Next summer, I’m heading north to track the Austin-based Arctic Cowboys as they attempt to become the first paddlers to kayak the entire Northwest Passage.
I’m pretty excited about that expedition. Covering big adventure tops the list of why I left my long-time and much loved job at the Austin American-Statesman to go freelance last fall.
Last weekend, Arctic Cowboys leader West Hansen, plus teammates Jeff Wueste, Jimmy Harvey and I, drove to Padre Island National Seashore so the guys could get some time in the surf in their Epic 18X kayaks.
My job? Stand waist deep in the water and try not to flood my camera while taking shots of them in action. I needed the practice as much as they needed the shakedown run in their Epic 18X kayaks.
They learned a few things, like it’s difficult to right an unloaded sea kayak in the surf. The ballast keeps a boat steadier and easier to roll back to upright position.
We spent about four hours at the beach Friday night, then went back to the hotel, where Hansen and the others did their own version of that scene from “Jaws,” where everyone sits around and compares scars. Hansen won, revealing a jagged line on his leg where he impaled it on a chunk of glass as a kid.
We got up extra early Saturday morning and headed back to the beach for sunrise. My biggest takeaway from that? Leave the camera gear in the car overnight or it’ll never unfog when you pull it out at the beach.
I’ve attached some of my favorite shots from the weekend. And look for a story in the Austin American-Statesman in the next few weeks about Hansen’s expeditions, and the Sept. 7 book signing for his upcoming account of his 2012 Amazon Express expedition.
That 111-day adventure took his team 4,100 miles down the world’s longest river. The Northwest Passage should feel short by comparison.