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Frank Wolf - Round the Gap

May 10, 2024

Frank Wolf - Round the Gap

Frank Wolf has returned from his latest paddling expedition, attempting the trek from Panama City Panama, to Turbo, Colombia along with fellow adventurer Mark Sky. Frank and Mark pushed these kayaks in everything from heavy seas to sun drenched coastlines, and have returned to tell the tale. Ups and downs are part of any expedition, but when you embrace the adversity, it makes you stronger and leaves memories for a lifetime. 

The TRAK unleashes your adventures around the world. We're asked all the time "how is the TRAK the Ultimate Sea Touring Kayak"? Here's one more example of incredible people on amazing journeys using our powerful boats.

 

 

Quick recap if you missed it: Mark's adventure began in Squamish, BC on his Expedition Squagua - setting out to traverse every province and state on his way to Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina. Oh, and he's climbing the highest peak in each just for good measure! An adventure not for the faint of heart.

We met up with Frank back here on BC's west coast for a debrief of his experience. What follows is his story.

Don't miss the Photo Gallery (260 pictures)!

 

I just recently returned from another TRAK Kayak adventure, this time a 500 km line along the Panama and Colombia coastline. The journey began with me flying  down there with a pair of TRAK Kayaks and all the necessary paddling gear for two people to meet my friend Mark Sky in Panama. He’d spent almost a year cycling from Squamish to our rendezvous spot, and also bagged the highest peak in every state and country he passed through along the way. His goal is to travel self-propelled all the way through South America with a final summit of Mount Aconcagua in Argentina.

One of the cruxes of his journey was to figure out how to get around the Darien Gap - the roadless, dangerous un-patrolled border region between Panama and Colombia. This is where the TRAK Kayaks came in. With kayaks difficult to find in that part of the world, the solution was to bring down the best travel kayaks in the world to make the trip a reality.

 

We put the kayaks together in a small harbour in the town of Colon, located at the Caribbean entrance to the Panama Canal. A few mildly interested locals watched as the TRAK Kayaks took form and we were soon off, dodging freighters on our way out of the canal to the quiet coast that waited beyond.

The highlight of Panama was the San Blas Archipelago...a chain of 365 islands within the Guna Yala region of the country- an area administered and controlled by indigenous Kuna people. The people survive largely off foraging in the jungle and small scale farming, in addition to dollars injected by tourism. Mostly uninhabited, we spent many a night camping in our Hennessy Hammocks on the most perfect coconut palm lined tropical island paradise you could imagine. The one obvious blight was the garbage on the shoreline- lots of plastic bottles that came from far away but was also heaped on by the locals, who have no trash collection whatsoever. All of it goes into the sea. It’s a poor country, so there isn’t the money or infrastructure to deal with garbage as they’re just trying to get by day to day. It’s a reminder that stewardship of the sea is a global issue, with a long ways to go.

 

 

The Kuna people were incredibly friendly to us. They have a strong paddling culture- making their own dugout canoes and paddles- and were very curious about our TRAK boats, which they’d never seen before. They use their canoes to get from their island villages to the mainland farms and forests to harvest mangoes, guava, bananas, plantains, sugar cane and coconuts. They generously shared these delicacies of the forest with us, connecting with us as fellow self-propelled paddlers.

 

 

Once past the protection of the San Blas Islands, we were exposed to the full might of the NE swell as it built unimpeded for 1200 km across the Caribbean Sea and gave us rough conditions for the final week, with few areas to tuck in for camp along the way. It was challenging and harrowing at times, particularly for a fairly novice paddler like Mark, but the TRAK Kayaks saw us though.

 

 

Our final two days involved a night crossing in a storm, and being detained by the Colombian Navy for an evening before finally touching land in Turbo.

I’m back now with the TRAK kayaks safely at HQ, another fine adventure in the bag. Read about my misadventures with the Colombian Navy on my Facebook and Instagram pages, or better yet read an article in about it in the next issue of Paddling Magazine, out in June.

 



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