Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Grand Manan Through Hike

I recently spent two days walking the backside of Grand Manan Island, a small New Brunswick Island set on the edge of the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of Maine, about 9 miles off the Maine coast. I've been casually planning (or dreaming of) a SUP trip around the island and had been gathering information from locals and fisherman who know the coast. Over the last year I've gotten some conflicting information about safe landing zones & currents, especially on the backside. This trip was pretty rad because I got a true first-hand view of the entire 25km West Coast of the Island, which is stunning!

Around noontime we got dropped in the dirt parking lot at the South tip of the island at the Southwest Head Light House. In a few quick minutes in a very casual manner we prepped our packs, made our last adjustments and said our thank-you's and goodbyes. We set off from the light, snapped a few quick pics of our start location and immediately found ourselves just a few feet from the edge of 100ft cliffs, staring at down at tiny seals floating in the eddies and vying for space on dry rocks. The trail quite literally follows the cliff rim for much of the hike.

While we slowly made our way North, the landscape got more beautiful, more diverse and way more challenging. Under-prepared with less-than adequate sneakers, terrible socks and a pack that wasn't designed to hold the amount of weight I carried, it wasn't long before I was feeling the pain of a long walk in wet shoes. But the air was warm, the visibility was outstanding, wildlife was all around us, cell phones were off and we were immersed in a new natural environment, so my discomfort didn't matter all that much until day two.

We snapped photos as we walked, discussed life and took in the ocean vistas, it was an absolute treat to be outside and feel the stress of the last few weeks disappear. Unplugging from technology and plugging into this coastal environment was much more important than I even realized. Around each corner was a vividly beautiful landscape worthy of a painting. Salty air mixed with forest scents that made deep breathing more enjoyable. Sounds were rare, mostly birds, waves and the compacting ground beneath our shoes. This part of the island has very few inhabitants and we passed only a half dozen homes in two days.

Grand Manan is a special little island with rich history dating back to the Maliseet, Passamaquoddy & Penobscot Indians. It's rich in tourism and fishing and is an incredible place to get away and relax in the outdoors. After a day of rest on our return, we spent the rest of our visit mt. biking, sailing and visiting family.

As I write this, I'm prepping for a standup paddling trip around the island in 2018 and now feel completely prepared for the journey. Now it's in the hands of mother nature.

two straight days of perfect weather

buoy garden.  100's of buoys and sea flotsam

below an eagle's perch


looking down at Dark Harbour

The last big outlook

Grand Manan is fat bike friendly

Sunday, June 25, 2017

ACA SUP ICW @ Portland, Maine

beautiful days in Maine
Seven candidates and another awesome course.  My favorite thing about offering these courses is getting to meet so many cool people and making new paddling partners.  

This group was no different and I've already spent time paddling with some of them.  We had a pretty intense session over three full days with some very skilled and knowledgeable personalities.  Group learning at its best!  Portland Paddle hosted us at their location at East End Beach, which turned out to be a fantastic venue for the course.  When you're in Portland Maine, visit them and take a trip on Casco Bay, home of some incredible paddling opportunities and rich with history.

Last season I did a Jewell Island Trip on Casco Bay that you can read about here.  Definitely recommended!

Shane talks about boards

Casco Bay

ACA SUP ICW @ Bar Harbor, Maine

Matt, Cosmos, Allison, Curtis, Jessica & Wendy

Congrats to the newest ACA Certified SUP Instructors in Maine!

This is the 2nd year I've travelled up to Acadia SUP in beautiful Bar Harbor, Maine to run an ACA SUP ICW with Chris Strout, owner of Acadia SUP.  He runs a great operation on the edge of Acadia National Park and is focused on quality instruction and safety.  Next time you're up there, stop in to take a class, do some sup yoga, rent a board or visit his shop.  He's the only dedicated SUP retailer in Maine and introduces thousands of people to SUP each season.  

Great Long Pond, Bar Harbor, ME

Wendy flips Cosmos back onto the board

Learning knots

Thursday, June 22, 2017

May Black Canyon SUP Adventure

This post originally appeared at Maine Standup Paddling.
Happy Hour!
Erin & Matt making coffee
Hot Springs & Happy Hour is how we described the trip, but really it should’ve been called strong winds and stronger paddlers. Our team of 8 met up early on Friday, made our way to the river and were paddling off by 10:15am. Impressive start for an impressive crew.
The rest of the trip blended together seamlessly with an assortment of fun, food, celebration, soaking, exploring & relaxing. Huge THANKS to Erin of Sunset Stand Up Paddle in Laguna Beach, California for co-organizing with me. She’s awesome to work with and paddle with and whenever you’re in Southern California she’ll show you a good time. Our next Black Canyon SUP Adventure is October 27-30, 2017.
What made it so fun? First, we had a group of skilled paddlers who were all about having fun. Second, the Black Canyon is a magical place with great energy. Hot air, cold clear water, beaches, cliffs, wildlife, caves, hot springs, currents, fun eddies, waterfalls, no electricity, no cell phone service! It’s a playground for those that like to adventure. It’s a dream for those wanting to develop board control, water reading skills & basic river skills. It’s a paradise for those that want to relax, forget about work, unplug, unwind, dream, breathe, contemplate and smile.
Enough said – here are a few pictures..

Exploring Black Canyon on our way upriver - day one.

Fun scramble to this hot spring - my first visit to this one.  day two.

our camp, viewed from above

Kristen leads the pack upriver - day one

paddling the Red Paddle Co. Dragon.  34" wide x 22' long

Monday, December 12, 2016

Baja Sea Kayaking Vacation

At the end of October, Trish & I took some time off to paddle with Sea Kayak Baja Mexico on a 6-day relaxing tour of the Loreto Islands & Coast.  Ramon & Daniel guided our group of 8 from Loreto out to Danzante then down the coast a bit.  If you ever get a chance to paddle the Sea of Cortez, connect with SKBM for guide services or equipment rental.  You won't find better trained, more professional guides with any other company and you definitely won't find better equipment.  We toured with top of the line P&H & Sea Kayaking UK sea kayaks, Werner carbon paddles, Kokatat pfd's and MSR camping equipment.

For me, this was just a chance to relax with Trish, spend some time in the desert and reset myself after a long summer.

working on our relaxation techniques

early morning on the Loreto waterfront

Loreto harbor before sunrise

Trish makes a friend

first night camp on Danzante Island


1st tarantula of the trip

awesome group of people from Baja, Canada, Washington, Wisconsin, Maine

Baja is so beautiful

hiking to see cave paintings

Ramon, our guide

Just the ladies.. Polly, Leanne, Sydney, Kathy, Margaret, Trish