Golden Years?

It wasn’t that long ago that we viewed a 70-year old as…well…pretty old.  Visions of an elderly person rocking in a chair, sedentary come to mind.  Not sure if it’s the central Oregon “bubble” or perhaps the greater Pacific Northwest or just that lifestyles have changed in general.  But they’ve changed in a BIG way.  Now, I have friends in their 70s surfing overhead waves and jumping out of planes.  A huge leap from the rocking chair!!

I’ve taught water aerobics for decades and with that experience I’ve gained a lot of insight to what can be done to maintain wellness as we age.  It’s given me a different “take” on aging, than I had when I was a teen and young 20-something.  Thank God!!  Now, it seems I’ve gotten an even bigger glimpse into what (hopefully) will be my senior years.  I’ve seen the other side too.  Is it all luck of the draw?  I hope not.

Hosmer lake
Hosmer Lake…a week before Chrissy’s 89th birthday….

This summer I’ve started regularly teaching an intro to whitewater paddleboarding clinic.  In each session I’ve had someone in his/her 60s (or 70s) getting after it.  I’m impressed, as this sport requires strength, flexibility, balance and agility.  It also takes a fair amount of daring, even in the “frisky ripples”.  Let’s face it…it’s still a river with current, rocks and strainers. The people I interact with seem to have great physical health and sharp mental acuity.

During this realization of opportunities as we age, I’m living a parallel experience–one that is a big “F@%$k you” to my theory that if you stay in shape and have the eternal spirit you’ll continue hiking those mountaintops and paddling the class III’s.  I understand many humans go through this, but “my suck” is the reality that is my dad, living with late-stage Alzheimer’s disease.  My father was an adventurer and athlete.  He was an intelligent and funny dude–in fact, typically the life of the party. My sister and I never questioned his future.  We assumed, because of his strength and physical fitness that he’d live a long and wonderful older age.  Especially in contrast to my mom who didn’t exercise, and seemed to always be tired or sick.  So it’s a strange dynamic that my mom has been caring for my dad, in-home with very little help (her choice, not ours) for years now.  Her strength has bubbled through, caring for him even through her own battle with breast cancer, for about a year and a half.

I don’t spend a whole lot of time asking why my dad got sick.  Nor do I wallow in the “if only’s”.  Unfortunately, his situation isn’t all that unique–seemingly healthy people can become ill with any number of horrible diseases.

We all have to figure out our own path.  For me, I live with gratitude for my health and my graced life.  So many people in the world are suffering and I don’t take that for granted.  I try to live a life of moderation.  Get sleep as best possible and avoid toxic things…food/beverages, people, behaviors.  Am I perfect? Far from it.  We can only do our best and hope for the best.  Right?

Every day is a gift.

Thanks for listening…

LD Pic
Perry helping prep for the Lower Deschutes trip….

A Trip on the Lower (lower) Deschutes….

With Sam’s mom turning 73 last weekend, it presented the opportunity to figure out what special thing we could do to celebrate.  This is a woman who jumped out of an airplane when she was 70, back-packed for the first time, in the Jefferson Wilderness for several days (also age 70) and recently got a mountain bike which she rides every day.  Since she (Perry) had never been on a multi-day river trip, we decided paddling the lower Deschutes to the Columbia, was the best choice.  Exciting! This gave me the opportunity to SUP parts of this trip, putting in at Buck Hollow and taking out at Heritage Landing….jumping on the raft for rapids I was uncomfortable with.

Early Thursday morning, I set out with the Subie packed up, to meet Sam and Perry at Buck Hollow where they’d already arrived and were rigging the boat.  Sam’s a rigging master, so it wasn’t long before we were headed downriver–me on a board and Perry in an IK, Sam at the sticks.  One piece of info: turns out that my neck which had been giving me considerable pain for weeks was whiplashed.  I’d been getting treatment for it, and generally improving, but far from healed.  On the other hand, as my PT said “you can be in pain at home or on the river…and I think I know which you’ll choose”.  Of course I chose to go but determined to be cautious about what I’d paddle.

The first day we knocked off about 18 miles and much of it I spent on the raft–no reason to over-do and be in more pain.  Perry, however, absolutely crushed it on the IK, paddling “Wreck Rapids” (and others) with ease. The weather was perfect, the scenery stunning; it was a great day.  The osprey were plentiful, and most we saw had fish in their talons!!  Late afternoon, we easily found a campsite and after dinner enjoyed the quintessential riverside experience, lounging around enjoying the beauty around us.  During the night, crickets and trains made for a somewhat noisy evening, and the full moon was so bright it felt somewhat like a police interrogation, however it’s still great to sleep outside on the river.

