Nine Questions for Sensi Graves, Kiteboarder & Bikini Designer

About 10 years ago, Sensi Graves picked up a kiteboard in North Carolina, didn’t hesitate to shred it and never looked back. Much like how we fall in love with a board sport, kiteboarding took the Hood River local by the arm and led her down a path of adventure, friendship and, in 2012, to start a swimwear business. The elusive “perfect” action sports bikini constantly escaped the many who tried, and few seemed to conquer in the early days, which is exactly what lit the fire for Sensi–enter Sensi Graves Bikinis. Her suits were created and are designed out of the clear need for women who once struggled to enjoy action sports and still retain a feminine appeal during a swimwear fashion v. function era.
Fast-forward only five years later, and you will find women all over the globe kiteboarding, surfing, adventuring, diving, practicing yoga and playing volleyball in her bikinis. When I first saw a Sensi bikini in an online store, I thought the name to be fitting with surfing’s niche culture–very feminine and strong, much like her bikinis. Interestingly, it was kiteboarding that drove her to create a bikini line that looks good while staying put.

*All photos picture Sensi in action and are courtesy of Sensi Graves & Sensi Graves Bikinis.*

Read more on the woman behind the ‘kini:

Q: What made you want to create your bikini line?

A: The concept for Sensi Bikinis was born out of a need. The summer before I graduated college, I moved to North Carolina to coach kiteboarding. I was in the water every single day; teaching, kiting and surfing. Bikinis were my uniform and my recreational outfit. I quickly grew tired of adjusting my swimwear. We’d teach for three hour time blocks and my suits were just not comfortable to wear for that long. The pieces that were designed to stay on were frumpy and geared towards a much older audience. I was 23 and I wanted to look and feel good in my bikini, but I also wanted something that would perform. I decided it was time to do something about it–and Sensi Bikinis was born!BetsyLindsy_Grapefruit2

Q: What does Sensi Bikinis represent for women?

A: Sensi Bikinis represents a mindset that we are strong, powerful and beautiful creatures. We embrace and celebrate our bodies and not judge ourselves.  We empower our customers to get out there and try new things and want to give them the confidence they need to do what they love. For us, that starts with delivering a well-fitting, comfortable and supportive bikini that is, at the same time, fashionable, flirty and makes our customers feel good while wearing it–all while delivering peace of mind that it will perform. We want to show our customers what’s possible for us, as women!

Q: What is your most popular bikini right now and why?

A: We have a few current top sellers: the Colleen top and Kyla bottom and the Dawn top. Most recently, we’ve seen an uptick in the Jennifer bottom, the Katie top, and Elise bottom, which just won the 2017 SELF Healthy Living Award for “Best Two-piece that Stays Put.” Our designs are clean, unique and comfortable, which delivers all the best swimwear qualities.

Q: Tell me about your love for kiteboarding–what keeps you coming back for more?

SENSI GRAVES-lukas-stiller-DawnJennifer_TechnicolorKiteA: I learned to kite in 2007 when my dad brought my three brothers and I out to North Carolina. I hadn’t even really seen the sport before then and had no idea what I was in for. After two weeks, I fell in love and kept in touch with the school where I had learned. In 2009 I had the opportunity to move out to North Carolina for the summer to work as a kite instructor and I jumped on it. From that point on it was live, eat and breathe kiteboarding. I just fell in love.

My favorite part about kiteboarding is the freedom. You can take it so many places: in the waves, in the flat-water, on exploration missions… There are so many different aspects of kiting–whether you go for a solo soul cruise or are out with friends.

The community in our sport is also amazing, you won’t find a better group of people anywhere. I love that you can meet up with like-minded individuals all around the world and connect over this amazing sport.

Q: Do you compete?

A: Yes. I compete in a number of kite events throughout the year, namely on the Kite Park League World Tour. Our season just ended and I finished third overall.

Q: Have your ever tried surfing or any other extreme sports?

