Nobody’s River selected in C&K’s top 10 stories of 2014

Congratulations to the crew and cast of Nobody’s River for being selected in Canoe & Kayak’s top 10 stories of 2014!

Their inspiring story, originally published in July 2014, is timeless reading:  http://www.canoekayak.com/women-brave-asia-wildest-rivers

This is the story of how four courageous women in four TRAK kayaks take a journey down the river of life. Here at TRAK we were deeply moved by their story. We had the privilege attending a screening at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival and it is a gem. Watch the trailer here:  nobodysriver.org

The Amur is one of the last free-flowing rivers of the world. On this epic journey, Amber, Sabra, Becca and Krystle discover raw beauty, industrial wastelands, devastating loss, and unbridled joy.

Winner of 5Point Film Festival’s Spirit of Adventure Award, Nobody’s River is being screened at locations in the US, Europe and Canada in 2015. Visit nobodysriver.org for more information on more about the film, upcoming screenings, or to host a screening.

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#10 TALES FROM THE TRAIL

We’re calling it a tie for the final slot in our Top Ten of 2014 list between two similar distant, well-documented expeditions: the first from the Nobody’s River journey of four women tackling the unknown rivers of Mongolia and China…

Read more:  http://www.canoekayak.com/vault/2014s-top-10-stories/

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Video: Protecting Our Remote Wildernesses With TRAK Kayaks

“Thank you for helping us access remote regions of Southeast Alaska with your TRAK kayaks so we can do our conservation work.”

– Mike, Field Biology Intern, Sitka Conservation Society

Join TRAK in celebrating a precious piece of earth called the Tongass. We’ve partnered with the Sitka Conservation Society to protect the temperate rainforest that forms a bridge between Canada and the United States.

Take a journey deep into the Tongass with TRAK and the Sitka Conservation Society and watch this video showcasing the work they do using TRAK kayaks:

 

The most trying trip for these TRAKs was a 13 day, 130 mile survey of the Portland Canal. The Portland Canal is a 100-mile long fiord that separates Canada from Southeast Alaska, with almost the entire Alaskan side lying within the Misty Fiord Wilderness area. However, the steep, almost unbroken rock walls, unrelenting wind and sheer remoteness makes it nearly impossible for the Forest Service to manage this canal. Thanks to the flexibility of the folding TRAK kayaks, we were able to survey this often overlooked canal.”

Republished by permission from: Sitka Conservation Society Blog, Originally Posted: October 29, 2014

By Mike Belitz, Field Biology Intern, Sitka Conservation Society

When collecting baseline solitude, campsite and invasive plant data in remote Wilderness areas throughout the Tongass National Forest, getting to these areas often presents a challenge, most often alleviated by taking a floatplane. However, to survey the greatest distance to help manage the most Wilderness, sea kayaks are needed for swift and efficient transportation. But how can a kayak fit in a small plane? The creators of the TRAK kayak are a company that offer a solution to this problem with their polyurethane fabric and foldable lightweight aluminum frame, allowing us to survey locations that may have otherwise been unrealistic.

The Maiden voyage for the three TRAK kayaks that were donated to SCS. Photo: Adam Andis

The Maiden voyage for the three TRAK kayaks that were donated to SCS. Photo: Adam Andis

This spring, generous donors rose to a matching challenge, allowing the Sitka Conservation Society to raise the funds to buy a TRAK kayak, and the kind folks atTRAK kayaks donated another three! This allowed us to take four people (the maximum number that fits in a beaver floatplane) into remote Wilderness areas and have kayaks after landing. This summer, we put the TRAK kayaks to the test, using them on five Wilderness Trips to five different Wilderness areas. The TRAKs were also used as part of a kids kayak course and were paddled on Mendenhall Lake in front of the Mendenhall Glacier.

The most trying trip for these TRAKs was a 13 day, 130 mile survey of the Portland Canal. The Portland Canal is a 100-mile long fiord that separates Canada from Southeast Alaska, with almost the entire Alaskan side lying within the Misty Fiord Wilderness area. However, the steep, almost unbroken rock walls, unrelenting wind and sheer remoteness makes it nearly impossible for the Forest Service to manage this canal. Thanks to the flexibility of the folding TRAK kayaks, we were able to survey this often overlooked canal. Still, before this trip we had only used the TRAKs once before and it was on a base camping expedition. Thus, there were some reasonable concerns about packing two-week’s worth of supplies in a folding boat. Luckily, the TRAKs packed well and handled amazingly. On this trip, we put the TRAKs to the test as we paddled in sizable chop nearly every day, dealt with the huge 20 foot tidal exchanges that were occurring at the time, and to our surprise we experienced the natural anomaly of a jökulhlaup—meaning a glacial lake broke free from the Salmon Glacier at the head of the fiord—resulting in a week-long constant ebb current. Nonetheless, the TRAK kayaks handled impressively well and it was easy to forget you were in a folding Kayak.

