TWO Books You Must Read

Fall is just around the corner and I get giddy thinking of the soon-to-be crisp air with leaves turning then dancing their way onto the ground. This is my favorite time of year.

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As September reels her way in,  so does cozy weather that welcomes home-made blankets, coffee and a good book. I have been oddly into reading lately. Burrowing my head into a book of someone else’s words hasn’t been a thing that I have ever desired. Until now, I’ve found books that I like (and one that I am struggling to finish).

These two books had me on the edge of my seat. They went everywhere with me and I can’t tell you how many times I read until my bath water turned cold. If you like outdoors and mountaineering you will LOVE and appreciate these two books.

1. Forget Me Not – By Jennifer Lowe-Anker

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In this book, Lowe-Anker gives us an elaborate memoir of her and late husband’s, Alex Lowe, life. She has a talent for art and they share their passion for rock climbing. She opens her heart with stories of her and Alex’s adventures, the love that bound them and letters that Alex wrote along summit attempts.

From living in a campground, sharing a candy bar for dinner to becoming a sponsored athlete summiting mountain tops for a paycheck, one would think Alex and Jenni had officially made it in life. Jenni takes us through the very real struggle of living away from her husband for months at a time while he was off working.

Their love was beyond mosts comprehension and upon the departure of Alex’s last work trip, they had an argument on whether he should go, fearing his safety. She then received the call; There had been an avalanche upon K2 and they can’t find Alex. Jenni shares her experience of telling her children that their father won’t be returning home and her finding new love who also shared a love for Alex.

This book is heart warming and riveting. You won’t be disappointed with this read.
2. Into Thin Air – By Jon Krakauer

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Into Thin Air, gives us Jon Krakauer’s personal encounter as a climber/journalist of the 1997 disaster on Mount Everest that claimed the lives of eight people and left several severely wounded. He shares his story from the beginning, experiences from each camp to the summit push and what went wrong and that should have steered some around from pushing to the summit. Against all possible efforts of reaching Camp 4 to escape the winter hurricane, some were left searching their way down the summit in the darkest of nights and a few were stranded on-top of the mountain over night waiting for rescuers. This book is an epic yet dreadful story of one of the worst disasters on Everest.

If you like suspenseful mountaineering books you will love Into Thin Air. I highly recommend this read and wouldn’t mind reading it again myself!

I’m wrapping up another book and then will be on the hunt for my next read. If you have any books that you couldn’t put down let me know below! To help you out, I have included links to both books that happen to currently be on sale!

SUPing to Shackleford Banks

Shackleford Banks is one of the barrier islands off of the North Carolina coast. Just 9 miles of National Seashore, it’s abundant in wildlife and dramatic views. Home of “Bankers” horses (feral horses), which legend has it that they arrived from a shipwreck of Spanish Mustangs back in the 1500’s. Accessible only by vessel, we are choosing man powered SUP boards. We are SUPing to Shackleford Banks hoping to absorb what each island has to offer.

Our departure date is in less than a month and we are trying to plan everything from mapping our paddle, to food. Trying to stay cautiously aware of how much weight we are adding with each addition. The plan is to leave from Harker’s Island. Here we will have to register our float plan with the National Park Service; which gives me comfort. Also, here we will be able to secure our vehicle. Good to know. “No Name” island (that’s what we like to call it), will be visible from shore and will be our first rest point if we need it. Our paddle plan consists of us paddling through 5 islands before we set up base camp on Shackleford Banks.

Once at Shackleford, a convivial of wild horses and glistening stars is what I’m longing for. Sipping coffee as my feet burrow into the sand to the sound of the Atlantic massaging shells onto the shore. Although, most of these banks will be free from tourists as vacancy will be imaginary. Experiencing undisturbed wildlife is so special and one large part that drives me to these adventures along with botany and unparalleled views. Views that many never get to see.

