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23
Jun

2016 GoPro Mountain Games

The GoPro Mountain Games are the country’s largest celebration of adventure sports, art and music Professional and amateur athletes from around the world converge upon the mountains and rivers of Vail to compete in nine sports and 25 disciplines for more than $100,000 in prize money. This year I got the chance to go compete in the freestyle kayaking rodeo. There were athletes from all around the world. Athletes ranged from the United States, Mexico, Canada, France, and Switzerland.

The first kayaking competition at the Mountain Games was the Coors Light Steep Creek Race. Which took place on the famous Homestake Creek in Red Cliff, Colorado. The competition was about 50 of the world’s strongest whitewater kayakers against each other in a race to see who could clear the Class 5+ whitewater rapids in the fastest time. The paddlers’ main focus has always been navigating the course quickly and efficiently, but this year, due to an extraordinary amount of water pouring down the river, there was plenty of emphasis on simply making it down in one piece.

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Later in the day was the freestyle kayaking rodeo in down town Vail. Each kayaker has a timed run to throw his/hers best cartwheels, loops, tricky-wu’s, phonics monkeys, space godzilla’s and more in an attempt to impress the judges and the crowd for the highest combined score. Each competitor will have two 1 minute runs to use their skills and athleticism in the park to try and score the most points possible.

The women went first with about 15 competitors. There were 3 heats and each heat had 5 women and I was in the first heat. Then it was my turn to go into the feature, and since we are in 8,000 ft of elevation and the water in 33 degrees it is very difficult to flip and flop around for one minute straight. I ended up coming in 11th place and just barely missing  the cut into semi-finals.

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There is this competition called Docs Dogs Big Air Competition. This was the coolest event at the Mountain Games. The easiest way to imagine a Dock Dogs Outdoor Big Air competition is to think of it as the long jump in track and field, but for dogs. The dog sprints down the dock runway, leaping off the end as its master throws the dog’s favorite toy out in front and landing in water. The canine with the longest measured distance wins.

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My trip to Colorado was an amazing experience. I met so many of my role models, and made many new friends. I plan to go back next year and do the entire Colorado circuit and compete in all of the completion around the state of Colorado, and hopefully go to Idaho too. I recommend just going to go to the GoPro Mountains Games even if you’re not a competitor. It’s a great experience, and you get to watch all of the events of the Mountain Games and even learn about new events that you never would have thought existed.

Hope to paddle you on the water,

Cat H.

23
Jun

Why I still love the Burn III

I have paddled the 9R and it is hands down a fantastic boat, but even though the 9R is great, I still paddle my Burn III. I like the size of the Burn III, the edges, and how it paddles loaded with gear. I live in Idaho and I mostly paddle big water, and I also do a lot of hiking with my boat. I finally got on the South Fork of the Salmon River this summer while it was flowing at 5 feet. The SF Salmon is a wilderness overnight trip in central Idaho. It was huge and sooooo fun!

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Photo: Devil’s Creek Rapid, SF Salmon

I didn’t even notice I had any overnight gear in the back of my boat. I could use the edges on the Burn to control the nose and stay online. I hit all of my boofs and had enough speed to move around all of the big holes. The Burn III is also easy to carry. My local run that flows all winter and spring requires a 2-mile hike out to the top of the canyon.

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Photo: Stripped off my gear at the end of the hike with the Burn

The Burn III is fairy light and not as long as the 9R, so it makes the hike out pretty easy. Being predominantly a freestyle paddler, the Burn suits my style of paddling. It is stable and reliable, and it has taught me a great deal about big water lines and how to boof on smaller creeks. I am always going to own a Burn!

23
Jun

2016 Freestyle Circuit in the JED

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I have been competing in freestyle for 9 years. I still love doing it, and this year in particular, I still continue to improve. I no longer paddle year-round. I have a job teaching biology at Washington State University and I ski all winter. But I had a great season of competing because I still love freestyle, I have fun, and I love the Jed and have learned to take full advantage of what that boat has to offer. The season I competed in US Freestyle Nationals at the Reno River Festival and in the freestyle event at the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, CO. The water level in Reno was on the low side of good and just about any trick was possible.

