Saturday, April 30, 2011

California Academy of Sciences launches scientific expedition to the Philippines

California Academy of Sciences launches scientific expedition to the Philippines
The coral reefs surrounding the Philippines are home to more species of coral than any other known place on Earth, including this Cespitularia coral. Scientists from the California Academy of Sciences are currently searching for new species in this biodiversity hotspot. Credit: Gary Williams, California Academy of Sciences

Today, scientists from the California Academy of Sciences will launch the most comprehensive scientific survey effort ever conducted in the Philippines, documenting both terrestrial and marine life forms from the tops of the highest mountains to the depths of the sea. They will be joined by colleagues from the University of the Philippines, De La Salle University, the Philippines National Museum and the Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, as well as by a team of Academy educators who will work to share the expedition's findings with local community and conservation groups. The expedition, which will conclude with a symposium at the University of the Philippines on June 8, is funded by a generous gift from Margaret and Will Hearst.
"The Philippines is one of the hottest of the hotspots for diverse and threatened life on Earth," says Dr. Terrence Gosliner, Dean of Science and Research Collections at the California Academy of Sciences and leader of the 2011 Philippine  Expedition. "Despite this designation, however, the biodiversity here is still relatively unknown, and we expect to find dozens of new species as we survey the country's reefs, rainforests, and even the . The species lists and distribution maps that we create during this expedition will help to inform future conservation decisions and ensure that this remarkable biodiversity is afforded the best possible chance of survival."
As forests fall and oceans heat up, life in many parts of the world is slipping away. From birds and bees to frogs and fishes, species are disappearing thousands of times more rapidly than they have for more than 65 million years. As these species go extinct, we are not only losing members of our family tree—we are also losing potential medical treatments, agricultural pollinators, oxygen producers, soil servicers, and many other critical components of healthy, functioning ecosystems. Tragically, we are losing most of these species before we've had a chance to document their presence, determine what roles they played in their ecosystems, or discover the potential services and products they could have provided to humans.
Despite intensive efforts to document life on Earth, scientists estimate that more than 90 percent of the species on this planet have yet to be discovered. In order to make smart decisions about how to conserve what is left of our planet's biodiversity, we must make a concerted effort to rapidly increase our knowledge about these life forms and their distribution. This is the motivation behind the Academy's 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition, which aims to dramatically improve our understanding of one of the most species-rich places on Earth. The 42-day expedition to the Philippines will focus on documenting life in the country's tropical rainforests and coral reefs—the two most diverse types of ecosystems in the world—and will also examine deep-water diversity adjacent to these reefs. 
The expedition's shallow water team will conduct most of their research off the coast of Batangas Province on Luzon Island, in an area called the Verde Island Passage. Past research by scientists from the California Academy of Sciences and other institutions has suggested that this area is the "center of the center of marine biodiversity," home to more documented species than any other marine habitat on Earth. However, many new species remain to be discovered—Academy scientists regularly find at least one new species on every dive in this area. During the expedition, the participating scientists will conduct side-by-side surveys of marine protected areas and non-protected areas to help the government determine how successful their current conservation plans are at fostering biodiversity.
"The expedition's results will help our government better promote integrated coastal resource management," said Malcom Sarmiento, Director of the Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. "The data they collect will also help us decide if and where to establish new sanctuaries."
In addition to surveying the region's fish, corals, sea slugs, sea urchins, and other marine invertebrates, the shallow water marine team will also investigate the diversity of microscopic algae known as zooxanthellae that live within the tissues of corals and many other marine invertebrates. Zooxanthellae not only lend their color to their hosts—they also provide significant nutrition as they photosynthesize and share the resulting glucose and amino acids. During times of environmental stress, such as the rising seawater temperatures of global climate change, hosts may lose their zooxanthellae, a condition known as bleaching. Bleached corals are a prime indicator of stressed reefs; hosts that have lost their zooxanthellae are weakened and more susceptible to disease and death. Sampling these microscopic algae as well as their hosts will allow Academy scientists to better understand zooxanthellae diversity and how it relates to their hosts' resistance to increasing water temperatures and other environmental stress.
Meanwhile, the expedition's terrestrial team will be busy surveying rainforest habitats in several different locations across Luzon Island, including forests on Mt. Banahaw, Mt. Makiling, Mt. Tabayoc, and Mt. Pulag. These high-elevation peaks are home to some of the most pristine cloud forest habitat in the Philippines and provide a refuge for a great many plant and animal species. While scientists have conducted limited survey work on most of these mountains before, especially to document larger animals like birds and mammals, these regions have never been explored by a multi-disciplinary scientific team on this scale. Indeed, there is no comprehensive list of plants for any of these forests, and no surveys have ever been conducted for insects or arachnids.
The terrestrial team scientists will focus on identifying and mapping flowering plants, mosses, spiders, insects, amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals. Many of these groups are known to have high levels of species diversity and endemism (meaning they cannot be found anywhere else on Earth), and it is likely that many new species remain to be discovered. All of them are threatened by human population pressure and natural resource exploitation—even inside the boundaries of many national parks, where logging and subsistence farming are fairly regular occurrences. The team's research will help the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Philippines better manage their protected areas and enforce their conservation policies. Additionally, the expedition's educators will organize meetings with local schools, community groups, and national park employees in order to foster appreciation for and deeper knowledge about the spectacular biodiversity in their backyards.
During the deep-sea portion of the expedition, the scientists will board a research vessel owned by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the M/V BA-BFAR, and set out to conduct a survey of the deep waters around Lubang Island. Scientists have only recently begun to explore the deep sea, and the vast majority of deep sea organisms remain to be discovered. Indeed, far less than 1 percent of the world's deep sea environments have been scientifically investigated. Over the course of eight days, the expedition's deep-sea marine team will survey the waters around Lubang Island at depths of up to 2,000 meters in search of deep-sea fish, corals, barnacles, sea stars, and other invertebrates. While sorting specimens on the deck of the boat, the scientists are sure to find a wide variety of strange species that have never before been documented.
On June 8, the Academy's 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition will conclude with a symposium at the University of the Philippines, during which the preliminary results from the expedition will be presented. The symposium, titled "The Status of Philippine Biodiversity in the Face of Climate Change: State of Knowledge and Conservation Challenges," will also include an examination of the current challenges with respect to conservation of the Philippines' unique biota, as well as discussion about more effective strategies to mitigate the projected impacts of climate change.
Provided by California Academy of Sciences