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Overnight paddle trips are arduous from the beginning (but it doesn’t compare to the excitement). Picking the right gear because size/weight matters. To the actual paddle. Luckily, we will be near land often and will have the option to take a break if the current is strong.

Our second day on the island, we will paddle to Cape Lookout Lighthouse, and spend the remainder of the day hiking, fishing, and draw lazy into the night. Come morning we will pack up and paddle a little under 5 miles back to shore.

We are so excited to be able to share that NRS (Northwest River Supplies) is sponsoring us and our 215 mile paddle in May. They have graciously sent us the NRS Escape Inflatable SUP in the 12’6″ and the NRS Escape Inflatable SUP in 11’6″. These are touring paddle boards, perfect for our upcoming adventures. We have taken our boards out just once so far but to those who have already asked me, while standing, the NRS Escape feels just like my hard board. It tracks amazingly well way better than my hard board. I feel like I can turn it more precisely and its more stable. They inflate to 20 psi and weighs 26/27 lbs and carrying it down and back up a steep hill to get to and from the water was no problem whatsoever (they also come with a shoulder strap). Deflation and packing it back up took no time. The storage bag feels high quality, has mesh vents for breathability, and also has padded back straps for an easier carry. These boards definitely give me peace of mind heading out from shore. Your vessel is an important thing and determines how your body will feel after a hard days paddle. And peace of mind is worth everything.

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Our last two days on that trip will be similar to waters of this trip to Shackleford Banks. We will get a good feel for what to expect those last days in May from board to water. And also a great test for packing. As the departure day draws nigh the excitement grows. I can’t wait to put these boards to the test and share our journey with you.

 

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Espresso Chip Cupcakes

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I’ve been keeping this recipe to myself since April and I’m so so very sorry.

You deserve this.

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Happy Saturday! Enjoy a short read with a recipe. I really hope you make these cupcakes.  These are perfect for a crowd because if you’re not expecting people then you will eat them all yourself. I know from experience. They’re simple and so quick. You can have your batter made and in the muffin tin ready to be put in the oven by the time the pre-heat goes off.

While your cupcakes are baking is a great time to make your glaze and your icing. Both are super quick. Once your cakes are done let them cool for around 10 minutes so you can handle them without burning those fingers. Poking fingers into hot cakes isn’t a good idea.

Once they’re cool, spoon your glaze into each hole and onto the tops of the cakes. I never measure but I use a regular spoon and just eye ball it.

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The cupcakes should be completely cool before you pipe the icing on. Please don’t rush this step. The last thing that you want at this point is to watch your icing cry down your cake. Pipe icing into the cupcake then make the things look all bakery status and pipe on top.

I hope you enjoy your weekend and find someway to escape this heat. I myself am so beyond ready for my favorite jeans, crisp cool air and colorful tree tops. I enjoy every season or at least try to but this year I’m especially ready for autumn. As we wrap summer up I will be canning the rest of our garden. Absolutely canning my brains out. I have been working so hard to ensure that nothing goes to waste. And I’ve managed to do that so far. So once our summer veggies are resting in jars in my kitchen then I will be ready to welcome fall with open arms.

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Espresso Chip Cupcakes

Makes 9 cupcakes
Ingredients:

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
2/3 cup brewed espresso, I use a Bialetti Moka Pot
1/2 cup chocolate chips

For the glaze:

1/4 cup brewed espresso
3/4 cup powdered cane sugar
1 TBL butter, melted

For the icing:

1 stick butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F and line muffin tin with paper liners.
2.
In a large bowl add coconut oil, sugar, and brewed espresso, mix well.
3. In a small bowl add all dry ingredients, mix well.
4. Working in increments, add dry ingredients to the wet mixing well in-between.
5. Add egg to the batter. Mix until well incorporated.
6. Fold in chocolate chips.
7. Disperse batter evenly into 12 muffin liners (already in your pan of course — don’t be silly).
8. Bake for 15-20 minutes OR until centers are done.
9. Remove cupcakes and allow to cool. Once cool to the touch using your finger (I use my pinky) poke holes into the cupcakes.
10. Spoon glaze into each one and drizzle ontop. No certain amount here. Don’t get to wild with it because they won’t hold together.
11. Pipe on icing.
12. Enjoy!