A: I love surfing. It’s by far the hardest board sport, you have to really watch and learn the ocean. But, once you’re on that wave, it’s the most exhilarating feeling. I can’t get enough. I’m also an avid snowboarder and mountain biker.TOBY2590

Q: Do you do any cross training for kiteboarding?

A:Kiteboarding is an all-over body workout, so many types of training get you in shape. Personally, I do circuit training, yoga and ride at cable parks. For the discipline of kiteboarding that I compete in (park riding), cable parks are the best cross-training that exists.TOBY5645

Q: What is your perfect kiteboarding day?

A: Waking up to a slight breeze rustling the trees. Enjoying a leisurely breakfast and coffee with friends. Riding in a slider park in tropical weather until I simply can’t any longer. Eating a fresh lunch. Taking a nap. Finally, ending the day with a foil session (another discipline of kiteboarding) as the sun goes down.

Q: Any advice for people who want to try it?

A: Take a lesson. You’ll need the basics and it helps immensely to have someone there, holding your hand as you learn to control the kite. Kiteboarding is all about kite control. Get good at that first before you attempt the board.

Check out Sensi’s bikini designs in action on:
Instagram
Facebook
Pinterest

 

Confess: How Does the Ocean Make You Feel?

Sometimes no words can describe how it feels to be in, near or on the ocean. There are times where one simple word pinpoints it all. Conversely, the ocean experience has produced many essays, books, poems, songs, art and even scientific studies. Like individual personalities, our ocean experiences are often unique and special.
In one word, I found out what the ocean means to some of my agua-junkie pals.
Mahalos to my friends who shared their photos and words!
"Wet."-Rob Grasska
"Wet."-Rob Grasska
"Wet."-Rob Grasska
"Alive." -Bekah Baylock
"Alive." -Bekah Baylock
"Alive."-Bekah Baylock
"Tranquilo."-Josh Baylock
"Tranquilo."-Josh Baylock
"Tranquilo."-Josh Baylock
"Home." -Devyn Hartnett
"Home." -Devyn Hartnett
"Home."-Devyn Hartnett
"Present."-Jen Castelo
"Present."-Jen Castelo
"Present."-Jen Castelo
"Life."-Lucho Soto
"Life."-Lucho Soto
"Life."-Lucho Soto
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How does the Ocean make you feel? Share your photo and include the hashtag:
#TheOceanMakesUsFeel

A Journey on the Pacific Crest Trail with Sean Jansen

Sean Jansen is a rare human being who delights in the most amazing and intimidating of experiences. From driving solo to the further outreaches of desolate Baja coastlines to braving Northern California’s frigid large surf, to taking off for years on end to travel the world, he’s always got an adventure up his sleeve–which is why I didn’t flinch when he told me about trekking the ENTIRE  Pacific Crest Trail.

Born and raised in San Clemente, California, Jansen grew up surfing San Clemente’s wide variety of waves and absorbing the beach culture lifestyle. He currently enjoys chilly surf breaks, incredible nature preserves and a solid Eel River IPA about 950 miles north of his hometown in Humboldt county. Since a Lower Trestles session in 2010, he’s been a good friend of mine and has continually motivated me to surf harder, go outside of the proverbial orange bubble and enjoy nature.

According to the Pacific Crest Trail Association, this infamous PCT stretches 2,650.10 miles from Mexico to Canada. PCT spans across mountain ranges, valleys, deeps forests and deserts–a photog’s dream for pictures a-la National Geographic.

To no surprise, Jansen hiked 131.06 miles beyond the calculated amount: 2,781.16 miles.

I recently caught up with Jansen about his hiking journey of epic proportions:

1.) What made you want to hike the entire PCT?

It was kind of like a culmination of a bunch of things.

I was living with my parents in Montana and was working construction saving every single penny. Within three months, I had saved several thousand dollars saved and had the option to go travel again, but I was kind of bored of traveling, as weird as that sounds. I wanted to do something different. A friend posted on Facebook that he was going to hike the PCT and that kind of re-invigorated my desire to want to hike.