In the morning, after a leisurely coffee/breakfast, skinny-dip in the river and loading our gear, we set out for day two.  We seemed to be making really good time, with no specific destination in mind but ended up finding a fabulous campsite next to a surf wave–Jet Pump rapids. Sam surfed, I didn’t.  We both napped for about three hours, next to the river on a soft, sandy beach in the shade.  Heavenly.  This is really the life, and what makes river trips so therapeutic.  Fun paddling and heavy on the R & R.  Dinner number two was lovely and after such a long nap I was able to stay awake long enough to enjoy the stars.

Morning number two. Coffee.  Have I mentioned my passion/addiction to coffee?  It’s enhanced on the river.  There is something truly special about drinking that perfect cup (or 3) with no distraction from devices or the hustle bustle of normal life.  The river, the birds, the fish.  Mmmmmmmm. I digress.  It was our last day and we’d operated under the assumption we had a really short day to paddle.  We took a detour, hiking up to an unmarked location, to see petroglyphs. Pretty awesome!  But turns out, we were farther from the take-out than we thought and had a longer day of paddling than anticipated.  GREAT! None of us really wanted to be done yet.  I was back on the paddleboard and as we got closer to the confluence the wind gusts picked up.  I mean A LOT.  At one point, I was literally blown off my board.  This was entirely unforeseen and I chose to get back on the raft and enjoy the remainder of the trip with Sam rowing.  Eventually Perry also sat in the raft…after paddling almost the entire stretch on her IK…what a champ.  We arrived together, happy and relaxed, to Heritage Landing.

There’s always the unloading, de-rigging, ammo can cleaning…none of which is extraordinarily fun.  However we all pitched in and got it done efficiently.  It was a great trip and if you have the means, paddle this stretch.   For me, the trip was not just a celebration of Perry’s birthday but an effort to create life balance.  It’s not a long drive from Bend (or back).  There are permits and shuttles to work out logistically–and to pay for, but taking a step away from work and our crazy, high-stimulus world is important and crucial for peace of mind. I’m happier for it, for sure!

Thanks for listen’….

 

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Not So Frisky a Ripple…

After yesterday’s post I had a few people reach out and ask what happened regarding the injuries.  The other guide’s concussion–he had a run-in with his dog and took a blow to the head.  My injuries were separate circumstances…the hip flexor actually due to overstretching in yoga (trying to work out the neck injury). Be careful people!! Don’t push yourself too hard.

The neck injury was water related, and turns out (to my surprise) I have whiplash.  This was NOT my typical frisky ripple class II+/III- kind of situation though.  Here’s the deal: my birthday coincided with the Subaru of Bend Outside Games, a 4-day long schedule of events, town-wide, involving adventure sports competitions.  One of the events is the Meadowcamp Race which takes place on the “town run” (a class IV section of the Deschutes upstream from Bend proper).  Sam was in town and since he would be running Meadowcamp for the race…and because I wanted to do something special for my bday… we ran it in a Dynamic Duo (a tandem whitewater kayak).  I’ve duoed with him many times before but not this stretch.  Long story short, on the last rapid the power of the water hitting me, sitting up front, pulled my helmet back hard…my head/neck along with it.  I didn’t think anything of it at the time except for “holy shit that water is powerful!” and “damn, my neck is sore”.

For the record, the run was fun and beautiful, and Sam hit all the lines right.   The rest of the weekend was awesome and my birthday lovely.

So that’s the scoop.  I’m getting treatment in the form of PT with the best dude around (same guy who helped me through my MCL tear).  Aside from laying off my bike and taking it easier than normal, I’m still going on the lower Deschutes this Thursday-Saturday and Grants Pass next week…to paddle, recreate and adventure.  I’m grateful for everyone who has helped me, and put up with my cranky pants. It’s been almost two weeks of sleeplessness and discomfort making me less than “sunny” in my disposition.  But things are on the mend now!  Thanks for caring….

A Thought…

This blog has always been themed around water but truly a montage of my random thoughts, beliefs and experiences.  Wanting to start it for a long time, I finally wrote my first post as a way to channel my energy and spend my time after tearing my MCL. Today, as I sit here with my neck “out” and a slightly torn hip-flexor.  However,  I’m grateful in the knowledge that I’m still able to do most of what I want/need to do, and I have the resources to improve my situation plus the support of friends, co-workers and even strangers.  From prior injuries, I might have even gained some “wisdom” and patience to “slow my roll”.  Give myself space and time to heal.

