How to spend 72 hours in Squamish, BC

If you are anything like I am, traveling to a new place for a short period of time can be a bit daunting. Especially when that place is Squamish, BC. I mean, if you only have 72 hours to spend in the “Adventure Capitol of Canada,” you really want to make sure you are able to maximize your fun-having potential.

So, in an effort to squeeze as much fun as possible into my trip, I enlisted the help of local SUP legend and expedition guide Norm Hann. Norm is perhaps best known for his environmental efforts and endurance paddling, but within the Squamish community, he is known as the guy to contact if you want to get in some good adventure time.

Exploring the Howe Sound by SUP. Climbing (DWS) granite walls via paddleboard access. Paddlers: Norm Hann, Morgan Hoesterey, Trevor McDonald.  photo:  Todd Lawson

Exploring the Howe Sound by SUP. Climbing (DWS) granite walls via paddleboard access.
Paddlers: Norm Hann, Morgan Hoesterey, Trevor McDonald. photo: Todd Lawson

Day 1:

Our three-day adventure began when Norm and I were handed the keys to a brand new Chevy Colorado. Every good adventure starts with a good adventure vehicle, so now that we were prepared for anything, we loaded up the boards and were on our way.

Norm and his paddle buddies regularly begin their days with what they call the “Coffee Run;” a relatively short, flatwater paddle that begins at the spit in the middle of town and ends up at Galileo Coffee, which itself is a Squamish must-visit if you are the type of person who likes to be caffeinated.

Howe Sound Paddling

 Checking out Howe Sound by standup paddleboard.  Photo:  Norm Hann

Checking out Howe Sound by standup paddleboard. Photo: Norm Hann

During the 5 mile paddle, we were treated to two bald eagles, a flock of Canadian Geese and views of Howe Sound that you just can’t get from land.

After having seen a piece of Squamish from the water, Norm thought it would be fun to see all of it from the top of “The Chief,” a large granite monolith that towers over Howe Sound. Because the three peaks that make up The Chief are easily accessed and can accommodate most levels of hikers, making your way up this piece of rock is one of Squamish’s best-known hikes.

The view from The Chief

The view from The Chief

It was obvious that day 1 of our Canadian adventure-binge was going to be tough to beat, so for day 2, Norm decided it was time to step things up a notch.

Day 2:

When he arrived to pick me up in the morning, I hopped into the Colorado not quite knowing what to expect. We pulled up to a small airstrip, where Sea to Sky air had agreed to take us for a flight up to an alpine lake hidden in the Tantalus Mountain Range that borders Squamish. No adventure in the BC area is quite complete without a floatplane, so we loaded our inflatable standup paddleboards into the tiny cabin and squeezed ourselves in.

This is what every day should look like.

This is what every day should look like.

30 minutes of flying over the most beautiful scenery you can possibly imagine later, we touched down on the turquoise water of Phantom lake. Because this particular lake is a Glacier fed Alpine Lake, its turquoise color is caused by Glacial debris (or rock flour) suspended in the water, and is one of the most spectacular colors I have ever seen in real life.

Paddling with a view.

Paddling with a view.

I have been pretty fortunate in my life to have paddled in a lot of amazing places, but this secluded lake in the middle of the mountains definitely makes my top three. Because the lake sits lower than the surrounding mountain peaks, it is shielded from the wind, creating an ideal place to paddle. So ideal, in fact, that Norm couldn’t resist giving our pilot his first ever standup paddleboard lesson before ending the experience with a swim in the icy lake.

Norm is crazy.

Norm is crazy.

Day 3:

For the final few hours of our sea to sky adventure trip, Norm decided that it was time to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones a bit by doing some deep water solo climbing from the boards in Howe Sound.

Upon our arrival at the spit that morning, we were greeted by two of Norm’s friends, local climbers Trevor McDonald and Todd Lawson. With them was Diego, a 20 year old climber from Mexico who has been in the area working on completing the Cobra Crack, one of the most difficult traditional climbs in Canada, as well as an iconic Squamish climb.

sup climb

It didn’t take long for me to see that, when it comes to deep water soloing, these guys definitely know what they are doing. With nothing more than climbing shoes, the guys made scaling what seemed to me to be a sheer rock face, look effortless. When they reached the top of the rock, they simply made the 50 foot jump back into the water and started the process over again.

