I’m Back – From a Back Injury, that is…

8 03 2014

You may have noticed I have not posted to my blog in months. If you’ve read my blogs, you know I’m a very active individual. My hearts desire is to be outside, breathing the air, being active. Whether hiking, trekking the Himalayas, paddling surf, or skiing the Wasatch, I live for outside activities. Travelling overseas is especially rewarding to me, whether soaking up cultural experiences or adventuring rivers or mountains.

My lifestyle is also my work. I have taken kayaking/paddlesports and wrapped into a way to earn my keep. I’ve been a brand manager for Feelfree Kayaks, a company that imports New Zealand-designed, Bangkok manufactured kayaks into the American market. And I’ve converted countless couch potatoes into outdoor enthusiasts as kayak guide / instructor for Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe. I never tire of getting great gear into a customer’s hands and then hearing their stories of their adventures using it. To put it mildly, I am a tireless evangelist for outdoor recreation.

But my passion does involve risk. It can’t be avoided. It can be managed, and minimized, but not entirely eliminated. When it comes to kayak instruction or guiding, lifting boats is part of the work. I carry boats to the dock for renters. I set up lakeside trade show affairs involving dozens of kayak models. When guiding, I sometimes have a trailer of kayaks and have to lift then on/off of the trailer. I’ve done it thousands of times. I’m in my early 50’s.

So, the reason I have not posted to this site in months is a mistake I made loading a kayak onto my car. One day, in August 2013, I was in a rush to get extra boats to a kayak class and purposely grabbed a boat and heaved it onto my car. Not the right way. I have paid dearly for it. I strained the illiolumbar ligament in my back. It connects the 5th vertebrae to the hip. When it’s strained, it “refers” pain down the hip. For months, I had pain when sleeping in my back and hip. I could not get going in the morning without 20 minutes loosening my leg. I could not sit in a movie without writhing in pain.

I have been on workman’s comp since August. I still work, but on “limited duty.” I have cancelled a September trip to Yellowstone National Park, and a trip kayaking down the Mekong River from Vietnam through Laos and into Vietnam. Plus a two week ski trip to Jackson Hole Wyoming and Park City Utah. It has been depressing. Yet I have never skipped one single physical therapy routine.

If you’ve had back problems, you know my plight! But I am a fighter. I have been with a chiropractor and massage therapist. I have been with a physical therapist. I have been with a osteopathic doctor. And now, Pilates. Thousands of hours of work later, I am much improved. Slow, steady progress. So, I continue my daily two hours of physical therapy work. Yes. Two hours.

I have content for a few things I have done, some hiking trips and ski trips. Stay tuned, they are upcoming! And in just a few weeks I am snorkeling/camping/camping on the barrier reef in Belize!

I’m blogging again because I am proof positive HARD WORK PAYS OFF! I can engage in activities again. There will be new content very soon! You may see some content about working with physical limitations! I will never give up.

See you soon!


Yale Lake July

23 07 2011

Well, there is a chain of reservoirs north of Portland, Oregon, in the Lewis River system. They are about an hour’s drive north depending on the route one takes. They all lie in Mt. St. Helens’ shadow…and one, Yale Lake, has a grand view of this notorious peak.

I’ve been there twice this month. First time with my meetup group. We arrived on a Thursday and checked out the Siouxon Creek arm of the lake.

It’s clear and beautiful, and we paddled all the way up to the river’s confluence.

Arnold had lunch…whoa…a whole apple pie! Arnold is always good to have along.

Amanda is one of my favorite meetup members! She’s very outgoing, athletic, and fun! She was our tour guide. We had some beer at the Laurelwood in Battleground, after the paddle.

My first time up there I couldn’t see the visual treat Yale Lake is famed for. But I returned on July 22nd late in the day and was rewarded with a spec-tacular sight!


I also managed a video…on this day there were 2-3 motorboats on the lake plus a canoe. I understand it’s jammed with water skiers on the weekends!

August Moonlight Paddle in Portland

27 08 2010

Back in July April and I thought it’d be fun to schedule a moonlight paddle with my PaddleNW Meetup Group. So we looked at the moon phases on the calendar and settled on August 25 as a date.

We launched from Sellwood Park abut 7:30 and headed down the slough on the east side of Ross Island, which gives a very pretty view as the sun sets of downtown Portland.

As we approached the city, the sky darkened even more.

And we passed right by the USS Blueback, a submarine exhibit docked at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry…it was featured in the film The Hunt for Red October, starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin.

It was a really warm night, and just perfect for paddling and seeing the city lights and moonlight. We even got to see the Hot Dog guy who sells hot dogs from his boat! Later, as we grouped before crossing the shipping channel, we witnessed an anchored fisherman get warned via five horn blasts from an oncoming barge!

Lower Columbia River Water Trail: Lark Island Day 1

20 07 2010

We took a couple of days to explore the lower Columbia. We saw eagles dog fighting with ospreys, a sea lion, many fishermen and ships, Caspian terns, and best of all more fireworks!

I strongly believe this is one of the top places near Portland, Oregon to paddle. Yet, it’s very under appreciated!

This weekend I scheduled a Lower Columbia River Water Trail kayak camping trip for my Paddle NW Meetup group. The idea was to leave Cathlamet, paddle out to Lark Island, set up camp, and then spend the afternoon playing around in the frequently challenging conditions in and around Skamokawa, WA, on the Columbia River. Then the following day play around the islands on the Oregon side, paddle west with the outgoing side, and then take out at Skamokawa.