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All of the women in the event paddled extremely well and the energy exerted by all of the competitors was compelling. I hit some new moves, split to split and orbits, had my highest scoring ride during prelims, and ended up third overall.

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The hole in Vail was much more challenging than in Reno because the water was really high and the level fluctuates dramatically throughout the day. The hole is rowdy, flushy, really cold, and you get winded paddling at 8,000 feet. I actually enjoy the challenge and having the huge crowd cheering you on.

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I felt pretty confident during finals, I didn’t hit all of my moves, but I did score an orbit and enough points to take third place once again.

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It was great to see all of my friends and paddle with some of the world’s best female competitors. It is exciting to get pushed to paddle at a high level and to have a boat that not only does well with the loop tricks but also excels at the cartwheel and blunting type tricks.

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17
Jun

9R: Regular Vs Stout

If you still haven’t tried one yet, I’m sure you are at least aware that everybody is talking about the 9R. Why is this boat getting so much attention? It could be because it’s the best kayak ever made. I could go on about why it’s so great and tell you all the reasons why you should try one, but I’m a Team Pyranha paddler and you’ll have to wonder if my opinion is biased. Let’s just skip all that. You try one for yourself as soon as you can and  let me know if you think it isn’t awesome.

There are plenty of reviews on the internet by now to tell you how amazing the 9R is. Instead of adding to the noise I’m going to focus on choosing between the 9R and the 9RL aka the stout. First let me give you some background on me and my paddling style. I’m 5’11” 180 lbs. My origins in paddling are in slalom racing and as a result I have an aggressive and proactive paddling style. I am always actively propelling my boat toward my destination.

Given that, I’ll talk about the regular first. This boat fits me perfectly. It’s as if it was designed around my measurements. Seriously I couldn’t ask for a better fitting boat. I do think I’m at the top of the weight range though. I can carry rope, water, break down paddle and snacks with no problem, but when I toss in a camera body and a couple lenses I feel a little too weighted down. This boat is super fun to paddle because of the dynamic handling. With my slalom experience I find the boat can handle very similarly to my slalom boat. Except when it comes to pivot turns, the 9R doesn’t pivot very well at all. It is the easiest to boof boat I have ever been in. I swear I can boof in flat water. [ok maybe I just made that up ;)] The only thing it doesn’t do well for me is carry gear. That’s where the stout comes in.

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Jim Addington flying the 9R on the NF Feather River in California.

The 9R stout is a shit running machine. For a person my size it isn’t quite as dynamic as the regular. It’s handling reminds me more of a typical creek boat but with much more hull speed. While it doesn’t feel as sporty and fun to drive, the stout’s combination of speed, rocker, and stern volume allow it to go through anything with relative ease. Speaking of stern volume, this thing is ready to carry all the gear you can imagine. It handles remarkably well when loaded. This is my new go to boat for multi day paddling or day trips when I want to pack a big lunch and a lot of cameras.

If you’re over 6ft or over 200 lbs I would suggest the stout, but what do I know, really? You can read about kayaks for days but until you get in one and test drive it you won’t really know. Just make sure you have a credit card handy when you do cuz you’re going to want one after. If you really are disappointed let me know. I’ll buy you a beer for your troubles.

9R, try both, pick a size.

09
Jun

HOA White water Challenge 2016

The HOA White Water challenge takes place in the Hokkaido mountains in Japan, Run by Patrick and Naomi O’keefe of HOA rafting. This humble, grass roots event aims to unite the local kayaking community throughout several events spread out over the weekend. The competition format was inspired by the Peak uk challenges of past in Nepal, that Pat both watched and competed in. Competitors compete in two races and a freestyle event, and must use the same boat for each event.

