Image There was only one thing I truly wanted more than anything on my 23rd birthday: to go kayaking! After class that morning, I picked up my kayaking gear from home, and headed to Glacier to meet Kierstin, Roy, and Michael at Horseshoe Bend on the N. Fork, Nooksack River. I picked up Jessica in Deming on the way, I couldn't have been more excited for an incredible afternoon on the river with some of my favorite people. I was first to the put-in and was stoked to see a kayak, which rarely seems to happen out here. His name was Josh and I invited him to join us! The river was at a fairly stout flow for the Bend section. At 1,050 cfs, it was the highest Kierstin and I had ever run the upper Class IV/V section...wooh!!

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With an incredible crew we made our way down river, it was fast and pushy, but super fun. I haven't swam in a while, so I was not entirely expecting to surf a hole at the S-turns or swim out of it. Following my swim, I had a tough decision to make as we approached the Bend, I was a bit rattled from my swim and the water was big today, was I going to collect myself and run this or not? I realize swims are going to happen, I can't be so tough on myself all the time; they are an opportunity to learn and grow. I committed to every move as I entered Bench Drop, I took the middle line and boofed hard, then I eddied out and waited for Kierstin, I am so fortunate to have this woman as a boating buddy and a great friend. She is incredibly supportive, and we always have a ridiculously good time. We made our way through the next rapid and before I knew it, I was making my way through SAT. The moves were quick and the strokes were powerful. As I approached the last move, I was unable to get where I wanted to be in time and had to quickly adjust, I lined myself up and paddled hard into the frothing monster of a hole. I came to a sudden stop and started surfing, it's been a while since I've been worked in a hole like that! I surfed out and was exctatic, I had made it to the bottom in my boat, but then I looked down - I was chest deep in the water; my skirt had imploded. Darn! At the takeout booty beers were definitely in order...mhmm (I even used Kierstin's booty)! Needless to say we managed to find ourselves at Chair 9 soon after, I bought everyone a pitcher for recovering my gear. We gave a cheers and somehow our pitcher kept refilling itself. The birthday celebrating continued late into the night; from singing Macklemore, to dancing, to wrestling on pool tables, I couldn't have been happier. I was with some of the most amazing friends; I feel so incredibly blessed, I can't wait to see what 23 holds, I hope it's full of new adventures, big waterfalls, and even college graduation; I couldn't be more excited!!!

-AL

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