Paralyzed Kayaker on 2 Year Roadtrip

9386857213_ac204aa262_nBorn and raised on a giant farm in Oregon, Greg Mallory loved spending time outdoors. So when he was injured skiing when he was 25, in his last year of law school no less, Greg Mallory wasn’t about to resign himself from his addiction to adrenaline-fueled sports.

Within months of his injury, a lower L1 injury but still devastating for an active guy like Greg, he learned how to mono-ski. Letting his injury siphon away his passions in life wasn’t something he was interested in. But after years of mono-skiing, Greg decided it wasn’t giving him enough of a cardio workout, especially as he got older.

So in 2002, he tried cross-country skiing for the first time in his life, the sitting-version, and became so good at it he went to compete in the Winter Paralympics twice – Tourin 2006 and Vancouver 2010 – competing in the men’s 5km, 10km and 15km. But kayaking, a sport he loved before his injury and not only still does, but does as a Class V whitewater paddler, typically unheard of with adapted kayaker, remains his greatest athletic love.

Yes, Greg truly has made an awesome life for himself post-injury. And he did eventually get that law degree and went on to specialize in corporate finance and securities; “transactional law” as he calls it. A 150-lawyer law firm in Portland, OR is where he made a living for himself for several years.

But here’s where his life becomes even more adventurous: Last year, Greg Mallory, along with three couples, two are friends and their wives, and another couple is his sister and husband, quit their jobs and took off for a truly epic 2 year long kayaking-center road trip to Patagonia, a beautiful place at the very southern tip of South America. So far they’re 10 months in.

Called the “Southern Tip Trip” (you can follow their adventures on Facebook), the group took off last November, leaving Oregon and traveling down to the Mexican Baja Peninsula, then kayaking to the Mexican mainland and traversing along the Pacific coast into Central and South America.

By March 2013, the group had already made it to Guatemala – their convoy consists of four Sprinter vans (now 3), a gas cook top stove, a mini fridge, solar power, an outdoor shower and a whole cavalcade of different kayaks.

Greg loves to kayak-surf too, which requires a different kayak. The smaller waves off the Mexican coast so far have been one of the best places he’s ever kayaked surfed, and he’s really looking forward to surfing in Patagonia.

And the especially cool thing about adapted kayaking is that it’s done as a group; it’s typically not safe for anyone with a SCI to do solo in case of flipping, so kayaking has presented itself as an awesome opportunity to still be active with his AB friends, hence this trip.

What’s even cooler is that right now, July 28th, 2013, the group is only in the very north of South America, in Venezuela to be exact, deliberately traveling slow and luxuriously, soaking in the sights; not just briefly taking them in and moving onto the next town. Oh how I’d love to do something as hardcore as this.

The irony is that before Greg took off, he still only worked 8 months out of the year, spending the other four months kayaking, traveling, training and skiing. Exploring is something he can’t ignore. And their trip continues onward. I wouldn’t be surprised if Greg starts sporting some dreads by the time the trip comes to a close in 2014.

Some people have figured out how to live the good life, which at the end of the day is all about creating a life for yourself that you absolutely love; and Greg Mallory is an expert at this at least a 100 times over.

Would you take a 2 year road trip?

- Watch a beautiful 5 minute film about Greg called “Walk on Water”

- Visit the Facebook page for their road trip: Southern Tip Trip

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