Utah sues feds over wildlands policy

(by Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Ted Wilson, Gov. Gary Herber's environmental adviser, joins Utah officials in announcing the state's lawsuit Friday against the federal wild lands policy.
Utah sued the Obama administration Friday over its new "wild lands" policy, becoming the first among several like-minded Western states to attempt to block "virtual wilderness" designations.
Gov. Gary Herbert announced the lawsuit Friday at the Utah Capitol, saying that he expects Alaska to do the same, while Idaho and Wyoming could join the Beehive State’s case.
Herbert warned that the wild lands policy creates a category of lands akin to wilderness without going through the proper congressional process. That puts a drag on resource development, he said, and "is not good for Utah. It’s not good for America."
"Some would like [lands] to be a single use: all wilderness, all just backpackers," the governor said. "That’s wrong."
Wilderness areas bar motorized access and many forms of resource development but allow primitive recreation and livestock grazing.
The Utah Attorney General’s Office filed the lawsuit against the U.S. Interior Department in Salt Lake City’s federal court.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the hotly disputed plan in December. It calls for a new inventory of roadless lands with wilderness characteristics that could be administratively protected.
John Swallow, Utah’s chief deputy attorney general, called that "virtual wilderness."

Friday, April 29, 2011

Olympia Washington man scales tallest summit on each continent, into historic club

Olympia's Steve Giesecke is all smiles last month atop the summit of Mount Vinson in Antarctica, despite the minus-67-degree wind chill. Perhaps the good cheer is because Giesecke just completed the task of climbing the tallest peak on each continent.



Asia: Everest (29,029)

South America: Aconcagua (22,840)

North America: Denali (Mount McKinley, 20,320 feet)

Africa: Kilimanjaro (19,340)

Europe: Mount Elbrus (18,510)

Indonesia: Carstensz Pyramid (16,024)

Antarctica: Vinson (16,067)

He has climbed six of the seven peaks in the past four years.

