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Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.
Priscilla Macy | 07.01.2019

What does a year of new adventures look like? And how might those adventures change throughout the months and seasons in a calendar year? With our 12 Months of Adventure content series, we'll be diving into exactly that.

For each month throughout 2019, we'll be highlighting a different outdoor activity/focus and inviting you to follow along and take on a new adventure (or 12). Tapping the expertise of our knowledgeable Contributors, we'll be providing educational resources, how-to tips, and trip ideas and excursions—so you can get out and start racking up adventure time, pronto.

 


Paddling the Little North Santiam in Oregon. Priscilla Macy.

12 Months of Adventure: July - Paddlesports

June: Vehicle-Based Camping | August: Biking

Human beings have been drawn to water for a very, very long time, and navigating waterways by way of boat and paddle is one of the oldest forms of travel. But what is it that continues to draw so many of us to water? For many, being in or near the water is a chance to escape the hyper-connected and often over-stimulated state of modern day life. Seeking experiences outdoors and on or near the water is a way in which we can seek and find solitude and relaxation, and to recharge. The ability to experience fragile, yet resilient landscapes that depend on and are shaped by water is one of the reasons one may choose to paddle. Some may feel a spiritual connection to a stream, a lake, wetland, or ocean. Some of us may have a familial or historical connection to the water. For many, our relationship with water is complex, but when we sit by the water or in our boat to paddle, nothing seems more simple.

Paddling in places where you can see and feel how the water has influenced and carved a landscape is a powerful experience. From a boat, one has the opportunity to view wildlife in their natural environment, to observe the flowers, the trees, and the many other distinct, complex, and interconnected parts of a landscape. For many, spending time on or around the water is a meaningful way in which we can recharge and reconnect with the natural world.

Paddling trips are an incredible way to create lifelong memories with your friends and family. Not only are outdoor experiences on the water calming and connecting, but they can ignite a passion in children (and adults) for outdoor activities and the natural world that can inspire them to value nature and continue to participate in outdoor recreation activities as they grow older. When individuals and communities become increasingly connected to waterways through paddling, it creates motivation to protect and preserve those waterways for future generations to enjoy.

The diversity in which you can enjoy paddlesports is an attraction for many people. If you prefer to enjoy your time on calm lakes and slow moving segments of rivers, recreational kayaks, or paddleboards might be your preferred manner of travel. If you enjoy the spray of the sea and the ebb and flow of ocean waves, you may find yourself enjoying paddle strokes in a sea kayak. Those of us who enjoy spending time with a rod and reel in our hands may find that rowing a drift boat down a stream is the craft of our choosing. For those who enjoy multi-day whitewater river trips, a raft, kayak, or packraft may be your craft of choice. For those who seek challenge on steep creeks and more difficult whitewater rapids, a whitewater kayak or raft may be your preferred method of finding progress downstream.

There are many ways to enjoy the water, and many types of waterway to be enjoyed. For me, I prefer to spend my time on or around rivers and in my raft or kayak and paddling whitewater. With so many outdoor pursuits to choose from, whitewater kayaking is undoubtedly a niche sport, and for that reason, a familiar question whitewater paddlers get is, “why whitewater?”

Whitewater kayaking, alongside other paddle sports, provides a medium for people to seek out experiences including the independent feeling of choice, the development of skills, building of both competence and confidence, and ways to engage in the appealing social elements the sport has to offer—like a close and supportive community. Though it might be easy to generalize the experiences of whitewater paddling as a community, the beauty of the sport is that for each person, the experience of paddling on whitewater is unique and individually meaningful.

Starting to paddle whitewater in many cases, is not incredibly difficult with the right resources and mentorship, but continuing to do the sport takes a certain type of aptitude and commitment. For myself, there are many reasons I feel compelled to continue paddling whitewater: the sense of community, the ability to be in an environment of challenge where your decisions and consequences are real and your own, the sense of accomplishment from stepping up or venturing beyond the usual, and the feeling of awe that is the reward for exploring places that, in many cases, are places that can be only visited by whitewater boat. For each paddler, these components weigh differently in importance, and for no two paddlers are the answers to “why” the same—which may be one of the reasons for the attraction to the sport in the first place.

No matter the craft you paddle, or the difficulty of the water you navigate, few things compare to spending a day, or multiple days, on the water and in nature. Once returning from a paddling trip, I can pick up a newspaper, check my phone, email, or social media, and realize that I missed nothing of importance. The water is where I find that I can reconnect with myself and with people that I care about, where I can foster new friendships and connections, and I can take in the (often overlooked) natural world around me.

 

How Tos + Gear

Adventure Recommendations

We hope you get inspired by 12 Months of Adventure and are able to take on some new adventures this year. Don't forget to let us know about your spring photo adventures by tagging your photos #12MonthsofAdventure​​​​​ on Instagram and by adding a comment/photos in the comments section below. Happy trails!

The 12 Months of Adventure:

From mountaineering to outdoor photography, from paddling pastimes to environmental stewardship, 12 Months of Adventure aims to cover a breadth of interests that connects everyone in a deeper way with the outdoors. Follow along each month with a new 12 Months of Adventure focus:

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