Paddlers were myself, Monte, Jessie, Francis, and Heather. A great group! Everyone experienced with primitive camping.

We met down at Skamakowa Paddle Center and I filed a float plan with Ginnie Callahan. Tanned, healthy looking and fresh from her southern experiences in Baja Mexico and Tasmania, she took down our float plan. She took great interest in Paddle NW, as she is having some challenges putting together Meetups for her Lower Columbia Kayak Roundup, August 19-22. I gave her my business card and said I’d promote it on the Meetup site.

We met back at Cathlamet’s Elochoman Marina, which was the put-in.

The usual stuffing and cramming of gear into kayaks ensued.

We were all with good spirits! Monte was very accommodating, his Hyundai parked to take anything we needed to keep ashore.

Jessie had the compass on board and I had the charts. We did the pre-launch briefing…oriented ourselves to the charts, and then we were off. We had a marine layer of clouds but it was forecasted to burn off.

Which way?

I didn’t know prior to scheduling this paddle, but today was “Eagle Day” at Cathlamet! Eagle Day brings plenty of wooden boats and then in the evening fireworks! Hee hee.

We took off paddling with the outgoing tide down a slough behind Ryan Island. This conveniently allowed us protected passage and wildlife viewing!

Here is Jessie checking out a wily raccoon. This guy was determined to finger the mud for food – I imagine it was clams or insects hiding in the mud. I love watching raccoons using their fingers. 

One day they will be texting each other!

Soon we emerged into the Columbia River for a crossing of the shipping channel. To our port lay the tip of Puget Island. This is a blind corner, and Ginnie Callahan warned us to hail over VHS before crossing, because ships headed west can emerge there without warning. We needed to gather into a tight group and head across.

After hailing, we ferried across, but the current kept trying to sweep us below our target, and we had to keep correcting our angle to “crab” across the current to make our end target on the other side – which was Lark Island.

Caspian terns were our constant companions

Once over, we beached and checked out the situation. Ginnie had suggested a camping spot, but it was already occupied. Then a friendly fisherman told us his spot would become available once they took off. So we decided to paddle around the island and come back when the fisherman was gone.

The chart said 1-ft of water was available behind the island. So I said give it a go, we’d be able to circumnavigate no problem. But nope. Things have changed since the chart was made! We grounded about 100 yards from the end.

This was the easy part.

Time to use the handles on the boats for their intended purpose!  That would be towing by hand.

Grounding?  No problem. Excellent time to have lunch and fly the kite!

If I could only find my peanut butter. It was stuffed somewhere…but I did not find it until dinner…freaking annoying.

We also witnessed lots of eagles, ospreys, terns, seagulls and some white pelicans. A giant car carrier passed us by.

And we saw some interesting creatures in the mud.

Later this day everything turned out wonderful! Sun, warmth, all the good things. We set up tents, gathered lots of fire wood, shared stories, made munchies, cooked sausages on sticks, and more.

I was dog tired and lay down for a bit!

We enjoyed Heather’s raspberry/lemon squares for dessert and marshmallows over the fire.

Then, the Cathlamet fireworks began, and we were impressed! Lots of original sky art for all! Finally, maybe 10:30 p.m. we bed down for the night!

Evening Paddle Organized by April – and My Old Kayak Britney Shows Up

16 07 2010

April Obern scheduled an after work paddle for tonight and a number of us showed up. Jessie, Phil Stanton, Jim, and two ladies with the same…Kristi! One of them I sold my Riot Brittany last year…and it was great to see my old boat out there!

I must say my old boat (not really very old!) looks great with Kristi in it! Such a pretty yellow/orange blend. Very pretty shape!

It was a beautiful evening. Temperature 86 degrees – wonderful to be on the river. And, the river was very warm! So several of us were rolling for practice.

When we passed the Ross Island Lagoon, a tug and barge was pulling out of its dock. We had to pull over to the port side of the passage to allow it to pass.

Kind of looks like the barge sent enough waves to capsize Phil! Not so, in this photo, Phil is just practicing his roll.

What a nice night! We really enjoyed being out there!

Summer Solstice 2010

22 06 2010

Kellie makes a pretty wake!

My friend April organized a summer solstice paddle on a little lake by the Colu

mbia River this June. June 21 is the longest day of the year, and most years the sunset might freaking actually be visible, not in 2010. In fact I say right here the entire summer is going to be the same, fluorescent-lighted cloudy blah for the Portland area. Anyhow we got out there at a suggestion of an acquaintance who’d been there the prior week.

Laura at the put in...

Joe, Laura, April, Kellie and myself paddled around this area until about nine p.m. – when the gate to the put in closes.

The place has a name – Mirror Lake – my guess is the name comes from the reflection of the waterfall that descends from the Crown Point massif directly above the lake. Unfortunately I-84 is only a few yards to the north – and the Union Pacific line a few hundred yards south!

Nevertheless, it’s got some interesting

pockets to explore, and at the very end of one of these, there’s a bridge where we hauled out to grab a snack.

I was WAY thankful to Joe for the treats he stashed and then laid out on the bridge! I kind of

At one point I split the paddle and utilized canoe-motion...

rushed out the door and didn’t even pack water! But Joe, now he was just the opposite.

Joe had a quarter round of cheese, a home made loaf of bread, M&Ms, raspberries, and even a bottle of Meyers Dark Rum and cocktail mixings! Wow. Laura had a bottle of wine with real glasses! So it turned out to be a nice break on solstice night. Only thing missing was a massive bonfire and ritual sacrifices!

I DO HOPE the solstice ritual brings a change in the stubborn thick clouds around here!