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The weekend kicked of with the Slalom race. The course was designed to leave almost all of the gates easily accessible to beginner kayaks, Most gates had at least two ways to reach them, meaning that novice kayakers could compete and still have a good chance of making all the gates whilst more experienced kayakers had to make some tough decisions over which route was fastest. As with every race, there where some good, some bad and some absolutely hilarious lines which made for some great spectating.

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After the Slalom race it was straight over to a different section of river for the endurance race. Taking place over 5kms of fun and easy grade 3. The race kicked off with a mass start that allowed some glorious carnage to ensue as over 30 tightly packed kayakers tried to break free of the pack and get out in front. Racers spread out quickly as the guys in creek boats took the lead with the pole positions being decided upon who was ever so slightly faster / more determined. Kazuto maintained 1st position throughout the race but Austrian slalom racer Anna was hot on his tail and Ryosuke Tamaji in third, Patrick O’keefe came in with a solid fourth place despite crossing the finish line upside down… He was not the only one to do this however as tired racers continued to trickle towards the finish line, many where taken by surprise by the wave train and eddy line and finished the race whilst taking a closer look at the river bed. Some were simply too tired and out of breath to roll up which created some phenomenal photo opportunities as kayakers erupted from the surface of the water, red faced and thirsty for oxygen.

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The evenings activities took place at the HOA rafting base and competitors and staff gathered around to enjoy aJapanese style barbecue. There was a great vibe throughout the night as people talked about the days carnage, watched Pat’s old school rafting videos and over indulged in Sapporo and Sake.

Sunday began with a down river raft race. There was a lot of trash talk between the HOA raft guides as to who was going to win, with HOA’s rafting trainee Sam Davis from Australia being the loudest. In the end a far more experienced raft guide John took the win with an all star raft team made up of kayakers.

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Sunday afternoon sparked the beginning of the freestyle competition. Myself and Kazuto had helped to rebuild the hole a few days before the event and where anxious to see whether people would like it or not. Water levels peeked in the night before the event and the high water moved a few rocks around making the hole a little bit chunkier than we anticipated. Despite this the hole was still pretty good and there where a lot of tricks thrown as well as a couple beatdowns from inexperienced freestylers in creekboats. Yuichi Kubo came out on top in the freestyle comp but the highlight of the event for me was seeing Ryosuke Tamaji throw a massive loop in his creek boat to come away with a well deserved second place.

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Kazuto was crowned overall champion in the mens with Anna from Austria in 1st in the Womens.
Full results will be up on the HOA Facebook page soon —> https://www.facebook.com/hoa.rafting

With thanks to Pat O’keefe for inviting me over, the HOA staff for providing endless hospitality and entertainment and the Japanese white water community for being awesome, enthusiastic and great fun to hang out with.

See you on the water,
Bren

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30
May

Racing down the Lariang – Sulawesi multi-daying in a 9R

It’s an interesting feeling, launching onto a big volume, multi-day river, that you haven’t paddled before, in a boat that hasn’t been designed for the purpose. It’s a whole series of unknowns, swirling around in your mind and creating butterflies in your stomach.

Start of the Lairiang - River Flair Coach Dave Kohn-Hollins       Entry gorge of the Lairiang        Sea Kayaking Anglesey Coach Phil Clegg

Thankfully, despite having not been designed for it, the 9r turns out to be a great multi-day kayak. Having packed the boat full – with a tarp, hammock, sleeping bag, stove, food, camera and emergency kit – it still paddled and handled as well as I’ve come to expect from my favourite Pyranha boat.

Overnight camp on the Lairiang     Minor incident of the petrol bottle catching fire....

On the Lariang, we paddled some of the biggest volume rapids I have ever run, and the 9r still felt as fast, stable and precise as it had on all the other rivers we paddled in Sulawesi.

