Day 33: Russian Mission 76 mi

Imre and Peter tried to use a good weather window, they started paddling around 8 pm, continued all night and all morning until early afternoon. The evening started calm. As they travel further and further south, it actually gets dark for about two hours each night (1:30-3:30 or so). “Eery silent dark forest around the abandoned village of Paimut, the Yukon and the forest around it is like a forest scene from the Lord of the Rings at night” – Imre wrote.

They arrived into a huge storm cell in the night, got soaked and were freezing. “We had a 30 minute scare, strange winds and currents generated large waves, the shore was also very unsafe to land (high banks and strong current with fallen-in trees, and other bank a mile away). We got lucky to work our way out eventually.” They decided to try to paddle outside of darker hours and to make sure a safe shore is always in sight.

The morning brought sounds of nature, even the howling of wolves from the banks was welcome.

Father and son met wonderful people in Russian Mission. A man named Jim gave Imre a big load of smoked king salmon from his supply, “no better superfood for paddling 16 hours in storms”. Too bad that Peter is a vegetarian…

The only village they did not stop at was Holy Cross, otherwise they landed in every small place along their way. A storm hit them just before entering a slew before Holy Cross, plus they suspected that natives would be similarly unfriendly as in Anvik two days ago.

Tonight they are camping on good island. Peter picked up the massive lower jaw of a moose, next to medium dinner plate sized grizzly prints. It will be a great addition to Peter’s man-cave once he has one. They joked: “Moose’s mistake is grizzly’s moist steak.”

The alarm is set to 2am and the next task to tackle is Devil’s Elbow.

“We are closer to the finish but every mile is a challenge to steal it from Goddess Yukon, so we are still feeling far from finishing” – Imre wrote.

Below are a few pictures of Russian Mission downloaded from the internet – until we receive actual photos from our adventurers.

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Day 32: Storm day

The storm was raging all night and most of the day. Imre and Peter stayed in their sleeping bags to keep warm. This island is very safe, they will only leave it is they feel confident that they can continue paddling for a good while. Looking at the forecast, they plan to start around 9 pm tonight.

If you have been a fairly active reader of this blog, please skip the next paragraph. For those new to Imre’s adventures, we will repeat a few thoughts from a recent post.

“Two years ago Imre attempted to kayak the Yukon River all by himself. He started in Whitehorse. He was right at this point, in Grayling (pop. 174) where (after battling with storms for several days) he spent two days having nothing else to do than keep checking the weather forecast and visit with the locals. As the storm did not seem to stop, he decided to give up and fly home. He gifted some of his gear to them and in return they took him to the local airport, then back to the village when it turned out that the plane could not take off in the storm. They gave him accommodation for a night.”

A few days before that life-threatening storm Imre had another very dangerous encounter: a charging grizzly. He had to gather all his strength and more to paddle faster than the bear could swim.

It is sort of funny, how stories go from mouth to mouth, village to village by the locals. In two years the facts have changed quite a bit: In a village Imre has never been before, from a person he never met before, he heard the story of “the white man who was attacked by a grizzly and got so scared that he had sold all his stuff in Grayling and flew back home”. Not exactly how it happened… But the story shows how the locals think that all these white outsiders are just … losers.


Day 31: Beyond Holy Cross

The night in Anvik did not go very well. Imre and Peter were provoked by some drunken locals. (Remember, the possession of alcohol is illegal in this area.) They approached the canoe, and ran their noisy ATVs back and forth, close to the campers all night.

The day started with good weather but later a storm arrived. When the canoe started surfing on the waves, father and son stopped on an island. Unfortunately this was a bad island, with many grizzly and wolf prints and the fresh carcass of a moose.

They paddled a little further and found a better place. Sandy island, firewood available, no fresh bear prints. This is all they need for a good night. How surreal of a situation for two computer guys from the Silicon Valley?!

For the past day or two (in addition to the tons of mosquitos and horse flies) they are bothered by tiny flies that go straight for their eyes, nose and ears, and they bite.

Unfortunately the weather forecast says that the storm will continue for the next 48 hours. They might be stranded on this island for a while.


From: panoramio (nastykjn)

Day 30: Grayling and Anvik 53 mi

Dear Reader, we have received both envelopes with the SD cards with over 250 pictures and videos. Please check back on previous posts, day #24 and earlier. We replaced the general pictures (2014 photos or internet downloads) with photos we just received.

