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Adventures

Catch A Wild Ride Canoeing the Flambeau River

POV Shot Canoeing the River

Over 4th of July weekend this year my boyfriend Jerry, myself, and two of our friends Chelsea and Mitch all headed up to the Flambeau River near Ladysmith Wisconsin. We head up for camping, “Muskie Hunting” as Jerry puts it and canoeing. Yes, we catch Muskie’s out of canoes! These weekends are completely off the grid without cell service or wifi making it relaxing yet taxing at times when you get yourself into a sticky situation.

Canoe's with gear ready for portage.

Jerry provides the whole setup for me as he has a fleet of canoes in his backyard. Two of us ride in Oldtown Next Solo Canoes while he takes the “longboat” (his Oldtown Penobscot) with a passenger. I absolutely love these Next Solo Canoes as they come in sweet bright colors but are also super maneuverable with just one person. I also just found out they come in purple while looking at the site eeep! I want it!

Canoe with Fishing Setup

I have been leisurely canoeing majority of my life living in the land of 10,000 lakes (a.k.a. Minnesota) so I’ve felt comfortable in these canoe’s when Jerry first introduced it to me last summer but I have never done anything besides trolling around a lake until then. Canoeing down a river is a whole different ballgame, especially with what are normally class 2 rapids but at high water this particular weekend which is where this trip took quite the turn with a crazy first day.

The Wild Ride

Catch a Wild Ride Canoeing the Flambeau River

Paddle paddle paddle! Turn quick, paddle and power through! Stay centered, keep your core tight!

These were the thoughts racing through my head as we entered a series of five rapids, each with a small break in between. As I enter the first set I grit my teeth, I can tell the waves are a bit bigger than anything I’ve experienced thus far but I am following Jerry who used to be a kayak guide for a living. I have complete faith in following him and I love a new challenge for myself. The adrenaline rush is high!

We make our way through the first set, I slow down take a little breather after then right into the second set. Again making it through fairly clean. A bit shaken, there were some nice waves but I got this! Now we approach the third set of rapids that look bigger than the first two. There is a large wave in the middle in which I powered through feelin’ like a boss! But I’m in a canoe, I have now taken on some water. That’s okay, I still feel solid, keeping my core engaged to keep my balance centered (thank you snowboarding) I prepare to enter the fourth set of rapids.

Whew that was close! I kept my core tight and was able to stay upright through the last turn though it looked like I was going to tip. My boat is completely full of water. Oh crap… there’s one more large wave before the break.

My canoe disappeared, the water is freezing (okay, it’s not really “freezing” but it’s pretty darn cold making it difficult to catch my breath). My paddle is in hand, the canoe surfaces but upside-down. I am trying to catch Jerry’s attention for help. I cannot touch the bottom.

Jerry’s boat has also taken on water, he could not guide it to aid me. Instead he pulled to shore and told me I’m going to have to do the next set of rapids out of my boat. What became his famous line of the trip, “Keep your feet up!”.

Admittedly, I completely freaked out, tears and all. I had about a 30 second panic attack. Those rapids were longer than the previous and with lots of waves, meaning lots of rocks. Then it was as if time slowed down. My brain starts scanning the scenario and weighing my options. Okay, if I go down the rapids I can point the boat down stream and kind of ride on top. Then I look left, there’s a rock sticking out of the water and a small grassy patch where I could get on land.

I consider myself a strong swimmer having grown up in water my entire life. So I opt for the latter. I grab the canoe and start swimming to shore still with paddle in hand. I make it to the rock and have the canoe perfectly pinned so it’s not moving. It’s crazy how when needed, the mind works so quickly giving the illusion that time slows down. Mitch catches up as he was behind me in the second solo canoe. He almost sank as well! I get out of the water, and realized my GoPro was rolling the entire time! BOOYA!

By sinking the canoe I lost two fishing polls and my waterbottle. Thankfully I wasn’t carrying any camping gear at this time. The video ended up being very beneficial too. As we watched what had happened Jerry was able to give me tips of how I can improve my stability and skill when paddling the rapids as well.

LESSON LEARNED

Needless to say, we should’ve scouted these rapids before entering them. That was a crazy, wild and yet super fun experience looking back. Admittedly I was shaken for quite some time after that. I ended up walking the next set of rapids and the next day I rode as the passenger in the longboat.