Big volume, technical white water with the river rising all the time!      River Flair Director and Coach - Dave Kohn-Hollins

I can also report that both the 9r and the Burn are as transportable by scooter taxi as they are by car…

Transport back to the proper take-out of the Lairiang Locals getting a good look.although sometimes they’re not as useful as the local version…

Phil taking the ferry for a spin.

Our descent of the Lariang was so fast that we had plenty of time to check out the local wildlife…

Water Buffalo!  Monitor Lizard  Praying Mantis!  Fungi or little aliens?

and for the locals to check us out as well.

Sunset finish on the Sadan river.

Sulawesi is a fantastic country to go and paddle in. If you get the chance then definitely take it!

24
May

Kern Fest 2016

Late March of 2016 marked the 52nd annual Kern River festival in the small town of Kernville, California. The festival was created as a fundraiser for the Kern river alliance. It features some great activities for paddlers of all skill levels including clinics, SUP events, a slalom race, and a downriver race.

For the past few seasons, the drought in CA has negatively impacted the festival and last year it was cancelled due to the lack of water in the drainage. This year, a cold spell locked up the snow in the headwaters, which caused the flows to drop some. However, boaters from all over the west coast still made the trip down to the Kern despite the below average flow. The low flows led to the cancellation of the highly anticipated Brush Creek race, but there was still plenty of events and sections to boat to keep paddler’s stoked. The local boaters were more than welcoming to those of us who were new to the area, and were excited to have both water and paddlers back in the area.

What was unique to me about this festival was the fact that all of the events were on a section of the Kern that is class II-III. It reminded me of a festival of the same caliber of Cheat fest, and that to me was really cool. The great thing about having a festival like Kern fest is that it encourages more paddlers to take part in events and push themselves a little. Witnessing paddlers who would generally stay away from events on harder runs take part in races and try new things was really cool. I think there needs to be more festivals and events like this.

After three days of hanging out at the Pyranha booth, paddling with both old and new friends, and hanging out with some awesome people, I was stoked by all the things the Kern Fest had to offer. If you’re around California in March, plan on stopping by the Kern Festival. It’s a fun event with some really awesome people. I want to extend a huge thanks to Sierra South, Kern River Brewing Company, Kern River Alliance, the people of Kernville, and everyone who attended Kern fest. You all made this cool event possible. I’ll be back next year!

11
May

White Salmon ‘Get The Girls Out’

Thanks for the edit Ali Casas Zaragozas!!!

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Jenny Brown & Kristin Alligood chilling at CaveWave on the Lower. Photo – Cat Looke

The White Salmon area in Washington is undoubtedly one of the best kayaking hubs on earth, attracting paddlers worldwide of all ability levels.  The number of quality rivers and the diversity of whitewater is incredible, but what really makes this place so special is the paddling community.  There is always someone to paddle with, including an uncharacteristically large number of female boaters.  But, regardless of gender and ability levels, everyone is exceptionally supportive of each other and paddles together here.

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Regan Byrd watching others on the White Salmon. Photo Cat Looke

Last Saturday SheJumps and TiTsDeep hosted a ‘Get the Girls Out’ paddling day on the White Salmon River.    Organizing an event of this nature is almost unnecessary in this paddling community where there is a plethora of paddling ladies and hitting the river with an all female crew happens naturally everyday.  So, Saturday was all about gathering friends together.  The event targeted ladies, but we decided to include boys because it’s all about community and friendship, and we certainly would not appreciate if the boys excluded us from their paddling adventures.  Several guys joined us, but the ratio was overwhelmingly female. The day started with 13 kayakers hiking into the Class 4 Orletta Section of the White Salmon River.  As we paddled downstream the stoke float crew grew in numbers as more people joined for the Middle and Lower Sections.  More organized then most days on the river, it all culminated with a take-out BBQ with delicious local beverages provided by Naked Winery and Everybody’s Brewing.  It was great to see so many people out on the water together and awesome to meet a couple of new friends who made treks from Portland and Seattle.

