In early September Tybee Island kayaker Michael Robinson sent an e-mail encouraging me to vote for fellow paddlers Richard Davis and Dave White in their quest to win Immersion Research's second annual Vacation to Hell contest. I logged into the IR web site and soon watched a reggae-filled video of my adventure chums paddling the Oregon coast and discussing their desire to mount whatever expedition IR could throw at them.
The Immersion Research Vacation to Hell is an adventure grant that challenges a paddle team of four to endure whatever sea/river expedition the company decides is appropriate to the daunting moniker "Vacation to Hell." Last year's winners - The Range Life - were sent on an August 2007 descent of the Rio Huallaga in Peru's Andes mountains, an un-run feeder of the Amazon. The account of their expedition can be read at Rio Huallaga.
Although Rich and Dave didn't claim IR's Vacation to Hell, I was excited to learn that Russell Farrow from my local shop, Sweetwater Kayaks, along with the same paddling buddies he accompanied on an expedition to Labrador in 2005 - Mark Prator, Tim Keen and Alain Cormier - were the winners. The team, nicknamed Team Sweetwater, is tasked with a fearsome dilemma - a 60-mile open water crossing from Baffin Island to Devon Island, the largest uninhabited island in the world, followed by a 45-mile portage from Devon's east shore to its west. Once back in their boats, their adventure will conclude with a 40-mile open water crossing to Ellesmere Island. A blog documenting their expedition can be found at Devon Island.
A recent USA Today article on the Vacation to Hell appears here: USA Today.