Viewing entries tagged
Winter storm kayaking

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Punched in the Face!

Sometimes paddling in the PNW in the winter is like trying to dance with a silverback and getting punched in the face. But we like it that way. 

But sometimes, it all comes together.  

 

 

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Digging deep to find gold.

There comes a point in every adventure when the novelty wears off. Goals fade. The sun goes down and the bitter cold soaks in and defeats the last ounce of ambition and you just want to be off the water. That's the magic place where authentic, life defining moments are born. And when you're safely home after an epic grind, those moments become memories. I live for those moments. And the next time you find yourself in a pinch, you know you've been here before. You got this, you were born for this. 

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 Bon Hiver (GOOD WINTER)

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Bon Hiver (GOOD WINTER)

Not an uncommon site after being out in bitter cold for a two hour session. 

Not an uncommon site after being out in bitter cold for a two hour session. 

We've had a stiff does of winter this year (2017) in Bellingham, and it's all the locals can talk about. The last few winters have been quite warm, dry - so this one comes as quite the stiff reality check on an account that's been a bit overdrawn. 

The trick is getting into the ski without getting your feet wet when the main dock is iced in. 

The trick is getting into the ski without getting your feet wet when the main dock is iced in. 

I've personally never paddled in so much wind in such frosty conditions (32º F is now considered warm for a downwind run). Even in the grand age of neoprene and drysuits, one must be careful not to be out too long as the rudder lines start to freeze up and so do the toes. I've come back to shore more than a few times with blue feet and uh, ...other appendages. Hang in there boys.  

It's moments like these that I you don't think about cold feet much at all. 

It's moments like these that I you don't think about cold feet much at all. 

The upside to this is subtle, but remarkable. Like the initial shock of falling in, winter hit hard and my summer time Gorge spoiled brain just wasn't on board. It whined A LOT. 

"I'm cold!" 

"Are you done yet?"

"Are we there yet?"

"This is dumb. We should go in. And drink a beer. Mmmm... Beer!"

All of those phrases have oozed from my frost bitten frontal cortex like a steady drip from a melting icicle. While I can concede that the whining was relentless, it wasn't fruitless either. 

At some point my inner sniveling wimp just decided that misery is the new normal, and my brain just let it go and got back to focusing on how much fun all this nonsense is. Either that, or the poor bastard froze to death in the process of being choked out by the inner viking whose taken up residence in my subconscious will. Yes, this winter is indeed hard. But we're becoming harder. And that's the great thing as I type this lusting after temps in the high 40's, and water to match.

The hardened mind begets a hardened hide. It's not that I am blasé about the perils of cold water... quite the opposite. But I am not afraid either. And that for me is the best part. Heading out into the wind, waves and big blue frosty sea is liberating and joyous... just like surfski paddling is meant to be.

Warmer days will surely come. But why rush such a good thing? 

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