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Thanks Laurie Rogers & Naked Winery!!

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And for the delicious beers, we give a huge shout out to Pat Velten & Everybody’s Brewing!!             Photo – Adrienne Levknecht

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05
May

Allow Me to Reintroduce the Z.One!

Owning just one kayak seems a thing of the past; in the days of kayaks becoming more and more specialised, many paddlers have multiple boats and a range of options depending on what kind of water they want to paddle. Having observed the transition from paddlers doing everything from rodeo to waterfalls in the same boat, to paddlers now selecting a particular boat to match their wave/waterfall/race, you might think that the “all river” type boat is a thing of the past.

This isn’t a new boat to Pyranha’s range, but it certainly is one of the unsung heroes; you won’t see it winning freestyle competitions or being used to break waterfall records, but you will see it out there every day on the water, earning its money with paddlers, enthusiasts, clubs and coaches. From entry level to pro, this is one kayak that everyone can get something from; allow me to reintroduce… the Z.One!

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Fast, dynamic, precise

The Z.One is fast, agile and so much fun to paddle. The hull is incredible with enough rocker to keep your bow dry when moving over waves and holes, but enough length and edge to make sure you keep your speed and stay on line when flying around the river. With one boat you can carve the river, surf waves and play in stoppers or holes. The Z.One is also a perfect training boat for intermediates and experts developing their skills on the river. You’ll have more fun in this on your regular grade 3 run than you will in your creek boat!

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Chris Brain going old school! (to be honest stern squirts never went out of fashion did they?)

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For many Pyranha paddlers, this boat has become their first choice for anything that isn’t at the extreme ends of the sport; for all-round river performance that puts a smile on your face, it is up there with the best.

I have used the Z.One on a full range of rivers and have seen it excel at punching through holes, tackling big water and of course technical whitewater where you need to be able to make quick corrections to avoid rocks and features.

Team Pyranha paddlers love it too

“For me, the Z.One gives me the sneaky opportunity during coaching sessions to have a little tail squirt whilst no one is looking.  In the past 18 months, I’ve paddled little else. When coaching the boat gives great demos, movements are clearly visible to students and encourages me to paddle well, demonstrating good technique all the time.  When paddling for fun I can catch lots of waves on the fly, run some great lines with quick changing momentum and it keeps me on my toes on harder stuff.  What’s not to like?”

Chris Eastabrook -Team Pyranha

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Chris Eastabrook showing how much fun you can have on the river in his favourite boat

Chris Eastabrook showing how much fun you can have on the river in his favourite boat

Driving through stoppers with ease

Driving through stoppers with ease

“As a recreational paddler I find the Z.One a really enjoyable boat to paddle. It’s fast, playful and fun on Class II/III water and provides the ideal craft for me to look after club paddlers, whilst also coaching river skills.
The Z.One really comes into its own on the surf too. I always look forward to taking it to Cornwall several times a year where I can ride the waves, practice my rolls if need be and just have some quality fun with my fellow Z.One paddlers, who are also smitten with the way it performs.
Long live the Z.One is what I say!”

Clare Morgan – Team Pyranha

Our students love it too!

“I love my Pyranha Z.One Kayak because even when the water levels are low I can still practice my stern squirts >> This boat is clearly the superior of all kayaks!!”

Ellie Selley, 2nd year outdoor leadership student at UCLan.

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Even when there's no water Ellie still has fun in her Z.One!

Even when there’s no water Ellie still has fun in her Z.One!

“I love my Z.One as it is not only a reliable river runner, but also a great boat to play around in. As well as being even easier to roll than a burn!!  Since swapping to a Z.One, my balance and stability in the boat has improved and has helped to better my overall kayaking.”

Bethany Wilson

Beth Wilson loves her Z.One that much she keeps it in her bedroom!

Beth Wilson loves her Z.One that much she keeps it in her bedroom!