Chelsea & Kaitlyn overlooking the river

I am excited to get back on the river and back into my own solo canoe again to catch my own Muskie. Which I almost forgot, Chelsea caught her very first Muskie later that same day! Be watching for a few follow up posts from this same trip about camping and muskie fishing the Flambeau river along with how to prepare yourself in case you sink or flip a canoe.

Adventures

Race in an “Adventure Triathlon” in Grantsburg

Closeup of trailer setup.

This summer I set out on a goal to race in a Triathlon. Nothing crazy, just a sprint distance. Something to keep me motivated which would in turn help me with hiking mountains for some backcountry skiing next season. Recently I also started dating Jerry, you should recognize the name from my backcountry trip in Utah if you’ve been keeping up with me. I saw how this goal could easily be forgotten by getting distracted with a new relationship so I told him that we will be doing a tri this summer, it is a requirement for dating me.

About a month later Jerry sends me a link to an Adventure Triathlon. You start out mountain biking then hop in a kayak and end with a run. This looked awesome, unfortunately it was only three weeks out and I have not been training. I expressed my concern and was ready to move on to research some other options later in the summer. He responds, “I already signed up!”. Oh snap what!? Okay, I’m competitive so I rise to the challenge and sign up along with Ben as well. Go team Utah!

There was not much time to train in those three weeks but we stayed consistent with running and biking along with doing some weight training as well. We were on a mission to get back into shape and get our endurance up quick. It wasn’t the proper time we needed to be super competitive but our goals were simple; don’t be last.

ROAD TRIP

This triathlon takes place in Grantsburg, Wisconsin. Careful not to blink, you may miss it! It’s a small quaint town with a beautiful view. The reason behind this triathlon is to introduce visitors to the towns heritage and what it has to offer outdoors such as the beautiful views, bird watching, fishing and trails that include snowmobile, four-wheeling, cross country and snowshoeing. Overall, to promote tourism and help support the costs that go into maintaining the area.

Once we grabbed our race packets we headed up the road a few miles to Siren, WI. We grabbed some food at a local restaurant we were recommended to by one of the race volunteers called Adventures. The night before a race it’s smart to get a good meal of carbs in which will turn into sugar the next day and give you a boost of energy. I ordered the Salmon Voyageur which was delicious! That sun dried tomato glaze with the spinach was very tasty alongside the salmon, a lot of fresh, light flavors in a heavy dish. Though I did have to add some Tabasco, but I’m a spice-a-holic.

On our way out of town I made sure we stopped at a unique memorial. For those of you whom are thinking Siren sounds familiar, that is because back in 2001 the town was wiped out by a tornado.

Siren Tornado Memorial

We stayed nearby the course start at Granstburg Inn. It’s always fun to see the characteristics of small towns. This motel was also a laundromat. In the shared parking lot was also a fitness center and of course the local bar and grill. Very convenient if you are staying for an extended period of time. You have your laundry, food and drinks all in one spot!

Grantsburg Inn Motel

The motel had a unique look, it reminded me of the seven dwarfs cabin in the woods. Our room was clean and spacious. The sink was outside of the bathroom along with a designated area go put your bags and other garments which made it nice to get ready in the morning. There was also a curtain that separated this small area in which you can close it to change behind rather than in the small space of the actual bathroom. It works very well for small groups. There was also ample parking which worked well with our trailer of canoes and kayaks we brought for the Adventure Triathlon.

RACE DAY

6:00 A.M.

We wake up, and start getting ready for the race. I’ve carefully picked my outfit for the day. I have a pair of UA HeatGear® Armour Printed shorts on underneath my padded biking shorts (which I stripped off during the kayak portion) along with a UA HeatGear® Graphic Tank as it’s supposed to be in the 70’s. We pack our snacks and drinks to fuel us throughout the race. I had a water bottle ready for my bike and pre-mixed some Beachbody Performance Hydrate in a CamelBak Podium Big Chill Insulated Waterbottle for my canoe. I had a my Nathan Trail Mix Plus Hydration Waistpack ready for the run, one container filled with Hydrate and the other with water.

7:00 A.M.

We walk out the door, grab some breakfast and head to the kayak launch area to drop our boats off and get everything in them organized as needed including our snacks, liquids and of course our life jackets to qualify to do the race.

8:00 A.M.

We head to the course start for the pre-course race talk. While adjusting our bikes and observing those around us admiring the different bikes and how small this event is we listen to the talk. There are only 54 individual participants and 12 relay groups.

