Is it winter or spring? It may be January, but I've found myself a bit seasonally confused lately. With the lack of snow and zero sum of powder days I've logged in the mountains this season, I've been spending more and more time kayaking, mountain biking, wearing less clothing, and perfecting my goggle tan.

Mt. Baker

This past week I headed deep into the Cascades to Leavenworth, WA to visit one of my best friend's Austyn Heinlein. It had been months since I'd seen her, so to say I was looking forward to spending some time with her would be an understatement. The trip started out with a drive to Discount Tire Co. in Wenatchee to get new tires for my Subaru which had blown a flat in Gold Bar, WA at 10:30pm the night before. I had no idea what I was doing, but with the help of some savvy guys we were able to change the tire and get me back on the road. Later that day we found ourselves on the best single track the Wenatchee foothills have to offer and had a blast pedaling in the sunshine right next to the Columbia River.

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Later that evening we found ourselves at the Icicle Brewery in Leavenworth watching our friends, Sergio and Steven, play music. I also had another goal that evening: finding someone to kayak Tumwater with me tomorrow. Sergio pointed me in the direction of a guy who I'd never seen before and said I should give him a try. I introduced myself and we started chatting about kayaking. He told me he loved how excited I was and admired my passion for boating, but he had retired from kayaking several years ago. I thanked him and then Sergio proceeded to tell me that guy I was talking too is one of the top kayakers in the world, his name was Teo Berman. After a quick google search I realized how talented he was and was stoked we were able to have such an awesome conversation. Unfortunately, I was unable to get him out of retirement, but I had thoroughly enjoyed our talk.

Scouting POW

It's hard to come to Leavenworth and not run Tumwater though, so as 'chance' would have it, the next morning I got a call from my buddy Chance and we made immediate plans to boat. The river was at 2,200cfs, the biggest I've ever paddled it!

The Dam

After a quick scout of The Wall, we decided to put in at the Dam and although a bit nervous, we both had the biggest smiles on our faces! We made our way through each rapid as Austyn and Chances' friends took pictures. I had forgotten what ice cold, big water felt like as it slaps you in the face, oh so good! When we finally made it through Chaos to the bridge we were stoked, it felt so good to be back on Tumwater!

Chance & I
Chaos
Take out

It was also my first time in my new Kokatat dry suit and I couldn't believe I was completely dry when I took it off. I had been paddling year round for the last year and a half in my heavily layered wet suit and dry top duo, so this was a whole new experience for me!

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Nothing tastes as good as cold beer and food after an epic river sesh, so we found ourselves doing just that late into the evening, but our unplanned, sporadic  time together was over far too quickly as always whenever I come out here.

The next day, Austyn and I decided to head up to Steven's Pass to shred the sun baked groomers; however, on our way we spotted a pinned kayak in the 1st Amigo of Tumwater canyon. We stopped to take a closer look and assess the situation. Ruling the situation safe, I geared up and decided to try to unpin the boat and get it out of the water.

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With few hours left before I had to head back to Bellingham, Austyn and I decided to work on our website (coming soon!) and have a serious talk about our dreams and ambitions. Being on the same path with this amazing, talented and wonderful woman has me so excited for the future, this is certainly the beginning of something incredibly awesome! I will simply leave it at that. #shegoes

-AL

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