CAPTURING AMERICA’S HIDDEN WILDERNESS with a camera and a Sea Eagle FastTrack

“People don’t realize there are still areas where there’s no civilization at all,” says Brad Beaver. Brad’s a professional photographer specializing in wildlife and nature photography. In particular, he’s capturing the “unseen America” — the hidden, remote, pristine areas many miles from civilization.

Brad is exploring and photo-documenting America's hidden wilderness areas. His dog, Laura, scouts the way.

Documenting natural areas most people will never see

“My photography is all about capturing beautiful scenery most people will never see unless they backpack deep into the wilderness,” says Brad. And there’s a lot to see out there as evidenced by Brad’s remarkable photos.

Living in Iowa, Brad’s documented the back woods beauty of many Western states. Little by little, he’s compiling a large coffee table book of photos of the natural splendor of America. “I want to photograph all 50 states,” says Brad. “That’s why I call my company ‘Zoom In America Photography.’” 14 states down, 36 to go.

There's pristine beauty everywhere — you just have to take to the water to visit it.

A floating photo studio

How does a photographer get himself and all his camping gear, food, cameras, tripods, light meters, tons of photo equipment, and his dog, Laura, into the outback, many miles from the nearest road? Brad’s mode of transportation is his Sea Eagle FastTrack 465FT. Nearly 15 feet long, rated to carry nearly 800 lbs., his FastTrack holds everything he needs for extended water-based travel, camping, and photography in the great outdoors.

Brad recently visited the Arrowhead Region of Minnesota, about three hours or less north of Minneapolis, home of The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), Voyageurs National Park, and nearby Canadian Quetico and La Verendrye Provincial Parks. Collectively, they’re called the “Quetico-Superior country,” or the Boundary Waters.

Where fur traders & explorers paddled birch bark canoes

When you're miles and miles from civilization, you must bring everything you need...and leave only footprints.

Covering well over 1,000,000 square acres, the Boundary Waters is a deep, north woods wilderness of forest and lakes.  Explorers, French-Canadian fur traders, and Indians paddled birch bark canoes through this area 200 years ago and Brad says it hasn’t changed much in all that time. “The only way to get back in there is by boat,” he says.

“Will I make it back to camp?”

Nature's flora, fauna, clean water, fresh air...who could ask for more?

Sea Eagle calls its FastTrack kayak a “performance kayak,” and Brad agrees, citing a recent Sea Eagle boating experience. “I was out on a remote lake and the wind started blowing 15 or 20 miles an hour in my face. The waves were crashing and I wondered if I’d ever get back to camp. But the FastTrack cut right through it like it was calm. It was incredible. It didn’t even bother my dog, Laura. She can get nervous in waves but she just sat there.”

The FastTrack is Brad’s second Sea Eagle. Fascinated by the Missouri River and Lewis and Clark’s explorations, Brad and a friend traveled and photographed 750 miles of the Missouri a few years ago in a Sea Eagle SE9. “The SE9 was great on a big river,” says Brad. “But I talked to the folks at Sea Eagle and we agreed that for backwoods exploring, the FastTrack is more nimble.”

“There are places in The Boundary Waters where I’d have to drag the FastTrack over rocks, snags, and even beaver dams,” says Brad. He dragged it, carried it on his shoulders, then discovered the FastTrack can be deflated, rolled up, and worn like a backpack. “I was very glad about that,” he says.

Much more wilderness to explore

What’s next for Brad? He and his Sea Eagle FastTrack will take a trip down the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway —  225 miles of pristine waterway coursing through a lush landscape down the Wisconsin-Minnesota border.

We look forward to seeing more of Brad Beaver’s outstanding nature photographs from his trip down the St. Croix and many more of America’s great rivers!

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24 Responses to CAPTURING AMERICA’S HIDDEN WILDERNESS with a camera and a Sea Eagle FastTrack

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention CAPTURING AMERICA’S HIDDEN WILDERNESS with a camera and a Sea Eagle FastTrack | Sea Eagle Boating & Kayaking Blog -- Topsy.com

  2. Paul Sacco says:

    I received my kayak last month. I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, it’s getting cold in New york, I can’t wait for the spring to put it in the water. I’ll be 68 years old when I do it, and I know I’ll feel 35 again.