9:00 A.M.

The race begins! There are four waves. Ben is in the third wave to be released at 9:10 a.m. while Jerry and I are in the last wave to be released at 9:15 a.m. Now, we are on our own for the next 3+ hours.

THE COURSE

Bike

The first leg of the race is a 19 mile mountain biking course with a variety of terrain from gravel roads to trails cutting through the woods. With little rain previously this course was extremely dusty and uncovered. Along my ride I came across an aggressive Bull Snake crossing the road. There were two people not far ahead of me whom crossed his path first which he tried to go after originally but missed. I saw his path and passed with ample room to avoid his bite.

Kait Mountain Biking

Kait Mountain Biking – Photo by JackPine Studios

Paddle

Next comes the kayaking portion. Not far out from the transition point there is a volunteer radioing in bib numbers to the crew at the transition point whom are grabbing your boat and bringing it down to the water to have ready for you when you cross the transition line. As I come into transition a volunteer grabs my bike for me so I can go straight to the water. A volunteer down at my boat has my life jacket pulled out for me to put on. I hop in and they push me out even.

To me, this was the most relaxing part of the race. This portion is an approximately 2 mile paddle. It gave my legs time to rest, I was able to re-hydrate with my Hydrate mixture (similar to Gatorade, replacing electrolytes and the salt you are in need of) and strip my biking shorts to prepare for the run. I pull back into the transition area after my paddle, they pull you all the way out of the water so no worries about your shoes getting wet which would cause blisters.

Jerry Canoeing

Jerry Paddling – Photo by JackPine Studios

Run

Last but not least is the trail run. This run is about an 8 mile run through the different trails of the area. Along my run I kept seeing signs for four-wheelers, snowmobilers, and snow shoes. I am a city runner, I was expecting my mile to be anywhere from 10:00-10:45 min per mile but quickly learned it is nothing in comparison to trail running which I averaged a 12:25 min mile. This was due to the nature of trail running complete with uneven ground, sugar sand and plenty of hills. Some gradual and others steep. It kept me on my toes throughout the race!

Ben on the Trail Run

Ben on the Trail Run – Photo by JackPine Studios

FINISH LINE

3 hours and 33 minutes later I cross the finish line! I placed 47th out of 54 individual racers overall. I was the last in our group but not by much. Ben finished in 33rd place with a time of 3 hours and 14 minutes and Jerry swooped in at 26th place with a time of 3 hours and 5 minutes. I have to mention, I also stopped to take a bathroom break. That added at least five minutes right? 😉 Click here for full results.

Group Photo with Bikes

Overall we had a great race and we all exceeded our time expectations which was amazing! We had such a great time that we are already talking about next year’s race and how we can be better prepared.

Adventure Triathlon Logo

I would highly recommend this race, it’s small but very fun, unique, and beautiful. A great way to kick off the summer season. Check it out here –> Adventure Triathlon

In race photos courtesy of JackPine Studios in Siren Wisconsin.

Adventures

Hike for Fresh Lines in Big Cottonwood Canyon

Hiking up Big Cottonwood Canyon

Location: Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Sport: Hiking & Snowboarding
Gear: Pack, Water, Snacks, Beacon, Hiking Poles, Probe, Shovel, Snowshoes and Snowboard OR Splitboard, Helmet, Goggles


Last season I took a trip out to Salt Lake City, Utah for an entire week. I can cross another state off my list! Actually, several states since we decided to do a 20 hour drive instead of taking a plane ride. Road trips, though long, always come with great memories. There are beautiful views you would not see from a plane, especially when driving through the mountains. Can’t forget about the great awkward car conversations that arise too.

For this particular trip I was traveling with two of my friends Ben & Jerry (hehe I can’t help but crack up every time I say it) who are both aggressive riders. This presented some quick learnings on my part, along with a lot of pretty funny fails. I became “the comedic relief” of the trip as Ben put it. Check out my post of “5 Things to Avoid When Snowboarding in Deep Powder” for proof, and a good laugh.

One week out in Salt Lake city is not enough time to explore all that the mountains have to offer for snowboarding. The plan was to ride both resort and backcountry during our time out there. On our third day into our trip we headed out to Big Cottonwood Canyon Utah to find some common trails for our hike. This first hike was Butler Fork Trail. Big Cottonwood Canyon offers many trails and is a very common spot to do backcountry skiing and snowboarding.