With the summit of Mount Everest ahead, Steve Giesecke slowly walked across an ice bridge, stopping with each step to take long, deep breaths.
To his left loomed a steep, 7,000-foot drop-off into Nepal. To his right was a 10,000-foot sheer drop into Tibet.
Halfway across, Giesecke’s big, bulky boots slipped off, sending him tumbling headfirst. The rope he was attached to pulled taut, saving his life.
“Fortunately, the fixed line caught me,” said Giesecke, of Olympia. “At 29,000 feet, it gets your attention.”
Rather than return to base camp after his brush with death, Giesecke continued his climb, reaching the summit at 4:45 a.m. in May 2007.
It would be the hardest of his seven climbs of some of the world’s tallest peaks. A month ago, Giesecke climbed Antarctica’s 16,067-foot Mount Vinson, gaining him membership into a select club. He now has scaled the world’s “Seven Summits,” climbing the tallest peak on every continent.
Only 86 Americans and fewer than 280 people worldwide have climbed all seven peaks.
Tonight, Giesecke, who hiked in the Olympics with his father while growing up in Olympia, will be honored at a private party by The Mountaineers.
In June 1989, Giesecke, who will turn 57 in June, climbed Alaska’s Mount McKinley (also called Denali), making the first of his seven summits. Seven years earlier, he had climbed Mount Rainier for the first time, which hooked him on mountain climbing.
While in the Air Force and stationed in Alaska in the 1980s, Giesecke got a chance at that bigger challenge and climbed McKinley in 24 days, persuading his guide to stick out a storm to give them a shot at the summit. Giesecke was one of two in his eight-man party to reach the summit.
“I had my 35th birthday hunkered down on the higher part of the mountain in a storm,” Giesecke said. “At the time, I had no inkling I’d do the seven summits.”
It wasn’t until 2006, when he was watching a television documentary on the climbing of Everest, that Giesecke began thinking about climbing the seven summits. He also was spurred on by a friend who had climbed Everest.
“I thought I wasn’t getting any younger,” Giesecke said. “So, I said, Let’s see if I can get up Aconcagua in South America, then I’d head directly to Everest.”
Giesecke again was one of two climbers in his group to get to the summit of Aconcagua, in Argentina. Climbing wasn’t the only challenge. Some tribal porters on the Carstensz Pyramid climb threatened the climbing party’s guides, demanding more money.
“Apparently, that’s part of their negotiating strategy,” said Giesecke, who retired from the Air Force in January 2000 and now is a program manager for psychological health and technology for the military at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Climbing Everest was a two-month expedition. He spent about 25 minutes on the summit, snapping a few photos and resting briefly before beginning his long descent.
“I thought we’d be alone on the summit,” Giesecke said. “There were 14 other climbers and Sherpas there. It was an amazing experience.”
Giesecke’s reasons for risking his life to climb a mountain, for enduring minus-65-degree weather in Antarctica and nearly falling to his death on Everest, are simple.
“Because, for me, mountaineering is living,” he said. “It provides a sense of freedom that you seldom seem to get with your daily activities, unless you are lucky enough to have a dream job or a dream life. I also enjoy the bonds you form with other climbers when on expedition; these can last a lifetime. And, of course, there’s the challenge of doing something that is difficult and immensely rewarding at the same time.”

Gail Wood: 360-754-5443

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Global Reef Expedition is launched in The Bahamas

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Song and sword leads the geopolitical mission of oceanographers and scientists to gather information about the impact of ocean pollution on the coral reefs of The Bahamas.  The Living Oceans Foundation opened its Global Reef Expedition in Freeport, Bahamas to be in the Cay Sal Bank from April 26 to May 18 and will sail across the globe, studying the health of coral reef environments for the next five years.   
“It is not always clear to the casual observer that ocean health is in serious trouble.  But it is.  If we do not take aggressive steps to care for our ocean now, our inaction will have dire consequences for the future,” said Saudi Arabia Prince Khaled bin Sultan, founder and chairman of the Living Oceans Foundation.  
“Our children and grandchildren will certainly suffer the consequences.  Over the past 50 years, 20 percent of coral reefs worldwide have died.  It is conceivable that over the course of one human lifetime more than half of coral reefs worldwide will no longer exist.”   
Prince Khaled bin Sultan, chairman and founder of the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation and owner of the Motor Yacht Golden Shadow. (BIS Photo/Gena Gibbs).

Prior to April 26, researchers conducted aerial surveys and sonar reconnaissance of Cay Sal Bank in The Bahamas and decided it will begin the first expedition there.  The Foundation has 10 years experience and its strength is in its multi-disciplinary network of marine scientists, a state of the art research ship, the M/Y Golden Shadow.  Team and technology are joined in the dedication to applied science and leveraging technology for rapid ecological assessments.   
“The good news is that it is not too late to reverse the decline in ocean health,” said Prince Khaled.  
“We must raise public awareness about the coral reef crisis and educate people about the solutions.”  
The Expedition’s results will assist decision-makers in identifying high priority conservation sites that require ecological protection.  Strategies to improve stressful reef conditions by reversing human impacts, preserving biodiversity, health, heritage, and social and economic value of these precious ocean resources.   
“Eighty (80) percent of all life on earth is found in the oceans and the health of the coral reefs are critical to the health of many species that inhabit the oceans,” said Captain Phil Renaud, USN (ret), executive director of the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation.   
The Khaled bin Sultan Foundation embarks on a worldwide journey to solve the global coral reef crisis through reconnaissance and research. (BIS Photo / Gena Gibbs).

