After decades of exploring, where do the boldest sea kayakers, whitewater boaters and canoe trippers fantasize about paddling? That’s the question that inspired Paddling Magazine to query some of our long-time contributors and favorite nomadic aquaphiles to ask after their dream destinations, most challenging expeditions and what a life of exploration really means anyways.

In this series of profiles, these exceptional water-wanderers share their top trips, best advice and biggest blunders. And whether their ambitious journeys were taken in the name of discovery, education, environment or glory, these legends affirm what we already know: There’s far more to explore by paddle than anyone could fit in a lifetime—but don’t let that stop you from trying.

[Check back in the coming weeks for the remaining profiles in this series.]


Adventurer Frank Wolf is known for his award-winning films documenting wilderness expeditions in northern Canada. His first major expedition was canoeing across Canada in a single season, and he’s set out on big, demanding trips somewhere in the world almost every year in the two decades since. Whether pedaling 1,250 miles from Dawson to Nome on the frozen Yukon River, paddling 1,250 miles of the British Columbia coast or rowing 1,180 miles along the Northwest Passage, Wolf never stops pushing.

Location: North Vancouver, British Columbia
Occupation: Writer and presenter
Latest Project: Kayaking around Canada’s Vancouver Island

 

Man with beard paddling a canoe on choppy waters
Frank Wolf in his happy place. | Photo courtesy of: Frank Wolf

Q & A with Frank Wolf

1 One destination I dream of returning to is…

the 1,750-kilometer line from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, to the source of the Back River and down to the ocean. This location still captivates me because of the incredible wildlife, like caribou, musk ox, grizzly and wolf. It’s a fabulous mix of tripping, from whitewater to big lakes to grinding portages.

2My biggest pet peeve is…

 whiners.

3One thing I can’t live without is…

cayenne pepper.

4The greatest advice I ever got was…

“nothing worthwhile is easy,” and that was from my dad.

5The canoe I’m paddling most right now is…

an Esquif Prospecteur 17.

6The best paddling companions are…

joyful.

7My biggest blunder was…

almost drowning on the Babine River during a cross-Canada attempt 23 years ago and I learned I wasn’t invincible.

8The hardest part about making that dream trip happen is…

inertia.

9Happiness is…

being in the midst of an adventure, when past and future are irrelevant and there is only now.

10My most challenging expedition was…

canoeing across Canada and it taught me I love paddling through new landscapes for weeks and months at a time.

In 1995, Wolf and his paddling partner became the first modern paddlers to canoe across Canada in a single season. They started in Saint John, New Brunswick on the Atlantic coast and paddled to Vancouver, traveling against the prevailing winds. The duo paddled 12 to 14 hours a day, every day, until they got to the Pacific Ocean 171 days and 5,000 miles later.

11What scares me most is…

emotional vulnerability.

12My favorite camp meal is…

grilled grayling with cayenne pepper.

13

The true gift of big trips is…

 being fully and truly engaged in the moment at all times and stepping into a new dimension of consciousness.

14

My best advice for young paddlers is…

keep paddling and you’ll stay young forever.

Paddling Magazine Issue 63 | 2021 Paddling Trip Guide Cover

This article was first published in Paddling Magazine Issue 64. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions here, or download the Paddling Magazine app and browse the digital archives here.


Frank Wolf in his happy place. | Photo courtesy of: Frank Wolf

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