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Characters of A Little Paddle: Ken

We've met a number of incredible people over the course of our journey, and we'll be writing about some individuals who made a particular impact on our trip. This series is in no particular order, but we're starting with Ken because he's sitting beside me right now.

Ken at the town dump, in Tenakee AK

The story of Ken's journey with us begins at Chivers Point, where he poked his bow in just as we were leaving. He'd found out about our trip on April 17th, the day after we left (April 16th) and the day before he left (April 18th) at Bestcoast Outfitters. He thought "wow, what a coincidence" and decided to hunt us down. We crossed bows and paddled with Ken multiple times, and it's been a bit of a running joke because we've seen him pop out of nowhere on the horizon a few times.

Seeing Ken pop up over the horizon has become a theme of the trip.

It doesn't take much time with Ken to see that this man has spent a lifetime adventuring. He's a master of ultralight luxury, with his stickered up alcohol stove complemented by pour-over coffee and stories of "freshly caught rockfish cooked 5 ways," while on expedition. He's a gear geek, but a pragmatic one, balancing weight for his mountaineering exploits with comfort and durability for his multimonth expeditions. Ken's also a backcountry skier, hiker, sailor, and I'm sure many other things I'm unaware of. I also can't fathom how he's done this trip solo. Nathan and I work as a team to move boats around, he's unloading and dragging his on his own, often building stick roads to aid his efforts. It's...any solo paddlers on the BC coast are superhuman.

Ken's mastery of a hot lunch on display

Ken's book recommendations are almost all adventure related, including The Starship and the Canoe, and everything by paddlers extraordinaire Audrey Sutherland and Susan Marie Conrad.

I've really enjoyed getting to know Ken, particularly because he's lived a life a lot like the one I'd like to live. His outdoors wisdom is interspersed with stories from his ex-day job, an accountant. But, an interesting kind of accountant. The kind who starts stories with statements like "when I was in Russia looking for assets which went missing during the collapse of the USSR." Now that I'm thinking about it, maybe he's a spy.

I also enjoyed listening to him talk about the building of the highway through Vancouver's North Shore, because he was alive for that.

He's now retired, and solo kayaking the BC coast, with plans to check off some big sailing and hiking trips alone and with his partner. And, from what I can tell, his now-adult kids like him -- they're part of his shore crew, helping him arrange things when he's out of cell service. A loving and supportive family, fitness for days, brains, and a positive can-do attitude. Ken's done something right.

Thanks for your friendship, mentorship, and many dad jokes Ken, we're looking forward to seeing you again.

Ken dragging his kayak through the marsh, at midnight, in Alaska. WTF.

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