It was March 15 when twin brothers Casey and Ryan Higginbotham launched their 2,200 mile adventure from Ketchikan, Alaska. Their mission? A prone paddle journey from Alaska to the US/Mexico border, all in the name of coastal conservation. Now, more than 7 months later, the pair is set to conclude their journey on Friday in Imperial Beach, California.
The journey is the first of its kind. According to their website, “Legendary paddler Larry Capune once traversed along the East Coast in the 1960s, yet a west coast paddle board journey of this magnitude has not been completed nor even attempted by anyone.”
The 24-year-old brothers are both California state lifeguards, avid watermen, and conservationists. So, naturally, when the pair decided to make history by undertaking this journey, they tied their efforts to raising awareness for the environment.
“The North American Paddle, is not just historical waterman’s journey, but looks to raise awareness for greater coastal conservation,” reads the site. “The expedition is an homage to all watermen and demonstrates an ability to have a real adventure in today’s world while making a positive impact.”
Casey and Ryan have also elected to eschew a the modern convenience of boat assist, which is commonly used in long distance paddles, for the duration, making the trip that much more difficult.
Not only has the experience been one of the most physically grueling challenges imaginable, the brothers have also had their fair share of run-ins with predators along the way.
“We’ve seen black bears… and once I was just about a quarter mile from a river mouth in Oregon and the board gets lifted up and I just see this body passing under me,” Casey told Fox 5 San Diego. It turns out it was a Great White Shark.
After 5-6 hours of paddling per day, averaging about 20-25 miles, the journey, originally planned to finish around July 25, will come to a close Friday, three months behind schedule. Still the Higginbothams have made history, and are hopeful they’ve drawn awareness to environmental issues too.