After May 18, the expedition will travel to the southernmost district to study the Hogsty Reef and other areas off the Inagua Islands in August, and then on to Andros and Abaco in October.  In between research in The Bahamas, they will spend 10 days studying reefs in St. Kitts and Nevis during the month of June.  
The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation was established in September 2000 in the United States as a public benefit, non-profit organisation dedicated to conserving and restoring living oceans through research, education, and a commitment to Science Without Borders, the Living Oceans Foundation trademark programme.  Countries are encouraged to submit invitations and proposals to conduct a collaboration of coral reef research with the Global Reef Expedition in the oceans throughout the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.    

Capt. Phillip Renaud, executive director of The Khalid bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, leads the highly ambitious research team that will gather strategic information to fight the global coral reef crisis threatened by ocean pollution. (BIS Photo / Gena Gibbs).

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Kayak tour goes to rarely seen Broughton Archipelago

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For sea kayakers looking for another wilderness paddle destination to equal the mix of wildlife encounters and stunning scenery they have found in B.C.'s Johnstone Strait, Sea Kayak Adventures is running a unique summer 2011 departure in the emerald waters of Broughton Archipelago off northern Vancouver Island.
The trip takes a water taxi out to the furthest island and returns via sturdy double kayaks through the world famous orca waters of the strait.
"In Johnstone Strait you see often see whale watching tours, fishing boats, and other commercial kayak groups" says Sea Kayak owner Terry Prichard. "But in this remote jewel of an island archipelago just a bit further out, you won't see anybody else."
Prichard says guests can see humpback and minke whales, porpoises, seals and sea lions while paddling their kayaks through the uninhabited island chains and intricate channels making up Broughton Islands Marine Park.
The trip ends in Johnstone Strait, home to Robson Bight, the world's only orca preserve, where there is a 99 per cent chance of viewing the "northern resident" -salmon-eating orcas -a unique subspecies found nowhere else in the world.
Other activities during the trip include exploring tide pools filled with sea stars and anemones, trekking into rain forests, visiting sites with ancient kitchen middens rich in native history and remote camping.
The six-day trip, which departs from Port McNeill, runs Aug. 8-13, 2011, and costs $1,550 including water taxi from Port McNeill and guides, meals, all camping and kayaking gear
For information, contact Sea Kayak Adventures at 1-800-616-1943 or go to seakayak

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Billionaire adventurer rolls out deep ocean submarine dives

