Most people can find, and check, a relevant box when answering the occupation question on an employment application, but not Angelo Wilkie-Page, the kayaker who arrived in Nome on Sunday, Oct. 11.
Wilkie-Page is an “other”.
“I am an adventurer and explorer,” said the 30-year-old from Durban, South Africa in an interview with the Nome Nugget this week. “It’s my job.”
Wilkie-Page has embarked on an around-the-world trip made possible by the hard work it takes to secure sponsorships. “I think what makes a successful adventurer is to be able to make a lifestyle out of it, full time,” he says. “It’s a constant challenge.”
“When I get to a milestone, or a village, the first people I contact are my parents, and then the second will be my sponsors,” he said. Building relationships with sponsors, such as the Los Angeles-based Clear Stream Media, allows him the opportunity to make adventuring his profession.
Since embarking on his attempt to circumnavigate the planet Wilkie-Page has traveled by bicycle, splashed down rivers using a canvass boat and a packraft, hiked across tundra, and paddled his fiberglass kayak in the ocean. “I believe strongly in the human-powered concept,” he says. “Meaning no motors or sails. Strictly under my own steam.”
In order to register the accomplishment with Guinness World Records and Explorersweb, Wilkie-Page must cross all lines of longitude as well as the equator. The real trick is to cross what he calls a set of antipodal points, or locations that are at diametrically opposite ends on the earth. For this he has chosen Ulanbaatar, Mongolia and its antipode, which lies somewhere in South America’s Patagonia region.
Wilkie-Page, a former bicycle racer, was new to pedal-powered, long-distance touring when he left Los Angeles on Nov. 20, 2014 for the first leg of his globe-trotting odyssey. “I have one main journey,” he says, “but so many people have influenced it. I rely heavily on the kindness of people.”
On March 22, 2015, Wilkie-Page arrived in Fairbanks, thus completing Leg One. On August 20 he set out on Leg Two, which will end in Cape Town, South Africa. He found kind neighborliness in great supply on his current leg as he followed the Iditarod sled dog route down the Yukon River and along the Bering Sea coastline.
The original plan for this stretch was to paddle his Vancouver-produced, custom-made, Seaward Kayak all the way to the Yukon Delta. But in Galena he met Charlie Green, who he described affectionately, as “a real cowboy.” Green persuaded Wilkie-Page to adjust his trip itinerary so that it would include a portage from Kaltag to Unalakleet. Green told him, “Go for it. You can do it.”
Green taught him how to properly use his pistol. He helped arrange an air transport for Wilkie-Page’s kayak, lent him boats and a backpack, and in two days had Wilkie-Page set up for the overland route to Unalakleet.
When he got to Kaltag, people informed him that few modern day travelers have ventured to make the trip across the tundra to Unalakleet in the fall time. In the past 20 years only a Swiss pair and an Austrian pair had successfully completed the journey.
Wilkie-Page received travel notes from a local when he got to Kaltag, but unfortunately, the piece of paper got wet en route, and he lost the valuable information about mile markers and landmarks.
The sparse use of the portage trail during snowless months was quite evident to Wilkie-Page. The lack of a discernible trail turned a succession of discarded Iditarod booties into one of his main navigational aides. He paddled into Unalakleet in his lightweight, backpackable raft eight days, and one scary bear encounter, after leaving Kaltag .
Wilkie-Booth arrived at the Bering Sea with limited ocean kayaking experience, but his goal was to use the coast as a training ground for a Bering Strait crossing. He plans to paddle from the Seward Peninsula to Magadan, Siberia next summer.
“I had major doubts leaving Unalakleet,” he said. Local resident Jeff Erickson brought food and encouragement to the beach and met Wilkie-Page at the shipping container where he was spending the night. Erickson gave him advice about the Bering Sea Coast, and put him in touch with people along the way.
Wilkie-Page made steady progress, although he tipped over twice between Unalakleet and Shaktoolik, which necessitated strenuous, and chilly swims to shore with boat in-tow. He gained confidence around the big obstacles, which included Capes Denbigh, Darby, and Rocky Point.
In Shaktoolik Wilkie-Page met Palmer Sagoonick, who he described as “the most humble person I have ever met in my life.” Sagoonick put him in touch with Koyuk’s Bucky Prentice who helped Wilkie-Page drag his heavily-laden kayak to shore after it had gotten stuck in the mud flats there. That endeavor lasted almost two hours.
“In Golovin they were waiting for me,” he said. His trip was delayed for a week there as he waited out the early October storms. “The whole community just took me in. I was invited for dinner by a different family every night. They donated to my charity Heifer International. The kids did a little fundraiser.”
Wilkie-Page plans on borrowing a bike and riding to Teller, where his progress in Leg Two will remain stalled for the winter. “I am wanting to continue around April, or as soon as the ice breaks up and as soon as the conditions allow me. This entire winter is based on getting over the bureaucracy hurdles. I have to get back to South Africa to meet with the Russian Consulate.”
When Wilkie-Page resumes his progress next spring, nearly one and a half years will have elapsed from his starting date. Once he gets to Cape Town he will begin the third, and perhaps most challenging leg, which will entail crossing the Atlantic by specialized row boat. From his South American landing spot, he will then set off on Leg Four, an overland return to Los Angeles.
He would like to complete the journey in four years, but anything less that five will do. If Wilkie-Page meets that goal he will have become only the second person ever to go around the world using his own energy, and will have broken the self-powered, global circumnavigation record set by Turkish-American Erden Eruc, who established the Guinness World Records mark in 2014.
There are many sub-plots to Wilkie-Page’s efforts, and his perpetual preparation has had a building block effect. Excursions to the Himalayas and participation in Ironman competitions were used to get ready for Leg One, and the trip across North America has become training for Siberia.
It’s hard to imagine topping a circumnavigation of the planet, but the entire 360-degree expedition around the earth is actually the biggest training trip of them all. Once Wilkie-Page breaks Eruc’s record, he will set off to become the first person to also complete a circumnavigation of the globe going from Pole to Pole. He has named his two-pronged undertaking Expedition 720 Degrees.
Beyond setting records, Wilkie-Page is working to raise global awareness on important environmental and socio-economic issues related to food security. Learn more about his achievements and progress at expedition720degrees.com.
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