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Columbia River Inn: Home Base for Adventure

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Nestled in an azure bay of the Columbia River

When the sign says “Best Western Plus” along the Oregon side of the Columbia River we have learned THAT’S where to stay in the Columbia Gorge Scenic area. We’ve shared many stories about Hood River Inn about 20 miles east of the  Best Western Plus Columbia River Inn. This trip we decided to soak up the culture, history, hiking, biking, paddling, wine or beer sampling and fishing by staying in Cascade Locks at the base of the incredible “Bridge of the Gods.”

Cascade Locks, Oregon, is located in the middle of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, approximately 40 minutes east of Portland International Airport and 20 minutes west of the windsurfing Mecca of Hood River.

On the drive to the Columbia River Inn we passed many scenic waterfalls available from the road or by short hikes. In fact we were surprised to learn how the beauty and diversity of hikes had survived what had been a tough fire season in 2017. Oregonians love their wilderness and are at work restoring trails and natural areas. We learned about so many hiking options which would be amazing in the Fall. William Sullivan’s book, 100 Hikes in Oregon is a great reference – also his website. Some hikes to explore are Gillette Lake, Trout Creek and Snag Creek, all putting you in the footprints of adventurers on the Pacific Crest Trail. Summer volunteers are at many trailheads, if you visit in Fall or Winter, you can check out ReadySetGorge.com for up to date information.

As paddlers, our focus is usually on planning our down wind paddles and fun on the Columbia River. Once we settled in to our spacious river view room at the Columbia River Inn and looked out at the Bridge of the Gods we got curious about what this area was all about. Over the next few days we were much better visitors after spending a few hours at the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Museum (Stevenson, WA). Armed with an appreciation of the history and people who carved out amazing lives and industries we toasted their grit over local wines. The Columbia River Gorge wine region is known as “a world of wine in 40 miles.” bw-6

Recreational options nearby include world-class white water rafting, mountain biking, sail and kite boarding, and year round skiing on the slopes of Mt. Hood. Cascade Locks even has their own historic sternwheeler, the Columbia Gorge, departing daily from the nearby Marine Park for tours of the river.

bw-4We loved planning our day on the sheltered patio just outside of the pool area at the Columbia River Inn. Over coffee in the morning or a local wine in the evening (beer for me) we never tired of the view.

A warm, to-order breakfast that’s included with the room is always a bonus. We loved heading next-door to the Bridgeside Restaurant for local favorites prepared our way. I love crispy hashbrowns. All it took was a request and the golden brown goodness was all mine to enjoy with eggs my way and tasty sausage. There are choices for all tastes, including juice and beverage. Best of all, locals love to eat there, too. We met through hikers off the Pacific Crest Trail as well as other travelers.bs-1

It’s time to look forward to Fall and Winter is this wonderland. Enjoy your trip.

 

Jane McKee: Living Legend – Loving the Racing Life

A few days ago I was following some of Jane McKee’s recent adventures and channel crossings when I noticed Sean Sweet mentioned her as a “Living legend.”  I imagine Jane is simply doing what her heart and soul inspires her to – while having a ton of fun. I wondered, and asked Jane, “Who are some other living legends who have influenced or inspired you lately?” jane-gnarly

Jane replied with this fascinating summary from an inspiring waterwoman, “I just love being on the water. And I love racing! Racing forces me to be a better version of myself, not just physically, but mentally. There is something about pushing your body beyond its comfort level that helps you better able to deal with difficult situations in other parts of your life.

Racing has a meditative effect. When you are out there for hours, you sort through all kinds of things. Sometimes emotional pain is worse than physical pain so I know if I can go out and be on the water, in any capacity, my worries will sort out. It’s like they say, salt water heals. So paddling has a much deeper meaning for me.

nappy.jpgSome people that have inspired me would be my friend Nappy Napolean, who still paddles well into his seventies. He just loves to paddle! And he is such a great  ambassador for the sport. I think the fountain of youth is to keep moving, and he  is a classic example of what you can do.