I think it was just going to be an awesome thing that would further push my career to a higher level as a photographer and journalist. I can only imagine the images I would be able to capture if I were to be in nature every single day while experiencing the beauty the Lord has blessed us with on this planet. I think that’s the number one reason—just to get away from everything and go experience nature out there beyond highways, beyond jet planes–beauty that your own two feet can show you.

It’s your own will power to see the beauty that I’ve seen and that’s probably the number one reason.

 

2.) How did you mentally and physically prepare for this journey?

Mental preparation was really bad, I didn’t mentally prepare at all. My cousin decided to give us a ride to the southern terminus, which was only a 2 hour drive from San Clemente. My friend was getting all giddy in the car saying “Can you believe we’re about to do this?” and I’m just like “No, not really.”

It’s not that I wasn’t excited, I just wasn’t overwhelmed by the emotions of 90 percent of the people. It wasn’t until I woke up one morning on the trail and was like “Holy crap, this is actually happening.” And after I hiked the first 10-100 miles, that’s when it was really setting in. I  was realizing that I’m really out there and really doing this to see what I can really do.

The whole purpose of the trail was for me to learn every ounce I could learn about myself and the trail.  The mental and physical preparation was all a giant learning process. I would never change it to this day.

 

3.) What were some challenges you faced? Biggest challenge?

Every day was a challenge, mentally and physically. The trail was a challenge, because it changes every single day. You go from the desert, to the mountains, back to the desert, through snow, rain and wind.

You have to face challenges with other hikers–whether you accidentally fall in love with someone within the first week and you broke up with them and you have to keep seeing them. There were challenges dealing with friends that you got to know really well, but they decided they wanted to hike faster and took off and you never saw them again.

In every way you can think, there was a challenge. I kept saying the number one word of the trail was “change.” Everything about the trail and you changes with every step you take. You change personally, physically and the trail changes–so I can’t really pinpoint a challenge.

As photographer, I had to take off my backpack, pull out my camera (which weighed a couple of extra pounds), and put the camera back in the bag while everyone walks on. The photography aspect was my biggest challenge because:

1.) You’re carrying more weight and     2.) You have to get really creative. ……It’s exhausting, but it was worth it.

 

4.) Any close encounters with wildlife?
Yes absolutely—but I was never nervous or uncomfortable. You would hear stories about people who would have terrible encounters with wildlife—where they got charged at by a bear, for example.

In Oregon, well past dark, we always sleep with food inside of our tent. I literally had a bear scratching at my tent where my friend would’ve been. The next morning, there was fresh bear scat around my entire tent.

In Oregon and Washington, we would always hear Elk bugles ferociously close. That was probably the scariest of what we came across on the whole trail because once we got to Oregon and Washington, it was during their mating season and they’re notoriously territorial and aggressive.

 

5.) What supplies were you carrying along the way?

Beyond the fact that I’m a photographer and a fly-fisherman—I had a 65 liter backpack, which was overkill. It was way too big, which was a little surprising for what people think. One of my biggest concerns, before I started the trail, was where I was going to get water every day. So what you find out on the trail, was at least once a week, sometimes a little longer, you would get a re-supply of food because you would come across a highway or town.

In a typical backpack, you would carry food, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, clothing, a lighter, cooking gear among other stuff.  The average pack weighed without food or water was about 20 pounds. Some of us even carried solar panels on our backpacks to charge our gear. I had my camera gear and two batteries, one lens, a couple of filters and a tripod, which was an additional 7 pounds.

At my heaviest point, which was in the desert section where I carried 8 liters of water, my pack weight about 70 pounds. But as I drank water and ate food, my pack became lighter each day. Everyone else was in the 45-50 pound range.

 

6.) Any special secret spots you can talk about?

