"For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it." ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

Friday, May 18, 2012

Love at First Paddle



Way back when I bought my kayak off Craigslist it came with a Carlisle Day Tripper paddle.  It worked well for me until I broke it one day practicing some self rescue techniques (so I could lose a few pounds don’t judge).  I had been coveting a Bending Branches Navigator paddle for a while but since there was no emergency paddle fund at the time I had to settle for a Bending Branches Whisper instead.  


I thought it was funny that my nephew had bought two paddles from REI and they told him to use both and return the one he didn’t like, but Alpine Shop told me that if I planned on returning it I shouldn’t scratch it up because they would have to resell it.  How am I supposed to know if I like it if I can’t put it through its paces.  There are a few variables when buying a paddle and a good test paddle is the way to go before committing to a certain brand/model.  I had heard great things about Bending Branches paddles but still...

The Whisper is Bending Branches’ entry level model and it was every bit as good as the Day Tripper.  I used the Whisper for many paddling adventures from just a few miles on Horseshoe lake to 60miles during the GAS 60 race on the Gasconade river.  The GAS was supposed to be the prelude to the MR 340 a race of 340miles on the Missouri river from Kansas City to St Charles, but in 2011 the race was cancelled due to flood conditions and unsafe river levels.  

Fast forward to 2012, and the MR340 is on and so is Kayak100+ the third installment of the 100+project.   One of the requirements of the race, in which I will be participating not competing because competing implies a chance at winning, is that I carry an extra paddle.  When I bought the Whisper which served me well I told myself that when it came time to buy another paddle it would be the Navigator.  I knew I would be in the paddle market for more than just a kayak paddle because of next year’s Canoe100+ on the Illinois river so I contacted Bending Branches to see if they would have any interest in lending a hand to the 100+Project.  They loved what I was doing and offered me a 40% discount.  Once again people’s willingness to aid the 100+Project exceeded my expectations.  My nephew and I were planning a long trip on the Missouri river from Jefferson City to St Charles, Mo so I quickly ordered the Navigator hoping (praying?) that it arrived in time.  It arrived Friday in time for me to get home from work load up and head to Jefferson City.  I couldn’t have been happier.

The Navigator is a really good looking paddle with blades made from black willow and a shaft made from carbon fiber.  It weighs in at 28ounces, lighter than the Whisper by a lot.  During the 100miles that we paddled I had many aches and pains but none of them were paddle related.  The Navigator performed as smoothly at mile 100 as it did at mile one and I am very positive about my chances of finishing the MR340 using it.  Of course I will still have the Whisper as back up but short of losing the Navigator I can’t imagine any reason I will use it.

If you are thinking about buying a Navigator paddle then think no more.  It is a great performing paddle as well as a great looking paddle!
The Unknown Paddlers

Next I need to decide which canoe paddles I want to buy!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cinco de Paddle-O

This Saturday while everyone in the US is celebrating Mexico's independence, my nephew and I will be paddling from Jefferson City, Mo to either St Charles, Mo or Hartford, IL.  This will be far and away the longest paddling trip I have ever attempted, and it makes me a little nervous.

I only hunt decoys!

We are planning on going non-stop all the way through the night.  It will take us over 24hours to cover the distance.  I have paddled at night before but never on a big river like the Missouri.  Safety is our number one priority and we hope to make to the end without incident.

The new paddle I ordered is scheduled to be delivered Friday and I am hoping it arrives before we leave.  The plan is to leave Friday after work and drive to Jeff City where we will stay the night.  Saturday morning we will get an early start and head east.  When we get to Hermann we will meet our wives and have some dinner before settling in for the long haul.  In Hermann we will decide whether to finish at St Charles, or Hartford.  Both routes will take us over 100miles.

There are a few things left to do to make sure my kayak is ready but for the most part I am prepared.  This is going to be a real adventure and while I am nervous about it I also anxious to get started!

I will be bringing my Spot Tracker and will post updates to facebook and twitter so stay tuned for all the fun!