Jane seemed to excel in so many disciplines throughout 2018. I wondered why she loves each of them each and asked for a hierarchy of how each might serve to cross train the over age 50 water athlete.

Jane shared this: I had a really good OC1 season this year. I never came in less than third place overall in our winter series, including the M2M, Molokai to Oahu one man relay with partner Alan Goo-Frasier, and Olukai races.

jane-sailI came in 8th out of 24 in the Molo solo and won two M2M races on the one man this summer. I also participate in the Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Racing series with Team Hui Nalu. We sail the entire main Hawaiian Island chain over the course of the summer. I have been canoe sailing for 18 years and it is just amazing. I raced the Napali one man race and the Napali Challenge 6 man race recently.

I just completed my first M2O SUP race with team mates Jen Fuller and Kristin Thomas. We had a blast and won our division!

I had decided last year to not race with a club anymore for 6 man. I have been paddling 6 man for 26 years and realized that summer offers a whole new world of opportunities for fun racing in all venues that I had been missing out on.

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Photo Credit: M Pauole

It is interesting, that since I have been paddling SUP, my OC1 paddling has improved. SUP provides the strength training and OC1 my cardio and speed, they really compliment each other. I say padding a SUP is like Crossfit on a board!

I cannot even contemplate such a full schedule of events – especially across one sweet summer. Jane seems to be hopping from event to event, I asked her to describe her in-between training routine. To what does she attribute your success?

This response came easily to Jane: I think my success is attributed to the love of racing and paddling. I love the excitement of racing, getting ready, the nerves at the start line and the knowledge that it ain’t over till it’s over! I won some of my races last year by a hair, literally down to the second, so knowing that will push you to the end.

As far as training, I try to split the workouts between SUP and OC1. I find I can only do SUP about 2-3X a week so have to hop on my OC1 to rotate muscle groups so I don’t get over use injuries. I am a huge proponent of massage therapy, I go on an average of once a week.

Okay, you made it this far in the article and now comes the “STORY!” Enjoy it!

Jand McKee and the 2018 M2O

100SO! I had been escorting people for the M2O for a few years, Armie Armstrong from NZ, Annabel Anderson, and a Brazilian Prone paddler last year. I have crossed the Kaiwi channel more than 50 times between OC1, 6man and sailing canoe, but never on a SUP.  Kristin Thomas and Jen Fuller from California were my Facebook friends and I knew they were good paddlers, so I threw it out to them to do a team together.

They were keen, so we were all set to race! We decided to call ourselves Team C&H (California and Hawaii, get it?) They came a few days before the race and we did a few downwinders, and that is all the practice the got before the channel. I was really proud of how they did especially because it turned out to be one of the toughest channels in a decade. A dumping tide made it sticky, crazy disorganized swell, everyone said it was hard.  I have a lot of respect for the athletes that do M2O solo. 100-award

I think the best part of the race was coming away with some wonderful new friends! I had always heard such great things about Jen and Kristin and now I have a whole new group of amazing women athletes as gal pals! We laugh that we will be doing this race together until we are 100.

 

Cali Paddler: If You Paddle You Get It

The thing that caught my eye and got me very interested in Cali Paddler was a challenge posted on Facebook. It was the “Trash Pickup Challenge” for World Ocean Day. But it’s a habit we can enjoy every day. From the website, “For every mile we paddlers enjoy, let’s commit to one piece of trash. Do #cpcleanup in a photo post on social media of your mileage and equivalent trash haul (from the water or beach after) and watch how your actions will inspire others.” Our actions can inspire others. This simple truth resonates in an essay by Greg Gagnon

I was struck Greg’s question of “How a single bottle cap can alter the future” got to the heart of both the problem and the solution in a few short paragraphs in his essay. Simple and profound “After a while, a gentleman walked up to me and asked why I was picking up plastic bottle caps. You are no doubt shaking your head, saying to yourself ‘really dude?,’ and I felt that way too. I told him, “they don’t belong on our beaches or in our oceans. Animals eat them, they don’t biodegrade, and it’s just plain nasty.
The gentleman said to me, “what’s the point? It won’t matter if you pick it up, because down the beach there are far more people dropping them, who could care less about it anyway.”