In the big bear area, there was this section of trail called the Deep Creek and a lot of us liked this because there was a hot spring. I followed a day hiker to a cliff jump spot, which was 200 yards off trail and I just ended up spending a day and a half there doing nothing but cliff jumping in 90 degree heat.

There was also lake with a waterfall along the John Muir trail section of the PCT that looked it was in either Tahiti or New Zealand—like it didn’t belong in California.

 

7.) What was your most memorable moment?

Of course, when you walk towards that northern terminus, seeing the border of Canada after hiking for 180 days straight—that is something I will never ever forget along with the people I did it with. I will never forget that.

It’s really just the small moments that create a giant memory. It changes your life, I get emotional thinking about it. There are so many small memories that create this giant pandemonium moment.

 

 

 

8.) How did your feet feel at the end of the journey?

As far as feet goes, the beginning section was rough because of the blisters and the new stage your feet are going to get into, then towards the latter section of the trail is where injuries occurred. I probably took a week off total.

The first month, every single day, I was popping blisters and covering them up with some sort of bandage. Towards the middle stage of the trail, I was fine, but towards the latter session of the trail, I started getting plantar fasciitis in Oregon—where the muscles in your feet just don’t want to work and you can’t bend your toes. It was very painful, but with a couple of days rest, ice and Ibuprofen, I was fine…and whiskey helps.

 

 

 

9.) Any epic life lessons you want to share?

Photo Courtesy: Sean Jansen

In retrospect, it’s really funny. I’m a total weirdo and I connected with every single human on that trail and all of us were weirdos, which worked out. We just didn’t care what people thought of us or about how bad we smelled in public. It was a huge life-changing opportunity, especially being from San Clemente, where in high school, image was everything. The whole trail was a life lesson, appreciation of everything—nature, yourself, other people around you.

10.) Do you foresee more long-distance hiking in the near future?

A lot more. In 2017, I’m going to do the Appalachian trail, which goes from Georgia to Maine.

In 2018 I’m hoping to hike the Continental Divide trail, which goes from Mexico to Canada. There’s a trail in Europe that goes from France to the Czech Republic. There’s definitely one in New Zealand that goes the entire span of the country.

Hiking is 100% part of my life now. Slow and steady is the best way to see the Earth.

Photo Courtesy: Sean Jansen

Check out more of Jansen’s PCT photos as well as tons of amazing surf, nature and travel pictures.

Strike a Pose: 6 Yoga Postures that Improve your Surfing

Whether you shred the gnar or gracefully glide across the face of a wave, it is common knowledge the best exercise for surfing is, well, surfing! However, out of the million billion workout trends found beneficial as a cross-training source, yoga often pops up onto almost every surfer’s radar one way or another. If you treat it like a workout (see “hot yoga sculpt”) or as a way to decompress, a yoga practice has something for everyone.

“For surfers, the focus is a lot of heart opening, arm and back strengthening postures,” said Tiffany Martin, Warrior One Wellness Owner and Yoga Instructor. “Surfers are often already in that halfway lift point, so in postures like Up-Dog or Baby Cobra, your legs and toes are still active, which are really important for balance, strengthening and back support.”

Legendary pro surfers like Gerry Lopez and Greg Long have long-since cultivated disciplined practices and, as a result, have improved their surfing and breathing techniques, according to a Surfer Magazine article “How To Save Your Surfing with Yoga.” In some instances, such as Long’s Cortes Bank wipe out, learning to calm the mind and holding breath under extreme duress are a few factors that can play lifesaving roles.

There are hundreds of yoga poses that can benefit your surfing. Customize at will!

Here are 6 yoga poses to get you started, courtesy of Tiffany Martin:

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1.) Chaturanga danda, a.k.a.: Low Plank

How: Bend your upper and lower arms 90 degrees at the elbows. Shoulders should not drop lower than the height of your elbows. Hold this pose for 30 seconds or more!

