Thursday, October 21, 2010

Channel Islands Training Trip

 Chelsey here-

As we enter our International Adventure Race Season, we are switching gears and it is time to turn off cruise control. The tickets are bought, race entry fees paid, team bios and pics are up and it is time to train! To celebrate, we paddled across to the Channel Islands (the least attended National Park in the U.S) from Santa Barbara... a 26 mile long paddle each way. Daniel had been salivating over this trip ever since he moved to Santa Barbara. It turned to drool when he finally bought a 2 and half person (the half fits a dog or a small child... or me) cherry red Seward racing kayak.

As is to be expected from the YogaSlackers, it is usually a journey in itself to even get to the start of the actual journey.

As a trio, we had been trying to do this trip for some months, but our schedules never lined up. Finally in the second week of October, we had found some blank boxes in our calender between events. Blank boxes however, can be dangerous, especially when one day we are in Tucson, AZ teaching and the next day we are scheduled to be in Santa Barbara, CA paddling. This doesn't sound too bad until you add the fact that Jason and I are moving all of our belongings out of a Tucson garage into Daniel's garage. To make matters even more interesting, on the morning of our packing and driving day, we woke up to Jason's oversized leg. His calf and ankle was the size of his thigh.

The night before the start of our Advanced Acrobatic Weekend we went on a night run. At the sight of an angry rattlesnake in the middle of the road, Jason jumped backwards onto a cattle guard. His leg got caught in between the bars and he landed on his wrist pretty badly. If it had to be anyone, he is the one to handle it the best. I swear he is like a gumby boy. I have watched him countless times trip and take big diggers at races... he just gives out a dramatic yelp, then keeps going. Even though we weren't racing this time, he kept going – insisting “its good training” after I suggested we go home. We finished our sprint internals and went back to Chip and Laura's house to ice it. Despite it getting worse and worse over the course of the weekend, we continued teaching and he continued basing me through difficult acrobatic transitions.

Thanks to our dear friend and bodyworker/healer/chinese medicine doctor, Charlie- Jason's ankle was 90% better by the time the truck was packed and we were on the road to California. Charlie lanced it all over with a big needle, squeezing out the “stagnation” and getting the “chi” to flow again. It hurt Jason a lot, but the results were worth it.

After a long 8 hour drive, we arrived at Daniels at 3 am. The next morning, Daniel woke us up to his classic delicious breakfast – slow cooked pinto beans, green chiles (from New Mexico), eggs and lots of coffee. We then loaded the boat, packed up some food and gear and headed down to the harbor. We were in the water by 2:30p.m – about 1.5 hours past our “must leave by” time. The ocean looked far from calm and placid (turns out it was a small craft advisory), but we figured with our pace it would take us about 5 hours. By our calculations we would be at camp, warm, dry and eating some hot Alpine Aire by dark. Umm – do things ever go how we imagine?!?

At 5 hours we were still on the water with the GPS giving a reading indicationg we had 2 more hours to go. And it was getting dark fast. “This is great paddle training conditions” Daniel yelled back. When one of us says something like this, it means we are suffering, which translates to an accurate simulation of how we often feel in our races. “Yeah, it's awesome!” Jason and I yell back. With in a half hour, 2 HUGE container ships passed right in front of us causing us a small amount of trepidation. These crafts are unreal, especially when you are looking up at them from a tiny little kayak. 15 stories high and 4 football fields in length, these ships plow ahead at 25 mph and take several miles to stop. There are only 13 people aboard controlling the thing... meaning they probably do not see little boats like us! It would suck to get in its way. When it was time for us to break out our headlamps, our paddling got sloppier and slower. Daniel and I began to get sea sick, and my bladder was about to explode.

It is amazing how strange and foreign everything looks in the dark. When we had finally reached land after 7 hours of being in the boat, figuring out where and how to land in the middle of the night can be very discombobulating. It resulted in us yelling frantically and a some minor damage to the boat. It must have been quite comical and intrigueing to the star gazers on shore. Obviously, they didn't know what we had just gone through because there was no warm welcome- only a somewhat rude, “Will you turn your lights off! We are trying to see the stars.”

We were extremely lucky that we arrived when we did, because a half hour later, after we were full and warm in our tent- it started to rain hard.

The next morning we woke up to sunshine and a wonderful smell. We were camped under an oasis of eucalyptus trees. We lazed around, ate, and then went to go film parts of our next V.I.B.E (vinyasa inspired by experience) video. This upcoming VIBE is inspired by our paddling adventures. We found a couple beautiful cliffs to practice on- yoga felt amazing after the long day in the boat.

That night we got the boat ready and divided up our left over bars, Gu's and gummies for the paddle home. We calculated that we'd each get 8 pieces of food for the trip back. The next morning just before we were about to launch, Jason and I opened up our life jackets and all of our food was gone. You see, on the island there are these adorable foxes – a unique species that has evolved just on the Channel Islands. They are the size of a small cat, they climb trees, they eat fruit and they also open zippers (the ranger actually confirmed this!) and have a taste for gus and gummies.

Fortunetly Daniels food didn't get eaten, so now we had roughly 3 pieces of food each (the foxes left me a half eaten Mojo Bar) for the trip home. Despite being hungry, the paddle back was amazing. Instead of the rough seas we'd experienenced on the way over, the ocean was now masquerading as a large lake. Dolpins swam with us for some of the way, the sun was shining, wind was mild and within 4 hours we were in the Santa Barbara harbor gorging on sushi.

Special thanks to my amazing fiance Jason and teammate Daniel- who continue to make this life of ours a non-stop adventure. Thanks also to Stellar Kayaks for letting us test their new wing paddle. It was great even in the rough seas where other wings tend to suffer.

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