Local Kayakers Tackle The World’s Toughest Rivers In The Name Of Mother Earth
As we’re revving up for our trip to Laos, check out this write-up on past Epicocity expeditions in this month’s Portland Monthly Magazine:
Don’t believe what you see in the movies. Indiana Jones doesn’t live in Connecticut; he lives in Portland. Or at least a couple of good stand-ins do: Trip Jennings and Andy Maser. Together, the two kayakers (plus Santa Fe resident Kyle Dickman) comprise the Epicocity Project, a Portland-based adventure-kayaking film company that travels to some of the world’s most far-flung rivers. But instead of seeking a lost ark, these three hope to promote the protection of wilderness areas through their Rivers in Demand project.
“The idea was to produce stories we hoped would convince others to take the big step from being outdoor enthusiasts to protecting the wild areas we play in,” says Jennings, a professional kayaker.
Collectively, the University of Oregon alums have completed more than 30 first descents (many through kayak-mangling Class V rapids) on four continents, including a sadistic 65-mile stretch in Papua New Guinea, a tangle with the lower section of Africa’s Congo River (the world’s deepest river), and—two months ago—a harrowing descent of the Rio Roosevelt (also called the River of Doubt) in Brazil.
The vision for Rivers in Demand surfaced in 2007, when Jennings teamed with Dickman, a journalism graduate, and the pair earned a $5,000 National Geographic Young Explorers grant to discover the source of Papua New Guinea’s Pandi River. They found it hidden in an underground cave system among six active volcanoes.
“There was no turning back when we went to Papua New Guinea,” Dickman says. “I realized we could make a living being adventure filmmakers and journalists.”