Our friend Steve Baskis, over on his site, Blind Endeavors, describes his recent trip down the Grand Canyon in a kayak. Organized by Team River Runner, both the training and the trip were led by blind kayaking pioneer, military veteran Lonnie Bedwell, and his sighted guide Alex Nielson. In addition, Steve was joined by fellow blind athletes, Travis Fugate, Aaron Hale and Eric Marts
In July of 2014, a friend named Lonnie Bedwell invited me to The Out of Sight Team River Runner Clinic in Emigrant, Montana. The preplanned Team River Runner trip was a wild adrenaline pumping adventure on a few of The Yellowstone Rivers white water rapids. Lonnie Bedwell, a fellow veteran who lost his vision in a hunting accident many years ago, was there to help lead the way. Lonnie had successfully paddled the entire Grand Canyon Colorado River stretch the following year and was excited to teach myself and 3 other blind veterans how to run class 3 white water without sight. To be honest, I was a little apprehensive and anxious about this challenge, water is truly dynamic and wild at times. Navigating down a high flow river with all of its power carrying you can make you feel vulnerable and weak when you cannot see where you are going. The challenge was not impossible to overcome though. Lonnie and his Grand Canyon adventure was enough proof that a blind paddler could dance on the river and tango with blind kayakers.
To follow athlete, and blind OIF veteran Steve Baskis, please follow his website: Blind Endeavors.
Watch Lonnie Bedwell’s pioneering journey with Team River Runner as the first blind kayaker to make it down the 226 mile run through the Grand Canyon.