Glaze Instructions:

For the glaze, mix all ingredients until smooth.

Icing Instructions:

For the icing, add all ingredients to a stand mixer (hand held mixer works fine too), whip together butter and cream cheese until creamy. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Mix well. Prepare piping bag with tip and fill with icing. TIP: I like throwing my icing in the fridge until I’m ready to use it. I think the icing pipes better this way. If you do this, let it sit at room temp for 5 minutes before you pipe.

These are so good it’s crazy. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

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August Beauty Round Up

We are officially back in the swing of things since arriving back home from vacation. Nestling our Kodiak Canvas under a canopy of South Carolina pines for a week was blissful and had me begging for Autumn. With the blanket of leaves and pine needles tucking in mother earth’s soil, one may think that fall was nigh until feeling the 90 some-odd degree heat hit you full force purging sweat from every pore on your body.

Each day at Huntington Beach State Park was spent cooling off on the beach, riding bikes, spotting alligators and swatting mosquitos. HBSP was a neat campground that offered just enough to keep our days busy without leaving the grounds. With turquoise iron gate windows and brick washed with weathered white paint, Adalaya Castle calls HBSP home and welcomes tourists to walk with her back into time. The castle offers tours during the day if you need a break from the beach or you can do a ghost tour at night. If you do this I recommend staying at the back of the line and walking through the black engulfed halls without the crowd.

Vacations are always highly anticipated but as they come to an end I am ready to get home and get back to our routine unlike my little girl who sobbed uncontrollably when she was told we were leaving that morning. Making time for myself is something that I don’t let slip through as an afterthought and with all of our hard work packing-unpacking-a week of tent camping at the beach-packing-unpacking I’m ready to soak in a bath with my favorite mask and a good book.

Once upon a time, I was an esthetician. Rubbing people’s faces with high dollar products and teaching them about skin care was what paid the bills. It was a dream that I made come true but with an economical hardship and watching space free up on my schedule, I realized that I needed to make a change. Another job and baby later, I’m a stay-at-home-adventure-loving momma.

A few years ago, after seeing friends on social media share pictures of these magical monthly cosmetic bags I decided to join in and this being a way I “treat” myself each month. I soon realized that I was getting more items that I would never use versus items that I could put in my me-time repertoire. Amongst these cheap imported products, I stumbled across a company that offers quality, made in USA products that happen to be vegan and made of all things good. Little did I know that this company would become my go-to in all beauty products and change my hair and skin forever.

Pacifica Beauty. Made in Portland, Oregon. Free of sulfates, parabens, SLS or petroleum. 100% vegan and cruelty free. Sound good to you? Here are a list of a few of my favorite products.

Let’s start with hair.

After having my son my hair became extremely dry, brittle and the home of tangles that seemed to have zero hope to wrangle. I bought product after product. I tried to only use those that were natural but my hair continued feeling like hay (that’s the best way I can describe it). Against my desires I started buying sulfate infused products hoping that it would help get control over the myriad of problems going on in my hair. They didn’t help either. I considered cutting my hair but wanted to try something else first. I decided to try Pacifica Coconut Power Strong and Long shampoo and conditioner all because it was on sale at Whole Foods during a beauty event. My hair changed immediately. It was the craziest thing EVER. My soft hair returned leaving no tangles and hair that one would want to run their fingers through. Since then, I’ve use their Salty Waves Texturizing shampoo and conditioner and the Pineapple Curls Curl Defining Conditioner. They are all amazing. If you have curly hair (my husband and son have tight curls) you HAVE to try the Pineapple Curls. You won’t regret it. Also, the Hairvana leave in conditioner and the Salty Waves texturizing spray are also must-haves. Might I add that each one of these products smell absolutely phenomenal. I haven’t used a product that smell as good as these.

