Jennings takes kayaking to a much higher level By ANDY THOMPSON TIMES-DISPATCH COLUMNIST
Things turned bleakest for Trip Jennings and his crew of whitewater daredevils when the men with machetes and axes surrounded them. Only one spoke a hint of English. He demanded money - lots of it. His message was clear: "No money. No paddling."
Everyone in his group looked at Jennings and took a step back.
Just a day earlier, he and his fellow kayakers were welcome guests in this man's village in Papua New Guinea, preparing to make a first descent of one of the world's most remote rivers. Now, it seemed, he would have to negotiate for their lives. He felt a surge of adrenaline.
"Wow, all right. I guess it's on," he remembers thinking.
At just 25, Jennings, a Richmond native, is one of the world's best and most fearless kayakers. He's been on many first-descent trips, once held the world record for biggest waterfall paddled (101 feet) and generally braved river conditions that would scare most boaters silly. But it's experiences like the one in Papua New Guinea - he and his crew survived the machete-wielding villagers and then the four-day trip down the Pandi River - that are bringing international acclaim to the Trinity Episcopal School graduate.