“I was struck thinking how two people could posses such different points of view. My point of view was one of hope, compassion, effort, and possibility. His view was who cares, why bother, save your energy because it won’t make a difference.”

How can we change the way the world treats plastic – and the Ocean – through connecting hope, compassion, effort and possibility?

Co-founder, Clarke Graves, filled in some more background, “At Cali Paddler, we feel that community is a solution to many things. And there are a LOT of paddlers out there. So, if we can build momentum as a whole to make it our everyday practice to be good stewards, that it will trickle on to other non-paddlers as well. We encourage paddlers to attend cleanup events, or host their own, help with petitions to reduce plastics and Styrofoam, and hold races and events accountable to be eco-friendly, that we can affect a lot of positive change. We also feel that it is our duty to shine a spotlight on those doing amazing things. And re-enforce their behavior with well-deserved public praise. For that reason we started our CP Spotlight program awhile back that does just that.

Sometimes making a difference seems daunting, but any effort, big or small is important, so we try to share every day tips, that don’t take a lot of effort but can go a long way, such as reusable coffee mugs, declining straws, carrying water bottles to name a few.

cali-1Cali Paddler takes their community building efforts further through their Paddle Pledge program. Clarke explains it like this, “When Cali Paddler launched in 2015 we established our Paddle Pledge. Where we take 5% of all proceeds (not just profits mind you) and donate quarterly to wonderful groups and non-profits that make a solid difference in our waterways, on our beaches, and with our wildlife.

Initially we had 4 amazing groups that customers would choose from. Then in 2016 we added a specific ‘Cause Product’ to benefit a certain non-profit. In 2017 we took our model to a new level, where now every quarter we switch to a new non-profit to donate to and promote. This lets us give exposure to more groups, and support regions. Since our launch, paddlers who have bought our products have supported groups like Keep Tahoe Blue, Clean Oceans International, H20 Trash Patrol, Ocean Discovery Institute, Cal State Parks, San Diego Coast Keeper, and the Marine Mammal Center.” cali2

Cali Paddler is full of E.P.I.C. paddlers (Every Paddler In California). Like one of their featured paddlers, Loraine Gruber, I did the Battle of the Paddle in 2013 at age 64 – and won my age group (no one else was in it LOL!!!!) I love the idea that everyone can be E.P.I.C and an ambassador. I asked Clarke to tell us more about E.P.I.C. individuals that have been real “stars” in your eyes.

Clarke replied, “Oh wow, what a fun question. When we first started, we made it a point to not neglect anyone in our paddle community. Too often we felt companies catered to the elite, or a certain demographic. And yet it was the every-day-paddler who really made us love this sport. We made it our mantra to ‘Be EPIC’ (Every Paddler in California)! We make it a point to shine a light on those who may not be the fastest, but enjoy the sport the most, and those who help teach and share their stoke in the community. There are plenty of companies out there that will cater to the top 1%, a certain age, or body type. But we aim to embrace inclusivity to the max. Because really, paddling is fun, healthy and a lifestyle, regardless of who you are…if you paddle, you get it. cali3

As to who some of our favorite individuals are, we hesitate to name individuals, but there are a few things that just really make us beam…
• People who smile when they paddle.
• Loan their craft to anyone interested in trying it out.
• Are willing to paddle anywhere, anytime, on any craft.
• and finally, those who cheer for the paddlers in front of them, and the ones behind them.