My skincare go-tos…

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Pacifica Beauty Sea Foam Complete Face Wash – You only need a dot of this wash! It foams up nicely and removes ALL of my makeup
Pacifica Beauty Coconut Water Micellar Cleansing Tonic – I had this before the Sea Foam face wash. At the time I was using Burt’s Bees face cleanser. When I would get finished showering I could tell I still had grime on my face. With just a bit of this micellar tonic on a rag, I wiped of the remainder of the makeup and grime that BB left behind. Never again BB! Girl bye.
Pacifica Beauty Coconut Water Face Wipes – perfect for camping or any other travels! TIP: I keep these on my night stand for my lazy nights.
Pacifica Beauty Sea Change Future Youth Serum — I use this every night! It’s weightless and non-greasy and it’s currently on sale!
NON-PACIFICA ITEM  — Acure Brilliantly Brightening Face Scrub – I landed a sample of this scrub in a beauty bag from Whole Foods earlier in the year and fell in love with it. My skin feels so smooth and looks rejuvenated after using this. Pacifica also has an amazing scrub (I was needing a scrub in a pinch and Ulta, Target, nor Whole Foods carries their scrub– bummer) called Glow Baby Youthful Face Scrub. Both of these scrubs consist of micro granules buffing all of those dead skin cells away and lifting all of that gunk like a breeze. You can’t go wrong with either one of these. The Acure face scrub smells amazing (reminds me of spa days) and is 4 ounces versus the Pacifica 1.7 ounces. I am currently using the Acure and felt that I would be misleading if I didn’t share this item or if I solely recommended Pacifica.
Pacifica Kale Charcoal Ultimate Detox Mask – I love this mask. Once it’s dried you can wet your hands and rub it back into your skin loosening the dirt furthermore from your pores before you rinse. You can skip the scrub on these days!

My all time favorite product of Pacifica Beauty is the Kale Brighten Enzamatic Overhaul  Mask. IT.IS.THE.BUSINESS.
I’m not kidding you.
My pores are smaller, my skin is brighter and my skin simply looks (and feels) happy. Unfortunately Amazon doesn’t have a link for that mask for me to share with you – so sad. But Target should have it! I dont know what I will do if they discontinue this item!

If you’re looking for something new to try check out one of these. I’m not sponsored in any way by Pacifica I just love the company, products and the results that I see from these listed.

Happy Tuesday ya’ll!

Medjool Date Loaf and September Paddle Trip

When Daniel and I decided to get married we didn’t tell anyone except immediate family and a pastor a few days before our desired wedding day asking if he was available. Frugal with vacation days and time off work, we crammed a lot into this one day like Daniels Lasik eye surgery. My dress wasn’t hemmed. I wore my hair down like I did any other day. My makeup was sub par I’m sure, as I did it myself. But it was perfect. I often think of how I wish we had of done things but in the end, things would be the same. We are married and that’s all we wanted. Just each other.

Things didn’t line up exactly like we wanted for a honeymoon. Being close to Mother’s Day, we decided to take a short local honeymoon (we camped, took our dog and paddled) and we would take our explorative trip to Mexico later that year. Each year there after, we have went on two “anniversary trips” one in May and one in the fall.

We haven’t had an anniversary trip without children. Our first anniversary trip we found out we were pregnant with Oaklee. Each one after I was either nursing or pregnant again and then nursing again. This is why our 6 year anniversary trip means so much to us. This much-needed alone time. Knowing all of the trials we will go through on the 7-8 day trip, the hardest will be having to go without seeing our children. That will be the hardest thing we will have to do. We are already trying to find ways to see them along the way. So don’t take me wrong and think that I’m asking or desiring a break from my kids because that is far from what I’m saying. I’m wanting alone time with my husband.