    • Brad Beaver says:

      Mr Sacco,

      You are going to love it! They are incredible boats and make you feel very safe!
      Easy to manuever and easy to put in, and out, of a lake or river. I can hardly wait for my next trip. I am addicted, thanks to SeaEagle!

    • Patrick Hehir says:

      I live in NY, too, Paul, and bought my SE370 in October 2008 and had to wait until May 2009 to use it! It sat up in a spare room inflated the whole winter, which didn’t stop my grandson from pouncing on it every now and then. If it could stand that punishment, I knew it was a good boat!

      Like you, I couldn’t wait to get it on the water, which I have done for two summers now. You’ll love it. I was 63 when I got mine and feeling 35 was about right.

      Good luck and happy boating!

      Pat Hehir

    • Pete says:

      Brad, check your paddles? You have two of the same blades on. I have a 385ft and did the same thing at first, There is a left and right blade so make sure the Sea Eagle writing is on top on both blades when you assamble the paddles,
      I can’t get enough of my fast track! I’m always trying to find time too squeeze in a couple of hours to go out.

      Pete

  3. Faith Richter says:

    The photos by Brad are amazing and completely transcending! Can’t wait for his “Coffee Table Book” to come out! Keep me informed, please. Thank you.

  4. Robert Angel says:

    Very nicely done, Brad. Your photos are spectacular. Enjoy the trip.

    Bob

  5. Henry Liu says:

    Glad to see another photographer who uses FastTrack to explore the nature world! Your pictures are wonderful and inspiring. I got my Fasttrack last June. As I didn’t have paddling experience, I spent much of this year practicing. I’m sure I’ll take many more pictures next year. I’d like to see more of your work. Do you have a web site?

    Regards, happy paddling and shooting!
    Henry Liu
    http://www.scenicfoto.com

  6. Jimboleus says:

    nice shutterbuggin..I use my 370 “Boat in a Bag” to fish the coastal waters of NC SC and Fla. I am very happy with the performance of this inflatable …and I have a pretty good supply of fresh flounder and redfish fillets to prove it!

  7. Tracey M says:

    I have had a Sea Eagle 330 for a few years now and just love it. I can even fit it in the trunk of my Miata. You should see the looks as I unwrap the 330 and in 10 minutes have a full sized kayak. I have the joy of driving with the top down to my location and then enjoying the water with my boat. It is great and can’t wait for the weather to warm up again to get back out and enjoy the beautiful wildlife.

  8. Hi Brad,

    Nice pictures, I’m looking to do something similar but on small scale in my area.

    I do have a quick question for you regranding your choice of crafts, why did you choose that model over the other ones.

    Be interested on getting some feedback from a fellow photographer.

    Best

    Hugo

    • Brad Beaver says:

      Hi Hugo,

      Thanks for the compliment. The Boundary Waters is a photographers dream!
      I choose the 465ft because it is a bit larger, and with all my gear for a fairly long trip, it is perfect. Besides, I have Laura, to go along and she has to be
      comfortable! LOL I can give you some better details and ideas if I know more
      about how you will use the SeaEagle and for how long? They are incredible boats and I would never even think about using another brand. The SE9 raft,
      was a lifesaver on the Missouri River. However, it isnt manueverable enough for the backwoods. I look forward to anwsering any questions you might have.
      Thanks again, and it was heaven up in NE Minnesota!

      Brad

  9. Shannon says:

    Beav,
    I am very impressed!! What a beautiful story & pictures to go with. You are always full of adventures. Keep up the great work & love life!!
    Shans

  10. Donna Bliss says:

    I got a Sea Eagle 330 this spring and have thoroughly enjoyed kayaking the lakes in several of Georgia’s state parks. I’d thought about doing some photography while on the water, but was concerned about how to protect my camera from getting wet when I wasn’t using it. Any suggestions? Also, how do you stabilize yourself when the water is not calm?

