Flip through any of the many (thank goodness) SUP, paddling and surfing magazines and you’ll be dazzled by photos of surf, sun, bikinis, waves and warm water. One ad catches me every time because it’s the polar (sometimes literally) opposite. It’s KIALOA Paddle’s ad showing Karen Wrenn psyching herself up for a training paddle in cold, wet, blustery weather that is so common in the Pacific Northwest. Do you know that kind of weather?
In preparation for the Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge in a few short weeks, my plan is to add to my weekly mileage. Between work and other obligations, early morning is the best time to grab the hours needed to bag 5-8 miles up and down current in the Deschutes River. Ahhh, summer. 85-95 degree days have warmed both water and air making paddling a pure joy. Except for last Wednesday.
I was fooled by the blue sky and sunshine as I loaded my board. For some reason a northerly wind had funneled in along with lower temperatures. I got to the river still warm and cozy in my car. The first alarm bell rang when i saw the flags rippling straight out as the wind blew in the face in the UPSTREAM direction. That is never good. I stepped out of the car to unload my board and stepped into – COLD! Seriously?
I had neglected to do a temperature check back at the house. What was it? I turned on my car only to discover the outside temperature reading was 53! How did I miss that? Now, it’s true that in the winter, a sunny 53 degree day no matter what the wind chill is will seem like a “warm” day. In the winter we are prepared for chill – booties, fleece and the right mind-set.
On the late July day, back in the car I sat huddled. I wanted warm, tropical breezy warm! It was time to channel my “inner Karen Wrenn” – please! I managed to talk myself into getting onto the river and completing the planned distance.
Weirdly, after the first mile (brrrrr) I got sweaty, steady and in synch with wind, water, paddle technique and the beautiful morning.
Today, a mere 5 days after that challenging mental discipline of chilly last week I set off to 6 am yoga (wonderful) and went straight to the river for another 5 mile training paddle.
It was 55 today, wind brisk in the face up current again. I hesitated, but just for a moment. I had the image of last week’s paddle set in mind. It wasn’t raining, it wasn’t snowing and the river was almost empty. If we want to have the best experience at the many SUP events available in almost every home town we need to prepare. Sometimes we need not to over-think how it’s gonna be and just let our training session BE. Again today, it was delicious!