Benefits:

  • Strengthens arms and wrists
  • Tones abdominal muscles
  • Strengthens quads

2.) Urdhva mukha svana, a.k.a.: Upward Facing Dog

How: Start by lying face down on the floor with legs extended behind you, toes a few inches apart. Place hands next to your lower ribs. Inhale and press your hands into the floor, pushing your body upward. Firmly press down through the tops of your feet.

Benefits:

  • Strengthens the spine, arms and wrists
  • Stretches chest, shoulders and abdomen
  • Improves posture

3.) Bhujangasana, a.k.a.: Baby Cobra

How: Begin by lying on your belly, inhale and place elbows under your shoulders, forearms on the floor. Make sure your thighs are firm and point your toes behind you. Breath deep and feel the bend.

Benefits:

  • Stretches shoulder, chest and abdominal muscles
  • Decreases stiffness in the lower back
  • Strengthens arms and shoulders
  • Strengthens the spine
  • Elevates mood
  • Improves circulation of blood and oxygen

4.) Adho Mukha Svanasana, a.k.a.: Downward Facing Dog

How: Bend your knees, come to the balls of your feet. Bring your shins parallel to the mat and lift your sit bones high and back. Press hips towards the wall behind you and begin to straighten your legs. Remember to keep your head out of your shoulders and allow your shoulder blades to slide down your back.

Benefits:

  • Strengthens arms and legs
  • Stretches shoulders, hamstrings and calves
  • Lengthens spine
  • Energizes the body
  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress

5.) Paripurna Navasana, a.k.a.: Boat Pose

How: Sit on the floor with straight legs in front of you. Exhale slowly and lean back on your sit bones lifting your legs with knees bent off our the floor. Your thighs should be angled at 45 degrees. Hands can be held out in front of you or to the side. Remember to breath.

Benefits:

  • Strengthens abdominal muscles, hip flexors and spine
  • Stimulates kidneys and thyroid
  • Improves digestion

6.) Eka Pada Rajakapotasana , a.k.a.: Pigeon Pose

How: This pose is ideal to implement while you are in Down Dog.

From Down Dog, bring your right shin forward and down so that your right foot is in front of your left hip and your right shin is nearly parallel to the front edge of your mat. Flex your right foot. Stretch your left thigh back as you draw your left hip forward.

Lengthen your belly as you fold over your right leg. If your right hip does not easily reach the floor, place a folded blanket or block under your right sitting bone. Breathe deep and repeat on the other side.

“Hip-opening can help release the low back and the legs,” said Martin. “You can only get so open in the upper body if your hips are super tight, so that’s a needed balance for practice.”

Benefits:

  • Strengthens abdominal muscles, hip flexors and spine
  • Stimulates kidneys and thyroid
  • Improves digestion
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Yoga has become a popular pastime for many people across the nation and world. Check your local listings for classes in your area. Free classes are also available–a simple donation is usually requested at the end of class.

“I started a beach yoga class at Doheny state beach in Dana Point,” said Martin. “Come join me! It’s every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:15 a.m. and I also teach privately at my house studio.”

In addition to teaching at several local studios, Martin also developed Warrior One Wellness, a fitness company, where she hosts yoga sessions for different treatment centers, corporations, events and parties.

Click here for more information about Warrior One Wellness!

Yoga offers many health benefits for not only surfers, but also dancers, athletes and the mass populous in general. According to The Yoga Health Foundation, yoga can reduce cortisol levels, which contribute to stress and weight gain. Even a small amount of daily stretching can improve flexibility and blood flow, as well as decrease the potential for injury, said the Mayo Clinic.

Keep an open mind, remember to breathe through the hard parts and watch your physical and mental well-being transform over time.

Mauli Ola Foundation and friends hold ‘Surf Experience Day’ at Torquay Beach

Mauli Ola Beach Experience Day from STAB on Vimeo.

This incredible nonprofit organization is dedicated to providing hope to individuals living with genetic disease by introducing the ocean’s healing properties as a natural therapy through surfing and other ocean-related activities.