BE PREPARED

When hiking a mountain in the winter there is always a risk for avalanches. Before heading out make sure to check the avalanche rating.

Be sure to have all your avalanche safety gear. This should include a pack with a probe and shovel along with any other amenities you may need. If you have a pack compatible with an airbag, you may have that too.

You must wear a beacon! If there were to be an avalanche you need a way to be found under the snow if you get buried. Don’t forget to check the batteries before heading out as well. Since we chose to hike a common trail out in Big Cottonwood Canyon, we had some extra features you may not have. There was a beacon testing station available to ensure they are working properly before you go.

Beacon testing station at the trailhead.

Gather your climbing gear. This will vary by sport. I snowshoed up the mountain with my GNU B-Pro on my back while Ben and Jerry used splitboards and skinned up it. If you are a skier you may skin up using your ski’s. Regardless, everyone will need poles. For those whom snowboard down you will want collapsable poles that can fold in your pack.

HIKING BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON

During the beginning portion of the hike we quickly discovered my snowshoes worked much better than their skinning up on splitboards as the snow was heavily packed and slick. They didn’t have crampons on their bindings and were sliding backwards all over the place. I had the upper-hand!

Later on though, the situation quickly changed. The path narrowed making it tough with my wide snowshoes and the pack was much less meaning I was sinking more.

About an hour into the hike I was extremely thankful for having my Camelbak Reservoir and some snickers and other goodies packed in my pack. We would take breaks and catch the views a few times along our journey up. I was also VERY thankful I worked out on the stair stepper for several weeks before this hike otherwise my legs would have been fried!

Taking a break to snap some photos on the hike up.

Hiking break. Stop to grab a snack and take a few photos about 2 hours into the climb.

I learned a lot of techniques when approaching summit. One of which is going one at a time while zig-zagging while approaching steep parts of the mountain. This became critical when approaching summit. While doing this, making sure no one is directly below you in case the snow pack were to slide. This was much easier to do splitboarding than snowshoes as I was having a hard time on the narrow path and sinking in the fluffy snow up to my knees with each step.

REACHING SUMMIT

Kait at Summit with board on back, poles in hand and snowshoes on.

It took us approximately four hours to summit. This was another first for me. I have hiked around in the mountains but never to summit and especially never in the winter with snowshoes. You get a great feeling of accomplishment once you reach summit as well that you earned those fresh lines to come.

Jerry overlooking the mountain at summit.

If you are a snowboarder or skier you will understand what I mean when I say fresh lines. There is no feeling like the one you get when you carve a fresh line you earned! Knowing you hiked up, put in the work and were able to experience the beauty of the raw earth. This is something most don’t ever get to do. Resort riding, though still amazing and fun has absolutely no comparison to earning your turns in the backcountry.

 

Adventures

The Do’s & Don’ts of Being a Boat Guest

A perk about my friend circle, I have several friends with nice wakeboarding and surfing boats. When you find people who love doing the same activities as you, it just happens. This isn’t to say I sit and take advantage of their generosity. The reason I keep getting invited back is because I am very respectful of it.

I grew up visiting multiple lakes across Minnesota. Boating has always been a big part of my life. From fishing to pontooning, then my sister and I discovered water-tubing and tubing wars. Through the years the types of boats and my recreational activities on them have changed and become more aggressive and adventurous. In college, I was introduced to wakeboarding behind an actual wakeboarding boat and became obsessed with this new boarding sport I could pursue in the summer months while snowboarding wasn’t an option.

After several seasons of wakeboarding and now my new love of wakesurfing (learn how to surf here) I have noticed some trends I’ve observed while hanging out on different boats that I ride. Some of which are my close friends and others where I find other riders who are looking to fill the boat.

So here it is, a quick list of do’s and dont’s to help ensure you get that invite back:

DO:

Show up on time! When you’re hanging on someone else’s boat don’t act like a diva, show up when they ask. There are peak times to hit that beautiful glassy water that you do not want to miss.

DON’T:

Sit there watching while the crew is setting up, be polite and ask if you can help. The captain loves those who help out and are willing to learn the ropes of the boat.

DO:

Listen to the captain and sit where you are asked. We all want that perfect wake whether it be surfing or wakeboarding therefore you have to balance the boat properly. This doesn’t just include filling the ballasts or fat sacks, but also the people and where they sit. So sit and stay put please.

