Back in November I shared the amazing story of how blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer was preparing to kayak the entire length of the Grand Canyon. At the time, Erik was training at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in North Carolina to build all of the skills he’ll need to paddle the Canyon. It turns out, Erik has been continuing to work on those skills and has even been spending some time in the Grand Canyon itself.
In a recent post to his blog, Erik shared an update on his progress. He had just returned from a 12-day paddling excursion to the Canyon that gave him an opportunity to assess how far his skills have come and determine if kayaking 225 miles down the Colorado River is an actual possibility in the future. While he admits that he continues to have severe anxiety while running some of the more wild rapids, he is beginning to think that this expedition may happen. He says he isn’t quite there yet, but the plan is to paddle the river next summer, so he still has 16 months to get ready.
Erik is a guy who never ceases to amaze me. We are, after all, talking about man who became the first visually impaired person to summit Everest and the rest of the Seven Summits for that matter. He’s also competed in adventure races, ridden in the Leadville 100 mountain bike race and cycled from San Francisco to Denver. And that is just the tip of the iceberg on his adventure resume. Now, he is set to take on the Grand Canyon, which quite simply put, must be an incredibly scary thing for a blind person. Yet he continues to push boundaries both for himself and how a the world perceives what he is capable of. That may be his greatest accomplishment yet.
The video below was shot on his recent paddling trip. It shows Erik making the first blind descent of Granite Rapids. He may think he’s not ready, but his skills look sharp to me. I can’t wait to follow his attempt on the full river next year.
Thanks to Clyde Soles for sharing this story. Very inspirational.
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