A view of the TRAKs in Misty Fiords Wilderness. Photo: Adam Andis

A view of the TRAKs in Misty Fiords Wilderness. Photo: Adam Andis

Another noteworthy expedition taken with the TRAK kayaks was on a trip down the west coast of Admiralty Island in Kootznoowoo Wilderness. On this trip, a crew of four took the ferry to Angoon and arrived in early afternoon. We were then able to take the Kayaks and gear to the sea, and we were on the water in time to find a good camp in the Wilderness by sunset. On this expedition, we paddled and surveyed 105 miles within the “Fortress of the Bear” before getting picked up by a floatplane. The flexibility to fold the kayaks into duffle bags greatly improves our ability to be stewards of the Wilderness and survey locations otherwise too remote.

Sunset paddling in Kootznoowoo Wilderness. Photo: Bethany Goodrich

Sunset paddling in Kootznoowoo Wilderness. Photo: Bethany Goodrich

Once again, we want to sincerely thank the kind and generous donors who helped SCS buy a TRAK, and we would also like to thank TRAK Kayaks for donating three boats to our project. Although the TRAK kayaks’ Wilderness field season is over, there are always remote Wilderness Areas in need of baseline Wilderness surveys, and we look forward to use these boats to manage our Wilderness areas in the future. If you are interested in learning more about the Community Wilderness Project, please feel free to e-mail mike@sitkawild.org

Packing the TRAK kayaks into a floatplane in Kootznoowoo. Photo: Bethany Goodrich

Packing the TRAK kayaks into a floatplane in Kootznoowoo. Photo: Bethany Goodrich

 

About Mike Belitz

Mike, Field Biology Intern, is a recent graduate of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where he studied Biology and Environmental Studies. At Knox, Mike became interested in restoration ecology, with his research focusing on the invertebrate composition of reconstructed prairies. He also spent a semester in the Australian Wet Tropics with the School for Field Studies, where he researched the effects of weed-invasion on the seedling composition of second growth rainforests. Last summer, he interned with SCS as the Conservation and Restoration intern and was first introduced to the beauty and wonder of the Tongass National Forest. He is excited to be surrounded by Southeast Alaskan ecosystems once again and be able to spend quality time in designated Wilderness Areas. Mike enjoys hiking, bird-watching, reading and identifying insects.

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A “TRAK-About” New Zealand

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The 2014 Yak About Adventure Crew, left to right Laura, Cynthia, Jaime and Freya

I have recently returned from an amazing journey in my homeland of New Zealand and, as it often is with my journeys, the trip was orientated around kayaking and filming. My goal on this trip was to explore the paddling destinations of NZ and interview the paddling characters we meet along the way. This trip embraced white water and sea kayaking and was a totally new angle for a project of mine. During half the journey I was joined by three lovely and charismatic women and all four of us, our gear, four sea kayaks and a whitewater kayak were jammed in a 4WD van, and that was the recipe for an adventure worth remembering. To help complete this mission we had on board an array of awesome sponsors, one of the biggest being TRAK Kayaks.

The Seeker kayak by TRAK was perfect for this project, a project where transportability, durability, and adaptability were key. The Seeker kayaks are tough, they are fun and playful for ocean surf, and we could tour out of them….. and of course we could store them either in the back of the van under the bed in their golf bag, or on top of the van lashed to the roof racks with the other kayaks.

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TRAK’s on the racks.

