Here I am, just less than a year ago, taking a friend up on an offer to try her kayak out on a Mount St. Helens lake. Seeing the mountain through early morning mist just took my breath away – and gave this girl another way to see nature and put this often crazy life of ours back into perspective. Fast forward many borrowed boats and a few rentals later, and I find myself mapping out water adventures & touring rivers and lakes on a regular basis. It sure helped when my adventuring partner decided he loved it too and showed up with HIS & HER matching kayaks of our own! Some girls get sparkly jewelry or monogrammed towels – but thankfully some girls like myself get other types of sparkly things!
Just a few weekends ago, we mapped out a summer day trip to paddle Trillium Lake on Mount Hood, just 61 miles Southeast of Portland. The clouds even parted for us and left us seeing the mountain from a blue bird sky! Set at 3,600 feet on the south side of Mt. Hood, Trillium Lake is ringed with conifers and sections of blooming lily pads in the summer…and is an easy beginner’s paddle, even if the wind picks up in the afternoon. The lake is about two miles around (we looped twice!), and does have several spots to pull off to lunch. We paddled out to a small outcropping that the main hiking trail doesn’t reach, to have a quiet spot all to ourselves. Baby ducks swam around and under our kayaks to see what we were up to, while bald eagles soared overhead. Need I say more to entice you to rent a kayak yourself? Afterward, hit the Skyway patio for a craft brew and the best mac-n-cheese you may have ever tasted – you may even luck out like we did and catch a live Bluegrass band playing while Mount Hood looms above you in the distance…yet another simple reminder of just how sweet everyday life is, and can be. How do I get started paddling you’re wondering? You can take classes from the folks at Next Adventure or REI, or just rent and head out to a beginner route yourself via the many guidebooks available, or if finances are limiting you – something in-between like attending a Meetup.com group like this one – Tate will rent you one of his extra kayaks & give you basic instruction for a mere $20. Watch for ‘demo days’ offered by local Paddle Centers as well – you may be able to take & test out numerous styles of kayaks absolutely free all day – and ask knowledgable help all the questions you want! Some companies even will deliver your kayak rental to you on site as well, like Mt. Hood Adventure. My first rental came with quick, but great, tutorials on all the basics from the girls renting to us – we’ll layer on more advanced skills and classes as we go! If you don’t have a vehicle that can transport kayaks, you can also partake an adventure via tour groups, or renting right off a river drop-in location. The world is your oyster – just jump in – and paddle!
* images via me & my iPhone, & REI for kayak options