Thursday, February 4, 2016

Love to Be on the Water

Here's a new video that I put together for a video contest at Paddle Golden Gate Symposium.  I hope that you enjoy this edit.  Some of the footage you might recognize; however, there is some new footage and old footage that I haven't used before.

Tomorrow night at the Canoe and Kayak Magazine Party, they will show the finalists and announce the winners.  Cross your fingers :)

Thursday, January 7, 2016


Wow - 2016 is rolling along and I haven't shared my 2015 highlights.  I have been running through them in my head and have to say that perhaps the reason that I haven't shared them is that there are so many that I don't know where to begin - not a bad problem to have.  My theme for 2015 was "Carpe Diem" - Seize the Day!
SCORE!!!  A nice crop of Boletus edulis
Definitely a highlight of 2015 included a trip to the desert.  Jeff and I had never been to Death Valley before and were seduced by her wonder and beauty.
Lupines blooming in Death Valley National Park
While 2015 was a dismal whitewater kayaking year, it was a great year for playing in the ocean.  The warmer water temperatures of El Nino made things a bit interesting but also the water more inviting for playing.  I rediscovered my love of snorkeling and abalone diving and also threw some Coasteering into the mix.

Kayak fishing became a weekly habit, and we enjoyed lots of fresh rock cod for dinner.
Rock Cod for Dinner
I got out in the surf a quite a bit.  I mixed it up by playing in my new (to me) hp surf kayak as well as in my Jackson Kayak Star.  The speed and carving ability of the surf boat is pure bliss.  The playfulness of the Star is shits n giggles fun.
New to me Mega Bullitt Xs Surf Kayak ready to rip.
Tons of fun bouncing, sliding, and spinning on waves in my Jackson Kayak Playboat
Mountain biking and trail running continued to keep me grounded in 2015.  This year our annual Lost Coast trip ended up being a mountain biking weekend with some friends.  Jeff found his legs and lungs on the Lost Coast and now has the riding stoke.
Mountain biking on California's Lost Coast
The loss of 2 special friends in 2015 was very difficult.  Both of them were lights in this world for me and others.  Our time here is limited.  Don't wait for tomorrow or next year - Carpe Diem!

What does 2016 have in store?  I am hoping for lots of whitewater, surf kayaking, mountain biking, and good times with friends and loved ones.  I hope to share these adventures and things learned along the way in my blog.
Whitewater of the Sea!  Kayaking ocean rock gardens on the Mendocino Coast

Monday, December 21, 2015

Keen Gorgeous Boots

I loved Keen's Gorge Boots and was hugely disappointed when they discontinued them.  Mine lasted for over 3 years (probably over 400 days on the water).  Fortunately I managed to buy another pair before they were discontinued.
Keen Gorge Boots showing some wear but still holding up after 3 years of heavy use.
When the 2015 Gorgeous Boots were released, I had to get a pair.  At first glance, one realizes that these are 2 very different boots.  The Gorge Boot is more of a hiking water boot, and the Gorgeous Boot is more of a neoprene booty.
Keen Gorgeous Boots
Review of Keen Gorgeous Boots
The Keen Gorgeous Boots have thick soles for watersport booties and a toe guard that protects the front of the toes. This are important features for those of us who have tender feet and are often climbing around on rocks in the water environment.  The Gorgeous Boots are highly adjustable with a cinching strap system and they appear to be well made (no loose threads or splitting seams).  Traction on the soles seems adequate for walking on wet surfaces - walking on kelp is slick no matter what shoes one is wearing.

Keen makes the Gorgeous Boots in sizes 8-14.  The size 8 is definitely a size too big for me.  I make it work by wearing wool socks and neoprene socks in them.  The adjustable straps accommodate different thicknesses of neoprene socks and when I only wear wool socks in them.

On the Water:
The slimmer profile of the Gorgeous Boots fits in most of my kayaks.  I wish that the heel was slimmer, but I wish this about most boots that I wear in kayaking (except for the Astral Hiyak).  The snug ankle fit keeps sand and gravel out.  They are surprisingly warm for only a 2mm neoprene (couple that with wool socks and neoprene socks and they are down right toasty).  My favorite use for the Gorgeous Boots has become Coasteering and abalone diving.  I like the thick soles for protection from rocks when we are traversing along rocky reefs.  I don't find that they have enough support for teaching days when I am schlepping kayaks or for trips that involve a bit of portaging or hiking.  (perhaps my opinion on this might be different if I had a smaller size).
Coasteering on the Mendocino Coast in the Keen Goregous Boots
We will see.  After 8 months, they have faded a little but otherwise don't show much sign of wear.  I expect these boots to hold up for several seasons like my old Gorge Boots.

I think that these are worthy booties for paddlers who are not doing a lot of hiking and for those with a size 8 foot or larger.  For the price, I am not sure that I would purchase them again especially since they are not available in a size 7.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Astral Hiyak

Our whitewater kayaking friends have been raving about the Astral Brewer.  In particular they have been raving about the sticky/grippy rubber soles and comfortable fit both in the kayak and on land.  Since I launch and land on sandy and gravelly beaches most of the time, low tops like the Brewer don't work out well for me because they are always getting gravel and sand in them.  I was excited when Astral started making  The Hiyak - a hightop kayaking shoe.

Review of Astral Hiyak:

First Impressions:
Geeez these things are lightweight.

Astral makes the Hiyak in men's sizes 7-13.  For me as a women's 8, the size 7's are a bit on the big side.  Fortunately the laces make them extremely adjustable and I can snug them up enough to wear them with socks.  The best fit that I get with them is when I wear a pair of wool socks, a pair of thick neoprene socks and SuperFeet insoles or when I am wearing a drysuit with several pairs of wool socks and SuperFeet.  The soles on the Hiyak are very flexible and intended to be responsive.  My tender feet found them to give a little too much feedback so I added the SuperFeet.

On the Water:
These are the most comfortable shoes that I have ever worn in a kayak!!!  The key I believe is the extremely low profile heel.  Lightweight and quick drying are other features that likely contribute to the Hiyak's comfort.  I love that they actually dry over night - even on the coast.
The low profile Hiyaks are comfortable in the kayak (even little kayaks)
The Hiyaks are not the warmest shoes nor would one expect them to be given their lightweight material.  In our 54 degree water, I find that I need to wear wool socks and thick neoprene socks with them to keep my feet warm.

On the rocks, the soles are definitely sticky.  I have been impressed with their grip in both the river and ocean environments.  The flexibility of the sole also contributes to that grippiness and feeling like one has a good connection to the rocks.
The sticky soles are great for scrambling on slick rocks.
I wore these almost daily for several months this summer.   My summer working environment involves a fair amount of walking on gravel.  The heels of my left foot wore through but I think this is due to some issues that I have with pronation and alignment with my left foot and the particular version of superfeet that I was wearing.  Jeff aquasealed it, and it has been fine since.

I think that Astral Hiyak is the most comfortable kayaking shoe on the market.  At times, I wish that it was a little bit warmer and had a little bit thicker sole; however, the comfort in the boat, lightweight and quick drying material, and sticky soles have made this my favorite everyday kayaking and guiding boot on both the sea and the river.
Sea Kayaking on the Mendocino Coast of California