Community building across a state as large as California is a huge task. Social media is a tool that helps Cali Paddler. Their approach is a great example for any paddling organization hoping to connect “their” community.
Clarke shared some tips, “Social media is a big tool for us. We use it, along with our website, to share events, groups and news. Too often the little races or shops get overlooked, so we do what we can spread the word about them in our calendars, directories, and social media. We also try our best to tell the stories of paddlers in their own words, about their experiences and knowledge. We have had locals share their favorite paddle places, stories of overcoming fear, showcased people taking on huge paddle challenges, and written about safety issues so can all come home with a smile after a paddle. Our main hashtag is our slogan #ifyoupaddleyougetit.
I asked Clarke to tell me some more about Cali Padller’s trash pickup challenge #miles = #pieces of trash. He shared, “In honor of World Oceans Day, we launched what we call the CP Clean Up Challenge (#cpCleanUp). It is our goal to create a new normal for when we finished a paddle, to pick up trash. Many awesome paddlers already do this, but we figured we could put a little twist on it by suggesting paddlers pick-up one piece of trash for every mile they paddle. So, if you get 4 miles in, then before you leave the beach or dock after, you hunt down 4 pieces of trash. We then encourage people on social media to tag #cpCleanUp with a picture of their trash, and maybe their gps data. Others will see this effort, and hopefully take part as well, and it will become a badge of honor and a movement as we earn the miles we got to enjoy. Word on the street is we will be reaching out to folks too we see taking part and occasionally sending out a little something as a thank you.”

Throughout the year Cali Paddler hosts cleanups as well. In the past they have done a July 5th cleanup with various locations in the state. Last year they had 11 locations that they supported and promoted where teams, businesses and individuals adopted a beach to clean after the 4th of July celebrations. They provide their reusable Cali Paddler Blue Buckets (#cpBlueBucket) to these efforts and to anyone who wants to have cleanups on their on schedule and make a difference.

Want to get some cool products and give back 5% in the process? Even if you don’t live in California you might like the spring launched Golden Poppy Design t-shirt (California’s state flower) which is printed on a tri-blend of recycled plastic, organic cotton and acrylic. It is soft, sturdy and one of many products they offer with an eye on the environment. cali4
Clarke concludes his interview with, “We understand that our business model of being a lifestyle brand (clothing and hats) is based on consumerism, so we try and make efforts to introduce eco-friendly items whenever possible. Just like all our products, 5% of proceeds from sales of this goes to non-profits. Currently the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito California!”
How cool if every state developed their own State-Paddler-community!

Enter a Race – For the Clinic, Friends and Fun

It was one of those summer days that dawns with bluebird sky and warms with sunshine, community and good friends on the water – it was the Bend Paddle Challenge. I hadn’t participated in many races in the past 5 years, but with an eye on the 2018 Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge and my Starboard Freeride 12’2″ X 30 paddleboard I felt trained enough to race the 5 miles. Even though most of the racers had 12’6″ or 14′ boards, I was fine with my board choice – this was a chance to do a hard training paddle with an event wrapped around it.

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The event kicked off on Friday night with a clinic by KIALOA paddles ‘Elele, Brett Saguid, on the lawn by the river behind Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe.  The two things I learned at that clinic that were so valuable during (the grueling) five mile race were:

    1. When going into the wind keep your body lower and feather your paddle on the return. I knew this, but in the last mile when the wind funneled strong into my face going into the final buoy turn area it was a great reminder.
    2. Take your paddle out at your toes for best lift and efficiency. Again, I knew this but when fatigue suggests leaving the paddle in the water “just a little longer” between strokes it was a great reminder. I made that my mantra, and used it to keep a solid paddle rhythm. My little “I am TIRED” brain had a different bpc-2script – and the result was a lot more fun throughout the entire race.

The buoys were placed for maximum spectator engagement so we had 10 buoy turns in 5 miles. This was great for me too. Since I was the old lady at the back of the pack, as I was coming in to turns I got to watch the trains of faster paddlers zoom by, sharing shouts of encouragement – or just a smile if we were too breathless to shout. I even got to the share a buoy turn with the 1st place winner, Brett, as he lapped me on my mile 3 and his mile 4.

