Two Terrace kayakers are paddling down the Nass River to raise money to get more youth out on the water.
Ali Marshall and Luke Borserio have embarked on a 10-day “source-to-sea” journey, from the Sacred Headwaters in the Klappan Valley to Ging̱olx, to reach their $3,000 goal.
“We normally try to do a fairly epic river trip once a year, but [we wanted to add] meaning to our mission and make the trip to a little more purposeful,” says Marshall, who also co-founded the Skeena Paddle Club last year. “Now that we have the club, we’re trying to do some good with it.”
Marshall says knowing how to paddle has brought him many great adventures and friendships from kayaking all around the world, but he recognizes it can be an expensive sport to get into. With so many rivers in the region, his club’s aim is to purchase gear to help teach local kids how to kayak and provide them with similar experiences.
“It’s important to expose kids to nature, to connect them with the land and the river… the longer you can be away from the phone and computer, the better,” he says. “I think the more kids that are into it, the stronger the kayaking community will be.”
Throughout their 380km trip, they plan on stopping in First Nations’ villages and will be hosting a youth kayaking workshop in Gitwinksihlkw come June 29. The Skeena Paddle Club is supplying all the kayaks and equipment to teach essential skills required on the water.
In their GoFundMe mission statement online, Marshall and Borserio write that their club aims to travel on the natural waterways utilized for trade and travel by the First Nations’ people, which are at risk with global warming and industrial advancement. By paddling, they hope that more people will be exposed to the beauty of nature and the animals that rely on the river, which will encourage them to preserve it by acquiring an “environmental awareness”.
For Marshall, he says the best part of kayaking for him is camping on the riverside and being away from his daily distractions. Packing 10 days worth of gear, food and shelter into a nine-foot kayak can be a puzzle, but notes that the minimal “bare necessities” is all he needs.
As for planning, Marshall says there is a lot of knowledge about the Nass River amongst paddlers in the region and he has previously kayaked a few sections of it. By collecting as much information as possible, they’re both prepared for the challenging parts of their route.
“There are some class five rapids off at the top in the headwaters and there’s also this huge log jam, which you have to climb over,” he says. “The top part is super pristine, and there will be tons of moose and bears with the salmon coming in now.”
Marshall and Borserio are expected to reach Ging̱olx on approximately July 2. They are still actively collecting donations during their kayaking mission through their Skeena Paddle Club’s GoFundMe page online.