It’s about that time when my life shifts from lots of time off for adventure, to very little time to do anything but work. That’s great too, but on this lazy Sunday morning with my one day off this week I think fondly of a vacation that was actually only two months ago. Sam and I had originally planned an epic loop both east and south, as far as Montana, potentially down to Arizona and back up through California. All in two weeks. After some thought (and a stunning Facebook post by a friend in the redwoods in northern California–thanks Dustin!!) we modified our trip to something awesome and more manageable. South through Gold Hill/Ashland area to Jedidiah Smith park and up the 101. This road trip didn’t disappoint!!
First night was spent in Gold Hill with friend’s of Sam’s, Olympian Steven Keisler and his wife. They’re a great couple and we enjoyed a lovely evening of chit chat over a late dinner (bear in mind that I typically go to bed about 9pm, so anything past 7pm is late! haha). A high point of the night, for me, was the recount of Steven’s continued efforts to bring the Los Angeles Olympic whitewater kayaking to Gold Hill. A lofty goal, but I’m excited to see how that plays out. You just never know.
Had a first paddle the next day, on an urban section of the Rogue. Not the wild and scenic we’d originally considered, but based on our goal to maximize time in the redwoods, this was a nice option. Great to get on the water and the weather was amazing! Who would think it’d be mid-60’s in January!
We ventured on to Ashland after our paddle where we lodged on Mt Ashland to wake at 3am and find our way up the mountain for the best view of the lunar eclipse. A less publicized deal than the solar eclipse, but it was still SUPER COOL. We watched for an hour, and then were treated to an epic sunrise. Lazy brunch and then a fun hike that reminded us that contrary to the nice weather and unseasonably high temps that it was winter. We hiked into snow, but was rewarded with beautiful views and great cardio workout. From hiking to dining, I met Sam’s friend Oliver Fix who owns a tapas restaurant in the heart of Ashland. I was really impressed with this guy. Olympic whitewater kayak gold medalist and the most humble man ever. Interesting to listen and learn, when someone like Oliver is present. PS, the name of his restaurant is “Ostras”. Spanish tapas and craft cocktails…check it out!!
The grass doesn’t grow under our feet for long so we made our way toward Crescent City where we did a dusk hike through Stout Grove (boasted to be the largest grove of redwoods in Jedidah Smith park). I was blown away. Trees that big just don’t exist anywhere else I’ve seen. The only thing as cool as hiking through them, is paddleboarding down a creek through them. Which we did the following day. It was unbelievable. Frisky ripples to be sure, but this trip wasn’t about the paddling as much as taking in the views which are other-world. We spent a few days in Jedidah, hiking and paddling…nothing noteworthy to readers but incredible for us. Hard to believe such beauty is basically in our backyard. One exception would be meeting “Barefoot Bob”, a local legend that happily shuttles for paddlers far and near. He’s quite a character and if you ever find yourself on the Smith and need a shuttle, call Barefoot. Easy, cheap and quite a pleasant experience…(yes I’m talking about shuttles….hahaha).
The last few days of our trip were spent traveling up the 101. We caught some waves on the coast…again the weather cooperating beyond what we could have hoped… hiked a bunch, mountain biked on a fairly new trail system between Bandon and Coos Bay, and simply enjoyed the leisure of vacation. That’s the great thing about the schedule of people in our industry. It allows for this kind of time, except when it doesn’t, and then it’s GAME ON! Luckily we had one more trip planned before the season. Alas, that’s another story. Thanks for listening and happy paddlin…