There’s a group of Juneau residents taking to the water and the road for what they are calling an epic adventure.
There’s no firm timeline, little funding and enough unknowns to make any parent worry.
But, for the adventurers it’s about time and 23-year-old Kanaan Bausler said the group couldn’t be more excited.
“Yes, we’re going on this big trip, one that we’ve been planning for the last couple of years,” he said.
It’s definitely big — as in really big. The crew of Colin Flynn, Bausler, Andrew Flansaas, Max Stanley, and Chris Hinkley plan to kayak and bike from Juneau to the southern tip of South America.
They are looking to document, through both the written word and with video, how communities elsewhere cultivate sustainability.
“We’re just trying to find people that have a certain relationship that is allowing them to be self sufficient,” Bausler said. “A relationship that allows them to basically live in balance with their surroundings and their environment.”
It’s not so different from what a lot of people do in Southeast. More and more locals are nurturing community gardens, raising chickens and concentrating on hunting and fishing as a means of sustaining their families.
In just a few weeks (June 1, to be exact) the aforementioned five will join other locals Lucas Merli, Mallory Story, Lia Heifetz, David McCasland, Elyse Kennedy, Will Geiger and Lucy Squibb to depart on the kayak portion of the journey.
They’ll paddle the Inside Passage and then trade their boats for bikes in Ladysmith, British Columbia. From there, the journey continues south, as far as they can go.
For all involved, Bausler said it’s a journey that echoes past adventures they’ve shared growing up in Southeast. Some members of the group also make up Bad Larry Productions, a local film outfit that has been making snowboard and ski films in Juneau for the last 10 years.
Now, like graduates heading into the adulthood, they’ve planned a fitting farewell on Saturday, May 19.
The public, Bausler said, is invited to attend a farwell bash at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center. The event is broken down into two parts: a silent auction and guest speaker event runs from 5-8 p.m. and an all-out celebration begins at 9 p.m.
The latter event, Bausler said, is geared toward a younger crowd and includes a $5 cover charge. There will be music, a DJ, beer for those over 21, and a showing of the best-of-the-best of Bad Larry films over the years.
Both events, he said, are an effort to raise funds for the trip and all money, minus event expenses, will go toward purchasing group safety items. Beyond what they raise at the event and through other means, Bausler said it will be interesting to see how they get by.
“We fully expect that we may have to find work along the way,” he said.
So far, companies like Sealegs Adventures and Seward Kayaks have gotten behind the group and sponsored them with gear for the trip.
The online funding platform “Kickstarter” has been selected by the group to host their video equipment fundraising effort. The group has set a goal of $4,800, and a deadline of Saturday, May 26 at midnight, to raise those funds. So far, the tally is at $1,755 with 27 backers. If the group does not reach their goal, they don’t receive a penny of the money raised up to that point.
Funding aside, Bausler said he’s looking forward to the open-ended adventure and is most excited about the kayak portion through Southeast.
“Really, we just want to see what is in our home place before we leave and check out other spots,” he said. “I’m really excited to check out where we live and get to know it better and get to do it with all my really good friends.”
One of those friends is Lia Heifetz who said she’s going on the adventure because she feels strongly about supporting the purpose.
“First off it’s a group of my very best friends, and this sounded like a pretty sweet trip,” she said. “(Plus,) the idea of localization is something that we’ve all felt is really important. I think the purpose is pretty sweet. It just sounded like a fun adventure for summer.”
“We’re definitely going into this with the attitude that we’ll find our way as it comes to us, but we’ve been thinking about this for a good two or three years, and this entire last year has been straight planning and trying to line ourselves up for success,” Bausler said. “We also know that there is no way to fully prepare for it and that most of the journey will be determined day by day.”
The group expects the journey will take a minimum of two years. In the meantime, they will be shipping stories back to Juneau for publication in the Outdoors section of the Juneau Empire.
Look for those pieces to appear regularly each month, or as frequently as the group is able.
To view the group’s fundraising efforts on Kickstarter, go online to kickstarter.com and type “A trip south” in the search bar.
“Most of us have had experiences down South and have found this disconnect between people and the resources that they depend on,” Bausler said. “There seems to be a stronger connection (in Juneau). It’s something we’re trying to find and promote and share with people so they can continue to improve that situation for themselves.”
Abby Lowell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.