Our paddle itinerary is written out and ready to be printed and laminated. Broken down by each day and river miles to be paddled. Thankfully, it’s following the Mountains to Sea trail that’s being built throughout our state so planning was a lot easier going from this map. They have done an elaborate job on getting almost all of the information that one would need. I still need mileage from each camp to the towns. We plan to walk into each town and fill up on supplies, water and grab some grub. Hoping to meet new people, hear a story and maybe tell ours too.

Not including our last day (because we are only having to paddle 10 miles), we will be paddling anywhere from 23.4 to 33.2 miles each day. It’s surreal thinking of paddling that much at one time. The longest paddle we have made so far has been 16.2 miles and it took us around 4 hours.

We have scheduled a paddle trip in September to get some training in. On our last two days in our 215 mile paddle we will be paddling rougher waters. The river will be widening and welcoming boats along with waves and wind. For this reason we decided to plan a trip to get water of that nature under our boards. We have paddled inter-coastal  water, bays, and sounds plenty of times but how could one argue with getting more time under their belt?

In mid September we will be leaving out of Beaufort and paddling to Shackleford Banks to camp in solitude. Separating ourselves from the influential world for a few days makes for a good reset. We will paddle up the island to get an unparalleled view of Cape Lookout lighthouse. The island is just 9 miles long but full of wildlife and unscathed beaches. Waking up, making jet boiled coffee on the sand while watching the horses and water pull me into a daze seems like a day-dream. But I’m lucky enough to call this life. Just a few weeks and we will be doing just that. I can’t wait to share photos and stories from our trip.

Now, the real reason you clicked on this article.

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Medjool Date Loaf. This is where it’s at in the sweet loaf department. I make this typically on a Sunday night for us to eat on for the week. It never makes it past a few days. Its amazing nonetheless. With it’s almond flour grit, sweet chewy candy like date bits, and creamy peanut butter pulling it all together makes this loaf a total hit in my house. My kids can’t get enough and I’m ecstatic to give them something that’s not so terrible for them.

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Medjool Date Loaf

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:

2 overripe bananas
1 1/2 cups almond flour
3/4 cup organic cane sugar (If you’re paleo use coconut sugar)

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (if you’re paleo use almond butter)
3 Tablespoons coconut flour

3 Tablespoons water
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda

1/2 teaspoon vietnamese cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

pinch of sea salt
3/4 cup medjool dates (I get mine at Trader Joes), pitted and chopped PLUS 2 dates pitted and cut in half

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees
2. Grease your loaf pan (I use coconut oil spray). I use a well seasoned stone pan and do not have to use parchment paper. Your welcome to line it with parchment to help get your loaf out of the pan.

3. In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients and set aside.
4. In a large bowl, mash bananas. Stir in peanut butter, water, and eggs.
5. In increments, add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring until well combined.
6. Fold in the chopped dates.
7. Pour batter into the pan.
8. Arrange your date halves onto the top of the loaf batter.
9. Bake at 350F for 35-45 minutes OR until center is firm.

Enjoy!

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Crippled Waters and Cherry Mocha Smoothie

We have finally nailed down details for our paddle, read about our epic upcoming 215 mile paddle here. With each days mileage, towns, campgrounds and such. Seeing it laid out makes it feel more real and the excitement feels child-like. Reading over our anniversary day sounds so awesome and can’t wait to experience a type of nature I haven’t had the opportunity to see.

Flowing through oxbows, cypress swamps on into an estuary there’s no telling what we will get to see. I’m hoping to see a clean river, but that’s something that we always wish. It breaks my heart to see the filth in our waters. But how can I continue to be surprised? It’s over and over again. When we went to Bryson City, read about our trip here, what pulled us there was Fontana Lake. On the edge of our seats to see this lake, we were in shock of all of the trash in the water. The worst I have ever seen.
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Seeing that had an impact on us and we decided at that point we would do better on reducing our waste and cracking down on our recycling. We are still trying to figure out how to become a zero waste home. If you have any tips on this please share them below.