My three-day trip to Squamish was amazing. As Norm and I sat at the Howe Sound Brewing Company toasting our adventure, I thought about how grateful I was to have had Norm to show me how to spend 72 hours in Squamish. There is no way my time there would have been as awesome as it was were it not for the local knowledge Norm was willing to share with me during my time in his area. As we finished up the last of our IPAs, I couldn’t help but think about the next trip with Norm, and how I hope I have the chance to to return the favor.

Expect nothing and be prepared for anything…Surviving the 3rd stop of the Waterman Tahiti Tour

Expect nothing and be prepared for anything.

It’s the only way you can be ready for the Waterman Tahiti Tour, a five part series of events designed to test your mental and physical capacity. Each stop of the tour includes a standup paddleboard race, a prone paddleboard race, a distance swim and a combo event that combines all of the disciplines, all in a weekend.

Coco Beach, Mo'orea

Coco Beach, Mo’orea photo: Tahiti Fly Shoot

So, not really sure what to expect, we made our way from Tahiti to Mo’orea for the third event. The event got started on Saturday morning with one of the most challenging 14K standup paddle events I have ever been a part of. The wind was directly offshore with 35-40 knot gusts coming out of the two big bays that we passed on the way to Coco beach, a motu that sits just off the North West corner of the island. On several occasions during the race, I actually watched big, strong Tahitian guys get physically blown off their boards by the relentless sidewind.

There was a LOT of right side paddling during the SUP race.  A lot.

There was a LOT of right side paddling during the SUP race. A lot. photo: Gregory Boissy

The wind was so strong, in fact, that although it was a physical challenge just to stay on your feet during the race, it was an even bigger mental challenge not to give in to the pain and sit down for a minute.

During races like this one, there is always something to be learned, and the take away for me was just to be present. Instead of focusing on how unpleasant this paddle actually was or worrying about how much farther we had to go, I made an effort to focus on my stroke. Each time I took one, I tried to make sure I was getting the most of it, reassuring myself that if I just kept moving forward, I would eventually get there.

As we approached Coco Island, the sidewind turned into a straight headwind, which to be honest, was almost a relief. At least we were now able to paddle on both sides.

 

My Tahitian buddy David Foster battling the headwind.

My Tahitian buddy David Foster battling the headwind.

Up next was the 12K prone paddleboard race followed by the distance swim and combo event the next day. Because it includes all the disciplines, the combo event is always my favorite, despite the fact that it happens at the end of a very long weekend.

Combo event pain face

Combo event pain face photo: Gregory Boissy

I love going to Tahiti for these events. Even though there are definitely moments that make me question why I do this to myself, the Tahitians are always so welcoming and helpful to us, and make our time on their islands such a pleasure. The Tahitians are amazing athletes and I am honored to be able to race with them…and the downtime isn’t bad either =).

SUP Snorkeling on Tahiti

SUP Snorkeling on Tahiti

Cruising with the Locals

Cruising with the Locals

Fin testing...squishy fin testing.

Fin testing…squishy fin testing.

The Sunday Sessions: Davenport, California


Hanging with Jack Bark is never not fun. Especially when there is a downwinder involved. The Davenport Downwinder in Santa Cruz is one of the most fun things I have ever been lucky enough to do, and paddling next to a super stoked Jack Bark just makes it all that much better.

A few days before this year’s Jay Race in Santa Cruz, Jack and I (along with Joe Bark and Chris Aguilar from Fin Film Company) managed to sneak out for a bit to catch some open ocean waves…


If doing a downwinder in the Santa Cruz area is something that you think you might like to do, the best way to get started is to get a hold of Scott Ruble at Covewater. Not only does he have everything you might need to get out on the water, but he has been known to put on clinics from time to time.

Here are some details…

Covewater Paddle Surf
726 Water Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
831.600.7230
info@covewatersup.com

Weeeee!

Stuff I Can’t Seem to Part With…


I am terrible at packing…Really, I’m awful.  You’d think that by now, with all the traveling I do that I would have it wired, but that is just not the case.  I can’t seem to leave the house without 27 of my favorite articles of clothing for fear that one of them might feel left out.  It’s like a disease.

