The Best of the Rest
Bill Lerman, T.G. Hallenbeck, Martin Brown Martin Brown: “I photographed our group, all registered Maine Guides for Sunrise County Canoe Expeditions, just after completing an early run on the Moisie River, which rises off the Labrador Plateau and cuts through the canyons and gorges of the Quebec North Shore. The Moisie is still considered an extremely demanding trip, both technically and physically. It was especially difficult relative to the whitewater standards of the day, having previously been run by only one or two other parties—this initial run took 18 days. Here, we were waiting to rendezvous with the weekly Quebec North Shore & Labrador Railway train out of Labrador City to take us the remaining miles to the coast at Sept Illes.”
On the cover: Richard Hamilton Smith Bob Foote in a monumental descent of the Grand Canyon in an open-canoe. This image ran as the cover of ‘Canoe’ magazine in April 1985.
Canoe & Kayak is: Editor in Chief Jeff Moag MANAGING Editor Dave Shively SENIOR Editor Joe Carberry creative Director Robert Zaleski associate art director Parker Meek PHOTO EDITOR Aaron Schmidt ONLINE EDITOR Charli Kerns studio photographer JP Van Swae
The Man in the Red Canoe When ‘Path of the Paddle’ debuted in 1977, Bill Mason instantly became the quintessential canoeist, the man in the red canoe. Besides the film’s educational value (until then, no one had visually documented the art of handling a canoe), Mason captured the essence of wilderness tripping: wide-open lakes, roiling whitewater, family bonding around a campfire, and the wonders of the Canadian wilds. Mason also tackled environmental issues, making clarion calls for low-impact ethics and the preservation of wild rivers. His creative eye and clever, introspective script injected paddlesports with a passion that’s never been eclipsed. Photo by Ken Buck
When â€˜Deliveranceâ€™ was in production in the early summer of 1971, only a handful of canoeists were capable of running the whitewater James Dickey had described in the novel. But when the film debuted in theaters in August 1972, it spaked a pddling boom, introducing a generation of adventure-seekers to the possibilities of river-running. Photo by Doug Woodward
Photos provided by Richard Montgomery of his, Chuck Stanley, and the late Lars Holbeckâ€™s legendary series of first descents in Californiaâ€™s High Sierra.
Courtesy Richard Montgomery
Land of the Tunder Dragon Wick Walker waited six years for permission to run rivers in Bhutan, a Himalayan kingdom toothed with 25,000-foot peaks. In 1981, the kingâ€™s emissaries finally granted a 10-pass to the six-person American Himalayan Kayak Descent, which notched five first descents. Eric Evans
Verlen Kruger cemented his place in canoeing lore in 1983 when he and Steve Landick completed a 3 Â˝-year, 28,043-mile journey once around and twice across the North American continent. Kruger called it the Ultimate Canoe Challenge, but the name was just good promotion; he had no intention of stopping. Soon he embarked on an 18,232-mile journey from the Arctic Ocean to beyond Cape Horn to the southernmost point in South America.
Courtesy Verlon Kruger Archives
Joe Kane and Piotr Chmielinski became the first to navigate the 4,200-mile Amazon River from source to sea, dropping 17,000 vertical feet. “The whitewater on the upper parts was a lot tougher than we thought, guarding the Amazon like a gate,” Chmielinski said. “It was a tremendous accomplishment for us to reach the Atlantic, and in many ways, we were lucky to do so.”
In the first two weeks of February 2002, seven of the world’s best and boldest paddlers completed the first descent of Tibet’s Upper Tsangpo Gorge, a landmark in the evolution of river-running. Here, Willie Kern runs an unnamed rapid 15,000 feet deep in the heart of the gorge. The team stopped at a place where, as expedition photographer Charlie Munsey recalls, “the river literally drops off the edge of the earth.” Below, expedition leader Scott Lindgren takes the only way out, an arduous 5,000-foot ascent from the canyon floor to a mountain pass called Senchen La.
Tsangpo Gorge Expedition, 2002 Photos by Charlie Munsey
The best parts of paddling never change. Here, Bill Mason enjoys a dusk camppfire after a day well spent.