Dec 15 | Hail to the Rio Baker

by Kyle Smith

Kyle SmithDTD special correspondent Kyle “Smitty” Smith checks in with his latest film edit, a tribute to the Patagonia region’s exotic and endangered Rio Baker. Read the write-up, enjoy the video, and vote for Smitty in the Kayak Session Short Film of the Year Awards.

In the far reaches of Southern Patagonia, the conditions can be harsh and beautiful. Every panoramic view holds crystalline glaciers and mind-blowing clear waters. If you can get there, you’ll understand what has made this region a pilgrimage for climbers, mountaineers, explorers, wanderers and, now, whitewater kayakers.

As a sad side note, this region is under threat of being dammed and exploited by large industries that have never touched or seen the beauty of Patagonia. They cannot quantify the simple value of a place, left untouched, unplugged and unscathed. This knowledge, and an impending fear of losing one of the world’s magical places, has flowed through the outdoor-adventure community for decades. It leaves one with an urge to travel south, far south, to what seems like the end of the earth for some, to feel the power of this place before it’s gone.

In late spring of 2014, a group of friends from all over the world including Idaho, Oregon, California, Arkansas, Texas, Peru and Argentina, scrounged together what finances they could muster to fund an ambitious journey. A journey to experience some of our most precious rivers in the world before they are gone and, hopefully, bring home passionate stories of these incredible places in order to instill a love for that which is wild and untamed.
Here is a short video of their time at the Rio Baker.

Dec 5 | Ecuador: A Kayaking Vacation Paradise

by Leland Davis

LelandWe all love a good adventure, but not every paddling trip has to be an epic expedition. Leland Davis discusses the merits of a true kayaking vacation and why Ecuador is the perfect destination.


photo-001We stumbled out of the airport, sleep deprived and more than three hours behind schedule, awkwardly weaving an unwieldy cart loaded with two kayaks, a paddle bag, and a mound of gear through the crowded obstacle course of the baggage claim area. We had left our house in NC about 26 hours earlier, the travel becoming a blur of highway miles, taxi rides, lengthy layovers, plane flights, connections, customs clearance, and a weird detour to the airport in a southern Ecuadorian town we’d never even heard of, where we spent two nervous hours in travelers’ limbo on the tarmac before finally flying on to Quito, Ecuador.

As we wheeled our ungainly cart out of the airport and into the Ecuadorian morning sunshine, I spotted a man holding up a hand-scrawled sign with a strange but phonetically approximate rendition of my name. With our kayaks and gear in our possession and our ride to whitewater paradise still waiting for us after all of our delays, it was finally time for vacation to begin! Continue reading

Oct 23 | South Fork Salmon SUP

by Will Stauffer-Norris

7196Choosing a SUP for a late-season, low-water trip down the South Fork Salmon proves a challenging, rewarding and educational experience for Duct Tape Diaries contributor Will Stauffer-Norris.


Standing hip deep in the South Fork of the Salmon River, I looked at the SUP pinned on a rock, mostly underwater, paddle missing, daylight running out.

Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.

I’d kayaked the South Fork several times at high water, when the river is big and challenging, but I’d heard it was just a relaxed ducky trip at 1.9 feet on the gauge. I convinced my dad—a rafter, not a kayaker—that he could manage the run in his inflatable kayak. I thought about paddling a hardshell, then decided it wouldn’t be much fun at these flows. But what about a SUP?

fall creek rapid-001

On Saturday of Labor Day weekend, my dad and I, along with Boise friends Bill and Tony, drove from McCall over Lick Creek Pass to the put-in, where the Secesh meets the South Fork. Even in a state known for its remote wilderness rivers, the South Fork is special. Due to its challenging rapids, far fewer people float it than the Middle Fork, Main or Lower sections of the Salmon. Some estimates put the numbers at only a few hundred per year. Even on the busy holiday weekend, we were the only paddlers at the put-in. Continue reading

Oct 17 | A Summer in the Arctic: Canoeing the Back River

by Erin Clancey

ErinErin Clancey reports on the challenges and rewards of canoeing 518 miles down the Back River through the harsh and spectacular northern Canadian tundra.


