The Columbia River stretches 1200 miles, starting as a small stream in British Columbia and gathering strength to become the largest North American river to drain into the Pacific Ocean. People have used the river for transportation since the first native inhabitants pushed a dugout canoe into the deep swift waters.

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Photos: Matt Honor

Fast forward a couple thousand years and a new human powered journey is currently taking place. Wenatchee local Matt Honor is taking on the entire Columbia on his stand up paddle board. If successful, his descent will be the first of its kind. Icicle TV spoke to Matt the other day. He recounted what life is like one stroke at a time.

The river served up some big water below Parker Dam in lower BC. Churning rapids that normally would have been treacherous were drowned in a fresh dam release, the high water thankfully allowed him safe passage. Matt’s constant companion is the wind, blowing upriver every day, regulating his progress. Sometimes it’s a mile, sometimes 20 miles. It just depends on the wind. 

Honor has seen lots of animals along the way, from birds to beavers, but not a bear. People have been great, except for a few power boaters that blasted his SUP with large boat wakes. Generally, folks along the way are excited to hear about the trip and have been very gracious. “They offer up local knowledge about the river and sometimes a cold beverage to keep me going. “I have set up a series of resupplies along the route to replenish my foodstuffs, and I’ll usually chow down a real meal while I’m passing through a town, a welcome change from freeze dried food.” 

The SUP is large enough to accommodate up to 10 days of food and camping gear. Thankfully Matt gets his water from the river. Although he will be picking up a better water filter for the water in the lower river, the water has been quite fresh and better than most bottled water. Matt is fast approaching his halfway point and home of Wenatchee.

He will rest up, eat home cooking and replace some of his gear for the lower river. “The Columbia is a working river down there, lots of boat and barge traffic. I really don’t want to get ran over by a barge.” The question we’re all wondering is why the heck is he doing this? “It sounded like fun!” You can keep up with all of Matt Honor’s progress HERE.