It’s been a very busy winter, and I’ll admit I’ve not spent as much time on the water as I would have liked.  Between wrapping up last season, filming, launching our web store, and a thousand other things, I allowed myself to get distracted from the things I feel are most important to me.  I could feel the time off the water, both physically and emotionally, so with the weather warming up and our first classes rapidly approaching I decided it was time to dust off the cobwebs and start getting ready for the upcoming coaching season.

I started with a trip to one of my all time favorite paddling spots, Cape Flattery. Don Cheyette, Jason Learned, Michelle Scheffer and I hit the most northwest point of the continental United States with a great forecast, and spent a fantastic weekend exploring the stacks and caves carved out by wind and waves along this remote and beautiful headland.  Top that off with a pot of Jasons dutch oven jambalaya and you can’t really ask for a better weekend. Jason put together a great video of that trip:

 

 

The next weekend I joined the same crew as we headed down to La Push, Washington for the annual La Push Pummel.  This was my first time to La Push, and the brutal dumping surf made it clear how the event got its name.  

 

 

We spent the weekend exploring the waters around James Island, enjoying the company of friends who had come down for the event, and of course surfing.  After two weekends on the coast I was starting to feel alive again, the cobwebs washed away by sea water.

 

 

 

After returning to Orcas from La Push I had two days to rinse gear and repack before starting the 14 hour trip from my island home to Trinidad, California for the first ever West Coast Storm Gathering organized by Mark Tozer and Helen Wilson of Greenland Or Bust.  I got to Trinidad a day early to explore this new environment with my good friend Rick Kitts before the event.  

 

 

The next three days were spent working with driven students and world class coaches exploring the surf and rocks around Trinidad Head.  It was great to meet up with old friends, and to make some new ones.

 

 

This was a fantastic event, with delicious locally grown food, great evening entertainment, and of course some truly wonderful paddling.

 

 

On the way back from the Storm Gathering I stopped for the night in Portland, OR to check out a showing of “Kayaking the Aleutians”, the latest epic from Justine Curgenven, hosted by Alder Creek Canoe & Kayak. This is the tale of a 1500 mile journey along the Aleutian chain by kayak, and represents both one of the most technical, demanding, and committing kayak expeditions to date, and, I think, Justine’s best work.  Justine is in the middle of her North American tour promoting the film, so if you get the chance to see her present it’s definitely not to be missed.

After returning to Orcas, I had just over 24 hours to do laundry and repack before heading out to the largest paddle sports expo on the planet.  Canoecopia, in Madison Wisconsin, is put on by Rutabaga and brings together vendors, manufacturers, outfitters, community groups, and over 20,000 participants in a three day trade show full of gear, presentations, demos, and dreams.

 

 

Shawna and I shared a booth with Justine, highlighting our paddling school, and slinging BBB swag, DVDs, and talking to excited paddlers enchanted by the idea of exploring the Pacific Northwest by kayak.  Shawna and I gave a few well attended presentations on towing and paddling in the PNW, and we hope that we’ve sparked the imagination of one or two paddlers who might come out and visit us on Orcas soon.

Back on Orcas we had another one day turn around before leaving the island again for our first official class of the season.  Shawna and I spent two days in Deception pass with four dedicated students who braved the changeable weather of the Pacific Northwest in March for our first Ocean Currents class of 2015. I’ve not been in the pass for a while, and it was great to get back to one of my favorite classrooms and play spots.

 

 

After the Ocean Currents class I had a day off while Shawna taught a private lesson, then it was on to a fun two day Sea Kayak Safety and Rescue class here on Orcas.

 

 

Now I have a few days to recoup, and reflect on the whirlwind of the past few weeks. I feel exhausted, but refreshed and exhilarated at the same time.  I’m stoked to once again fill my life with the things I’m most passionate about, and I’m looking forward to an amazing summer full of paddling, teaching, and learning.

 

 

 

See you on the water!

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