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Kankakee native nears end of 1,250-mile kayak trip

October 10, 2018

PORT GAMBLE, Wash. — John Kuntz is putting together the final kick of his 10-week, 1,250-mile kayak trip designed to raise money to help children experience the outdoors.

The Kankakee native and 1974 graduate of Kankakee Eastridge High School cannot wait to finish and get some time spent indoors.

As of Friday afternoon, the 61-year-old son of Gerald and Eleanor Kuntz only had 250 miles left to complete the 10-week trip from Invermere, British Columbia, Canada, to Astoria, Wash., where the snaking Columbia River spills into the Pacific Ocean.

“I plan on finishing Saturday (Oct. 13), but maybe Sunday,” he said Friday while padding through some light rain. “I will have to put in some long days, but this has been an incredible adventure.”

The trip began Aug. 1.

He had kayaked, on average, six to eight hours per day. On a typical day, he travels about 4.5 mph.

“I’m looking forward to finishing. But this has been about spreading good news about the outdoors and adventure,” he said.

However, it has been work. He estimates he dropped about 25 pounds during these 10 weeks and his backside is getting sore.

“Every day seems like a little bit of torture.”

The owner and operator of four Olympic Outdoor Center stores in Washington state, Kuntz grew up spending much of his time in and around the Kankakee River.

This trip was broken down into about 500 miles in Canadian waters and the remaining 750 miles in the U.S.

He was communicating with his younger brother, Matt, a 1981 Eastridge grad who is a teacher in the Oak Park School District. Through a camera, he conducted some classes for Matt’s science class.

He said, for the most part, the weather has been rather accommodating. He said most often the weather had been dry. He does expect the last week to be rainy, however.

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