Some people may not know, although it seems like a popular subject these days because the severity is real and the topic is becoming unavoidable, humanly trash its killing our rivers and oceans. Say you throw out trash going down the road. So does the next person and the next person. Now we have all of this trash on the side of the road. We get a hard rain pushing this trash where it shall go naturally, down. Down in a side ditch or maybe in a field. It may make its way into a small feeder creek at this point or sit stagnant waiting for rain. We may not get another hard rain for a while but eventually it will happen. Again pushing it closer and closer to water. It eventually makes its way into the river. Flowing with the current, inevitably into the ocean. As time goes on, plastic breaks apart, known as micro-plastic. Birds, fish and turtles see this as food and once they swallow it they have a 50% mortality rate. Trash will soon invade your beaches, creek banks and river banks. It has no mercy, filling up in areas claiming marine habitat. Moving fish out of their rightfully owned homes. It’s sad and also very real.

I hope at this point you may feel motivated to help your waters. You might be thinking… What can I do?

Here’s a few things:

1. Recycle. I leave a brown paper bag in my kitchen to put items in and once its finished I walk it to our recycling bin. Anymore (or at least at our dump), you no longer have to sort your recycling. It can all be put in one bin. It’s easy and has a huge impact.

2. Participate in river clean ups. These happen all the time. It’s a great thing to get involved it and normally they have a fun event held afterwards. Music, brew and eats. Check with your local river keeper if this is something you’d like to do.

3. Pick up trash during a walk. Maybe you take a daily walk somewhere. Carry a bag just incase you see trash. Clean up the pathways you enjoy walking on. Maybe someone sees you and you impact them to do the same.

4. Invest in reusable straws. If you like your cold brew just toss one in your bag or car and tell your Barista “no thank you” when they hand you a straw. From what I’ve read I believe Starbucks is already getting on board with omitting plastic straws from all stores.  America uses around 500 million plastic straws A DAY. Being too light to make it through the recycling sorter they fall through the sorter and land in the garbage. Per Strawless Ocean, by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish. Ready to invest in your reusable straws? Here’s a few: here, here, I already have reusable straws but I will be ordering these– here, or here.

With these few things we can make a huge difference. Lets go out there and be a positive impact to others and our Mother Earth. Lets educate others and lead by example. Having said that I have a delicious smoothie recipe for you to enjoy while using your new straws!

This smoothie right here has blown my mind over and over again.

I’m not kidding you when I say this… it tastes like a chocolate shake. It’s SO good. It’s blended smooth and will go through your standard straw smoothie-ly. See what I did right there?! [wink] Enjoy!

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Cherry Mocha Smoothie

Makes 24 ounces

Ingredients:

1.5 cups frozen cherries (I get mine at Trader Joes)
1.5 cups vanilla almond milk
2 Tablespoons honey

1 Tablespoon ground chia seed
1 Tablespoon flax seed meal

1 Tablespoon cocoa

Instructions:

Put in blender (it’s on sale!) and blend until smooth.

215 mile Paddle

Yea, you read that right.

A few weeks ago I posted about our trip to Bryson City, North Carolina. If you follow me you may have read it but for any new visitors or those who may have missed it you can read about it here. On our first day at camp we met two other fellow primitive campers who were also camping along the river bank. Once we were set up we had time to ask if they’d had any luck fishing. From that simple question a friendship formed.

Isn’t it funny how some things work out? I do believe that some things are just meant to be. Sometimes my husband will get behind a slow vehicle on his way to work. Naturally he will get frustrated because promptness is his strong suit. But I will explain to him that it’s probably for good reason. Take it as a blessing. Accept it. Everything will be fine. Just be careful.

