Mark Kalch - paddler, storyteller

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Paddling the longest river on each continent from source to sea. In 2012 I made a 117 day, 3780 mile descent of the Missouri-Mississippi River in the US. In 2008 a 153 day descent of the 4130 mile Amazon River in South America. In 2010, I walked alone across the entire Islamic Republic of Iran. I use my journeys to bring stories to life through images and word.

WORLD FIRST 7 RIVERS 7 CONTINENTS PROJECT

In May 2014, expedition kayaker Mark Kalch continues his world first “7 rivers, 7 continents” project to complete paddling descents of the longest river on each continent. This is a combined distance of more than 22 000 miles (35 500 km). He has already become the first person to ever paddle the entire Missouri-Mississippi and Amazon Rivers in North and South America respectively. Mark now sets his sights on the 2300 mile (3700 km) Volga River in Russia, Europe’s longest.

The project’s goal, beyond successful descents is to record and compile audio-visual and written pieces capturing the influence the waterways have had on the growth of civilizations and impact on the surrounding eco-systems.

The place that the Volga itself holds in Russia’s culture, history and indeed existence cannot be overstated. From north-west of Moscow, it flows east, then south through giant, industrialised urban centres, past vast steppes in complete natural isolation and is punctuated by some of the largest reservoirs on the planet. It empties into the Caspian Sea by way of its huge delta.

The descent will record life in communities both on the river and in those influenced by the river.

From the fisherman, the hunter, the family and the hydroelectric worker, to the farmer, the city dweller, the trees, the predator and the prey, all have inspiring and thoughtful stories to reveal.

Sharing these stories provides an opportunity to inform, educate and inspire an international audience regarding the importance of the world’s greatest rivers.

Mark says, “Paddling these immense waterways from source to sea is a physical and mental challenge like no other. The great rivers of the world have shaped the very existence of humans and the ecosystems in which they live. As a result issues such water scarcity and food security are fast becoming one of the planet’s most pressing dilemmas. Beyond testing the limits of human performance, the project will provide a unique insight into the life rivers have built and sustain”.
Amazon River (South America), 4150 miles - completed 2007/2008 

Missouri - Mississippi River (North America), 3780 miles - completed 2012

Volga River (Europe), 2300 miles - commencing May 2014

Nile River (Africa), 4132 miles

Yangtze River (Asia), 3916 miles

Murray-Darling River (Australia), 2904 miles

Onyx River (Antarctica), 25 miles

Follow online:

www.7rivers7continents.com

www.markkalch.com

Twitter: MarkKalch

Facebook: Mark Kalch

Mostly, when it comes to films, folk get all excited about the next Hollywood blockbuster starring the latest who’s who in movies. After watching the trailer for the soon to be released, Dam Nation, I sort of get how they feel. I haven’t been this excited about seeing a movie since E.T dropped!

Dams, the nemesis of all paddlers, fisherman and river users. But, they exist. They exist on a massive scale. They do or once upon a time did serve a purpose. But, times have changed since the dam building boom in the first half of the 20th century. Communities are waking up to the damage and destruction dams have wreaked on the environments they impact.

I hope that the release of the Dam Nation film, re-ignites the debate on the removal of antiquated hydro-electric schemes and what role they play moving into the future.

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"Living the best day ever" sounds like a pretty good ethos and Hendri Coetzee was fortunate to have lived that day before he left this plain.

This past weekend marked the anniversary of that day. For not the first time I watched the film, “Kadoma” in his memory. As a film it happens to feature paddling but is as far from kayak porn as one could imagine. You can feel Hendri’s overwhelming strength pervading throughout.

It’s easy to get carried away with bestowing accolades on those departed but in Hendri’s case I can’t think of anything less than legend!

Watch the trailer, but buy the movie (less than 8 bucks on itunes). Certainly the best kayaking film I have ever seen and one of the best films ever.

EDIT: I forgot to add, buy Hendri’s book! “Living the best day ever”. For where to grab it and more details go here - livingthebestdayever.com

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Whether you rock out with Patagonia gear or not (maybe you’re sponsored by another brand…ahem), to me, it is impossible not to admire them. Do the least harm pretty much sums it up. The short film, Worn Wear tells some fantastic stories and goes beyond being a clever marketing ploy.

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A little bit of Friday awesome from Anson Fogel and the guys from Camp 4 Collective. Not just another ad but a really great story as well.

In between a couple of big river descents, in 2010, I was fortunate to walk alone across the entire Islamic Republic of Iran. Beginning on the shores of the Caspian Sea in the north I walked across forests, mountains and deserts to the waters of the Persian Gulf in the south.

An experience like no other, I traversed some of the most spectacular geography on the planet and visited with some of it’s most beautiful and friendly people. With a new president in charge, there are signs that relations between Iran and the west may be heading towards a positive change. I really do hope so.

For one of my favourite articles about the walk check out Sidetracked Edition 1.

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UPDATE: Canoe and Kayak Magazine have extended voting by a week! If you care to swing an extra vote or two my way just click here - Canoe and Kayak Awards - Spirit of Adventure.

I was recently nominated in Canoe and Kayak magazine’s Annual Awards. Across a bunch of categories, paddlers such as Rafa Ortiz, Benny Marr, Dane Jackson, Katrina Van Wijk and Martina Wegman were also nominated. Not to mention a bunch of ambitious expeditions and causes using paddling for good. Last year Steve Fisher, Erik Boomer, Jon Turk and the like were in the mix. With these sort of names and organisations being thrown about it has been a huge honour for me to even be considered in any category.

I just paddle long rivers. I don’t hurl myself off waterfalls to awesome tunes and if you tried to put 5 months of paddling to a soundtrack you best choose a slow number. My big rivers and indeed the 7 Rivers 7 Continents project as a whole is not massively sexy, but I do think it is a pretty epic undertaking. So it is kind of nice to have people recognise that in some way.

A massive and heartfelt thank-you to all those folk that voted for me. It is very much appreciated. A lot of people went out of their way to share my story and encourage others to get on board which was amazing. Heck I even got a last minute shout out by Russell Crowe!

I am lucky enough to be headed to Salt Lake City, Utah for the Outdoor Retailer show which coincides with the awards shindig. Win or not, I just hope I don’t go all fan boy when I spot Steve Fisher!

I am honoured once more to have an article of mine featured in a pretty special edition of Canoe and Kayak magazine.

In the June 2013 issue, the Amazon River features heavily. A couple of epic expeditions in 2012 have garnered a lot of attention regarding the possibility of yet another source of the world’s biggest river. Unfortunately the calamity that has ensued regarding firsts has overshadowed much of it’s potential meaningfulness.

I have managed to steer clear of the hoopla and hopefully my contribution to the issue re-enforces that.

Definitely get out and grab the print edition or with a couple of clicks you can have a digital copy in front of you within moments.

On a related note I am super stoked to have been nominated for the "Spirit of Adventure" award in the Canoe and Kayak Magazine annual awards. If you feel like voting just go here and pick a winner. No sign-up, nothing, just click to vote. Easy!

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DAMOCRACY The Movie - Find time over your weekend to watch this amazing doco. It really re-enforces to me, that simply paddling downstream as fast as I can on my 7 Rivers 7 Continents project is simply not enough.

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If you have ever paddled a kayak for more than a day or two in your life then you no doubt have heard of Steve Fisher. The South African kayaker is a paddling legend and a bit of a hero of mine.

The Grand Inga Project which took place on the Congo River was truly epic. The interview below came out about a month ago, but I just keep going back to it again and again. A good lesson about what goes in to planning and executing a big river expedition. Take a listen!

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