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The Volga River is Europe's longest river. From what we can tell, no one has paddled it's entire length from it's source in the Valdai Hills to it's mouth at the Caspian Sea.


After successfully paddling the entire Amazon River from it's most distant source to the sea, I came to realize that I felt pretty comfortable paddling twelve hour days and sleeping out in the open. My tolerance for the rush and whining of "civilization" wained, so in January of 2013 I began planning this expedition. Using what we learned during the Amazon Express expedition, we trimmed down our gear and team in order to move quickly and without all the variables that hindered us in South America.


Conservatively, we plan on averaging 50 miles per day on the Volga. Right now, as I sit in my office in Austin, Texas, I'm in pretty horrible shape. Working long hours and rehabilitating two successful shoulder surgeries, I've gotten soft and fat. The first few weeks of this expedition will leave me quite sore, but I'm looking forward to getting back in the shape I experienced on the Amazon.


Jeff and I will begin the expedition in solo Epic 18x sea kayaks - the same as the model I used on the Amazon. Jason will join us sometime in mid-May when his work schedule clears up. 


We won't have a support team, save for logistics and the truly generous help provided by the folks at Procosta in Astrakhan near the delta of the Volga River. As was our method on the Amazon, I'll be using a satellite phone to call my sister, Barbara, each day for a report she can upload to this blog. On occasion, we may have access to the internet, when we'll upload stories and pictures directly.


If there's one thing we'd like people to take away from our expeditions is that we are some pretty normal guys. We work regular jobs, have regular bills and debt, kids in school and no financial resources to speak of. Furthermore, we really aren't in any better shape than your average jogger. The only difference is that we've decided that, in the words of Jack London, we'd rather be ashes than dust.


Questions, comments and interview queries should be directed to Barbara at:


Thanks for checking in. I hope we can entertain and perhaps inspire you.                                                                                            --West Hansen, Volga River Expedition Leader


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