So for our trip to Bryson City… we weren’t supposed to leave for the mountains until that Friday but last-minute we decided that my husband would take off work Thursday and we would head up early that morning. As we were talking to these two guys we found out they weren’t even supposed to be there at that moment. They were paddling the Tuckasegee River (a week-long trek) and was a day ahead of schedule.

We soon realized these two aren’t your typical paddlers. Not the ones we come across at least. We are standing on the river bank chatting with one as the other dressed in trunks walks down to the river. “Going for a swim?”, my husband asks. Really? I thought he was joking because the water was so chilly. “Yea I think I will.”, He replied. His friend who we were talking to said, “Yea that’s kind of his thing. He swam across Lake Michigan”. Wait what?? Not only did he swim across Lake Michigan, he refused a follower boat and requested that he do it alone pulling his SUP behind him. My goodness, these are people you watch documentaries of. Chris Lechner (his site can be found here), a hand surgeon who successfully reattached a severed hand, also paddles full rivers for fun, swims Lake Michigan for fun and understands the water and how it changes you.

John Sherman, a hospital helicopter pilot and a neurology dept NP, also paddles full rivers for fun. Accustom to tackling these journeys solo, this trip was their first full river paddle together. As we talked we learned more about each other and realized that these guys are doing exactly what we want to be doing. My husband has always been on the river. Ever since we met he was taking me into some kind of adventure like spending my birthday on Davis Island. Leaving our vehicle behind, we commuted by ferry and our rzr, solitude had a new meaning. There weren’t people just doing this. Where we crazy? We slept on the beach, took showers by pouring water for each other, and stood in pouring rain to get relief from the noseeums. We had the shore to ourselves along with the sea. These are the kind of trips we love. The lonely waters.

Where there are lonely waters there are also like-minded people who are brought together by the flow of nature.

We waved good-bye as they got back on the water. Yelling, “Stay in touch!”, we all agreed. Somehow through the rest of our trip, Chris and John continued to come up in our conversations. We talked about how awesome they where, what they were doing was awesome, found out more about their trip, how they walked into town, and how we want to do this same very thing. We want to paddle a complete river in one trip. My excitement is unreal but there is some fear behind it too. Maybe that’s why it’s so exciting.

For our 6 year wedding anniversary we have decided to paddle the Neuse River in its entirety in just one trip. Roughly around 215 miles. 215 miles of just him and I, the river and whatever it brings. We are in the very preliminary planning stages. Deciding daily mileage and over night take outs. We have a lot of phone calls to make, emails to send, and training to do. It’s something that I’ve heard my husband talk about doing for years. And I’m so excited to make this a reality for him. We are looking to make this trek in 7-8 days. But with the right touring board we may be able to do it quicker. The other day we paddled 16.2 miles in 4 hours and could have easily put in 3 or 4 more hours. The boards that we are using aren’t touring SUPs which are heavier and wider. There is no telling how our timing will change once we are paddling a touring SUP.

To our knowledge, the Neuse river has not been SUP’d in its entireity in one trip. It has been kayaked multiple times but we are hoping to be the first to SUP it. Although, someone could have done it and not told anyone. Another reason this is super exciting.

I look at our change of arrival date to Bryson City as a blessing. We wouldn’t have met Chris and John otherwise. We wouldn’t have a better understanding of what a trip like that would look like. From meeting them we now realize our dreams don’t have to be dreams. We can make them a reality and do something that we have always wanted to do. It’s going to be extremely hard and have already agreed not to get divorced at the end — haha! We have run all of the hardships and negatives through our heads and are okay with them and feel strong enough to welcome them and fight through it.

Theres something about a river. It’s magical. It changes you.

I will be documenting all of our planning and training down to the actual paddle. You can follow me on my Instagram @ashehardison for these updates as well. I plan to break down all of our gear set up, what the inside of our bags look like, talking safety and what-ifs, what we’re going to do for food, and our daily schedule. I think writing about this may help me not forget anything. So join us on this crazy wild trip! We would love your support!

“In Gods wildness lies the hope of the world” — John Muir

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