DON’T:

Throw your garbage on the floor! We all love a good time and if the captain allows (which they always have in my experience) bring booze and snacks to share but be courteous and keep a clean space as it is not a big space. This also prevents things from getting stuck in the carpet or other places. Boats are not cheap, treat them like a Cadillac. My friend had the unfortunate event of gum getting stuck in the carpet of her boat this past summer from a guest on the boat. That doesn’t come out!

DO:

Chip in cash for gas, or Venmo. A fun filled day of surfing, wakeboarding or just trolling around isn’t cheap. Those boats have a lot of power sucking up a lot of gas so chip in even if they don’t ask. Heck you may get a shot out of the deal later but definitly an invite back!

FINDING A BOAT CREW

Start being social! Once you enter the world of wakeboarding and wakesurfing you meet a lot of other great people who lead the same lifestyle. This is how I have met some of my closest friends.

Adventures Inspiration

The Beginning of my Snowboarding Adventure

Kait, Laura and Courtney at Laura's Wedding.

In the beginning, snowboarding was just something that looked cool. I had heard about it because of my favorite movie Out Cold. I didn’t know anything about pro’s, I didn’t even know that it was something you could compete in. When my family moved to Buffalo Minnesota I met my friend Laura whom did snowboard. A couple years later after getting our licenses, we had the freedom to go out to the slopes. This is where my whole life adventure truly begins, though at the time I had no idea.

THE BEGINNING

Laura (the bride), Courtney (right) and I (left) head out to Powder Ridge for a late night special where lift tickets at the time were only $10 on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. Powder, as we call it, is a small ski AND snowboard hill located in Kimbal Minnesota. With 12 runs, it’s a great place for beginners since it’s not super crowded.

This is may be the third time I’ve gotten out and I just bought my own setup from Zumiez. An all Roxy setup with a 147cm camber board. Tonight my goal is to keep up with the other girls which presented, at the time, quite a challenge. I love a challenge as I have always had a competitive side.

GAINING CONFIDENCE

Finally I have gotten to the point where I don’t fall on my butt each time I get off the lift, woohoo! My mind has a tendency to ramble at times, “Alright, now I’ve figured this out. I can turn a little..I can stop without a problem…Okay, lets do this.” While my confidence is building I’m discovering a habit that I like being on my toes much better than my heels, must be the dancer in me. With the new found confidence and I am beginning to gain speed.

Laura continues to coach and give me from downhill. With my new found speed I tend to pass her on the right since I like to ride on my toes about halfway down the slope. I’m riding fairly smoothly now so Laura and I decide to hit a green slope with a longer ride. We strap in, let’s go! I let her start before me since she likes to take runs at a slower pace and now that I’ve figured this out I am ready for speed.

Suddenly I’m beginning prepare myself for a hard landing…

CRASH LANDING

My board, pointing down the slope goes straight under Laura’s. Suddenly I’m in the air and all I can think about is, “okay, I’m going to land on my nose. How can I land to get the least amount of blood on my jacket….”. I loved that jacket, I didn’t want it to stain!

Have you ever realized how slow time moves when your falling like that? What took less than a minute felt like ten.

I landed smack on my face and quickly dug my elbows into the snow to scoot myself forward. I wanted minimal blood on my jacket and succeeded with only a few drops! Thankfully, I wear a handkerchief when I snowboard so I was able to use that to hold my nose and stop the bleeding. Once I regain composure I turned around to find Laura clutching her shoulder. She had tumbled pretty hard quite a few times apparently.

We suck it up and board down the rest of the slope to go hit up the medic. Laura ends up in a sling and I found out I didn’t break my nose at least. Shocking, really. Thankfully we have Courtney there to drive us home.

LIFE LESSONS

In the end I ended up with an hour and a half nose bleed and Laura tore two ligaments in her shoulder. This experience gave us a great story that we still laugh about today. Courtney, the other friend who was with us witnessed the whole thing and captured it on film with a disposable camera. Unfortunately she only caught the aftermath and those photos are printed in a box somewhere. If I ever find them I will be sure to share! For sake of photos however, check out these gems scanned in.

Through snowboarding I have learned to make your falls count so you have a good story! Okay, but for real you learn best by failing. Whether that be snowboarding or other life choices, when we fail we also learn to succeed. I have also learned that you create amazing friendships through this sport, hence the wedding photo at the beginning!

 

Feature photo by Christa Reed Photography