Friday, November 18, 2016

KAYAK TRANSIT


It's the time of year when my kayaks sits in the garage a lot more than on the water. I don't know why, but the end of daylight savings time always catches me by surprise as the grey skies of November are quickly dimmed and overpowered after the sun is slammed into the horizon. The sunset that months ago yielded a long summer glow has now turned into short lived firework that disappears into the blackness.

I'm not ready for the dark and find myself gazing at the water with every bridge across wishing to make kayaking could be part of my commute like Zach Schwitzky and Jessica Blat. These two urban boaters have decided not to wait till their next day-off to get some time on the water by having a kayak be their transit option. 
"It's probably the most relaxing part of my day," Schwitzky told ABC News.

Living in Hoboken, New Jersey, Schwitzky paddles across the Hudson River to Manhattan in around 20 minutes and escapes the use of the bus, ferry and train.

Photo by Ashley Middleton
"There's not a lot of places in New York City where you can truly be by yourself and not hear anything, not feel there's people around," Schwitzky told CNN, in recent interview, "The mornings are beautiful, especially at this time of year. If I leave early enough it's foggy and sort of looks like Gotham. You've got the sun rising and the city appearing through the fog. It's the perfect way to start the day."

Across the country in Seattle, Jessica Blat, commutes on the water, about three-quarters of a nautical mile a few days a week during the warmer months in her Oru foldable kayak that weighs 26 pounds
She takes a Car2Go or a bus to Terry Pettus Park in Eastlake. She unfolds her kayak, a process that takes 10 minutes, and paddles to Lake Union Park, about three blocks from her office.
“I find it really nice to come to work after I paddle. There’s no one on the lake in the mornings,” she Tole the Seattle Times. “It’s really calm and beautiful watching the sea planes take off. Everyone optimizes for a different thing, of course, when they are commuting. Most people I talk to are super jealous and wish they could do a kayak commute."

"It really is hassle-free. When I used to pull the kayak to the office, I'd get some looks from people wondering what a guy was doing pulling a 12'+ boat through the streets of Manhattan," The entrepreneur now stores his canoe at the Marina.
"Generally I don't get wet, so I can make do with the same clothes [to wear to work]. Some days I'll bring a change of clothes in the waterproof bag that straps to the back of the kayak. Outside of ice in the river, I'll make the commute, a bit of rain or wind doesn't stop me," said Schwitzky. "It's great to be outdoors, we say half-jokingly it's sort of New York City's version of nature, peace and quiet. Then as sort of a cherry on top, there's no carbon footprint."

It's also a way to score a little more time on the water as we approach the winter months. As musician Henry Rollins said, "I have come to regard November as the older, harder man's October. I appreciate the early darkness and cooler temperatures. It puts my mind in a different place than October. It is a month for a quieter, slightly more subdued celebration of summer's death as winter tightens its grip."


Green Friday
The California state parks department and two San Francisco environmental groups, Save the Redwoods League and the California State Parks Foundation, will provide 13,000 free vehicle day-use passes that the public can use on Friday, Nov. 25. The passes will cover day-use admission and parking fees without charge to 116 of California’s 280 state parks. For a full list of the participating state parks and to reserve and print out passes, go to www.greenfriday.org.
Last year, six states besides California also held free Black Friday programs for their state parks systems: Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, Minnesota, Missouri and Delaware.
Backers of the California program are hoping visitors post images on social media with the hashtag #GreenFriday or #CAStateParks.

Friday, November 11, 2016

OVER THE BOW: SOUTH FORK OF THE AMERICAN RIVER

Photo by Scott Blankenfeld
By Outside Adventure Guest Blogger Scott Blankenfeld 

This photo gained a lot of attention during the 2015 summer rafting season. This full dump (everybody out, including the guide and boat stays upright) happened as the raft came came off of Rhino Rock, about midway through Meat Grinder, a rapid on the South Fork American River. Normally, this location provides a back lit sequence of photos offering a few splashes and views downward into the boat showing everyone’s faces surrounded by masses of whitewater. These sequences are usually a non-dramatic crowd pleaser. Not this day!

Every once in a while, a raft will get pushed into a small eddy just above Rhino Rock, named for it’s rhino-horn-like shape. It’s tricky, because there is another rock just underwater in the middle of the eddy making it difficult to maneuver the raft so as to leave the eddy safely. In this case, the raft was pressed up on Rhino Rock by the main current. The guide moved the crew to the high side of the boat to keep the upstream tube from sinking and wrapping the boat around the rock. This was a great idea until the boat started to slide off of the the rock. With the downstream tube now fully loaded, the boat did the opposite of what was expected and did a tube stand towards the rock, offering up one of the best photo sequences of my season.

Scott Blankenfled photographs California whitewater rafting during the season following the action on the North, Middle and South Forks of the American River. He also helps companies produce and manage their digital/print content and web presence. You can follow Blankenfled and check out more of his images at www.scottblankenfeld.com.

Over the Bow is a feature from Outside Adventure to the Max, telling the story behind the image. If you have a great picture with a great story, submit it to us at nickayak@gmail.com

Friday, November 4, 2016

Yearly Cycles – Give Yourself Permission


          We all change colours and lose our leaves, then we bloom again.   
          --Maria Lago

By Outside Adventure to the Max Guest Blogger Kate Hives

Well, the busy summer season is over. I have been in my rubber boots these days, but rather than tromping through sand, I have been tromping through fallen leaves. I have been watching mushrooms sprout in the green forests and breathing the sweet air laced with the smell of decaying leaves.

(Don’t worry, I will be surfing and kayaking all winter, but let’s be serious…it won’t be as busy as the summer!!!)

I love the fall – The colours, the smells, the swells, the cold air and jumping in piles of carefully raked leaves. There are also the feelings that so often accompany this time of year. It is some set of indescribable afflictions that go along with dealing with the unknown and transitioning from one way of being to another. I notice them in myself and in the people around me. I have lived a seasonal lifestyle for so long now, that I am able to recognize the changes in my own cycles as they correspond to each season. Fall is a time of change, leaves die and begin to decay. The trees shake off the productivity of the summer and prepare for the long cold winter months ahead. The change of pace, from working sun-up to beyond sun-down as a wilderness guide, to having entire days that are waiting to be explored and lazed about in, can be a bit startling. I know that sometimes I find it quite unnerving.


But…The beautiful part about this feeling, is I have had it at this time, every year for as long as I can remember. The unsettled, unsure wave of anxiety that I have as I transition from summer into winter is a regular visitor. Like clockwork this feeling creeps up as the last trips of the summer run to a close. Equally, I have learned that this state of not knowing is often (if not always) followed by some amazing opportunity that has the capacity to surprise and somehow always brings me exactly what I need! How do you think I ended up in the circus!?!

Living in the wilderness and on beaches has highlighted many things for me, but most importantly it has shown me that there are patterns and cycles in the natural world – and in turn, patterns in my own way of being and feeling throughout the year. Fall is a time of storing up energy, of letting go, of rooting down and of slowing the pace. So when I catch myself getting upset because I spent the whole day at my home, puttering about in the garden, in my sweatpants…I remind myself that productivity and busyness has its place, but so does slowness and spending time as a hermit.

Kate Hives is an adventurous sea kayaking guide and rough water coach with SKILS  based out of Vancouver Island.  She has explored Canada from coast to coast and has paddled in Patagonia, Chile, Malaysia, Tasmania, North Wales and Scotland. Keep up with Hives in her blog At home on the water.  Outside Adventure to the Max is always looking for guest bloggers. Contact us at Nickayak@gmail.com if you are interested.