Anyway, yesterday as I was packing for my upcoming East Coast roadtrip, I noticed that in amongst all of the useless stuff I can’t seem to leave behind, there were a few things that do actually manage to make the cut every time.  And while my aforementioned lack of packing skills hardly qualifies me to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t pack; these things have always come in useful for me, so I thought I would share.

You’re welcome.

stuff I can't seem to leave behind

1.  Del Mar Housing

This is probably irrelevant for most people, so I probably should have just left it out.  However, I can’t seem to go anywhere without mine so I’ll mention it anyway.  The guys at Del Mar Housings made this water housing specifically for the Canon 5D Mark II with the 16-34mm wide angle lens which will shoot both HD video and stills while in the water  (or on land for that matter).

2.  Reusable Water Bottle

We all know that plastic water bottles and disposable coffee cups are bad news.  In case you haven’t heard, here are some statistics for you to read in your spare time.  My friends at Kona Brewing Company were nice enough to send over this reusable bottle that keeps cold things cold and hot things hot depending on what I have decided to put in it.  This takes care of both the morning coffee addiction and the afternoon water bottle problem.  Yay.

3.  The Solus Fins from Futures.

Since you can never be sure where you will find a good wave, and the hope that you will come across one is always there, it is a good idea to bring your favorite surf fins with you wherever you go.  I can never actually decide if I really appreciate the way these fins feel and respond in the water, or if I just like them because they look cool (which I think we can all agree is what is really important)…either way they come with me when I travel.

4.  The Dakine Cyclone Dry Pack

This bag is my most favorite bag.  My friend Curtis gave me a prototype a few years back for a trip to the Galapagos, and I have been in love with it ever since.  And although I have been informed that carrying a dry bag around everywhere you go isn’t exactly the coolest thing to do, I maintain that you never know when you are going to need one (and so far it has been true).

for the record, I am probably much more excited to surf than I look in this photo.  I had just woken up.

for the record, I am probably much more excited to surf than I look in this photo. I had just woken up.

5.  My Patagonia Shortie

It isn’t a secret that I appreciate a good pair of shorty shorts.  Well, this is the wetsuit version.  I have never been a fan of full suits, and this suit seems to be just enough to get me through most situations, both underwater and floating on top of it.

6.  Maui Jims–specifically the Peahis and the Sand Islands.

These sunglasses are so good that it is hard to explain how nice they make everything look to someone who has never tried them.  As a matter of fact, as I sit here typing, my dad is walking around the kitchen wearing his pair because he thinks that life just looks a little better with them on, indoors or out.  Completely normal.

morgan

7.  Vertra Suncare

I don’t care what anyone says, Vertra works better than other sunscreen.  It just does.  The Shane Dorian Kona Gold face stick is my favorite, especially if I am going out on some kind of an all day adventure because it just doesn’t come off.  The downside is that I end up with “Verta Face” and inadvertently look like I walked out of the house with a really um, interesting makeup job.  The clear Mick Fanning face stick is awesome though if I am going to be around regular people who don’t understand that using your tinted sunscreen as foundation is actually a completely acceptable thing to do.  Two birds, you know?

8.  Go Pro

There is a fine line between narcissism and self-promotion, and since I first discovered Go Pros, I have found myself teetering along the edge of that line.  A few years ago, we discovered that there is very little that you can’t do with duct tape, a Go Pro and a dream; and roadtrips have been all that much better for that discovery.

My socks look cool.  Even at the beach.

My socks look cool. Even at the beach.

9.  SockPost Socks

If you know me, you are probably saying, maybe even outloud, “Liar.  You don’t wear socks.”  And for the most part, you’d be right.  But on planes and in cold places I do, and these socks are my new favorites.  They are upcycled, sustainable, and they just look cool.  What other socks do you know that can say that?  None.

10.  SoloShot

Finally, the new addition to the lineup…For years, we have been trying to figure out what the best way to film ourselves is when there are no extra people around who are willing or able to hold a camera (like I said, it is a slippery slope to narcissism).  The soloshot is a tripod that responds to a transmitter you wear while you surf or paddle so that the camera follows you wherever you go.  I have yet to try it, and when I do, I promise to let you know how it goes.

So…those are a few of my favorite things.  Later this week, I will be taking this stuff along with almost everything else I own from Rockaway, New York through Rhode Island, Pittsburg, and wherever else seems fun, ultimately ending up in Wisconsin for the Midwest Paddle Festival.