So If you are finding that your creek boat isn’t responsive enough for your local river run,  or you are wanting to catch every eddy,  make every move and surf every wave then you really should take a look at the Z. One,we love it and we know you will too!

Thanks to Chris Eastabrook, Claire Morgan, Bethany Wilson and Ellie Selley for having fun in their Z.One and their input. Thanks to Rachel Burke and Dougal Gray for photosIMG_0230

Chris Brain

04
May

All You Need Is Ecuador

On Christmas day I flew to Ecuador to spend 3 weeks doing what I love most; white water kayaking! Fall had been incredibly busy, and I wasn’t sure I would be able to make a paddling trip happen this winter. Last year, I had my first international kayaking experience in Ecuador and it changed my life, I was eager to go back!

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I was thankful to make it home to spend Christmas Eve with my family, the next day I was off to SeaTac airport with ziploc baggies of turkey and cranberry sauce from my Mom which I thoroughly enjoyed while I eagerly waited to board my flight.

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As I sat there reality began to set in, I was exploding with excitement to return to Ecuador!! My friends dropped me off at the airport and my mind started to wander. I had flashbacks of being in a foreign country, paddling everyday, exploring new runs, and warm water!

10623354_10153980145299994_6782367841831414603_o-3When I arrived in Quito, I found my way to Baeza where I met my friend Marco Collela. I don’t know if I would have been there had he not encouraged me in the first place, so glad he did! I came without much of a plan and I honestly didn’t know what to expect this time. Having no set expectations allowed me to challenge myself freely and really enjoy every moment not wanting to take anything for granted!

The next day we hit the water!!! We paddled the Cosanga and Bridge to Bridge section of the Quijos. The high water almost got the best of my overtired and jet lagged body as I surfed several holes!

Ecuador is a truly remarkable place. Last year, I learned to boof and really hone in my class 4 skills here. This year, I focused on paddling technical and challenging runs while building on those foundational skills necessary to paddle them well! Ecuador has everything one could possibly desire, from world class steep creeks to big water rivers to easy logistics, it is inexpensive, and attracts some of the most inspiring individuals you will meet. For 2 weeks I paddled everyday with great flows progressively stepping up my comfort levels and challenging my skills on a variety of creeks and rivers. From the Oyacachi, Quijos, Piatua, Papallacta, and Jondachi there was never a dull moment.

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My favorite run? That’s a tough one as they are all so different and special. Probably, the Cheesehouse section of the Quijos river. Not only because it is a continuous big water Class V run full of big holes, moves, and boofs, but I overcame a lot in there. As we drove to the put-in I could see the water was a dirty brown color. I knew it was on the high side, but I didn’t say anything as I knew I could do this and I really wanted it. I took a deep breath when we put on and as Marco led me into the first Class 5 rapid ‘Made in Ecuador’ I dug real deep; I was nervous. I made it to the eddy I needed to be in and from there we broke down each rapid; I began to calm down.

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Photo by: Niko Peha

The rapid I was most nervous about was ‘Das Boof.’ I had been having trouble staying forward and I knew if I leaned back or didn’t boof the wave in the right spot, I was going to get beat down. But where was this fear coming from? That is a great question. Turns out it had nothing to do with my ability to kayak. Sure I didn’t want to swim, but more than anything it was a mental game for me that day. As I entered my final year of University this past fall, I found myself a bit anxious and unsure about what the future held for me. Sure, I’m looking forward to graduating and as an eager soon-to-be college grad isn’t the world supposed to be limitless? I want to travel the world and have a successful career on my terms. So what does any of this have to do with my mental state in the middle of a class 5 rapid? Well, when these thoughts are flying through your head you begin to doubt yourself and your abilities. You wonder if what you are doing is going to provide you with what you truly need. I know in whatever I do in my life it needs to be meaningful, honest, and spark genuine passion for me to find value and be willing to commit 100%. Through my travels I have begun to realize rather than trying to figure forever out, why not live with a curiosity for it all? I don’t have to know where I will be a year or even a few weeks from now. After all it is the uncertainty and unpredictability which attracted me to white water in the first place. Having curiosity reminds me to live in the moment, because that’s the space in which the very best things in life happen.

