Northwest Paddling Festival

Hello Seattle! It has been years since I have been to the Pacific Northwest and I was really looking forward to our trip out for the Northwest Paddling Festival. This is apparently the largest even of its kind in the PNW. This was my first time out for the event, so I will have to take their word for it. What I do know is that it’s a great event that is FREE to the public (minus the fee you pay to actually visit the park, $10.00 for the day) and you have the opportunity to try out a ton of brands/styles of paddles and watercraft, from canoes and kayaks to SUP’s, to these wild looking Cruiser Crafts.

We arrived in Washington on a Wednesday afternoon, which gave us plenty of time to set up and get ready for the festival on Thursday. Luke had a meeting early Thursday morning, so I took the opportunity to go for a run and explore the area near our hotel in Kent, Washington. The Green River Trail was about three miles away, so I made my way there for some scenic views. If you are not familiar with this area, it is pretty industrial/commercial and the way to the river was lacking in scenic vistas. Regardless, I enjoy exploring new areas.

Green River Trail

Green River Trail

Scenery on my morning run in Kent, WA.

Scenery on my morning run in Kent, WA.

 

Our next stop of the day was Lake Sammamish, located just east of Seattle, for the event set up. Coming from Tuck Fest, I was expecting a solid five or six hours of work involved in getting set up, but less than three hours later, we were finished. It’s amazing what I can get accomplished when my little people are not hanging off of me. We finished the day off with some good food, yummy beer and great company, with our friend Jim, at the Issaquah Brew House. They have a huge variety of Rogue beer, which is brewed just south of the border in Oregon. Have I told you how much I love good micro brews and craft beer? This seemed to be THE place to be for post set up gatherings. Our friend Jim, a local to the Seattle area and sales rep for a variety of water and snow sports seemed to know most of the other patrons. I love the small and tight knit communities of outdoor enthusiasts. 

Starting to set up for the Northwest Paddling Festival

Starting to set up for the Northwest Paddling Festival

A shot of Lake Sammamish and the festival setup.

A shot of Lake Sammamish and the festival setup.

Friday morning we awoke to heavy winds. Oh yeah, we had just set up TWO tents the day before. It wasn’t looking good. There were seconds of silence followed by a number of choice words as we pulled into the parking lot to check on our booth space. Both of our tents were broken and battered! We were not the only ones, either. There were a number of tents that had blown over that night and a few paddleboards and a tent floating in the lake. I was sent out for supplies and Luke set to work with our friend Ben and a few neighborly vendors. By the time I got back there, they had used their MacGyver tricks (remember that show?) to repair one of the tents into working order. Well done, fellas!

Destruction from Thursday night's wind storm. You can see a tent in the water to the left side of the screen.

Destruction from Thursday night’s wind storm. You can see a tent in the water to the left side of the screen.

This is what welcomed us on Friday morning, after heavy winds destroyed a number of tents at the festival.

This is what welcomed us on Friday morning, after heavy winds destroyed a number of tents at the festival.

After the excitement of the morning, the rest of the day was pretty mellow. We met a lot of people and got quite a few of them on our paddleboard simulator. This was Luke’s own invention and allows people get a feel and learn the basics of balancing on a board, without the risk of getting wet. The board is balanced on top of the simulator and is a lot of fun to play around on. It is more difficult than standing on a board on the water, but that makes it an even better training tool. Friday evening, Thule sponsored a dinner for vendors and volunteers. It’s nice to have a chance to sit down and chat with those people who work beside you all weekend in neighboring booths, but we are all too busy to chat. There was a warm, cozy fire burning and ice cold beer. After a day of rain and cold wind, it was a perfect treat. 

Spending the day with a ton of great people This is Rob Casey who wrote a great instructional book about stand up paddleboarding: "Stand Up Paddling: Flatwater to Surf and Rivers"

Spending the day with a ton of great people. This is Rob Casey who wrote a great instructional book about stand up paddleboarding: “Stand Up Paddling: Flatwater to Surf and Rivers”

Helping people figure out the SUP simulator

Helping people figure out the SUP simulator

Blowing it up with this awesome little girl. She was rocking it out on the water and in the kid's race!

“Blowing it up” with this awesome little girl, Coli. She was rocking it out on the simulator and on the water during the six miler and the kid’s race!

Saturday brought the sun shine and a lot more people. It was so awesome to see so many people trying out all the different watercraft. There were demos going on all day and also a couple of races, a two miler and a six miler. I decided to race in the six mile race. I ended up winning first in my class, which was a total surprise to me because I felt pretty horrible and didn’t paddle well. Racing is one of those things that I have to really work at…ummm…obviously, doesn’t everyone? I am referring to the physical aspect of it, but more to the mental. I get super pre race jitters, like Elvis leg jitters. It’s not pretty. I’m still super new to this whole racing and competition scene, so maybe it will get better? After the race, I got back to work and spent the rest of the day at the booth talking to everyone that stopped by. All the sponsors, vendors, ad everyone that attended despite the rain helped make the weekend a success. I met many new, wonderful people and I am definitely looking forward to heading back next year.

Waiting for the race start. Don't let the smile fool you, I was so nervous!

Waiting for the race start. Don’t let the smile fool you, I was so nervous!

Paddlers at the start of the race.

Paddlers at the start of the race.

These two are a super inspiring father and daughter duo. They literally chased me into the finish chanting a Polynesian war chant!

These two are a super inspiring father and daughter duo. They literally chased me into the finish chanting a Polynesian war chant!

Lap 1, 2 or 3?

Lap 1, 2 or 3?

This is my "looks like she is about to eat it" run as I jumped off the board and ran to the finish line. I bet you are wondering why everyone can't look as graceful as this.

This is my “looks like she is about to eat it” run as I jumped off the board and ran to the finish line. I bet you are wondering why everyone can’t look as graceful as this.

Greg and team did a great job putting on the races at the Northwest Paddling Festival. Thanks so much!

Greg and team did a great job putting on the races at the Northwest Paddling Festival. Thanks so much!

Top Male Finishers of the Six mile race.

Body Glove, in technicolor.

Body Glove, in technicolor.

Showing off some of Body Glove's paddling apparel.

Showing off some of Body Glove’s paddling apparel.

I paddled the Boardworks 14' Eradicator during Saturday's six mile race. It was a totally sweet board.

I paddled the Boardworks 14′ Eradicator during Saturday’s six mile race. It was a totally sweet board. Nice photo bomb!

I chose this sweet knife as my prize for the race. Watch out!

I chose this sweet knife as my prize for the race. Watch out!

Ben and I are happy to be finished with the six mile race.

Ben and I are happy to be finished with the six mile race.

Flags

Boards, boats, and flags

This kid LOVED his Body Glove hand and kept paddling past us and waving all day. It was awesome.

This kid LOVED his Body Glove hand and kept paddling past us and waving all day. It was awesome.

Friends, fire, and food

Friends, fire, and food. Thanks Thule!

Fire brings people together

Fire brings people together.

Evening rainbow

An evening rainbow that welcomed me after a day of cold rain during our booth set up. I almost missed it!

Afternoon paddle

Afternoon paddle

Ben and Luke saved the day by using their MacGyver skills to fix the broken pop up tents.

Ben and Luke saved the day by using their MacGyver skills to fix the broken pop up tents.

Enjoying a moment together at the festival

Enjoying a moment together at the festival