If you are anywhere along that route and think that playing with me in the water might be a fun thing to do, e-mail me at seamonstermedia@yahoo.com and I will try to stop by if I can.

Stairway to Heaven

Haiku Stairs…aka Stairway to Heaven…aka Stairway to Awesomeness (according to Katie)

The ocean has been a bit temperamental lately here on Oahu. It seems that the winds have decided that their usual north easterly direction isn’t quite as fun as is coming in from the south, resulting in a very grumpy ocean. And because no one likes an ocean with a grumpy face, we have had to find other ways to entertain ourselves over the past few weeks…most of which have involved hiking.

Since I first moved here in 1999, we have talked about hiking the “Stairway to Heaven,” a 4,000 stair pathway that makes it’s way up the ridge starting in Haiku Valley, Kaneohe. Today, as it turns out, was the day. Led by our friend Kevin and his friend Drew, my friends Alli, Katie and I managed to make it to the trail by 3am (which should be fairly impressive to those of you who know me).

w_darkness

As it turns out, it isn’t easy to climb up 4,000 rickety stairs nailed to the side of a mountain ridge in the darkness that exists between 3:30 and 5am. As we made our way up to the top, step by sketchy step, the only thing visible were the three or so stairs directly in front of us.

In retrospect, the darkness might actually have been a blessing in disguise…the lack of light made it easier to forget that the stairs look like this.

cloud stairs.

cloud stairs.

Our entire hike up was done in the dark–first through a sweaty layer of thigh-burning, cardio-pumping humidity, followed by a soggy, chilly period of rain and wind, and eventually ending up in a misty layer of clouds. Once we had reached the top of the stairs, it had become increasingly clear that we weren’t going to be able to see the sunrise from where we were.

Because of this, and also because the five of us were freezing, we decided it was time to head back down. The sky was slowly beginning to light up, making it possible for us to see for the first time what we had just hiked up through.

w_clouds
Hiking through the clouds is pretty surreal.

misty.

misty.

w_coming out of clouds
As the sky began to light up, more and more of the trail began to present itself.

it's steep.

it’s steep.

No matter how steep and soggy any trail is, there is always a time and a place for a sassy pose. Katie and Alli demonstrating…

Grungy Sassafrass

Grungy Sassafrass

We made it through the cloud layer just in time to see the sunrise. I don’t know which side was more beautiful, the sun rising to the right, or the Ko’olau Mountains on the left…Both sides were pretty awesome…

Mountains to the left

Mountains to the left

Sunrise to the Right

Sunrise to the Right

Once the sun was up over the horizon, it was finally possible to see how amazingly beautiful, and ridiculously steep this hike actually is…

w_trees

Kevin on the ridge

Kevin on the ridge

scenery

scenery

dropoff...

dropoff…

steep steep.

steep steep.

moons up.

moons up.

Drew taking a photo of me taking a photo of Alli...

Drew taking a photo of me taking a photo of Alli…

The logistics behind this hike vary depending on who you ask…because it is not exactly legal to do this hike, you have to go super early in the morning in order to get on the stairs before the guard shows up. General consensus seems to be that if you arrive prior to about 3:30am, you should be fine…as long as you don’t mind scary dark staircases.

Overall though, this was one of the more intense things that I have ever done on Oahu. The entire experience was amazing and it is one of the best hikes that I have ever done. Having said that, due to the ridiculously early morning, the scary factor, and the soreness that my legs are currently facing, it might be a while before I try this one again.

so beautiful

so beautiful

My Little Seamonsters


Fran and Kate came to Hawaii to improve their downwind standup paddling skills. While they were here, they became friends and even came up with some ambitious paddling goals for the upcoming year. Here’s their story…


Morgan and her Sea Monsters – Part 1 from Quickblade Paddles on Vimeo.


Morgan’s Sea Monsters (last episode) from Quickblade Paddles on Vimeo.

REI Expert Advice

A few weeks ago, my friend Davin and I had the opportunity to paddle and hang out with a video team from REI. They were in town shooting a few of their latest videos for their “expert advice” series. If you are the outdoorsy type, these videos are worth a look for sure. They have all kinds of information about various different outdoor sports, and if nothing else, are just beautiful to watch.

Here are the first two videos they came up with…