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Horseshoe Bend!

Today I ran the Horseshoe Bend section of the N. Fork Nooksack for the first time, another once seemingly intangible class 5 run checked off my list!

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The sun was beaming down on us, with views of Mt. Baker on the horizon line, an awesome group of friends, and it was the maiden voyage of my new boat. From the put-in to the top of the Bend is a narrow class 4 section full of boofable rocks, play waves and S-turns. As we approach Bench drop, the first major rapid of the Bend section, all 4 of us (Roy, Kierstin, Michael, and I) all shared a unanimous look of agreement, we were running it. I've found the Bend intimidating due to the high level of consequence, it is continuous and jammed full of wood, swimming is not an option. We each took different lines, I went for the bench boof and before I knew it I had successfully made it through. Once in the eddy below we paddled through the next rapid to the top of the most difficult rapid in the Bend, SAT. This rapid is technical, full of holes, and pin rocks, but we were undoubtedly committed. Kierstin took off after Roy, and I after Michael, however I found myself on my own after I passed them in the eddy about half way through. I continued to read and run the rapid, completely in tune with my surroundings and the water, sometimes when I get in that zone I surprise myself. After a group cheer we made our way through the canyon to the take out in Glacier. It ceases to amaze me the beauty we are surrounded by whether it's on the river, in the people you're with, or in the depth of the raw experience at hand...I find incessant beauty in it all.

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-AL

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Muds to Suds

Image Last week I found myself vending at the Muds to Suds mud run in Ferndale, WA.  If you're not familiar with the concept of a mud run it mostly consists of a race riddled with obstacles- namely, pits of mud, ice, hay or dirty water.  I've been doing a lot of running lately, but nothing that could be deemed 'training' for a race like this.  Luckily, the whole concept of a mud run is just to have fun, and I was more than excited to get a little break from work to hop in a heat and run the race!

I was supposed to run in the last heat of the day, but at about noon on the second day of racing Alicia surprised me by showing up spur of the moment, ready to run.  Thankfully, I have a very flexible boss and he let me take a two hour break from work to quickly  hop in the same heat as Alicia at the last second.  The race was only a bit over two miles, but with all the obstacles and varied terrain (like grass and sand on the river bank) it was much more exhausting than I had anticipated.  Alicia took off full speed and I was determined to not let anyone get in between us during the race.  Both of us hit the first mud pit, dove in head first, fully submerged, and came up with a face and mouth full of mud- ready for more!

Along with multiple more mud pits there was also tires to jump through, haystacks to run over, a boxcar full of suds to navigate, and a set of about five walls to hurdle over.  Alicia and I pushed ourselves hard throughout the entire race and ended up placing as the first and second ladies in our heat; a welcome finish for two girls who decided to run this race not more than fifteen minutes before our heat started!  There was definitely carnage along the way- Alicia fell in the tire maze and got a pretty good gouge in her hand and hip, and I got my feet tangled in a forested spider web right before the finish line and took a not-so-graceful face dive to the ground.  These things, combined with the massive bruises we had fun finding randomly scattered over our bodies afterward only added to the thrill of the race.  To finish off the day we enjoyed a free beer in the sunny beer garden after fulfilling every ladies dream of getting hosed off by a fireman.  Turns out mud runs are even more fun than we had expected, and I can't wait to train harder and get out and run another!

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-JR

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Tumwater!!

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Tumwater!!

It is largely a result of our support of one and other, encouragement, and the fact that we just have such a damn good time playing together that makes all we do possible in the first place!

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Columbia River Gorge

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Columbia River Gorge

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One of my favorite quotes that I stumbled upon recently, it really struck a chord with how the river and paddling has become such a powerful passion and force for the way I choose to live my life. "I thought how lovely and how strange a river is. A river is a river, always there, and yet the water flowing through it is never the same water and is never still. It’s always changing and is always on the move. And over time the river itself changes too. It widens and deepens as it rubs and scours, gnaws and kneads, eats and bores its way through the land. Am I like that? Always me, like the river itself, always flowing but always different. Do I change like a river, widening and deepening, eddying back on myself sometimes, bursting my banks sometimes when there’s too much water, too much life in me, and sometimes dried up from lack of rain? Will the I that is me grow and widen and deepen? Or will I stagnate and become an arid riverbed? Will I allow people to dam me up and confine me to wall so that I flow only where they want? Will I allow them to turn me into a canal to use for they own purposes? Or will I make sure I flow freely, coursing my way through the land and ploughing a valley of my own?” - Aidan Chambers

This past week I had the opportunity to see Spirit Falls for the first time in the flesh and I cannot describe the mystique and fascination the Little White has instilled within me, it's a dream of mine to run the entire river. To be there in it's presence reaffirmed my strength and determination to make this dream a reality in a few years. I couldn't be more excited.

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Later that afternoon I ran the Middle White Salmon, including Husum Falls, my first waterfall! I made many new friends and had an incredible time paddling this beautiful creek for the first time as our mutual passion for the water had brought us together.

The following day we ran the Lower Wind River, I knew that this creek run would be on the more challenging side for me but I was very excited! The river was full of shallow boulder gardens with some small boofs and slots flowing through canyon walls, an incredible spot to be. As we approached Shipherd Falls I had no idea what to expect and little to be known it was two 10-15' waterfalls, followed by a rocky slide and a low-head dam. What an incredible experience, when I reached the bottom I was breathless and ecstatic, I had committed to each drop and couldn't have asked for a better run or crew of friends to push me.

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Later that night we rallied to Buck Creek Falls to session the 10' waterfall by moonlight. This is one of the coolest experiences I've ever had. The creek where we launched off the waterfall was about 2' wide, as you push off you are completely committed to trusting your senses as visibility is minimal at best. What a rush! I had so much fun I climbed back up to run it 2 more times.

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Over the course of 3 days I made some tremendous progress in my paddling and I wonder if I keep this up what could happen in the next year or five? I am irrevocably in love with this sport and the time I spent in the Gorge certainly reignited my passion for whitewater.

-AL

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Mt. Hood Summit

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Mt. Hood Summit

I've grown up skiing religiously every winter since I was about ten years old.  Last winter, however, I found myself living down in Southern California, where I encountered lots of sun and about one day of skiing on a small mountain with a twenty inch base just outside of LA.

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Columbia Gorge Adventure

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Columbia Gorge Adventure

Two days ago we got back from the White Salmon/ Hood River.  It was a jam packed four day trip that involved lots of boating, running waterfalls, dirt roads, booty beers, camping, skiing, and stout riverside traverses.  

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