A Letter from Herman

The Arctic Passage Paddle Update

I want to take this opportunity to thank all contributors, sponsors, followers and supporters who combined efforts last year to make the paddle possible. Your contributions were, and still are, greatly appreciated.

The 2014 portion of The Paddle was a unique life experience; without question, the most interesting aspect was the people I met along the way. I was able to sample a little of life up north by interacting with the Inuit and all the others who have made it their home.

It was also physically challenging; from the long drive up Baja, Mexico to the Northern Territories in Canada, to the unseasonably hot weather along the southern part of the route, to an inflamed hamstring frequently causing me to get out of the kayak to stretch and relax the muscle. The pain was finally unbearable. I was able to reach the hospital in Inuvik and the attending physician advised that it would be irresponsible to try to continue paddling, especially since the next section would be on the Arctic Ocean where the paddling conditions are much more challenging than on the river.

I started a period of rehabilitation in Inuvik while waiting for my wife to make an early return from visiting relatives in Europe. The healing of my hamstring has been a slow and laborious process, but with steady improvement, I am now close to full recovery.

Leaving in the middle of August, we visited the Feathercraft factory in Vancouver, Canada and I tested their latest designs in improved seating options (Feathercraft is the recognized leader of designers and builders of folding kayaks). Since returning to Baja in early September 2014, I was preparing for the 2015 Arctic Ocean paddle and adapting my kayak seat for my hamstring issues.

In November 2014, a devastating occurrence completely changed my life, and with it my plans for the paddle in 2015; my wife, Marijke, suffered a stroke. She is recuperating very well but it will be at least 12 months before she will be completely recovered and we may face some remaining deficiencies. As a result, I have to cancel the continuation of my Arctic paddle for 2015. It hurts me to cut the paddle short and disappoint everyone, but I am sure that you will understand that my wife's return to full health is my priority for the foreseeable future. 

My special thanks and appreciation go to the team of the Baja Blues Fest Organization. These people have selflessly and with a great effort created and maintained this KayakforKids.org web site. They also have very actively propagated the paddle for the benefit of the various charities that they support and been instrumental in obtaining sponsorships and contributions.  Please continue to support the children of Baja via the Baja Blues Fest.

Again, a big THANK YOU to everyone for your support.

Herman Stiphout

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