The following is the second in a series of dispatches from South America sent by kayaker Chris Korbulic. You can read the first post here.
Manaus Airport Photo by Chris Korbulic 2.28.2011 Our plane was on time to the Manaus airport, and we were only a little worse for wear after the multi-stop flight from Sao Paulo. All our baggage slid out onto the carousel in good time, except three very important pieces.
I went scouting for our kayaks around some corners and came back to see a tired guard watching a lonely backpack forgotten on the carousel, but none of the team. We'll have to stick together in far more difficult places than the airport baggage claim, and losing each other on the first day would not be the best start. Neither would losing the kayaks, but soon enough they appeared from a dark set of stairs, and we went outside to see a taxi driver waiting for us, holding a sign: "Grupo Kaiak extremo." Pedro must have insisted on adding extremo.
After a short, fitful sleep, I woke with a start to the creaking metal door opening and filling the room with sunshine, and a silhouette holding a camera asking how I slept. I pulled the sheet back over my eyes. Outside, there was a veritable mountain of gear we were going to have to fit into two, too-small cars. The gear is going everywhere with us, and represents a huge change from the usual fast-and-light approach Ben and I take on expeditions. We always have our kayaks and plenty of rivers and waterfalls in mind, but this will be more than our typical expedition. This is one on which we are actors in our own "choose-your-own-adventure" story, and while we probably won't go so far as, say, Bear Grylls, we might say something extra brave for the cameras. And hey, it's not so bad to have people think you're extra brave.
Andressa, Photo by Chris Korbulic Along for the extreme ride this year are Andressa, a Brazilian beauty from Santos learning to paddle, and two producers, Daniel and Ronaldo on the all-day quest for "the shot." They round out the group nicely and add another dynamic to the already brewing pot in the Manaus heat. (Surprisingly, none of them packed the most kit. That dubious title goes to Pedro.)
In 2000, former professional motocross rider Jimmy Button suffered a freak crash that instantly paralyzed him from the neck down. Eleven years later, the rehabilitated 37-year-old is hopping on his bicycle for a two-month, 2,428-mile Miles for Miracles ride from San Diego, California to Daytona, Florida, averaging 60 miles a day to raise money for spinal cord research. He pedals out from Qualcomm Stadium—the site of his accident—on Sunday, following the San Diego Supercross race. I got a hold of him to get the lowdown on the big ride and his long process of recovery.
What happened at Qualcomm? It was just a small crash in the big scheme of things. We were in the third round of the Supercross series, and it was our second practice of the day. They gave us the green flag, and I was just cruising around the track really slowly, just a couple of miles per hour, looking at the track and doing a lap before we really started picking up the pace. And I just hit a hole the wrong way. The front end got away from me, and I didn't get my hands out. I landed on my head and wrenched my neck so far backwards that it ripped all the ligaments off my spine and pinched my spinal cord. The second I hit the ground, I went cold and numb. Instant, one-hundred percent paralysis from the neck down.
How long were you paralyzed? It was a couple of months before anything started to work. The first thing was the index finger on my left hand. I just stared at it, stared at it, stared at it. It may have been hours. I got a finger to move, and the next day I got a little bit more to work. Slowly and eventually the movement started to go across the rest of my body. Months later, I was able to walk on my own. It wasn't a pretty sight in the beginning.
Yes, that's a kayaker at the edge of the falls. From last year's trip. (Courtesy of Caue Ito)
The following is the first in a series of dispatches from kayaker Chris Korbulic.
In 2010, Ben Stookesberry, Brazilian Pedro Oliva, and I faced some of the most difficult whitewater in central Brazil. Thanks to Pedro's desire to be the face of kayaking in Brazil, images from the trip were produced into a television series for a Brazilian network. (You can watch last year's trailer here.) To capture 13 episodes, we covered thousands of kilometers through the great diversity of the southern Amazon Basin, and met many challenges, but are back again! This year, we depart from Manaus and travel along the most voluminous river on earth, the Amazon, north to the tri-border region with Brazil, Venezuela, and Guiana.
From last year's trip (Courtesy of Chris Korbulic)
Here, we will visit the mystical Highlands of Guiana, which cover much of Venezuela, Guiana, and the northern state of Roraima in Brazil. The region is home to the impressive tepui mountains and some of the world's most spectacular waterfalls. These tabletop mountains rise one over the other, like giant steps, with escarpments hundreds to thousands of feet tall, rain-fed waterfalls pouring over their edges: the perfect conditions to find big, runnable waterfalls.
The shield is one of the regions of highest biodiversity in the world and many national parks in Guiana and Venezuela protect the vast expanse of undisturbed tropical rain forest. The highlands remain one of the world's last frontiers, but development is moving in along the edges. Potentially enormous mineral wealth—including gold, diamonds, and iron ore—lies under the cover of dense jungle. Luckily, rivers in “The Land of Many Waters” are far from the heaviest power demands along the coast, but they could start to form the power base for further inland development.
Chris Korbulic, Andress, and Pedro Oliva
Ben, Pedro, and I will travel through the mystical tepui lands and meet the people of the region, filming all along the way to capture the adventure, awareness, and our unique obstacles. We will be joined by a new Brazilian team member named Andressa, a champion Hawaiian canoeist. The adventure begins the last week of February when the whole team meets in Manaus to start the trip north. This will be the second season of "Kaiak", the first adventure kayaking television series.
Would you watch? Wait for the next update after we pack up to hit the road and river.
The trailer to Soul Surfer, the new movie about the life of Bethany Hamilton, is making its way around the web. Hamilton lost her arm at the age of 13 in a tiger shark attack off the island of Kauai while surfing with her friend Alana Blanchard. She returned to surfing just a few months later to pursue her dream of becoming a pro.
So far, the buzz around the movie has centered around the inclusion of Christianity. The Hollywood Reporter broke a story that the words Holy Bible were edited off of the cover of a book when the movie was shown during a screening. They were put back in after the family objected.
“I could see the words bright and clear. I looked at my wife and whispered, ‘Thank you God, they put it back,” Tom Hamilton told The Hollywood Reporter.
If you have ever climbed a Colorado 14,000 foot mountain the odds are you used a guide book or perhaps an internet site to research your climb. Well, it is also highly likely you used some of Gerry Roach’s famous research.
His famous guide book simply called Colorado’s Fourteeners: from hikes to climbs is the premier guide book for all things 14ers describing 250 routes in sufficient detail for most people to make the summit. Now he just released the 3rd edition of his famous book and I wanted to ask him about it.
In total, he has authored 15 books. But who is this guy and what is he up to these days?