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Thanks for the support and stoke throughout the entire race, Eva Scherer (1st Place)

So, I came in third (and I came in a few paddlers from last). It wasn’t because of my age category, there were no age categories. I got third because there were only 5 women entered in the event. It’s always fun to podium and the bonus was the cool pint-glass as trophy from Sunriver Brewing. But it would also have been great to have more women participating. I can totally understand some anxiety before doing “A RACE.”

But a switch in mindset could make participation much more inviting to first timers. For one, the Bend Paddleboard Challenge had a 1 mile sprint race with great energy, lots of novice participants (and some speedy experienced racers). Then there was the 5 person relay with a beach start.

Every participant was on the same KIALOA 12’6″ inflatable board. Spills and thrills and laughs were the name of the game.  There were almost as many people in the relay event as the main 5 mile event. And that’s the biggest bonus at a community SUP race – getting to know new people and having an amazing good time.

Taking advantage of pre-race clinics and meeting novice and experienced paddlers on land (over a beer – thanks, Sunriver Brewing) all add up to the best of our sport.

This video shows the beautiful day, the start on our in-town Deschutes River. I am on blue board with blue shirt and blue hat – hanging in there with a grin.

 

Going Full Speed Ahead: Jane McKee

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Jane McKee – living her dream in a new decade!

No one lives “age is just a number” better than waterwoman, Jane McKee. As I am wrapping up my 7th decade at 69, I look for inspiration and “go-for-it” from people like Jane who live by this truth, “Anything is possible if you believe in yourself.” (from a 2015 Elder SUP article). Now at age 60 Jane keeps doing what she loves – and keeps looking forward for more adventures and goals.

I asked Jane, “Did your motivation to do the 2018 Kaiwi Solo – Molokai OC1 World Championship originate from within yourself or from connection with a group, a club or friends/peer paddlers?”

Jane explains it like this, “My motivation for doing the Solo again came within myself, as all my races are.  I had a great race in 2010, coming in third place overall at age 52 and thought maybe I would leave it at that. But  I turned 60 this year and thought I would like to train for the race again as a celebration of my benchmark year.”

Finishing 8th out of 22 women starters was definitely a celebration!

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Fun with friends – and smiles all round

Before recapping her Kaiwi Solo experience, a full decade (or 4) older than the other women paddlers, know this: Jane is already planning her next adventure event, “I got into the M2O this year so have hung up the OC1 paddle for my Standup paddle. Really stoked to have made the start list. I’m doing a three person team with Jen Fuller and Kristin Thomas from California.”

I’d like to stay active on the water for another decade or two, so I asked, “What habits (eating training) and lifestyle contribute most to your “go get ’em” attitude at age 60?

Jane is specific, “I adopted a Keto diet last year and dropped about 25 pounds. I do ramp up the carbs before and during a long race, but then go right back to a high protein/fat regimen. I don’t drink alcohol, my guilty pleasure is a diet coke especially right after a race, I love the bubbles! I have a very simple lifestyle, up at 4:45am, at work at 7am, off at 3: 30 and either paddle or gym. I rest when I feel I need it, not according to a schedule. I find as an older athlete, you can still train hard but need more recovery time. Paddle smarter not harder. I am in bed by 8.”

I definitely find truth in her response about rest.

ES: What was your favorite moment of the race (or of preparing for it, a breakthrough or other)?

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Awards ceremony 

JM: I was understandably a little nervous about the conditions on race day. We thankfully had wind but it was very North and that made for a lot of work. After the race I posted on Facebook, “Did a Mack truck hit me? No, it was just the Channel of Bones reminding us that you never know what the Channel will dish up. Rain and variable winds gave way to a solid North wind that created a tough paddle with not much help in the way of surf. I was happy with my 8th place finish and I won my age group. Thank you to my coach, Guy Wilding, for keeping me focused in the rough moments. Congratulations to all the finishers and especially our mana wahine!”

ES: What abilities to read wind, waves, weather contributed to your successful crossing?jane-mckee-awards

JM: The solo this year was a tough one. The wind coming so much from the North resulted in a side chop/swell that made it difficult to surf much. The tide was sticky also. I always do my homework before a race so I knew what we were in for. I had to make the best of it. I think if I had taken a more northern course I would have had more of an opportunity to surf down later in the race. After talking to some other paddlers after the race, this seemed to be the strategy. I am fairly good at reading waves but this race didn’t offer up much opportunity for it.