The Paddling Begins

Despite us all flying into Auckland at the top of North Island, we didn’t all meet up with each other until we all arrived in Wellington at the bottom of the North Island on New Year’s Day. From here we had two ferry crossings and a lot of driving before we started our first kayak journey on the amazing Stewart Island at the very southern end of NZ.
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Stewart Island is the third main island of NZ and is found in the roaring 40’s, a latitude that is legendarily unforgiving, in a direct line around the world there is nothing to stop the winds and ocean swells on their journey except the southern tip of South America and then Stewart Island. Despite this (though more likely because of this fact), Stewart Island was a wonderful wild area to explore. We stayed within Peterson Inlet, a large reasonably sheltered inlet directly linked to the only town ‘Oban’ in Halfmoon Bay where the ferry drops you, and we enjoyed 5 days of kayaking, fishing and exploring. The weather was formidable and yet allowing. Our first day was hampered by 50 knot winds that built up in the afternoon, and after a night hunkered in a boat shed, the rest of the time was a mix of sun and sprinkles. One of the coolest parts of this inlet is that you can paddle and stay in backcountry huts the whole time, and you get to paddle between different environs; tidal rivers, mud flats, rocky shores and pocket sandy beaches. Seafood is a plenty. I was even able to catch abalone from the rocks while sitting in my kayak… and it is home to some of the few remaining Kiwi birds left in the wild. Our time in Stewart Island was soon up though the rest of NZ beckoned.

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Setting up in Halfmoon Bay for 5 days of exploring

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Paddling up a river on Stewart Island to yet another hut to sleep at.

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New Zealand Abalone or “Paua” are everywhere on Stewart Island.

There are many stories beyond this point, and they are far too long for a blog, so I will sum it up a bit from here on in.

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A rare sunny day paddling in Milford Sound.

From here we headed to some of the most stunning places on the earth and I will only talk about the ones that applied to kayaking with the TRAK Seeker here. Pushing through the mountains in a fully loaded van, we tucked into the southwest coast of the South Island, deep into the fjord of Milford Sound, with its crazy kayak guides, crystal blue whitewater rivers and huge snow-capped peaks, which are almost always blanketed in rain (except for our two days there). We had an amazing time made some new friends and again where sad to be leaving (as the theme so quickly became for every spot).

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Surfing the man made wave on the Hawea River in Wanaka

Then we headed inland to Queenstown and Wanaka to paddle rivers, and here I found the Hawea wave, a man made standing wave on the Hawea River, that the Seeker just loved. And after a week or so of white water exploration we headed to the world-famous Abel Tasman national park and its golden sands and crystal waters. Here we spent our last 4 days together and really enjoyed the freedom of our kayaks. With a mixed bag of hardshell boats and the folding TRAK Seekers it was fun to compare, though at no point were the hardshells at an advantage over the TRAKs.

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Sunset in the Abel Tasman National Park

To the north
Leaving the South Island I said goodbye to half the crew and then headed all the way back up north to Auckland where I picked up a couple of clients from Australia. This part of the journey was to take us to the wild northwest coast and the northern most point of NZ, Cape Reinga. Though we had lots of fun with wild camping along the beaches, there was little kayaking until our direction turned south again and we ended up in the bay of islands.

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Sunset before the storm in the Bay of Islands.

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In the bay of islands we loaded up the kayaks at the end of the road, and while the car was watched by a friendly local “parking warden” for three days, we all headed out into the islands. Last time I visited this area we were blessed with sunshine and warm waters, this trip despite the similar start, was not destined to be that. After a lovely evening and a stunning sunset, we awoke during the night to storm force winds and torrential rains, we had known there was weather coming, but the forecast was not ready for this either. So instead of kayaking and exploring the islands in calm sunny waters, we ended up walking our island in the stinging rain, and when we got back to camp we found the wind had been strong enough to blow the TRAKs on top of one another! On the third day, there was a weather window and we made the short hop back to the van across a choppy channel, the Seekers paddling strong the whole way.

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Half loaded boats blown atop each other by strong winds.

Paddling “The Cape” and surfing reef breaks
The North Island section of this trip became more about whitewater than sea kayaking, though one last adventure I had in the TRAK was paddling out one morning, alone, along a stark and beautiful piece of coastline “Cape Kidnappers” or “The Cape”.

