So it is finally time to stop kayaking for just a few hours to send an update on my US adventures so far. One month ago today I left life and work in the UK and set off on the first leg of my 2012 adventures to paddle the Grand Canyon and train and compete on the freestyle circuit in the USA. Since then, it has been a nonstop adventure in some incredible wilderness and some of the best white water in the world.
My adventures started with a night in Vegas before heading west into the Mountains and Desert of Nevada to prep and set up our trip down one of the 7 wonders of the world—the Grand Canyon.
Our canyon experience took our group of 9 paddlers on a 19 day adventure down 282 miles of the Colorado River from Lee’s Ferry to Pearce Ferry. We took 9 kayaks and two 18 foot rafts fully loaded with gear and set off into the wilderness self sufficient for the whole trip.
It’s hard to describe how incredible a Grand Canyon experience is. The natural beauty you see all around in every direction you look is insane. The big flowing white water rapids, constant boils and eddy line and world class surf waves. The colors, the wildlife, the stars, the sky! The holistic immersion into an area explored by only a few. It is an incredible place and for those of us fortunate enough to have the opportunity to paddle it, an experience of a lifetime.
I picked up a brand new Jackson Fun Runner to take with me on the trip which turned out to be the perfect choice. Its speed and agility allowed me to surf every possible wave and cruise exciting big water lines down all the rapids. I have been on a number of overnight expeditions before but never for 19 days. The feeling of freedom, remoteness and adventure that you get from being immersed so deep into such a large canyon is insane. It made me super aware of some of the everyday risks we take and how we would cope in this level of remoteness if things went wrong. It also made me appreciate how small we are in the grand scheme of things and how important is for us to make the most of the magnificent beauty, nature and opportunities that are available to us in this world.
Throughout the trip we had so many mini adventures climbing peaks, exploring side creeks, learning to raft massive oar rigs boats down rapids filled with huge holes and wave. I have kept a diary throughout the trip so far and will be posting regular exerts on my blog to share the experiences we had check it out (www.claireohara.blogspot.com) if you would like to find out more.
Since then, I have returned back to the real world—well in some ways! I am now beginning my journey as a full time kayaker. Based in Reno, Nevada I have spent the last week getting back into freestyle kayaking and squirt boating, training on the local white water park. I am traveling with fellow JK team paddler, Stephen Wright and we are intermixing freestyle with creeking, and squirt boating rest days. Yes that’s right in this boating Mecca, that is on the boarders of Nevada and California, we have been spending our rest days creeking on some of the best white water runs in the world.
—by Claire O’Hara