Billionaire adventurer Richard Branson recently unveiled a new single-person submarine that he said will be used to set new world records by exploring the five deepest parts of the world's oceans.
Branson said that over the next two years, the solo craft will go to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic's Puerto Rico Trench and South Sandwich Trench, the Diamantina Trench in the Indian Ocean and the Molloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean.
Branson's fellow explorer, Chris Welsh, plans to make the first descent later this year to the Mariana Trench, which at 36,000 feet is deeper than Mount Everest is high. Branson then plans to explore the 28,000-foot-deep Puerto Rico Trench.
While the pilots for the other three trips have not been chosen, Branson said they hope to set as many as 30 Guinness World Records with the dives.
"The last great challenge for humans is to explore the depths of our planet's oceans," the Virgin Atlantic founder said at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club.
Branson also said he plans to create a larger submarine that can hold more people and offer trips to tourists for a sizable fee.
A news release said there was only one frontier left for Branson's Virgin brand, which has reached "the seven continents of the earth, up into the jet stream and soon, even into space."
"If someone says something is impossible, we like to prove it's possible," Branson said. "I love learning and I'm just very fortunate to participate in these kinds of adventures."
Branson unveiled the submarine, a nearly 18-foot long, white-and-blue airplane-like craft with stubby wings and a cockpit.
The carbon fiber and titanium craft will be capable of cruising for about 6.2 miles and can stay down unaided for 24 hours. The sub and its accompanying catamaran cost an estimated $17 million.
Branson said his so-called Virgin Oceanic expedition will have a scientific and educational purpose. He hopes the voyages will help to educate the public about mankind's impacts on the world's oceans and marine life.
He is partnering with Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and Moss Landing Marine Labs in northern California as well as other research institutions. Scientists hope to study the tectonic plates and eventually use lander vehicles to bring back water, microbes and possibly small creatures from the ocean depths.
"We have 800 pounds of moon rocks and not one drop from the bottom of the ocean," said Alex Tai, Virgin Group director of special projects.
The dives will be dangerous and the pilots will likely be down in the dark and cold ocean depths for hours will little communication with the outside world. Rescues will be impossible, Welsh said. Still, he was clearly more excited than wary of the prospect, saying there is a magic to exploring new places.
"It's like going to the moon and having the lunar rover to explore around," Welsh said.
The dives also will be recorded and uploaded to Google Earth, said John Hanke, the Internet search engine's vice president of product management.
"Our mission for Google Earth is to create an interactive virtual globe and enable users to visit places that they've never explored, including the world's oceans," he said.
The submarine originally was commissioned by Branson's close friend and fellow adventurer Steve Fossett, who died in 2007 while flying a plane over the Sierra Nevada. Fossett had intended to complete the first solo dive to the Mariana Trench, Branson said.
Last year he unveiled a three-person submarine called the Necker Nymph, which is available for $2,500 a day for guests of his private resort in the Caribbean. The submarine, created by San Francisco-based Hawkes Ocean Technologies, is capable of going almost 100 feet deep. In a subsequent interview with Popular Mechanics, Hawkes officials said they were also working with Branson on submersibles capable of high-speed deep sea travel.
Branson has also been working on a space tourism venture with the construction of a $209 million spaceport in New Mexico. The British businessman has said he expects to launch the first suborbital flights from Spaceport America between mid-summer 2011 and spring 2012. Many of the 500 people that have signed up to be astronauts have expressed interest in being "aquanauts," he said.
While most of the country is still dealing with the daily realities of a struggling economy, University of California, Berkeley professor Robert Reich said the super-rich are richer today than they have ever been and there is a market in selling them new adventures.
High-end retailers such as Tiffany & Co. and Neiman Marcus continue to do well despite the economy, he said. And even as NASA experiences budget cuts, the extraordinary wealthy are willing to pay small fortunes to go into space or into the depths of the ocean, said the public policy professor.
"People who are selling to the super-rich basically can't lose," said Reich, former Secretary of Labor during the Clinton administration. "Richard Branson can dig a hole to the center of the earth and charge a million dollars a day to go through it and he'd find people to take him up on the offer."

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Ocean Paddler Magazine Cover
The latest issue of Ocean Paddler magazine is now out on the newsstands. This issue includes several interesting articles including the second part of a very good technical article about kayak construction, an excellent interview with Justine Curgenven as well as a fun article by Nigel Foster on his trip to the Great Lake Sea Kayak Symposium on Lake Superior.
Also tucked in there is an article I wrote called, “Safety Gear – Location & Decisions”. The article is really about the gear decision making process and the important skill of being able to critically evaluate your safety gear and where to carry it on your person.
To get the job done, I got on the phone with pro paddlers, Bryan Smith, Ben Lawrey, Greg Stamer, Helen Wilson and Jeff Allen and hit them up with questions. It didn’t take long before they were all gabbing away and I was typing frantically trying to keep up with each of them. All paddlers love to talk about gear.
I only got into Ocean Paddler a couple of months ago as it hasn’t been available here in Toronto but I have since started reading the electronic version of it and have really enjoyed it. Its different then other sea kayaking magazines as it clearly aimed at the intermediate/advanced paddler as the articles are a bit longer and the topics are slightly more technically focused.
The last issue of Ocean Paddler is available elecrontically for free here.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Utahns on Everest expedition looking for evidence of a summit 29 years before Sir Edmund Hillary

OGDEN — New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary has long been credited with being the first man to summit Mount Everest, in 1953.

But a Utahn embarking on an Everest expedition will be looking for evidence that two Brits, George Mallory and Andrew "Sandy" Irvine, may have summited Everest 29 years before Hillary only to perish on their descent.
Weber State University English professor Mikel Vause is one of 20 men embarking on the unique expedition.

