Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Kayaking Expedition Through Canada's Torngat Wilderness

Yesterday I posted a story from Canoe & Kayak magazine about Ben Stookesberry's attempt to paddle the legendary Dudh Kosi River in Nepal. That amazing expedition took place this past spring, but it isn't the only adventure that Stookesberry has been on this year. In July, he set out for Quebec, Canada to explore the remote Tomgat wilderness, a place that is largely unvisited and unexplored, even in the 21st century.

Calling his latest project Destination Tomgat, Stookesberry set out on the journey in early July on what promised to be a two-month long expedition. Along the way he has been joined at various times by an exceptional group of paddlers, including Pedro Olivia, Erik Boomer, Ben Marr, and Chris Korbulic. 

Olivia joined Ben on a 480-mile paddle along the George River, which leads into the ultimate prize, the Tomgat Mountas. They found some epic whitewater on the tributaries that lead to the George, including dropping some big waterfalls on the Nutillilk River, and making just the second descent of one 25-miles stretch on the Ford River as well. Along the way, they put their Jackson Karma UL kayaks through their paces, finding them to be surprisingly versatile for hauling gear, and handling more challenging water conditions.

After that exciting start to the journey, Stookesberry and crew had planned to catch a floatplane to the Torngat Mountains, but poor weather prevented that from happening. Instead, they the crossed 65 miles (104 km) by powerboat, then traveled overland to reach the Nachvek River. They spent the next portion of the expedition paddling that mostly unexplored waterway as well, making the first full-descent of the 18 falls that make up the Nachvek, and passing through the mountain range in the process. 

So just how remote is the Torngat wilderness? Consider this. The team has been operating more than 700 miles from the nearest road throughout much of the expedition. In fact, the region is the largest roadless area in the northeastern section of North America, which could have caused all kinds of problems if the team ran into any kind of serious trouble. Canoe & Kayak says that the wilderness will soon be made into a national park boasting a caribou herd made up of more than 200,000 animals. Many of the rivers found there have yet to be explored completely, and there is whitewater in abundance for those who actually have the means of getting there. In short, it is a pristine, almost untouched, wilderness for modern day explorers to wander.

The video below will give you even more of an idea of what this expedition is all about.  The team is expected to wrap up their journey within the next few days. 


Destination Torngat - A journey into the Labrador Wilderness from Ben Stookesberry on Vimeo.

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