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Sometimes it is easy to forget why we do something as we strive to do it well, especially “I find” when we strive to capture it on film or video. This day I needed to get away from cameras and forced myself to go kayaking without them (this rarely happen these days, especially on a kayak filming project). It was great to get away from the technology. As the beauty of the cliffs sunk in, I was guilt-ridden to not be trying to film these moments… however… I had to let it go as I had not brought the cameras, and yet the thought returned when I found a great reef break that was forming up and I had the chance to surf. Again waving off the thought, I found simple pleasure in surfing the small feature and timing the waves that broke across the shallow shelf …without camera’s I simply “had” to embrace the joy of the moment, all alone on a stark coastline….this of course was not a chore as it was some of the quintessential things that I love about kayaking.
Joy often comes from the simplest things, and ultimately kayaking is a very simple and primal activity, other than swimming, not many other water sports allow you to simply enjoy and be on the water, the sights, the sounds and the fitness. Here I was surfing some of the smallest waves… though laughing and smiling ear to ear; if my cameras were with me I would have been fussing about how to capture that moment and ultimately not living in that moment.

On this day I decided to embrace the journey by kayak without camera, as 200 foot sedimentary cliffs loomed above me, with eroded walls that looked like a giant tiger had clawed away at them (yet is just weathered by rain and wind), and I found myself remembering the simple joy of why I love to paddle. I found another long reef break which broke perfectly along a deep shelf predictably, a perfect long boat wave…….. and?…. Well I guess you had to be there! I had planned a one hour paddle with the theme “I should get out on the water I guess” and it turned into a 4 hour ” I am so pumped about life and kayaking” Just paddle… it’s as simple as that.

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A chilled penguin lets us pass by begrudgingly on 90 mile beach

This day reminded me “This is what this film project was all about”, the pump that is life and how people express it through paddling… this is also what TRAK kayaks is about and I am stoked to be involved with a product and a company that helps me fulfill not only my joys in life but also my dreams.

~ Jaime Sharp

Logo Clear backgroundRead more about Yak About Adventures on the blog at http://www.yakaboutadventures.com and stay tuned for more from Jaime Sharp and the how the project progresses.

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The Maiden Voyage…from the Inuit to TRAK to Scotland

At TRAK Kayaks, we are setting some amazing journeys in motion and are equally blessed by the incredible people and experiences that are seeming to show up at a rampant pace. When we launched our Seeker ST 16 kayak, we knew it was time to honor the roots of the kayak. We contacted some of our connections in the north and found a couple Inuit artists to commission original carvings of the early Inuit kayaks and their brave warriors that set out into the frigid waters to provide for their families. (there are still some available!) This is the start of a long relationship we intend to create with some communities in the Iqaluit and Cape Dorset region of Canada’s Eastern Arctic.

We got a delightful surprise when the first new “Seeker” arrived in the hands of a very respectful, inspired and avid paddler in the Isle of Mull off the West Coast of Scotland. The New Seeker Waterfall Maiden Voyage 2Isle of Mull is a popular destination for naturalists and photographers being one of the primary spots in the UK for seeing some of Britain’s more elusive species. It is no doubt that Kirsty lives in a beautiful area, and she is clear about the history, lineage and connection to her roots in Scotland. She discussed this here, “In Scotland, there are stories of a sealskin covered man landing on our western isles, possibly a tuilik-wearing hunter who had been swept off course – and possibly giving rise to our myth of the Selkie, which may be the name of my new TRAK kayak.”

After she received her new ‘Mystic Red’ “Selkie” Seeker last week, she shared the account of her first experience:

“This morning the God of New boats had blessed us with idyllic conditions… and so we baptized our hunter in the seawater of his new home.

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And he raised his harpoon in salute as we set out on our maiden voyage…

What a fabulous boat, and carving. It was a lovely paddle in my backyard, exploring islets and cutting across the loch with the bow set on a course for the waterfall.”

~ Kirsty, owner of the TRAK Seeker (Isle of Mull, Scotland)

She has now been invited to paddle her in the Bay of Naples, Italy. Now that the baptism is complete, the journeys will continue, and we wish her the experiences of a lifetime as she seeks forward.

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Seeking Nature: A TRAK Owner’s Odyssey

by Peeter Lass – Harju, Estonia

All images ©2014 Peeter Lass used by permission.

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My story with TRAK started around a half a year ago during what is normally a strange time of year, late autumn, in Estonia. Typically, people stop kayaking around this time, but I got a feeling that I had to look around and find some good way for my “moving” lifestyle to get close to nature, to fill the “void” and get close to it in a fast and flexible way. It always seems to me that water offers something really magical to discover in life. After some checking online, I decided somehow, that I would contact the folks at TRAK to check what type of vehicle they could offer a “seeker” like me. It turned out that they offered a really good one!