A Kodak pocket camera, believed to be on Irvine's person, might hold the answer. Eastman Kodak Company officials believe the pictures could be developed if the film is undisturbed.
"If the photographs survived then that would solve this great conundrum," Vause said. "I mean it doesn't cure cancer and it doesn't end world hunger or bring world peace, but it has been a big question in the mountaineering community for a long time."
The current expedition's leader, Graham Hoyland, will focus on locating Irvine's remains. Mallory's body was found in 1999, so the party will have an approximate location from which to start. In 1979, a Chinese climber uncovered a body that could be Irvine's, but that climber died before he could lead others back to the body.
Along with the chance to finally settle a historical debate, Vause also hopes to find inspiration for a new collection of poems he's writing called "Terrible and Deadly Seasons."
Vause lacks the necessary certification to reach the highest points on Everest, but the advanced base camp at 22,000 feet will far exceed his previous personal record of 18,000 feet above sea level while attempting Naya Kanga in the Langtang Himal range of the Himalayas.
"To even be there on the periphery will be a thrill. I won't be able to go high enough for where they are doing the actual search, but if they find something and bring down the artifacts, I'll be among the first people to see them," said Vause from his campus office, where he is surrounded by photos and souvenirs from previous mountain climbing treks.
Vause's love of climbing dates back to his childhood days exploring the Ogden foothills and an old stone "W" on the side of the mountain. "It was a big deal as a little kid to hike to the W. It was a pretty good distance, and every step of the way was uphill." As a teenager he went to work at a little shop in Ogden called The Mountaineer, got his first pair of climbing shoes, and discovered his passion for mountain climbing.
Vause went on to write his dissertation on mountaineering literature. By the 1980s he was leading groups of Weber State students to England, Scotland and Wales, retracing the steps of famous British poets like Wordsworth and Coleridge among the peaks of the United Kingdom. These expeditions were often led by premier British climbers who Vause has befriended through the years. The groups would stop and read the works of these famous poets, in the very locations that inspired the artists centuries ago.
The trip offers Vause his second brush with the world's highest peak. In 2000, Vause took a detour from a humanitarian trip to Nepal and chartered a plane so he could see the mountain. At the time, he never dreamed he'd have a chance to one day climb it.

Vause leaves on Sunday and returns to Ogden May 8.
E-mail: Twitter: SteveFidel

Friday, April 8, 2011

Kickstarter Alert: John Guider Seeks Funding for His Journey Around the Great Loop


And speaking of Kickstarter ... you may recall the adventures of John Guider, documented last month in the Scene's People Issue 2011. After a successful career as a commercial photographer,Guider decided to throw caution to the wind: In August 2003, he gave up his daily grind, dragged a canoe to the creek that ran through his backyard — the Harpeth River — and rowed to New Orleans. He documented the excursion in a gorgeous book of photographs, The River Inside. Since then, he's embarked on a series of increasingly challenging trips.
His latest mission: rowing and sailing the Great Loop in a 14-and-a-half-foot boat he built himself. That's a 5,000-plus-mile journey down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, around Florida and up the East Coast, then up the Hudson, through the Great Lakes to the Illinois River, and back down the Mississippi. He's doing it in stages, and so far he's made it as far as Sarasota, Fla.
If you'd like to help Guider complete the next two-month leg of his mammoth journey, check out his Kickstarter campaign. As of this writing, he's got $4,380 of his $5,000 goal, with about eight days to go. His campaign ends at 4:27 p.m. Friday, April 15. Ten bucks will get you a personalized postcard from Key West, $150 will get you a signed, limited-edition copy of The River Inside and more. And there are several other donor levels available, starting as low as $1.


In August 2003, John Guider walked out the back door of his home in Franklin, TN and placed a canoe in the creek behind his house. Three months later, he had paddled all the way to New Orleans. Along the way, Guider kept a detailed journal and took hundreds of remarkable photographs, documenting his amazing journey that led him down five rivers, including the Mighty Mississippi. A traveling exhibition of his photography and this companion coffee table book chronicle this life changing experience and bring this adventure to thousands of Arm-Chair Adventurers across America.

In the fall of 2008, John decided to start a new adventure, rowing and sailing the Great Loop. This time John built his own 14.5 foot Expedition Skerry (a cross between a sailboat and rowboat). He set sail in the Cumberland River in Nashville, TN on June 6th, 2009 and two months later he had reached the Mississippi shore in the Gulf of Mexico.

Chesapeake Light Craft in Annapolis, MD helped John make modifications to his boat so that it would be more seaworthy in the Gulf. The deck was replaced and the sail rigging modified. John began Phase II of his Great Loop journey from Bayou Caddy, MS on June 9th, 2010.

The Book:

Author: John Guider
Publisher: FRP, Inc.
Hardcover, 228 pages

Price: $49.95