Recently, a fellow guide experienced a blow to his head which turned out to be a concussion.  How that developed isn’t important, but it brings to mind the need to take care of one another.  In a time when we get very busy with our own lives, it’s important to take a moment to help each other out.  Sometimes we don’t know the person next to us is suffering…physically, emotionally, mentally….or maybe all of the above?  Let’s help one another out, yes?  Team work makes the dream work.

That’s all.  Just a thought.  Have a great day, and until I have more than 5 minutes, I’ll see ya out there on the water (or trail)….

An Intro to Whitewater SUP Clinic

There are two things I love about paddleboarding–one, getting on the river for my own pleasure and practice. The second joy is getting other people out on the frisky ripples for the first time.  I had that opportunity last week on the best section I know for beginners–Warm Springs to Trout Creek on the lower Deschutes. Everyone had a blast, and seemed to “drink the kool-aid” of whitewater SUP.

It was the perfect day and we had a solid crew of 7 students plus Tim, a safety kayaker (and carrier of lunches).  The crew at TCKC had helped me prep for this clinic and we got an early start, however there’s a lot to consider when paddling whitewater–any water really, but if you want to do it safely (and you should), the gear is different.  Therefore we spent a considerable amount of time discussing “best practices”. This topic is fairly controversial right now, perhaps because two disciplines, with two “cultures” are clashing.  One is the river culture.  People who know and understand the dynamics of river–and river safety.  River surfing is awesome and has gained a lot of popularity in the Pacific Northwest.  However, it brings many people to the water who have their origins and experience with ocean surfing, which is different.  The ocean bares it’s own power and risks to be respected…but again, different.  As someone who loves both kinds of paddling and has sustained injuries on both, I  prescribe to complete adherence to safety gear.  On whitewater…even class I’s…I always wear a helmet, PFD, booties and…this is controversial too…a quick release (waist) leash.

Once we’d discussed gear, communication, best practices around/on the water,  we warmed up for the run, first paddling upstream to get used to the feel of current with ripples.  We also talked about low & high bracing plus, knee dropping and draw strokes.  Finally, we turned our boards downstream.  Yay!! We’re officially on our way. The next couple hours went pretty much as expected. Everyone fell (often), laughed a bunch, had a great time and enjoyed the cool water since it was damn hot out there. I saw an improvement even in the couple hours, as people got comfortable and gained confidence.

After we took off the water, everyone pitched in to load gear and drive the 75 minutes back to Bend.  Energy was lower (everyone pooped out!) but content.  I was full of calm and happiness for having completed the day–a success! I would love to invite you on the next Intro to Whitewater SUP clinic in August, but it’s sold out.  WHAT?!  That’s exciting.  It’s been a substantial effort trying to make this program succeed, but with time and exposure it’s finally gaining momentum. We’ll be sure to have more next season.  In the meantime, feel free to hit me up.  I’ll be out there.

What’s ‘SUP…

I love this time of year.  The weather is great and the opportunity for me to paddle the “frisky ripples” is plentiful.  It doesn’t matter that I’ve paddled the same stretches over and over.  If anything, it’s a little like hanging out with a long-time friend–an emotional friend that I have learned to be patient and understanding with.  Super fun, but also sometimes a fickle little bitch. Ha!  This was true for me this last week.

The holiday weekend allowed me to do my favorite “local” stretch (I say this because I essentially live about a third of the time elsewhere to Bend”.  It’s a class II/II+ section depending on the water level and it’s really fun for me.  I know the route and am comfortable with the lines (and for me that’s a slow process!  I have my talents but geographic awareness and recalling trails, routes, etc is NOT one of them.  When hiking alone, my ex used to shout out the question “where should I send search and rescue”?  He wasn’t kidding).  I digress.

