Monday, July 13, 2015

canoe camping sup trip

On a recent canoe camping trip to a class I & II section of the St. Croix river in New Brunswick we brought along a Red Paddleboards 9'2" Surfstar for some added fun.  This was my first time traveling on water with an additional board, although it's the main reason I got this board in the first place.  Designed for surfing, it has enough volume and stability for flat-water use and does pretty well in whitewater.  Throughout the trip we used in on flat sections, for morning meditation sessions and to play in Little Falls, the biggest and longest rapid on our trip.  It was damn fun to have along and will definitely be joining me on future canoe trips.

packed and ready.  Notice the Surfstar in the Old Town Tripper.

Friday, July 10, 2015

ACA July Instructor of the month

I've been working hard in the paddle sports industry for 15 years.  In that time I've never considered it a career, although it has accounted for a large percentage of my income each year.  I've met many wonderful people through this sport including many of my best friends.  I've helped people achieve paddling goals and it's felt wonderful.  I've had paddlers injured under my watch and it's felt terrible. I've failed and succeeded.  I've won a couple races.  I've taken trips to incredibly beautiful places and pushed my paddling limits over and over.  I've guided.  I've coached.  I've managed events.  I've worked hard on my personal skills all these years.  I've been mentored.  But most importantly, I've learned. I've learned a great deal about myself and about others while working in this industry.

So, I'm honored to have been awarded the American Canoe Association July instructor of the month.  Kokatat sponsors the program and has graciously sent me a new PFD as a gift.  I'm proud of this award and of all the work I've contributed to the paddle sports industry.

ACA: What drew you to become an ACA certified instructor?

Palmariello: In 1999 I was finishing an internship in the ski industry and looking for a summer job on the coast. Without experience, I was positive I'd like sea kayaking so I bought some equipment, taught myself the basics and talked my way into a guiding job for the summer. I quickly realized how much I didn't know and sought out the best training I could find. That led me to the ACA. I was hooked after that first course and on a mission to become a competent well-rounded paddler. That summer job was the beginning of a new lifestyle and my introduction to the ACA and paddlesports.

ACA: Do you have any memorable trips, events, or stories that stand out as your ‘favorite paddling moment?’

Palmariello: One of my most exciting and most memorable padding experiences took place in 2013 when I entered a 100 mile river race in California. In a field of one hundred twenty paddlers, five of us accepted the 100 mile, 1 day challenge on standup paddleboards. I approached the race with the goal of finishing but just 25 miles into the race my competitive side took over. A paddling colleague, Michael, was clearly racing hard and took a lead over me by a few minutes. I chased him for a long time and thirty miles later I was only thirty seconds behind him. For another fifty miles we battled downriver within a minute of each other. In the end we finished that 100-mile race in 12 1/2 hours and just five minutes apart. The real enjoyment, however, came from the paddling community that embraced each other and the people I met that weekend. I bonded with Michael on the water that day and was so impressed with the camaraderie that I became involved with the non-profit group that runs the race.

ACA: Have you participated in any particularly meaningful paddling programs, outreach events, educational sessions, or projects?

Palmariello: From 2009 to 2014 I managed the Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium. Bringing an amazing community of paddlers together once a year to celebrate sea kayaking made me incredibly proud. Witnessing all those people paddling outside of their comfort zones and achieving success was very rewarding to me. More importantly, a diverse group of people with various backgrounds were making friends and memories on and off the water. I've met some of my best friends through paddling and it has been such a meaningful piece of my life.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Backpacking the BOLD Coast

About 15 years ago I spied some photos of the Cutler Coast and desired a visit ever since.  This area is part of the famed Bold Coast in Northern Maine and is an amazing representation of how beautiful it can be when untouched rocky coastline meets the sea.

Trish and I spent two days backpacking the trails in the Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land and were treated to lush mossy forests, thin old trails above cliffs, a calm sea, miles upon miles of visibility and best yet, some solitude.  It was arguably one of the hardest and most strenuous short hikes I've ever done and fully worthy of its nickname and a visit.

The Bold Coast extends north to Quoddy Head and around the corner to Lubec, easternmost town in the United States.  Across the Bay of Fundy lies Grand Manan.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Settling in to the Maine way of life

I moved to Maine.

I never thought I'd live on the East Coast again, but things change and people do to.  Change is good and I'm embracing this one.

