Why is it that it’s easy to come up with an idea for an adventure, but so much harder to find others willing to go along with you? I ask one person I know who doesn’t mind traveling and isn’t bothered by a little discomfort.
Ben Horan, part owner of Remote Wakeskates, wanders the world showing off his products. He’s a pro wakeskater, a guy who’ll go anywhere if there’s water and something to pull him over it. He likes to get out there — the more inaccessible the better.
“Sounds cool,” says Ben. “I know this place where they open the dam to drain off the lake to make room for the snow runoff, leaving pockets of smaller lakes. They’re hard to reach and no one’s around.” It sounded perfect. “Mind if I bring a friend?” Sure, why not?
We meet around 8 on a November morning at Fontana Village in North Carolina, deep in the Nantahala Forest, with the truck’s thermometer showing 37 degrees. While I sit by the hotel’s fireplace, Ben’s in a T-shirt securing his board in the Wake 155’s rack and ripping up the parking lot on his skateboard. Tough guy. But nothing compared with his buddy Yan LeComte, who comes in after driving straight through from Quebec. Ben and Yan high-five, and I soon realize that this is going to be the Ben and Yan show with me tagging along.
Yan is always smiling and calm but full of energy. His main gig is being a stunt man. When I ask if he’s OK to get going after such a long haul, he pauses me with a hand up and points to a tree (Yan doesn’t say much). He then charges at the big oak, runs up the trunk and does a back flip, landing with both arms out in a silent “ta-da!” Ben turns to me: “Guess he’s ready.”