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Way to rock! First place Women 60+

ES: What equipment did you use?

JM: I have an Ares Pro canoe and use a Makana Alii Paddle. I am thrilled with my Ares. I had great success in last year’s Olukai race when Kai Wa’a lent me one. I was in third place until I snagged a buoy rope the last 20 yards from the finish, which put me in fourth. The conditions that year were tough, we had to race twice around a rectangular course that was mostly side winds. The canoe performed amazingly in those adverse conditions. I know I can surf a canoe but its the off conditions that I need help with and the canoe was a rock star. I walked right up to Tom Bartlett after the race and said ‘I want one!’ I have used a Makana Alii paddle for 16 years and Les Look has always supported me. I love his paddles and appreciate his help all these years.

ES: What did you use for hydration/fuel during the event?

JM: I did a combination of just water and a Perpetuem mix. I have used Perpetuem for years and it works for me. Unfortunately when I packed I grabbed the wrong lid cover for my camel back so it was basically useless. I had my helper drop small bottles to me which was challenging to say the least. The first year I raced I used Power Bar pieces and Snickers bars as fuel. This year I used Gels and Snickers Bars later so I would have something solid. It worked fine.

ES: What was a roadblock or challenge during your prep for this event (or any other in your history) that was tough to overcome and how did you overcome?

JM: I really didn’t have any. My training program went well, I had a great race season, I was top three overall in every single race up until Molo Solo, so I was getting results.

ES: Any fun or funny story to share- in general – that you just want to share?

JM: I remember years ago paddling with some new girls in the six man in a race. We were getting water in the canoe after awhile When the steersman yelled ‘BAIL!” one of them jumped out. I love that story.

ES: A “word of advice” or mantra that resonates with you that might inspire others?

JM: I think it is really important that you paddle or do whatever sport you do, for the love of it. I cannot imagine not being on the ocean. It is my therapy, love, passion, lifestyle. Don’t let the pressure of racing take your joy away. I see a lot of young ‘sponsored” paddlers that put so much pressure on themselves that it becomes like a job to them. I have been paddling 26 years and I still get nervous before a race. Someone asked me once, after all these years why? I told them, because it means something to me. The day I stop getting excited before a race is the day I quit.

Image may contain: one or more people, ocean, sky, cloud, outdoor, nature and water

Photo Credit: Jeff Chang

It is obvious that Jane is still very excited! Wishing her the best at M2O this year

We look forward to following Jane’s upcoming adventures on the ocean.

Downwind Training: The Flatwater Solution

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Sparks Lake with South Sister (Oregon)

I celebrated my 69th birthday with a day of training, contemplation, gratitude and so much beauty. The training was unusual, in a way, but some of the most valuable I have had for down wind conditions that could get gnarly. In August my Starboard Freeride 12’2″ X 30 and my KIALOA paddle will carry me the classic run from Viento to Hood River and I hope the wind is strong and the day is sunny! My first adventure in the Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge was in 2013 and I was hooked. (story here) I want to be ready to enjoy every moment of the experience when I am back on the mighty Columbia.

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Early morning at Elk Lake

What follows in this article is an odd set of insights and lessons I gained from paddling 4 uniquely different Oregon alpine lakes in one day. It started out at 8 am at Elk Lake. By 10 am the wind cranks up in this volcano rimmed jewel, but it was mirror calm when I headed out to circumnavigate its 4 miles including every little bay, nook and cranny at 8 am.

In this flatwater goodness I observed two things that can improve my skills for down wind action.

  • Legs – every paddle stroke that had excellent body rotation and synchronization between the catch, pull and driving forward force of my legs gave terrific acceleration. Timing and technique
  • Eyes closed – All alone on this huge body of water I was brave enough to try 6 paddle strokes per side for 3 sets repeated dozens of times. Wow! Balance and feel for how I was moving over the water was an eye-opener (LOL, eyes were shut!) Charging down wind in wind and waves requires solid balance and feel for how the board and water interact. This was so much fun.