    • Donna,

      REI has a good selection of dry bags at http://www.REI.com/DryBags. Rough water conditions demand caution in any boat. I’d suggest becoming comfortable in gentle conditions and gradually progressing to rougher water.

      John

    • Brad Beaver says:

      Hi Donna,

      Keeping my equipment dry is my biggest concern too. The first time I did the Boundary Waters, I used a regular canoe and worried the whole trip. The 465ft took that worry away. Very Stable. I use a photographer vest, and always keep my camera around my neck. The other camera gear, I bought a very good waterproof camera bag. Your best bet for camera gear is to go to an exclusive photo store. I pack all my gear Texsport bags. As far as being stable, John is the expert. When I am out, I use the back seat and put my two large bags and mt dog in the front. When the water is rougher, I sit in the middle seat with one bag in front and one in back. I am still learnig the rough water’s too, and I can guarantee that the SeaEagle makes you feel very safe compared to a hard kayak or canoe. I trully mean it is an incredible boat!

      Brad

  11. Katherine Garvin says:

    Pictures are wonderful and I’m glad you’re enjoying your kayak so much. I’ve read the other replies and would like to hear from some of your readers. I have a SeaEagle 330 kayak. I’ve tried it a few times but find it almost too buoyant and have great difficulty in entering and exiting – even more than a hard sided kayak. I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong or just need a lot more practice. Any ideas from others would be appreciated.

    Thanks,

    katherine

    • Tom says:

      hi katherine,

      One thing I noticed with my 330 was the seats that came with it (I bought it used at a second hand store) were not all that great. When I got the PaddleSki I got the nice inflatable seats and they made a big difference in how easy it was to get in and out of the kayak. Another thing I do is place a paddle board swimmers use on the floor. It adds stiffness and the one I have is an exact fit. Any kayak will seem more buoyant to a small light person, and less buoyant to a bigger heavier person. One thing I have done is not put so much air in the floor chamber of the 330 so it is less buoyant, and perhaps this is why I need additional support of the paddle board.

  12. Tom says:

    Just my two cents. I have a 330, a Foldcat, and a PaddleSki, and use them all for photography; depending on various factors. The Foldcat is my first choice for what I call wide open areas, even if it takes more time to set up than the others. The seat allows 360 degrees of view with ease, a small electric motor gets me places with less effort, the boat is very stable, and there is plenty of room for me and all my toys. One thing I do is use a medium size Igloo Ice Chest attached to the boat with bungee cords to store my cameras and other stuff, which are placed in one of those giant ZipLoc bags (3ft. X 2ft and 4 for $US5 at WalMart). It seems to offer more protection than a dry bag and will float if it hits the water. Here is a pix

    http://www.pbase.com/tommy2guns/image/129478023

    I use a similar protection method with my PaddleSki, but place the chest length wise instead of cross wise. The PaddleSki is my choice when I am paddling more than motoring for longer distances, especially if there are tight areas due to fallen trees or the like. This pix shows my PaddleSki in action, there is a giant ZipLoc bag at the bow.

    http://www.pbase.com/tommy2guns/image/129370672

    The 330 is nice because it is so light and small. It fits in the back of my Honda Civic for short day trips and is so fast and easy to set up. It is also nice to take in my Camper where storage room is often limited. While not allowing all the options of the other boats for photography the advantage of almost always having it available for kayaking is a big advantage. Here is a pix

    http://www.pbase.com/tommy2guns/image/129370671

    I live in Florida and there is not really any white water to speak of so a more robust boat like the FastTrac was not something I considered, but for other places it may well be a good choice.

  13. raymond senecal says:

    Do you use the pump that come with the kayak package ,does it give enough pressure .
    Raymond

    • Brad says:

      Raymond, I do use the pump that comes with the kayak package. It has plenty of pressure and inflates very quickly. I also carry a small battery powered Coleman pump, but rarely use it!

      • Raymond says:

        Regarding speed have you regestered your average speed with the 465 .

      • Brad says:

        I havent checked speed. best I can tell you is I did 25 miles on The Upper Iowa River in 3 1/2 hours, but that was taking photos and stops. if I totally go for it, the 465 FT flies!

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