Two years ago Imre attempted to kayak the Yukon River all by himself. He started in Whitehorse. He was right at this point, in Grayling (pop. 174) where (after battling with storms for several days) he spent two days having nothing else to do than keep checking the weather forecast and visit with the locals. As the storm did not seem to stop, he decided to give up and fly home. He gifted some of his gear to them and in return they took him to the local airport, then back to the village when it turned out that the plane could not take off in the storm. They gave him accommodation for a night.

Now he revisited the same village. It was a bit emotional for Imre to be in Grayling again. Some of the people he remembered recognized him. Others have passed away since.

Peter and Imre are already counting the miles back. There are only 320 miles to go, but this will be the hardest section. The river is on average 1 mile wide here, and even lighter winds can stir waves that are several feet high.

“The strategy is always changing” – Imre explained. “These days we paddle whenever the weather is good, but never more than 14 cycles a day.” (1 cycle = 45 min. paddling, 15 min. rest still on the water.)  “7 hours of sleep minimum.” They also make sure that they rather select a safe-looking island sooner, rather than stay at a place that is not safe or overwork themselves in search of a good one. They always try to stay on islands. They see too many bears on the shores.

Tonight they stayed in Anvik (pop. 87). The local washateria (laundromat) has a shower, which was enough to make Peter happy.


Blind Judo Foundation – Why?

Why Judo?

Judo is a great sport. The word means “gentle way” and that sounds strange as we are talking about a type of martial arts, but it’s true. There are no punches or kicks in judo, and your goal is NOT to hurt your partner. You use their weight and momentum to take them to the floor and your own weight to keep them down. You do need strength, but it is much more about technique.

Judo people are a wonderful community. At the SJB Judo Club, which the Kabai family belongs to, all instructors are volunteers. They have been training for many years or even decades, and they don’t get a dime for showing up twice a week to teach. They use their time and their own money to travel to tournaments to coach the kids. Even some of the best instructors, who act as tournament referees, are volunteers. So are the parents who staff all judo events.

Imre did judo as a child. Later (after watching his kids compete in judo for a couple of years) he returned as an adult. After a year or two, due to a non-judo related knee injury he had to quit. But for a while, all 6 members of the Kabai family were training at the SJB Judo Club.

Why Blind Judo?

If you are like most people and you don’t have a blind person in your immediate family or circle of friends, this question probably never crossed your mind: How do blind people exercise to stay healthy? Judo can be a great choice for a blind or visually impaired person. The opponents are in constant physical contact, so seeing your opponent is not essential. In fact blind people often win against sighted athletes. Judo improves their sense of balance  and teaches them how to fall safely, skills that can be of great help in a blind person’s everyday life, let they be a child, an adult, or maybe an injured veteran.

Why Blind Judo Foundation?

During the season of the Olympics, remember reading “Proudly Supporting the Olympic Games” on every bottle of soft drink and every box of cereal? Have you ever seen “Proudly Supporting the Paralympic Games” anywhere? Who sponsors blind athletes when they travel to international tournaments or the Paralympic Games? Well, often their coach does, from his own money. The Blind Judo Foundation supports these athletes and also young kids who wish to participate in judo camps, clinics and tournaments. We want to help.

To learn more or to donate, please click here.

The Blind Judo Foundation bracelet that the blogger has been wearing since the hour they left, and pledged not to take off until they are safely back at home.

Day 29: Blackburn 77 mi

Blackburn is “an informal collection of cabins”, not even a village, but this  was the most densely populated area Imre and Peter passed today, and we had to select a title for this post.

They started relatively late this morning, at 2:30 A.M., due to high winds. Then they had steady rain for most of the day. The afternoon turned out beautiful so they kept pushing on until 5:30. They revisited the area where a brutal storm hit Imre 2 years ago, still a difficult memory for him.

They staying in same small cabin where he had stayed before. They saw massive grizzly prints all around the cabin so they go everywhere with a gun in hand.



Day 28: Kaltag 52 mi

Peter and Imre stopped at Kaltag. They talked to the locals who were busy smoking salmon. The king salmon fishing season season just opened for a few days, after being suspended for 5 years.

They saw a grizzly mom with two cubs just outside of Kaltag on a sandy island.

They had crosswind for most of the day making it difficult to keep the canoe heading straight. The weather looks ok for the next 3 days with ocsssional challenging crosswinds. “The paddle felt very heavy all day” – Imre wrote.

Dear Reader, let us remind you this time that besides seeking the adventure, the lifetime memories, the bond between father and son, and stretching their limit in every possible ays, Imre and Peter Kabai has another goal with this trip: to promote the Blind Judo Foundation. Please visit the Foundation’s website here or from the top menu. If you can, please consider a small donation.

Here are some pictures of Kaltag, downloaded from the internet.

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