I grabbed a breakfast burrito then headed over to nearby Hosmer Lake for a sweet three mile exploration to gurgling waterfalls and crystal clear water. The wind had picked up some by the time I got there. On this, just the second time unloading my board from the car I did make a mental note to really use my body correctly in the awkward motion of high reach, lift and lower. After all, a 69 year old body does not respond well to injury from lifting.

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Early morning Hosmer Lake (Oregon)

The wind was hard in my face leaving the boat launch area but reading the water I saw the far shoreline was protected and calm. In my journey to get to the calm I learned something else, sound can really impact my cadence and speed.

Even though the wind was in my face, my distance tracker app told me later that I hit 6 mph while the effort was perceived as simply fun. The tick-tick-tick of choppy wind waves hitting my bow and tapping along under my board gave me energy. I paddled the 3/4 mile to the calm in what would have been a speed interval, if I had thought of it like that. Instead the sound of the water made the experience pure fun.

  • Adrenaline and a sense of play makes the effort easier. Maybe that is why the 8 mile Viento down wind run exhilarates so well

I meandered off to the right hand fork of Hosmer, climbed a volcanic rocky area to gaze on gurgling lava tubes feeding a flower-filled grotto. Heading back to the boat ramp the water grasses and lilies caught my attention, fish darting and beauty everywhere.

  • Insight – I am blissful on the water – how about you! Ocean girl at heart, all water has its compelling call.
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Devil’s Lake with snow in June – brrrr water

Loading up my board again I was off the 30 acre Devil’s Lake. I almost skipped it. There were 30 cars at the easiest launch area so I had to park where a steep bank tested my strength and balance carrying a 12’2″ board through the trees and scree. Once in the lake my feet nearly froze off from the snow-melt water. The lake is so shallow that I had to walk about 100 yards to depth enough to paddle.

  • Know you water and wear appropriate gear. My frozen feet situation was mild and quickly over, but it made me think about knowing local conditions. I had forgotten that Elk Lake was practically swim-able whereas small Devil’s Lake was icy. The day was sunny – but water has its own characteristics.

Getting out of Devil’s Lake, carrying the board about 1/4 mile to my car and loading it up again reminded me to protect back and shoulders, use legs to lift – and yes – do some weight training.

Next stop was Sparks Lake. It is about a 1 mile drive in to the launch area, on a rutted, deep holes, washboard, dusty, rocky road. Once there I saw it was packed in both the launch and the parking area. The only spot I could put my car was easily 1/2 mile away. I left my precious board alone among some trees by the launch and went to park the car and walk back. Would my board be there when I got back (yes).

sparks-2I love this lake and never tire of winding around the rocks, the deeps, the shallows and taking the same photo every time I go. Peeking through rough-carved lava and spotting South Sister and Mt Bachelor never gets old.

By this time with all the loading and unloading, more walking than I had planned on and 9 miles of paddling completed in 3 lakes in about 3 hours, I needed a strategy to make this last adventure fun.  My lower back was a little tweaky and my lats had had a good workout.

It was time to focus on engaging a body rotation and abs engagement during the paddling. Paying attention to keeping my shoulder relaxed- not hunched up toward my ears-  and shoulder blades “down on my back” Helped with getting a clean catch. Rotating with awareness and taking the blade out of the water soon enough took my attention away from fatigue.

  • Insight: When fatigue starts to set in we can focus on what part of our body is most tired and engage in a different way.
  • Something as simple as enjoying the feel of water lapping on bare toes can power us through a choppy, windy area.

Happy birthday to me! It is overwhelming to imagine that this time next year I will be 70. A new decade, and not getting any younger ever again. Except in my mind. Playful, youthful water fun is available. I commit to playing attention – and training as smart as possible. If you have any suggestions – send them my way.