Kayaker and river guide Bill Erickson made national headlines in August when he set out on a 900-mile journey to raise awareness for endangered salmon and to highlight the obstacles dams pose to the fish, by paddling the same route salmon swim through the Salmon, Snake and Columbia rivers to the Pacific Ocean.
On August 6, 30-year-old Erickson put in at the Sunbeam Dam near Stanley, and updated supporters with a blog documenting his trip. Though it was planned as a solo journey, along the way, Erickson met up with other rafters, yakkers and campers. He stopped for BBQs, he got a lot of high-fives, but unfortunately, was unable to finish his trip.
"I took several, much needed, days to rest my body," he wrote in his September 6 blog entry. "My right shoulder was in pain and I was having trouble raising my arm. My back was extremely sore and making it difficult to even get out of my boat."
After a video crew from ABC News documented the kayaking efforts for a national story, Erickson ended it. "I woke up the next day unable to move my right shoulder. Decision made," he wrote. "My body just made the decision that I have been contemplating for the last couple of days. I have decided that continuing downstream on the Salmon to Sea trip is not in the best interest of this trip, others or myself."
Erickson originally planned to finish his trip last week, however, the premature end to Erickson's journey, after 21 days and 487 miles, is apropos considering the trip's purpose, as it illustrates just how deadly a struggle salmon face. Not even Erickson, with years of training and special equipment at his disposal, could complete the trip.
"This journey was all about bringing awareness to the critical state of our endangered salmon, and the journey's early end I think is an important sign," Erickson wrote in his blog. "I couldn't make it through four deadly reservoirs on the lower Snake River, and neither can Idaho's sockeye salmon."
ABC World News with Charles Gibson will air its piece on Erickson's journey. Visit www.salmontosea.blogspot.com, where the date and time of the showing will be announced.