“What makes MOF so amazing is that it not only grants an opportunity for kids to get active, have fun, and build their confidence, but it also introduces the ocean as a natural form of therapy,” said Ambry Genetics Pediatric Product Manager and Mauli Ola contributor Christy Moore. “Hypertonic saline is a treatment for people with Cystic Fibrosis, and the best source for it, for people who are healthy enough, is the ocean!  Sometimes kids can even skip a treatment that day after being in the ocean.”

For more information about MOF and how to get involved, visit: mauliola.org

 

How to Surf a Crowded Lineup

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Thought you could escape class for a surf? Hahahahahahaha–No. If you are a newcomer/beginner/slacker, it’s good to study up on the actual break or else allow the locals to school you. And hey, we all learn in different ways! Just be sure to get a good understanding of “when the wave breaks here, don’t be there” concept and try to stay out of the impact zone. Often times perfection and hastiness will get the better of us and we charge out to the peak only to discover a side shore current that conveniently drops us off right where we don’t want to be.

Damn, there goes that Clif Bar.

In case it’s not totally obvious, ask yourself: Is it a point break, beach break or a reef? Where do you want to paddle out? Where is the impact zone? What waves are people avoiding and why? If you can stand it, take some time to chill on the sand and watch a few waves roll through before jumping in. Chances are there is a Surfline cam dedicated to that spot, so you’ve probably already watched it online, anyway.

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As amazingly perfect the wave might be, patience is truly a virtue. Once you paddle out, this is also a great opportunity to sit back, relax and observe the natural flow of the lineup. Try not to be pushy and paddle straight to the peak. Paddling out there like Billy Badass won’t score you waves unless you’re a pro…but most of the time, these guys are humble and kind when they paddle out any way. The peak is not a place for an undeserved sense of entitlement. Stow the ego.

Do not–I repeat–DO NOT snake, back-paddle or drop in on a local. That’s a great way to leave your wave count at 1 and local respect at 0.

No matter how popular or populated, always show respect for the people who have already put in their time at the break. But remember: much like they taught you in preschool, everyone gets a turn and you will get yours.

If you’re constantly getting snaked and this is your fourth or fifth visit to the spot, forget what I just wrote. (see ‘Tales of a Back paddling Player‘)

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Yea, you might not get the same amount of waves as you would from your usual spot at first, but showing appreciation towards the locals goes a looooong way. Remember how awesome it is to be a surfer! Think about the first time you ever paddled out and how excited or nervous you were and then think about the first wave you ever stood up on! Typically that will bring a smile to your face, right??

When the crowd grows to overwhelming proportions and your wave count is in the single digits, forget the small stuff and be thankful you have the capability to be out there in the first place. Didn’t we just celebrate Thanksgiving? ;)

 

:D :D :D :D :D

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Just keep that Beastie Boys song in your head while you scour the lineup for a ride. If you’re a newbie, take what scraps you can get before working your way into the lion’s den. You gotta earn your stripes first, so get out there and take what you can! A little inside runner at Lowers can sometimes be a better shaped wave than the peak, anyways! Some places are gold mines with elusive perfect peaks that sneak through the outside or swing wide from the peak. Those, to me, are fair game. Just be sure come prepared with a strong paddle game! Do those extra push-ups and keep that cardio in check because in a crowd, cardio is key.

Keep hunting grounds open for any opportunity to legitimately place yourself in a priority position and fight for that right to party…with a smile. :)

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It is not the end of the world today…at least I hope not. Good thing for us several million surfers around the planet, the ocean never sleeps or goes on vacation. It will bring more of those luscious rippable lines again…and again and again…every day, somewhere on the planet. Unless you have the time, grapes and/or benjamins to go on an epic journey in search for your perfect private peak, crowds will always be a reality. So stop whining and put those big girl panties on!

