Blind Adventurers Launch Grand Canyon Paddling Expedition

A team of kayakers that includes two blind adventurers has launched an expedition to paddle the length of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The journey will take them down 277 miles (445 km) filled with some of the most challenging and iconic rapids in all of North America. The Canyon’s unpredictable whitewater can make for a wild ride for paddlers who have perfect vision, but for the two men on this journey who lack sight, it will be a completely different experience altogether.

The two blind paddlers are Erik Weihenmayer and Lonnie Bedwell. Weihenmayer’s name is no doubt familiar to Adventure Blog readers, as we have been following his preparation for this trip for some time. He is no stranger to outdoor adventure having staked claim to being the first – and only – blind person to ever climb Mt. Everest.

Erik’s adventures have also taken him to the top of the other Seven Summits, on a cycling journey across Vietnam, and mountain biking and skiing in various locations, amongst other pursuits. Bedwell is a former Navy Petty Officer and submariner who lost his sight in a hunting accident. He too continues his favorite outdoor pursuits, and has already paddled the length of the Grand Canyon in the past. His experience will be helpful to the entire team.

Joining Erik and Lonnine on this journey will be kayakers Seth Dahl, Chris Drew, Steven Mace, Timmy O’Neill, Rob Raker, and Harlan Taney. Each of them has a great deal of paddling experience that will prove invaluable to the expedition as well. The entire journey is being filmed by a production company too.

The team, which consists of nine paddlers, launched from Lee’s Ferry yesterday, and will now spend the better part of the next three weeks descending the river. They are attempting this excursion to not only continue to show what visually impaired people can accomplish, but to also inspire others to take on the biggest challenges in their life as well. You can follow their progress at Good luck to Erik, Lonnie, and the entire squad.

Kraig Becker