It’s day seventeen of our trip down the Back River in the Canadian Arctic. We’ve just crossed from Garry Lake into Buliard Lake. It’s “hot”—64 degrees Fahrenheit—and calm. The bugs have really stepped it up. Even the animals can’t stand them. Wolves blink, pace and shake. Caribou run in frenzied circles.  We paddle in bug jackets and face nets. It’s always harsh up here. It’s either cold or windy or buggy.

We’ve been canoeing the big lakes for six days. They just seem to go on forever with no sign of our destination or the opposite shore. And we are hungry! I can see Scott’s ribs.

How did I end up devoting my summer to canoeing down this deranged river—a river that hasn’t even cut its own channel, but that wanders instead from lake to lake through endless miles of Arctic wilderness?

Taking a break on Lower MacDougall Lake

Taking a break on Lower MacDougall Lake.

Continue reading

Oct 15 | Nobody’s River Film Bonus Footage: The Aussie Super Power

by NRS Staff

“I love, love adventure.”

Krystle Wright spends the majority of her days traveling the world as an expedition photographer. An itinerant adventure seeker, Krystle found her way to Mongolia and the Russian Far East with the Nobody’s River team last year. But no matter where she is, make no mistake: She’s an Aussie through and through, and behind that beautiful smile and sassy hair flip, lies a plethora of four-letter words just waiting to be dropped. The team calls her their Australian Super Power.

The Nobody’s River team recently returned from the European premiere at the European Outdoor Film Tour. Next up: Banff Mountain Film Festival in November.

Keep an eye out for more outtakes in the coming weeks!

Oct 10 | Change in the Weather: A Historic Season on the Stikine

by Darin McQuoid

Darin_McQuoid_4British Columbia’s Grand Canyon of the Stikine has long been a proving ground for elite kayakers.  In 2014, more paddlers ran more rapids on the Stikine than ever before, marking a new progression in the sport and reshaping the BC whitewater scene. Duct Tape Diaries contributor Darin McQuoid reports.


Rok Sribar runs V-Drive on the Stikine.

Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative. ―Oscar Wilde

British Columbia, kayaking and the weather. You and me and the devil makes three.

One can’t discuss BC paddling without talking about the weather. I’d swear that river grades can go up or down a level due to weather. An exhilarating, easy V in the warm sun becomes a menacing horizon of survival in frigid temperatures. At least that’s what it feels like.

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people. —Bill Bowerman

This might be the best motivational statement for paddling in BC. The farther north you go, the more unreliable the weather gets. Liquid sunshine will be experienced. The Stikine is notoriously cold. The air temperature. The glacial water. The deep canyon. This is literally the river that caused drysuits to be invented. Continue reading

Oct 3 | Finding Water Everywhere in Kauai

by Adam Mills Elliott

Water is a constant theme in the lives of NRS ambassadors Adam Elliott and Susan Hollingsworth Elliott. When the self-described river rats went to Hawaii last spring, they left their boats behind but found plenty of watery recreation waiting for them on Kauai.

Last March, three generations of desert river-rats spent a good chunk of March in Kauai. Susan and I joined my sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces, family friends, and Dad’s girlfriend, to celebrate my Dad’s 70th birthday. Happy birthday, Dad! (Rob Elliott, “Pop-pop”, patriarch and star in Of Souls and Water, “The Elder”.)

For a small island, Kauai has a significant variety of climate and landscape. We spent our time hiking inland, along the coast, swimming with turtles, boogie-boarding and sun-bathing. To be able to do this with family and friends was a treat. However, we also made sure to budget in some extra time for just the two of us. It is no surprise that we found water everywhere; we began our three week vacation with a two day hike to possibly the wettest place on earth.

Taking a break from the relentless rain on the center of the island to check our progress toward camp. Not even five miles in and our rain jackets were fully tested and proven dry.

Taking a break from the relentless rain on the center of the island to check our progress toward camp. Not even five miles in and our Sea Tour jackets were fully tested and proven dry.

Continue reading