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As the New Year approaches I find myself reflecting back on this past year. I am incredibly thankful for all the unbelievable memories, adventures, and friends in my life and I can't wait to see what this year has in store. I am a firm believer you create your own happiness and it is up to you to make decisions to help you reach your goals, they won't simply manifest themselves. I have many new goals and ambitions this year, however I am in complete awe of some of the unexpected challenges I have overcome this past year, which makes me wonder what this new year could possibly hold. I rang in 2014 the best way I saw fit, A LOT of champagne, dancing, and a 3 day paddling trip.

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Roy, Kirsten, and I left on Thursday for their cabin in Baring, WA on the N. Fork of the Skykomish river deep in the woods surrounded by the Central Cascade mountains; it was perfect.

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The year couldn't have started better, Skykomish river laps, and Tumwater canyon, a river at which this time last year I never thought I would paddle, I couldn't imagine a better way to start off the year!

On Thursday and Saturday, we ran laps on the Skykomish river at 2600 and 3200 cfs. I absolutely love this river and was thrilled to be out here after spending the past few months on an extremely low N. Fork Nooksack river which has been at about 200-350 cfs all winter. This increase in water flow made me a little tense, but as I boofed the entrance of boulder drop and charged through the house rocks I had the biggest smile, it felt so good to be back. On our second lap, Roy took pictures while Kirsten and I paddled. We had a solid run and got some sweet footage!

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The next day we made our way over to Leavenworth to kayak Tumwater canyon, we were blessed with ice slots, icebergs, snow, cold temperatures, and a lack of sunshine, but we were pretty excited to say the least.

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Tumwater is my favorite piece of whitewater yet, I find myself challenged and constantly reminded to not let my guard down. It was Kirsten and Roy's first time on Tumwater and I was their guide. I usually run this stretch with certain paddlers, I was nervous to say the least. I led the way through all the rapids and I knew if something happened Roy was right behind me. Although I'll never admit it, standing at the put-in use to make me buckle at the knees and secretly dry heave inside. Today, I paddled confidently and worked with the river, it felt sooo good! Although the canyon was low at about 1000 cfs, we had a blast! We ended the run with some ice sliding at the takeout:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PooA0tt7xV0&feature=youtu.be]

We posed by the river for a few photos for Icicle Brewing Company before we ended the night with free beer at the Brewery in Leavenworth with friends.

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One of the most unexpected parts of our trip was meeting my new friend Pete. He is an old school paddler and a friend of Kirsten and Roy's who we surprisingly ran into in the little town of Index. He let me borrow his dry suit all weekend, and then to my surprise gave me his old dry suit and play boat which he no longer uses. I was incredibly surprised by his kindness and he was thrilled someone was going to use the boat! Hell yeah!

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This playboat will definitely help me become a more versatile paddler, can’t wait to learn how to surf this little squirt boat, learn tricks...and some tough loving!

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I am constantly inspired by my friends, who are almost always better paddlers than I am. They push me and I’m always learning from their feedback, encouragement, and experiences. They've helped me more than they know, whether retrieving my gear or leading me down a new line, I wouldn't be where I am today without their support. 2014 will be my 2 year mark since I learned to kayak, this means new goals, and I hope to check off many of these this year (some are bigger than others!): MF Nooksack River, Top Tye, Icicle Creek, Ohanepecosh River, Callagan River, Rogers Creek, White Salmon River (Farmlands), Celestial Falls, and Pucon, Chile.

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So here's to an AWESOME new year, no goal is too big or too small, go after it and make it happen! #shegoes

-AL

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