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Pride of Paddlers: Man Who Visited 419 National Parks Debuts Documentary

Exploring the themes of mentorship, fatherhood, personal identity, and the outdoors, Mikah Meyer's documentary film 'Canyon Chorus' follows five gay men on a journey down Desolation Canyon.

(Photo/Eddie Bauer)
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Mikah Meyer was 30 when he decided to visit all 419 national park sites in a single journey to honor his late father. It took him 3 years — but the accomplishment opened the door to create a documentary with Eddie Bauer. The film premiered at the 5Point Adventure Film Festival on April 26 and debuted online on April 29. Which, coincidentally, is a very important date for Meyer.

“I just turned 38. So Monday [April 29] is the nineteenth anniversary of my father’s passing,” Meyer told GearJunkie. “So as of the day that this film releases, I will have spent more of my life without having a dad, than having a dad.”

That’s a big part of Meyer’s new documentary film, Canyon Chorus. Following his father, Larry’s death, Meyer filled that missing space in his life through a relationship with a mentor who would become one of his dearest friends. Just after his father had passed, Meyer went to the University of Memphis on a full-tuition choir scholarship. Lawrence “Larry” Edwards, the choir director, took Meyer under his wing.

(Photo/Eddie Bauer)

Meyer said that Edwards was the first openly LGBTQ+ adult he’d ever met. For a young gay man like Meyer, that was inspiring on many levels.

In Canyon Chorus, we follow these two and several friends on a journey down Utah’s Desolation Canyon. The film explores the themes of mentorship, identity, advocacy, and what it means to be gay. The spectacular slickrock canyon walls and rocky banks of the Green River provide a backdrop to their winding conversations.

“It’s a film that happens to be about gay people, but it’s about mentorship, and about fathers, and about nature connecting people, and all of these universal themes,” Meyer said. “The idea is to show how much shared humanity we all have.”

‘Canyon Chorus’ Film: Identity, Mentorship, and the Outdoors

Meyer is a travel journalist and LGBTQ+ rights advocate. During his National Park record, he realized that there wasn’t much LGBTQ+ representation in the outdoors. So he stepped up and into that role. He’s been an activist for the LGBTQ+ outdoor community ever since.

Meyer said he’d been playing with the concept of this documentary for a long time. The financial resources to pursue it had just never been available. However, following his record for visiting every national park site in the U.S., he became involved with Eddie Bauer.

Last year, the brand approached him with a proposal for a documentary. It asked if Meyer had any ideas. And it just so happened that he did.

(Photo/Eddie Bauer)

“My number one favorite thing to do in the outdoors, hands down, above everything else, is a multiday rafting trip,” Meyer said. “So the idea was to take my 75-year-old mentor, who has refused to go on any of these trips with me because he’s worried he’s too old. And finally, I could say, ‘It’s paid for. You have no excuse not to go.'”

It would be an experience that would allow him to reflect deeply on his relationship with Larry, his mentor. It would allow him to share his passion with someone new to it. And it would be an opportunity to shine a light on his community, their struggles, triumphs, and successes.

“It’s about all of these universal themes that, I think somebody in a purple state could relate to. And somebody who lives in a very conservative state who, maybe doesn’t even know a gay person, could relate to,” he said.

Mikah Meyer: The Big Picture

(Photo/Eddie Bauer)

The film Canyon Chorus is full of fun moments, laughs, adventure, and camaraderie. It’s also full of songs and some killer a capella bits (as the title would imply). After all, the two main characters are a choir grad and a choir professor.

However, Meyer said the biggest takeaway he wants people to walk out of Canyon Chorus with has little to do with singing, rafting, camping, or setting records for visiting national parks. It’s about loving people for who they are from day one, no matter what.

(Photo/Eddie Bauer)

“The biggest thing that I want people to walk out of this movie with, if they have kids, is to make it clear to them that they would love them unconditionally,” Meyer said. “To make sure that their kid knows that their parents love them, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Canyon Chorus went live on YouTube on April 29. You can learn more about Mikah Meyer on his Eddie Bauer Community Leader Page, or follow his adventures on Instagram @mikahmey.

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