Hoover Dam was the epicenter of the kayaking community Friday as the Bow South Expedition began its 340-mile kayak trek down the Colorado River to the Mexican border to raise funds for charity.
James Hermes, who’s the team leader and organizer for the Bow South Expedition, said he started the expedition because of his insatiable lust for kayaking.
The voyage will take the crew through six dams, three wildlife refuges and two giant lakes before ending at the Morelos Dam just inside Mexico’s border, according to Hermes.
“I really just wanted to get a long trip under my belt,” Hermes said. “I announced my original trip last year in January 2014, and when I returned, I had emails from people all over the world about my trip.”
He set off with two friends, before completing his inaugural Colorado River trip solo in November 2014.
Hermes said after reading those emails, he decided to give his expedition a name and a purpose. The first charity to benefit from his trip was the Sherman Indian Foundation, which supports the educational advancement of students who attend an off-reservation boarding school.
This year’s trip will benefit the Sherman Indian Foundation as well as the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Hermes decided to add the latter after a family member was recently diagnosed.
The Indio, Calif., resident said the entire trip is self-funded, so 100 percent of the proceeds go to charity. People are able to donate through the expedition’s website, either in one lump sum or per mile.
He announced on his website in January that he would be doing the trip again in November, and received offers from people wanting to accompany him. Hermes has four people joining his expedition this year from Hoover Dam.
“The reason I do it in November is because it’s not really that cold yet,” Hermes said. “There’s less power boat traffic on the river (at that time).”
Two people will be trekking with the expedition for the first 12 miles of the trip, hopping off at Willow Beach.
The other two kayakers, a father and son combo, will travel the first 64 miles of the trip, ending their route at Davis Dam, just north of the Laughlin-Bullhead City area.
The 41-year old will finish the trip solo. Members of his crew as well as his family will be at the end of the route to pick him up. He said he expects the journey to take about 16 days.
Hermes said the expedition has an agreement with Border Patrol that won’t cause any issue with him being brought back to the U.S.
Stops at the six dams between Hoover Dam and the Mexican border will allow Hermes to set up camp and refuel with food and water.
Although all of his camping gear fits in his kayak, Hermes does have two “food drop” sites where he replenishes his food and water supplies to make the journey possible.
The expedition has raised just under $500 dollars combined for the charities, although Hermes expects more money to come in after the event is over. He also said a few businesses have pledged to donate 25 cents per mile.
To track Hermes and the Bow South Expedition, visit www.riverbroncs.com.
— Contact reporter Randy Faehnrich at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-586-9401. Follow him on Twitter @RandyFaehnrich.