Part One: A Colorado River Expedition February 10, 2015 07:40

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Steve Benson, Gary Mortimer, and Mark Geraghty at the HanoHano Huki Ocean Challenge 2015 in San Diego training for their upcoming Lake Powell paddle | Photo Courtesy of Kim Wilk

A story adapted from the tales of Gary Mortimer.

MEET THE THREE AMIGOS!

One day last year, Gary Mortimer was sitting on the beach with his friend Mark Geraghty shooting the bull after paddling around the island at Lake Havasu. Suddenly, Gary had an idea only a true adventurer could inspire: paddle an OC1 the length of the Colorado River — including the four lakes formed behind Glen Canyon, Bolder, Davis and Parker Dams. He had already paddled the length of Lake Havasu and figured Lake Powell at a length of about 150 miles would be fun and challenging. It wasn’t long afterward that their friend Steve Benson, an experienced paddler, joined their quest. Steve had paddled on a Hurricane and offered to coach them in being better paddles in their own OC1s, an offer they could not resist.

They could carry fifteen pounds of gear each, which meant only the essentials (no beer – they mooched that from an occasional house boat that came their way). They spent three days paddling, camping, and exploring before landing at their destination, Halls Crossing, where many a beer was consumed and bragging rights earned.

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A STORY FROM THE ADVENTURE

On August 18, 2014, the three amigos found themselves paddling their OC1s 28 miles and roughly 6-1/2 hours on the northernmost reaches of Lake Powell (located in Utah). It was getting late and they needed to find shelter quick. With little options left, they found a nook in the sandstone cliffs where they could camp for the evening. The only problem was that the camp option was located on an exposed point jutting into the lake, making it not the most desirable location for what was to come. After getting the camp setup, a gust of wind approached pushing the surface of the lake towards their campsite. The gust was so fierce that they found their beached canoes along the sand sliding around like sleds. Their tents were not withstanding the conditions and were flying up. Only their body weight across the top kept them from flying away in the wind. Then the rain came following lightning strikes. They feared the worst — lightning striking their camp on the exposed point. It was a long night of braving the elements and experiencing a night most have not, and fortunately their luck held strong.

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Steve Benson and Mark Geraghty exploring Lake Powell | Courtesy Photo: Gary Moritmer

THREE AMIGOS PADDLING BACKGROUND

Mark and Gary have been paddling SUPs, OC6 and OC1s for several years. Gary is currently the VP for the Lake Havasu City Outrigger Canoe Club. Steve is an accomplished OC6 and OC1 paddler, and coach. Each member of the three amigos also have a history of braving the elements in water sports such as surfing, waterskiing and riding the Air Chair and Sky Ski. Why do they do it? It’s the people! It’s the water, the ocean! It’s paddling along experiencing the natural world around you! Sun, sky, wind, waves, birds;  trees swaying in the wind; seeing mountain sheep standing on a rocky cliff or a mountain lion getting a drink of water as you quietly paddle past. This is the nature that keeps their hearts beating and their adventure worth every second.

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What’s Next?

Over the past week the three amigos have been planning their next phase of the Adventure. Soon, they will be paddling from Hoover Dam down Black Canyon and the length of Lake Mojave to Davis Dam. They will use GoPro and 35mm cameras to keep track of the paddle. After completing this section of the River they plan on finishing off the last 100 miles of Lake Powell this August.

It will be a busy spring and summer. I guess its just an Wotterman thing – gotta keep paddling…

Follow Surf-fur blog as this adventure continues.


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