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Since then I have been on the sea almost weekly and non-stop due to a very mild winter. I was also on the sea on December 23rd and on December 31st for some hours. I was able to explore what this time looks like from the sea! At least half the reason for that has been the unique characteristics of the TRAK – it really makes this possibility available – to get out fast, when I hear the call of Nature, without the need for major planning and finding the right time.

Peeter Pic 1On one little cloudy and windy afternoon, I decided to go out to sea again, unsure of the “real reason” for that, but I was drawn to go out paddling.

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After some time, I noticed something bigger than normal out in the distance on a big stone protruding from the sea. I started to get closer and once I got really close, I saw a Sea Eagle “couple” in all their mysterious glory just probably doing their everyday things. They allowed me to get quite close and let me stay in their presence for quite a long period of time. After I have had time to think about this and come to an understanding for myself – that they actually seem to understand these moments much more than me, and they are just letting me be a Seeker and get in touch and notice the magic of moments.

I like to take a camera with me to the sea to be able to share some moments of what Nature so graciously offers for us to catch.

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It is interesting how moments can catch a Seeker. It is difficult to advise, that way of looking – it seems we need to explore what we see and how we see.

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TRAK’n Canoecopia!

Canoecopia

Canoecopia is a very well-run and well-attended paddling expo, and it’s held in Madison, Wisconsin! Darren and his team run one of the best events of its kind in the world. The staff from Rutabaga are about the friendliest, most helpful people to run into!

This show is the world’s largest paddling expo. Over 20,000 paddlers attend, over 150 exhibitors bring products, and well over 100 seminars educate and inspire, which is part of the core mission of Canoecopia. Ok, are you coming?

TRAK will be there! Stop by Booth #L20 and see what’s new for 2014 and check out the show specials and get inspired by unique TRAK Tours. Check out the video below of some Canoecopia action in and around the TRAK booth at the 2013 show.

We will demonstrate our 10 minute set-up throughout the weekend, and discuss how the perfect kayak for you can help unleash your life on and off the water!

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Our Inner “Canadian” Olympian

Written by Allie Carroll, TRAK Owner/Pilot, Vancouver

Another Olympic games has come to a close. For Canada, it has been every bit as enthralling as the games hosted on home soil four years ago, and our Sochi medal count reflects a similar feat to be proud of! It doesn’t hurt that we went out with another gold medal bang in the men’s hockey game either. It has left many of us reeling in the spirit of the games and rejoicing in what it means to be Canadian. Proud, strong and free.

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Adam van Koeverden with the CBC crew at Sochi

Listen to an Olympian speak and you get a momentary glimpse into their psyche to better understand a dedicated athlete who has learned to persist, push and build the mental and physical capacity of an Olympic undertaking. They are truly awesome individuals who represent an awesome nation of people. One of our own kayakers and Canadians, Adam van Koeverden (@vankayak), had many inspiring words for our athletes as a media commentator through CBC in Sochi. We enjoyed his insights from an athlete’s perspective!

Do you feel inspired to endeavour to such great heights when listening to these athletes? Even in the smallest way each day, find ways you can be a team player, to find that strength inside you to persist a little bit longer, to push once more, to add another building block today that shapes your completed goal. Do you feel the nationalistic pride of hearing one of your brothers and sisters speak of the determination that is borne of a land so glorious and free? Do you stop to think about our home and native land? The True North strong and free in all its glorious splendour is a land blessed with three coasts, vast plains and majestic mountains, with myriad waterways – a true natural playground.

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TRAK Owners at Lake Louise, a National treasure in Canada’s Rockies, Fall 2013

We are incredibly fortunate to enjoy the splendour of a wild and vast landscape, to pour out our sweat and guts in the pursuit of attaining Olympic-sized dreams in the sports and activities we enjoy.

There is a champion who lives inside all of us and with glowing hearts we see thee rise to pursue that which calls to our freedom, to live truly free as we seek out the things that make life meaningful. At TRAK and through our paddlers, we know all too well this drive, to be strong and do anything we dream. The freedom to take on any water, anywhere, and at any time. This vast landscape we call home provides so much of the opportunity to live out our dreams and we fiercely stand on guard for thee, O Canada!

Marvel at the space of our home land, be delighted by the opportunities that abound for the taking and know that you are free. As we return to our daily grind, great Canadians and our brothers and sisters, take with you the spirit of these games, and remind yourself of our great Olympians who exemplify what it means to ignite your passion with glowing hearts!

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