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The Wildest River in the World…and How It Stayed That Way

“We’re going for Door # 2,” Maria announces. “We think there’s enough space between the icebergs and Gateway Knob.” We push off and row against the strong current of the Alsek River. A moment later, we’re squeezing a raft between the island and a set of massive icebergs, while the current tries to yank us into a whirlpool of exquisite …

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Once

  On late evenings like this one I’ll collapse into bed still dressed and dirty and too tired to change.   I smell of wood smoke and bamboo and my long sleeves are soaked wet with creek water. Most of the time, my bedtime stories tell themselves. Nights often end this way after countless days saturated by water and fire, …

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Paddling with Ghosts: A Long Strange Journey Down the Spokane River

Rivers teach us, and I wanted the Spokane River to teach me. When I began working for the Spokane Riverkeeper, newly arrived in eastern Washington, I knew I had to see the whole river for myself. My Riverkeeper colleagues had long lived along its banks and they do an impressive job of protecting their river, but they hadn’t paddled the …

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Paddling Paradox: Autumn Paddling in the San Juan Islands

We paddled around the small headland and entered a glassy pool that reflected dark conifers.  It was another world entirely than the one we just departed. The early evening light softened the scene into lazy shadows and rich colors. We relaxed when we heard the soft crunch of sand as our kayaks come to rest on the beach. Just an …

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Stars and Sand: Camping in the Broken Group Islands

With their awe-inspiring natural beauty, the Broken Group Islands (BGI), located in Barkley Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, have become a Mecca for paddlers from around the world. Established as part of Canada’s Pacific Rim National Park, this cluster of more than 100 islands is famous for its vibrant and diverse marine life and paddling opportunities for …

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Paddle Hard and Stay Close: Exploring the Broken Group Islands by Paddle Board

Many of us are familiar with the ideas of canoe camping, sea kayaking and surfing. Now the fastest growing water sport in the world is merging these ideas into one incredible experience: Stand-up Paddle Board (SUP) Touring, blending the freedom of ocean kayaking with the adrenaline rush of surfing and the versatility of SUP. What more could you want? The …

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Fighting the Surge – A Lesson in Solo Paddling

My knees betray me and release their hold on my cockpit as I try to roll up my kayak. I consciously force them back into the thigh braces as I set up for yet another attempt. After seven or eight tries I’ve lost count, and almost stop caring. The coach in my head keeps saying, “Don’t you come out of …

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Springtime on the Salish Sea: Paddling the San Juan Islands

The flat two-mile crossing was anything but notorious. I was almost disappointed. We’d dragged our kayaks onto the ferry in Anacortes at oh-dark-hundred, disembarked at the Orcas Island terminal and waited for our transportation, loaded boats and gear into a van that took us across the island through Eastsound, unloaded our boats and gear at Terrill Beach, and then began …

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A Journey Home: The Skagit from Source to Sea

A large drop of rain fell on my leg. Then another. A deep boom of thunder reverberated through the mountain peaks. It began to pour. The rain dripped from the trees and shrubs, cascading onto the ground in rivulets and feeding, right there at our feet, the tiny creek that was the source of the Skagit River. These particular drops …

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Moments Beside a Summer Pond

Chloe and I were getting closer, and I wanted to take her and her sons fishing. I drove to a little known pond out in the country.  The boys had no experience fishing and I rigged up spinning rods with bobbers and small hooks, showing them how to bait with a worm and make a cast.  The lesson proved challenging, …

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