There will always be more waves and you will only be that much more prepared once they roll through again! All the more reason to cherish those epic days when everyone at your break is scoring waves, even your newbie self. Some of my most memorable and special moments were at Lower Trestles with 50 people out during a firing swell. Smiles all around, enough waves for everyone, sunshine and dolphins …it’s magical. But don’t expect this every time. More often than not, waves won’t be perfect and the locals won’t always be in a giving mood. So sack up and practice that cardio! It’s not the end of the world! :)

Until then–absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Trestles Walk

Don’t ya wish the walk was actually this fast sometimes? ;)

An October Throwback

All-time destruction engulfs California while a fall swell lights up the coast—-never has it been more selfish to be a surfer.

The cause? Consistent Santa Ana winds blowing at speeds of 85 miles an hour out of the east in addition to drought conditions and some jerk with a pyro-fantasy.

October 2007 saw a massive outbreak of wildfires which consumed over 970,000 acres that stretched from Santa Barbara county to the U.S.-Mexico border. Much of the densely populated Southern California experienced approximately 30 wildfires in late October which were then contained by the beginning of November.

Clouds of smoke cloaked the sun which casted an eerie orange hue in the sky while surfers coughed and choked their way through the lineup. Smiles could barely be seen from the sand as rebels were spat out of each barrel’s temporary “orange room”–a mouth full of toxic air awaiting each grin.

“Did you see my barrel?! It was so $%@^%# !!” while ash slowly fell like rain all over Orange County.

It was hard to determine the central conflict: surf while fires raged and local communities cried for help, risk inhaling a five year supply of smoke -or- miss out of some of the most perfect barrels.

There were some who talked of volunteering while each Santa Ana-groomed set wave emptied like a perfect tee-pee over the sandbar. Some announced the amount of cigarettes this surf session would equate to while others casted those loudmouths dirty looks.

I CONFESS: I surfed 36th street in Newport Beach that day while I watched clouds of smoke billow from the hills. Yea, I felt guilty, so it didn’t surprise me when I later contracted several terrible sinus infections in the months to follow.

But—the barrels were #@%$#&&!@!!

6 Things to Remember when Hiking to Havasupai

There are times when a suburban surfer needs a change of scenery from the drive-park-pay-surf routine….or even just the general surf routine. Waves are an amazing and hypnotizing force of nature, but sometimes there is a reason to strike outside of the aqua bubble world and explore parts of nature that offer other forms of incredible beauty.

I CONFESS: I’m not only a wave junkie, but also a nature-loving, granola-eating, outdoor FREAK.

Havasupai–not to be confused with the infamous Lake Havasu–is a Native American reservation located on the north rim of Arizona’s iconic Grand Canyon. The Supai tribe is comprised of over 600 members who have lived in this beautiful canyon area for more than 800 years. The tribe’s name, Havasupai, literally translates to “people of the blue green water.” The opaque blue-green rushing streams along with several picturesque waterfalls attract thousands of visitors each year where the water remains a temperate 70 degrees Fahrenheit and weather conditions, at times, fickle. Take one photo of this place and you will feel like a regular National Geographic photog.

A ten mile hike from the hilltop known as “Hualapai” will get you into some of the most breathtaking scenery and peaceful campgrounds.

Here are some tips to consider:

1.) BRING WATER!

And plenty of it. It may be hot and muggy or cool and crisp, but no matter the atmosphere’s conditions, your body will need some consistent consumption of good old fashioned H2O. One liter of water weighs approximately 2 pounds and you will need at least 2 liters for the 8 mile hike into town. We also carried an extra 16 ounce water bottle each and dedicated it to electrolyte dissolving tablets. This was an immense help, especially on the hike back to the hilltop…and it wasn’t even hot.

Unless you are hiring a mule or have the extra Benjamins for the helicopter ride, you will be carrying everything. With all of my gear (clothes/food/water/toiletries etc.), my pack weighed about 20 pounds. This will drain you, especially if you’re not used to the added weight. The terrain varies from soft sandy riverbed to boulders, which will give your calves an added workout.

