Readers Stories: The Reward of Beauty

Many of the Story Contest submissions we received from our readers were sharing their paddling adventures. Here are a couple of them…

A Bucket List Packraft Destination

by Rafael Godoi (Seattle, Washington)

The joy we find in the wilderness is result of wild steps you take. Despite the challenges on these unprecedented times we all experienced last year, I am yet thankful for all the places I have accomplished to explore and paddle. When I am out there, I'm truly able to dig down deep and figure out who I am.

rafael godoi

(photo courtesy of Rafael Godoi)

Hiking miles and miles caring a kayak or packraft just to find a secluded spot to be paddling into the wild, unexplored…paddling on the alpine lakes, rivers, exploring the unexplored, listening to nature, wildlife, feel the wind, snow falling is such a unique experience that feels almost surreal—Be present!

Last year I went to several alpine lakes covering over 100 miles. Without shadows of doubt, Blanca Lake was one of the highlights of my trips. A stunning alpine lake I had never been but heard a lot about. Time to check it off my bucket list.

While the entire city was asleep I was on my way into the wilderness, the forest was magical as the sun was rising on the horizon making the snow sitting on trees shine and sparkle. A few minutes after the sunrise I made to the trail head, cold as it could be as chill breeze rolled in.

I was the first to arrive, parked, double checked my gear, strapped paddles on backpack and, without further ado, started on trail. It is a brutal hike, which feels more like a climb. Four miles of intense switchbacks with over 3k in elevation on freezing temperatures between 26F/32F on a very icy trail.

Was not easy, but after about three hours in the wooded, steep yet so beautiful trail, the view took my breath away. Across the valley is the foot of Columbia Peak, and as you round the last point, beautiful Blanca Lake opens up in all her glory.

packrafting Blanca Lake

(photo courtesy of Rafael Godoi)

The lake is framed to the north by the peaks of Monte Cristo, Columbia, and Keyes. More than a few hikers have been known to gasp aloud when they round the corner and see the robin-egg blue waters. Above the lake, the Columbia Glacier drains via a twin waterfall into the vibrantly blue colored water. It's the glacial till in the water that lends the lake its otherworldly color. At at the end of the trail lies a small beach full of driftwood, covered in snow from the night before, perfect for relaxing and enjoying the beauty that surrounds you.

Rapidly started unpacking and inflating the pack-raft as temperatures were dramatically dropping with afternoon approaching. Took me only a few minutes to set it all up and immediately was afloat on the lake. Could not help myself but smiling with the beauty I was surrounded by.

It was so rewarding to be out there paddling by myself, the peaceful sound of the water flowing from the glacier into the lake is such a unique experience that feels almost surreal. It's pure magic to watch the dancing of sun rays in the water while I was slowly paddling across the lake. Every step on the hard approach was well rewarded by this magical day spent out paddling. The joy I find in moments like this are results of the wild steps I take.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go

By Joshua Wheeler

Every paddling opportunity has its own story and associated memories. One of my favorites is paddling in the BWCA on a winding river. We came around the bend to see a moose nursing her calf. We would never have experienced such a view had our paddles not taken us to this place.

Beauty and Serenity

By Roger Hagerman (Western Kentucky)

Went with 4 friends to Anderson River in Troy, Indiana. Lots of wildlife, deer, egrets, herons, kingfishers. Very relaxing paddle. In the shade, gentle current. Some pretty cliffs and laughed at a park just off the Ohio River. In a word, SERENITY!

canoeing Anderson River

(photo courtesy of Roger Hagerman)

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