My background is long distance, self-support trips. I was a sea kayak guide in Alaska and Baja and did a lot of solo-paddling in those places. I got into whitewater SUP after doing a multi-day paddle board trip on the John Day river in Oregon, where I live. If you are going to do long trips on a board in Oregon, you are going to be on the river; and if you are paddling rivers you will eventually have to run whitewater. So, I began the task of teaching myself how to navigate whitewater. Everything I now know about rivers is from a stand up perspective which is kind of unique in the river world where kayaking and boating is the norm. I have gotten a reputation as a river SUP paddler and have become a river SUP clinic host and outfitter.
My most challenging river trip was a nine-day 150-mile decent of the Owyhee. Starting in the headwaters of Nevada crossing through Idaho and ending in eastern Oregon, the trip was a first of its kind SUP descent. Most of the trip was through a remote canyon where once I was in it, there was no backing out until the end. The very first day I pinned my board on rocks. After hours spent freeing it, I was able to continue on my way with the board intact. Shallow sections, technical rapids, many portaged around, freezing temps at night, snow during the day, and some days of blazing heat, not to mention the constant headwind, made the expedition memorable.
Running whitewater is inherently dangerous, can you talk about some of the safety precautions that you take?
Wearing appropriate gear is important. A river paddle boarder will look like a ww kayaker, always wearing shoes, a helmet, insulation, a PFD, some padding, and carry a signal device like a whistle. I call this the river SUP uniform, S.H.I.P.P.S. And if you are going to where a leash, make sure it is worn above the waist with a quick release mechanism. Never wear a leash around the ankle while paddling rivers. There have been river SUP fatalities but they have all been associated with improper wearing of the leash.
On that note... it seems like you've committed yourself fully to life on the road in the pursuit of good flows...#vanlife... Can you tell us about some of the perks and challenges of living out of your van?
This isn't your first stint living in close quarters. What was it like spending a winter in a snow cave?