Musician Embarks on Oregon-to-Florida Paddling Trip

I’ve never met Thorin Loeks, but I wouldn’t bet against his creative ambition based on his various credentials.

The Yukon Territory native is a singer/songwriter, social worker, grad student, podcaster, and adventure athlete. He’s produced three studio albums since 2016, all while logging multiple long cycling and paddling trips.

Now in his early 30s, Loeks embarks on an expedition that will take him from the shore of the Pacific Ocean to the Florida gulf coast.

Maybe not surprisingly, he plans to write his next album along the way.

“I grew up paddling and being out appreciating nature,” Loeks told the Wahkiakum County Eagle. “I think that combination of music, community, adventure, and challenging myself to learn what I’m capable of is a powerful experience for me. I’ve always had that drive to explore new places, get the lay of the land.”

On his website, Loeks estimates he’s accumulated over 24,000km in the canoe and on the saddle over the past eight years. He’s ridden his bike across the northern U.S. from Astoria, Ore. to Portland, Maine; paddled the entire length of the Mississippi River; and cycled from the Arctic Circle to San Francisco on an album tour.

5,000km across the U.S.

This time around, the musician plans to paddle the Columbia River to where it meets the Snake River in southern Washington state. From there, he’ll continue about 160 kilometres to the Idaho border.

He then plans to cycle about another 220km across Idaho into Montana. A friend will then bring Loeks his canoe at the headwaters of the Big Hole River, where he’ll put in and head for the mighty Mississippi via multiple other main waterways like the Jefferson and Missouri Rivers.

Arriving in New Orleans, he’ll continue along the Gulf of Mexico to Pensacola, Florida. The route covers about 8,000 km.

Thorin Loeks: ‘Home is where my heart is’

If somehow the mileage and songwriting don’t keep him busy enough, Loeks will also spend time journaling and researching ahead of his upcoming thesis.

“My grad research is going to be all about what is it that brings people together to do the things they love to do,” Loeks said. “What creates that feeling of community and belonging that draws people into different places, and how can that be fostered?”

To research those pivotal questions, he’ll interview people he meets and potentially include them in his podcast. “The Journey to the Heart” launched on May 24.

“I’m a patient and persistent person,” Loeks said. “My home is where my heart is, and so wherever I go, I know I can meet great people, and everybody is special in different ways. That’s the wonderful part about it; you get to connect with interesting and special people in unique ways and doing that through music and good conversation and beautiful communities… it’s a joy.”

That joy must make up a massive quotient of Loeks’ experience; we have no idea what else could give him enough energy to keep up with himself.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson spent his 20s as an adventure rock climber, scampering throughout the western U.S., Mexico, and Thailand to scope out prime stone and great stories. Life on the road gradually transformed into a seat behind the keyboard, where he acted as a founding writer of the AllGear Digital Newsroom and earned 1,500+ bylines in four years on topics from pro rock climbing to slingshots and scientific breakthroughs.