After a five-day cross-country drive listening to a Short History of Nearly Everything, sleeping in the backseat of my Subaru at truck stops with everything I own and toting 5 standup paddleboards and a bike on a trailer behind me I arrived in Maine only to find out I still had another hour and a half to go.  Trish surprised me by renting a cabin for the week on a little lake chain in central state.  I quickly unloaded my crap into a small storage unit, dropped the trailer and headed Northwest to Belgrade Lakes with bikes and sups for a week of unwinding on the lake.  Northwest?  Yes, Northwest.  I have to get used to that again.  If I'm looking north the ocean is to the East, not the West.  And I just spent the last ten years learning it the other way.  Whatever - by the end of the day I was paddling with loved ones and was off to a good start settling in to the Maine way of life.

In the next week I relaxed, read a book, visited family, got some mountain biking in and paddled just about everyday.  I canoe commuted to the market to pickup groceries for dinner and to the post office to mail some work.  I paddled in a downpour when I ventured too far across the lake (it rains here!).  I portaged Main street in order to explore another lake in the chain.  There is water everywhere and coming from a California drought, this is a huge treat.  I've renewed my love of canoeing and I'm excited to undertake some downeast adventure.

scouting some streams.  Site of a canoe poling competition.

dock life is the good life

mountain biking the Bigelow range

exploring Great Pond

freshwater & a borrowed canoe

training on Long Pond

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Last paddle on San Francisco Bay

I'm leaving town soon so when I got the call from Gretchen to do one more paddle before I left, there was one particular paddle I had in mind.  Looking at currents and weather, everything appeared perfect for a trip going west and then east.  I'd always wanted to paddle to Angel Island and hike to the top so it seemed the perfect day to give it a try.

We met in Berkeley at 5:45am with Shanna surrounded by fisherman and power boats.  By 6:50am we paddled out of Berkeley Marina right into a quartering chop.  Winds weren't strong yet, but were showing signs and it was the chop that slowed our progress.  What I predicted as a two-hour crossing turned into three hours.  Not big deal though, because we still made the island before the wind turned on.

Taking our time on the beach, we changed into dry clothes and proceeded to hike to the top of Mt. Livermore, 781ft above sea level in the middle of San Francisco Bay.  It was my first time to to the top of Angel Island and on a great day with great company.  It really couldn't have been better for my last paddle in the area.  But wait, it got better.  While we ate and relaxed, the wind did pick up and was blowing about 20mph when we re-launched on the east side of Pt. Blunt.  This was exactly what I wanted, although the wind didn't line up for perfect straight downwind rides.  It lined up well enough that we could catch some bumps, paddle south and repeat.  We zigged and zagged right back to Berkeley in ninety minutes with a bumpy mix of 2ft wind chop and swell.  We spent about 8 hours on the trip and covered 16.7 miles of paddling and hiking.  So fun to mix paddling and hiking!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

2015 California 100

The California 100 is an important grass roots paddling race & fundraiser in Northern California.  From Redding, CA to Chico, CA racers paddle their sups, surfskis, kayaks, canoes and outriggers downriver, touring the central valley of this gigantic state.  In one day they cover 100 miles of class I & II river in the heat, taking between 10 and 20 hours to finish.  This was my second, and last, year as Race Director and although I won't be holding the reigns next year, I will be back to race again.  

My team is made up of a couple key staff, lots of incredible volunteers and four board members from Rivers for Change, a great CA non-profit with the mission of connecting people to rivers.  Founded by Danielle Katz and John Dye in 2011, they've been successful using paddling as a catalyst to engage, educate and excite people on river issues.  They're connecting people to rivers in a very important time as water management in California is of utmost importance.  RFC is a young, growing organization and I'm proud to have worked alongside them for these two seasons.  Now that my role as Race Director is finished, I'm brainstorming new ways to stay connected to this organization from across the country.  

The race this year did not disappoint.  Racer attendance was down, river flows were low (8000cfs), but energy was higher than ever and lots of new paddlers completed this journey and accomplished their goal.  Check out the photo album here:

Keeping up with the Live Update.

Returning to the launch after starting the Adventure Class at 6am.  

Morning Workout.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Bay to Bay - San Diego, CA

I haven't paddled this route since, I don't know, 2006 maybe?  It's been awhile and I've been wanting to standup paddle it for a long time.  It's a gorgeous stretch of coastline with beautiful waves & scenery.  Since Federico recently finished restoring his classic thirteen foot prone paddleboard from the 70's/80's, it was the perfect time to partner up and make the trek.

I've been staying with him in San Diego for about a week and a half now.  I've had two paddling courses back to back weekends so it's been hard to find a time to do this.  We decided Monday would be our best option and if swell and weather aligned we'd give it a try.  Come Sunday night, the wind looked good, tides were perfect and the swell had dropped to 2 feet.  It's a go.

beach break

nearing Point Loma

rounding Point Loma