Stab Magazine | Really, Who Paddles From Alaska To Mexico?

Really, Who Paddles From Alaska To Mexico?

Documentary detailing the most gnarly paddling adventure ever nearing completion.

Words by stab

Anthropologists believe the earliest humans to settle North America crossed from Siberia to Alaska about 13,000 years ago. It took another 4,000 years for people to reach California. When I met the Higginbotham brothers in San Clemente one day, gaunt and weathered, they’d just finished paddling the distance in seven months. 

“You gotta meet these guys, they’re paddling through Imperial Beach to the Mexican border this weekend,” said a longtime lifeguard friend.

That’s how Ryan and Casey Higginbotham appeared on my radar in 2016. Twin brothers who had been lifeguarding up along the San Luis Obispo Coast, pretty much on a whim they decided they were going to spend the offseason paddling from Alaska to Mexico.

I should never have met them. They should have been lost in the wilderness to animal, tide, weather or Sasquatch. When they started out on their Bark paddleboards, self-funded and self-supported, they were loaded with firearms, axes and all their worldly possession in a couple of wet/dry bags. If ignorance is bliss, they delightfully set out on the craziest paddling trek ever.

They eventually traded their guns for food after realizing that even the Grizzlies aren’t as crazy as they are. They went weeks along the Pacific Northwest coast without seeing another soul. In Washington, they slept in a sea cave. In Oregon, they broke a board and had to swim for their lives. Like underwater vultures, sharks had to be tracking them every stroke of the way.

Over the years Stab’s reported on the boys’ adventures extensively, and now we’re happy to share that they’re on the cusp of releasing the full-length documentary detailing their trip from Alaska to Mex (they’ve since paddled the entirety of the Baja Peninsula). They’ve got luminaries like Oscar-winner Jimmy Chin of “Free Solo” fame backing the project. Kelly Slater, Jamie Mitchell, Keith Malloy, the world’s most aquatic humans are backing their program…because, really, who paddles from Alaska to Mexico? It’s an incredible story. And while we freely admit, the “waterman” ethos is oft overplayed, these guys are fucking ironmen. 

Along with their new trailer, they’ve also launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund this. Remarkably in this day and age of voyeuristic, self-indulgent social media “influencers,” the Higginbotham boys boot-strapped this sucker themselves and have scraped for every nickel. If you’ve got a little extra scratch in your pocket, kick them down a few bucks, we’re backing their crazy asses 100-percent. 


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