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By Ben Stookesberry

2/22/10 – Sao Paulo, Brazil
Text Ben Stookesberry
Photos Chris Korbulic

Tomorrow we head Northwest of our current position in the heart of the second largest city on earth to the largest tropical wilderness on earth, the storied Amazon Basin. Just under a 100 years ago an expedition including ex-president Theodore Roosevelt and led by famous Brazilian Colonel Cândido Randon took two months to penetrate the unmapped southern reaches of the Amazon basin following the Telegraph line that Randon’s regiment had constructed the year before. Today, remnants of those same telegraph lines are visible in Google Earth, but also visible is a 100 years worth of burn and clear tactics that have eaten away at the emerald green edge of trackless forrest. Now connected to the economic center of the country by a network of interstate style thoroughfares that eventually degrade into unpaved and often impassable transamazonian mud pits, it should only take 19 hours of non-stop driving to reach our first destination in the huge central state
of Mato Grosso. This is where a ever expanding peneplane of soy meets the still intact Chapada forrest and the stunning crystal clear tributaries of the Amazon.

This trip, as in the previous 2, we are led by Brazilian Pedro Oliva in search of some of the largest runnable waterfalls on earth, both by height and volume. Of course, with the developments last spring, the task of establishing a world record has increased many times in difficulty and danger. I say difficulty because simply finding a drop above 45 -55 meters is a task in itself and danger because the speed at which one would hit the water would be in excess of 100 miles per hour. Mr. Bradt made it with a perfect line and drop selection, but the massive hit begs the question of survival of a higher fall.

At the end of the day the goal of the trip is not to break records, but rather to advocate preservation of the world’s rivers and explore new venues for a discipline that already boasts the most diverse set of experiences of any sport. From hardcore multi-day mountaineering-style descents of the Himalaya, Andes, Alps, and Sierra Nevada; to the massive freestyle features of Eastern Canada, Africa, ect.; to the adrenaline injected world-class waterfalling of the Colombia River Gorge, Mexico, Chile, and now Brazil. To every variation imaginable on those themes, ours is a sport of unlimited opportunities and possibilities from our own back yards to the other side of the planet. This is why I love to kayak.

More Soon,

Ben Stookesberry

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