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Photo by: Niko Peha

The innate beauty of the Andes mountains, very active volcanoes, wild jungle noises, sudden rainstorms, kamikaze taxi drivers, and the many beautifully butchered Spanish conversations I had; I loved it all!

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Photo by: Graham Lavery

I took a short break from paddling to spend some time at Canoa beach where I learned to surf! While I spent the majority of my time getting swirled and diving head first into the waves, I kept at it and eventually caught a few amazing surfs making the struggle well worth it!
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I spent my last week in Ecuador on the Jondachi river in Tena where I learned how to paddle my first low volume steep creek. The put-in tributary for the Upper Jondachi, Urusiqui creek, was particularly memorable as it had more rocks and sieves than water. I certainly feel the most comfortable in big water so this was a new challenge. I learned to use the rocks to somewhat gracefully manoeuvre through the rapids without getting stuck or pinned too much. One day we spent 7 hours completing a full descent of all three sections of the Jondachi into the Hollin river. Wow! I find it hard to believe there are 3 projected dams in the approval process to be constructed on this river. After spending a great deal of time here, I cannot imagine this beautiful sacred place and ecosystem being harmed by man and machine.

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I also had an incredible opportunity to compete in Jondachi Fest with 30 other paddlers from all over the world in an effort to raise awareness of the projected dam to dewater this magical place. With miles of free flowing whitewater through a breathtaking jungle, the Jondachi is one of the most beautiful rivers I have ever paddled. Losing this river would be tragic for Ecuador should the hydroelectricity development move forward, show your support for Ecuadorian Rivers Institute and help protect this river.

Jondachi Race

Photo by: Graham Lavery

In life as on the river, I love being challenged and pushing my limits. Why? Because it scares me and evokes a fierce determination that I have only ever felt while I am paddling. Because it’s fun and just thinking about it makes me smile!

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Photo by: Wes Howland

Because it’s beautiful to be strong and skilled at something I really love even though it tests me at times.

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Photo by: Niko Peha

Because it’s not going to be easy and I love a challenge. Because I can and I am able. I live for those moments in which I must give my very best and I am mercifully humbled. Because I want to be inspired and inspire others.

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Because this is where the best friendships are forged. Because even though the struggle is endured independently, it is a battle fought side by side with friends who are overcoming their fears and doubts too. Because we want to witness each others achievements and celebrate each others successes as if they were our own.

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Because not too long ago I was overwhelmed by all of the things I thought I was not and all the things I thought I had to be. Because taking things too seriously and being too hard on myself can cause me to lose focus on the things I know I am. I set goals for myself to focus my energy. For the things I will learn about myself and what I will learn in the space outside of my comfort zone. Because it just keeps getting better and better!

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Because from my experience life is far too short to do anything you are not passionate about. When it comes to my heart pounding through my chest, the courage to have a wild and adventurous spirit, the unpredictability of the future, and being the very best me I can be, a little is not enough.

You may be able to see the river on a map, but there is no guide to the experience. That experience is everything! It will shift your perspective, break you open, uplift and expand you, and make your heart beat fast! Challenge yourself sure, but focus on having fun! If you are having fun you will feel a contagious energy reverberate through every part of you reminding you that you are limitless!

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Everyone defines success differently. I see success not as an individual accomplishment, but as a process taking constant work- an attitude, a lifestyle, and talent itself. I do my best to think, act, work, and live in a way that will help me achieve my goals. 10 years from now I want to be able to say I chose my life, I never want to wonder what if? When it comes to success, in my experience the challenge is almost always worth it. I never want to let the fear of not succeeding stop me from growing, evolving, and progressing in life or my sport.

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Photo by: Andres Reyes

How will you define your success? #shegoes

AL

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