Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Allagash Wilderness Waterway

The Allagash Wilderness Waterway is a 92-mile stretch of lakes, ponds and rivers flowing North through the Maine woods.  It was established back in 1970 as one of the countries first Wild & Scenic Rivers and remains as Maine's only federally designated Wild & Scenic river today.

I've been dreaming of a trip here since I learned about it twenty years ago.  I wanted to make the trip on a standup paddleboard, but the management office maintains that only 'traditional' watercraft are allowed in the region.  That means that crafts must fall into strict physical dimensions as well as construction methods.  Sups are not allowed, so I opted for a good ole' traditional open canoe.  

I've been working with an awesome crew all summer and we've been planning this trip slowly throughout the last couple months.  Well, last week we finally had the weather window and the time to make the 5-day trip.  Water was still very low this year, so we had to modify our trip a bit and excluded running the river.  Quite the bummer, but there just wasn't enough water to make a smooth trip down the whitewater sections, so we opted for a lake trip instead, with a focus on lake tripping, fishing and camping.  It was a pretty solid Plan B and none of us regretted it one bit.

After a long drive north to the area in two vehicles, we unloaded at the put-in and then immediately ran a shuttle further North to the take-out.  It was only about 45-50 miles away, but we were traversing logging roads the entire time.  Granted, they're in awesome shape, but they're narrow, filled with ruts and have some crazy logging truck traffic.  About four hours later we finally made it back to the put-in and launched.

The next four days we explored some incredible campsites, caught and released dozens of healthy fish, spotted moose and black bear and just had an incredible & relaxing Allagash experience.  Now that I'm home, I can begin planning my return trip in order to finish traversing the entire waterway, which means running that section of river we missed.  If you ever get a chance to visit, it's worth every bit of travel and planning to get the experience of a remote and pristine water-filled wilderness.

Enjoy the pics..

West branch of the Penobscot was flowing
Running shuttle.  Waiting for logging trucks to load up and clear the road.  Logging companies own this land and the roads, so we're at their mercy.

First nights campsite.  

Exploring the famous Allagash Trains.  Long story short, these trains moved lumber between two lakes.  They pretty much portaged full trees and when they were no longer needed, it was much cheaper to leave them there than to dismantle and move them.  Today, they draw many visitors.

One of our shuttle vehicles.  Little thing did pretty awesome on the logging roads.  

Close to prime foliage season.  

Love is in the water.. 

Looking up lake from Chamberlain Dam.

Gorgeous weather for the entire trip.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Untamed New England

Recently I had the pleasure of working with Peter Sawtell of Seven Rivers Paddling to manage risk and safety on the paddling sections of Untamed New England, an iconic adventure race that took place on the New Hampshire Seacoast this year.

Untamed New England describes themselves as a non-stop race across 250+ miles of New England's wilderness and I can assure you, it's just that.  Teams have no idea where they're racing until they show up.  Teams have 4 days to complete the rugged courses, which changes each year.  Historically, only about 20% of teams actually complete the full course.

This year, teams did some canoeing in the upper stretches of the race.  Then, by the time they reached the Seacoast, they had two more major paddling sections, in kayaks on tidal waters.  Our team used vehicles, kayaks, paddleboards and power boats to keep track of paddlers on the water 24/7 as well as give assistance in particularly 'tricky' areas due to currents.  As hard as the course was, mother nature increased the difficulty level with thunder storms all weekend.  Each night as we camped on islands in Great Bay, we could track teams at all hours of the evening while being barraged with rain and winds ourselves.

For those of you that know me, I work on events like this all the time and absolutely love it!  Long hours, tricky logistics and good people keep it fun and rewarding.  Check out the pics for some highlights!

we provided all the equipment for racers..

tracking teams on Great Bay

tracking teams online

moving up river

waiting for teams to cross Great Bay.  This skiff was our home for three days.

Monday, June 11, 2018

ACA SUP Certification Workshop Portland, ME

Portland Maine is a wonderful paddling destination.  This year I once again ran a Level 1-2 American Canoe Association SUP Instructor Certification Workshop in Portland.  Nine instructor candidates, myself and an assistant spent June 8-10 on Portland's East End completely geeking out on standup paddleboarding.

It's so fun to meet new standup paddlers and one thing that blows me away is now I'm seeing way more candidates who are getting into paddling via sup.  It used to be that kayakers and canoeists were trying sup, but now the majority are coming from non-paddling backgrounds.  That speaks volumes about how appealing standup paddling is, for very different reasons to very different people.

Thank you to Portland Paddle for hosting us!  Check out the pics of this fun weekend on Casco Bay and the next two courses are May 31-June 2, 2019 on the NH Seacoast with Seven Rivers Paddling and June 21-23, 2019 in Portland, ME.

beautiful weather on Casco Bay

Sarah Graham from Wild Craft Yoga in front of Fort Gorges

the crew lining up for some challenges..

With Mike from Rideaway Kayak and Leah from Forever Wild Yoga

Here's the whole crew!  Sarah, Hannah, Dan, Elyse, Mike, Peter in back.  Sarah, Matt, Leah, Ashley & Maddie in front.

Elyse Curro from Paddle Hamptons, Leah Titcomb from Forever Wild Yoga, Peter Sawtell from Seven Rivers Paddling 


Mike, Leah & Elyse

Sarah & Peter strategizing before our next challenge.  Fort Gorges is a wonderful place to coach sup.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Black Canyon SUP Trip

I've written blog posts about Black Canyon in the past.  I don't always say a lot, but the fact that I keep on returning to this incredible paddling destination pretty much says it all.  For this trip, I co-guided with Erin O'Malley of Sunset Standup Paddle out of Laguna Beach, CA.  She's now offering this trip in a 4-day format a few times per year.  

For now, I'm just going to let the pictures speak for themselves.  Until the next trip, I'll just daydream of fast water, unbelievable eddy hopping, slot canyons, hot springs, wildlife and vast panoramas...

simply spectacular

a view of camp

every good day of paddling starts with some good coffee.  Compliments of Kicking Horse Coffee.

getting ready for another day on the water

I love waking to this view.

Maggie from Blue Paddle SUP

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Sea Otter Classic 2018

The best event of the year!

I think 2018 was my 9th or 10th year working for the Sea Otter Classic, the best cycling event in the US. This is probably the event I work the hardest at each year, but somehow it just never feels like work.  The team of people that gathers year after year to pull it off is nothing short of incredible and I've made lifelong friends, even though I only see them once a year for two weeks.

The Monterey / Salinas valley area is beautiful

trucks look better in tall grass

end of day rituals

Peter studying the venue from above

Double Rainbow!  

it's serious work

testing e-bikes on the track

Danny MacAskill draw a crowd

Dual Slalom!  One of the best spectator races at the event

running shuttles at Dual Slalom


overlooking Laguna Seca from the top of the Dual Slalom course

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