It would sound cliche to say that since retiring from pro skateboarding in 2010, Heath Kirchart has embarked on a new adventure. But the stylish goofyfoot has done just that every year for the last few years.
Kirchart has made a point to undertake a fairly serious expedition annually — always doing something he has no business doing. An utter lack of experience hasn’t deterred the Emerica team manager from climbing El Capitan, rafting the Grand Canyon without a guide, riding a bike from Los Angeles to New York, and attempting to row and sail (in a homemade rowboat) along the Pacific side of Baja California. With the exception of the last adventure, which didn’t work out super well, Kirchart and his partners have managed to pull off all of them.
For his current mission, he got back in a rowboat in Baja, but this time decided to venture from north to south along the west coast of the Gulf of California. He’s there right now along with fellow skater Kevin “Boosh” Burtch, two weeks in, posting updates on the site Sea of Mathilda, which lets you track his progress down the peninsula as he poses next to dead whales, catches fish, drinks a dozen margaritas, and poops off the side of the boat. The pair launched their 21-foot dory on April 1 in San Felipe, headed 800 miles to La Paz.
“This will be Boosh’s first attempt at a Darwin award,” Kirchart writes on the blog. “I’m going for my second nomination in twice as many years.”
Kirchart has documented all of his other quests on another blog, appropriately titled We’re Really Doing It. Because, yeah, most of his fans are probably wondering, is he really freaking doing that? And the journal-entry style blog posts, mostly written by people other than Kirchart, act as many thoughtful and wandering answers to that question, as well as another: “Why?”
Jeff Vallee, a photographer who is Kirchart’s co-pilot on some of these ill-advised trips, offered his own answer in one post. “The mix of inexperience and spontaneity can produce some of the greatest experiences of your life,” he wrote. “Coincidentally, they are also the perfect recipe for melt downs and tearing out your own hair.”
Does this man look like your average adventurer?
There’s a selfish honesty in the blog posts that reflects how these trips are different from so many expeditions you hear about. There is no pretense about raising awareness about anything. Or raising money to cure anything. Or do the first-ever anything. By design, these missions are done by people with no experience purely for the hell of it. And the joy of watching is partly to gawk at a train wreck, and partly to share in the joys of looking at the pictures of roadkill encountered along the way, or the joy of being high on El Cap under the night sky listening to Pink Floyd, or the experience of screwing up an expedition that was a really bad idea in the first place.
After failing to complete the rowboat trip along the Pacific side of the Baja Peninsula, Vallee ruminated about how they would proceed. “We may change a few of our methods and how we approach future adventures, but the philosophy of the next voyage will remain,” he wrote. “That may sound like I’m tooting my own horn pretty loud, but keep in mind that there are people out there that skate or surf and take huge, life altering slams and get right back up and try again. I on the other hand will dust off the dirt, go home, get a burrito and think about how to pull it off another day.”
Looks like this one’s off to a better start: