically and mentally challenging experience yet. It was a big stretch for me and my team. Throughout, there was plenty of fear, intensity, even some panic. However, there were also moments of joy and celebration. Now with the expedition behind us, it’s time to celebrate the journey and all the barriers shattered along the way. Many of you joined us by following along through our dispatches from the river, and some of you supported us by taking the No Barriers Pledge yourself, committing to your own No Barriers Life.

Kayaking Blind Grand Canyon Expedition Recap Video

Our expedition partner, Nature Valley just put together an incredible short video clip as a summary of the expedition. Of course there is lots more to share but this encompasses a little bit of everything from the adventure. It even has the surprise finish that Ellen wrote about yesterday. Enjoy!  

Family Surprise at the Takeout

Written by Ellen Weihenmayer: It’s fun and rather easy to surprise a blind guy. The kids and I hopped on a plane and flew to Flagstaff, Arizona. From there, we got on the raft guides’ bus and drove 6 hours to the take-out at Pearce Ferry. My friend, Kim, came along. Kim is our family’s cheerleader, starting with her film work at base camp while Erik was on Everest. Also, Erik’s lead climbing Sherpa and friend, Kami, met us in Flagstaff. Kami is “Uncle Kami” to our family. He helped us in the arduous adoption process for our son, Arjun. He’s always up for an adventure.

Kayaking Blind

Now that I’m home, I’ve had a little time to reflect on our No Barriers Grand Canyon Expedition. Lonnie and I embarked on this journey as part of our No Barriers Pledge, our commitment to live a No Barriers Life. As two blind people, we understood that choosing to kayak 277 miles through the Grand Canyon and through some massive white water, wouldn’t be easy. Choosing this kind of path is never easy!

Side Hikes in the Grand Canyon

Side hikes in the canyon are one of the highlights of any trip. Check out this gallery of some of the favorites from the expedition.

No Barriers Kayaking Blind Expedition White Water Highlights

We have a new action-packed kayaking video to share with you! The team arrived home late Monday night, and they have been working hard on creating some new videos to share with the community. We hope you enjoy learning about how the team experienced white water on the Grand Canyon in the excerpt below. From Erik:  "For a sighted adventurer, the Grand Canyon is a visual masterpiece with huge chaotic rapids surrounded by steep rock walls tiering upward for thousands of feet.

Day #16: Monday, September 22, 2014-Post Lava Falls & Skyler's No Barriers Pledge

Day #16: Monday, September 22, 2014-Post Lava Falls We heard from the team this morning via text. They camped out below Lava Falls, relieved to have this section of the river behind them. The resting spot is called Tequila Beach. Go figure. Lava presented the team with some unexpected drama that can only be described as chaotic success. Michael Brown, our film director, has assured us of some good entertainment as he works to tell this story on film. Meanwhile, Skyler reports, “The last week or so has been very walled in, so dispatches have been guerrilla operations.

Grand Canyon Expedition 2014 Launch!

September 7, 2014 Today, I'm launching on a long awaited adventure, to solo kayak the Grand Canyon, 21 days, 277 miles from Lee's Ferry to Pierce Ferry. Joining me is Navy veteran Lonnie Bedwell, an accomplished kayaker, who like me is also blind. Together, the two of us hope to make a powerful and authentic statement about living a No Barriers Life and the belief that this is possible for each of us.

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