I felt really good about my run on the 4th.  I’d been doing  a lot of short frequent runs which means more TOB (time on board) and like anything else, practice improves performance.  So when I paddled the harder run just upstream from the class II section I had no fears of trouble.  In fact, we’d been running the upper stretch of the longer run regularly, for weeks.  No problem.  But I fell at the bottom of one of the rapids–one I’d lapped with no issues the week before.  NOT a big deal though…it flows out into a big pool and swimming isn’t the end of the world.  I decided to try for a redemption lap.  Swam again.  Drank some river water.  Ok, now I’m less happy but it’s okay.  Except I got cold and shivery and swam again above the biggest rapid on the run.  This got my head playing games with me.  I portaged the rapid.  None of this is life shattering, although it felt a little like it was in the moment.  For me this exemplifies the ebb and flow of paddling.  When things are going well it is SO MUCH FUN!! There’s nothing I’d rather do.  Nothing.  But when it isn’t going well it’s a kaleidoscope of emotion (for me) ranging from feelings of fear, failure, ineptitude and frustration to total acceptance and pride for at least attempting something that challenges me.  I know I’ve written this before but it’s metaphorical for life.  Whatever you find to be your stoke…even if challenging… ESPECIALLY if challenging….I’d recommend doing it.  And if you want to try whitewater SUP hit me up.  It’s a kick.

Thanks for listening…

 

What’s Your Stoke this June?

Admittedly, it’s been a roller coaster year.  There have been some incredible “ups”.  In fact, I’ve all but abandoned this blog for months and months– fall and winter running around the globe to Europe, South America and even the briefest of visits to Africa.  But with all wonderful, there are the life challenges too.  Professional struggles, health, family, personal.  We all have these hardships and some of us…many of us…have all of the above.  My point? Well, mostly excusing why I don’t write much these days.

Right now, one of the activities I look forward to most during this busiest time of my professional year, is riding with my “dude” friends in the early morning.  We have our routine and we don’t even have to discuss details.  One of us says “Ride?” before leaving work, and we just know the drill.  Simple, uncomplicated.  No drama.  Except for a chain jamming.  Back brakes not working.  The dazzling sun, blinding me since it gets light so early this time of year.

From time to time a girlfriend will join me on a ride.  A fun experience too–more social, more of an “event” I guess.  Awesome in it’s own way and I’m happy for the female company which I don’t get much of these days as my girlfriends start families or I drop off the radar with my odd schedule that leaves me super busy or out of town.

One of the questions I struggle with regarding these posts is why I write to begin with?  Who reads them?  Does it help anyone? (which was my original point…to encourage the average, probably female, human to try new activities without feeling self-conscious.  Perhaps to give some tips to aid that mission.  The blog has evolved, but at the beginning of this summer season when there are so many things to do, let me share some of my ideas to get you out of the house….some resources to support these endeavors:

Pine Mountain Sports:  Longtime local Bend bike shop.  They are not only super friendly, but super knowledgeable about everything bikes.  The gear, the trails and the instruction if that feels better (I know I could use some clinics…especially on bike maintenance which I’m grossly under-educated about):  Pine Mountain Sports

Tumalo Creek (central Oregon): Longtime local paddle shop. And I’ve worked there for years.  We do everything paddling.  Retail, classes, rentals and tours.  Want to try the frisky ripples? I’ll help you: Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe

eNRG Kayaking:  Santiam River (whitewater) or Oregon City/Portland area (Willamette Falls and both flatwater and whitewater). There’s no better paddle instruction center than eNRG. I consider the Santiam river my backyard (because it is LITERALLY my backyard 3 days a week). So many choices. So accessible.  eNRG Kayaking

Wild & Scenic Film Festival: June 15, Oregon City (brought to you by eNRG).  If you want to get excited about outdoor adventures with an eye toward stewardship, these films will inspire.  After the films, there’s the chance to do a full moon paddle up to the historic Willamette Falls. You think it’s too far to travel from Bend?  It’s not. I do it about every 2-3 weeks.  Wild & Scenic Film Festival Oregon City

“Field Trip” to the gorge:  An easy over-nighter trip to the gorge can make you feel like you’ve gone on vacation yet so accessible!  We had the opportunity to paddle the Klickitat, hike around and stay at the now open Bingen School Inn.  This converted-school-to-hotel offers everything from hostel bunking to boutique “cabins” which surround a small spa…massage anyone?  Worth the visit.  Sorry you missed the grand opening.  It was rad. Bingen Inn in Bingen Washington

Sekse’ Fit:  Now open since April-ish, Sekse attracted all the best dance/fitness instructors to this little studio in the Box Factory.  Every class I’ve been to has been exceptional. PS, if you want to get your “sexy” on (or in my case, an extremely dorky version of aerobics instructor trying to be a pole dancer) this studio is a must.  Coolest chicks in Bend teach here.  Seriously.  They’re also the nicest and welcoming.  Sekse’

Okay, so that’s the list for now.  Give some of these places a try.  Maybe not your bag.  Definitely mine.

Thanks for listening…

SueBike