Case in point: make sure your body is well hydrated–drink, fool.

2.) BUG REPELLENT and MOSQUITO NETTING!!

I couldn’t emphasize these items more! Unless you are wary of the extreme chemicals in bug sprays or you enjoy being eaten alive in small portions,  invest in some heavy duty bug repellent. Mosquitoes are a-plenty due to the lush vegetation and water supply among many other factors (Google ‘perfumed lotions’ + bugs). They will hunt you down.  If you are camping or sleeping in your car, triple check your mosquito netting application and don’t doubt that these guys will do what it takes to make you their midnight snack.

I discovered sand dollar-sized bumps on my forehead, arms and legs in the middle of the night…eventually, I attempted my best mummy impersonation at 3 a.m. with the mosquito netting.

The only real success? –> Dave smashing the crap out of them against his brand new car ceiling (sorry, sweetie). We lured them towards the dome light while his ninja-like reflexes obliterated their existence.

Teamwork, folks.

3.) CAMERA:

Well, this is a no-brainer! Any will do because no matter what you bring, you’re going to score stare-worthy pictures no matter where you point and shoot. I recommend a camera that is durable, lightweight and possibly water-proof.

There were times where I was a little worried about slipping on the rocks and sacrificing my expensive lens to the river gods, but alas–my surfing skills paid off. ;) If your feet aren’t scratched to oblivion or resemble truck tire tread (thank you, Uppers!), water shoes are a wise investment for this trip. Save your rock dance moves for low tide at Trestles or when you aren’t toting an expensive piece of equipment. (Note to self: invest in water housing…)

If you are a photog snob and simply can’t live without custom settings and controllable shutter speed, your DSLR’s extra weight on the hike will be justified with frame-able photos in the end. There’s a reason why so many photogs are skinny!

Busting out the smart phone? Invest in a water/dust/shock-proof case for your pocketbook and mental sanity. Just know you will have to save the insta, eff book and tweet posts for later.

4.) HIKING SHOES WITH A GOOD GRIP

There are several different types of terrain once you begin your initial hike. Your shoes not only need to be comfortable, but-more importantly-they need to have a good grip. As I mentioned, the ground varies from soft riverbed sand and ankle-deep pebbles to dirt, boulders and, at times, mud. Conversation among your compadres might become quieter as your focus will shift to the ground–literally. The ground conditions can become slippery, especially when you are hiking down into the canyon. Make sure you maintain a focus–nothing sucks more than a twisted ankle–believe me.

If you have the grapes to hike down the semi-treacherous route to Mooney Falls, not only is your shoe’s grip essential, but you also need think “spiderman” with your hands. One false move could result in a serious injury. Be careful–but know the climb (not hike) to this spot is completely worth the sweat.

Oh, and if your feet are on fire by the time you get to town, I highly recommend soaking those doggies in the rushing creek. It provided me with an uncanny cartoon-like relief.

5.) KEEP SPARE CLOTHES IN THE CAR

Before your hiking adventure commences, remember to leave behind a extra set of clothing inside your car for when you return. After trekking the canyon through heat-or possibly rain!- in addition to working up a considerable sweat while hiking the 2,000 foot elevation climb on those killer switchbacks, everything will be soaking in your own broth. In addition to dust and mud stains, the heat might bake this concoction into your clothes. Wonder why you don’t have to pee as much? The proof is all over your clothes! :)

There are no public showers at the hilltop, so avoid this smelly recipe for perma-car stench. Unless you want your car to smell “eau de you,” have spare clothing on hand for the trip home.

At the very least–> clean chonies!

This is a life-saver, especially if you have a long drive ahead of you.

 

6.) HAVE FUN!

Havasupai is considered sacred land to the Supai people as they share a close connection to the beautiful water that flows through their village. It is important to always show respect as well as enjoy the natural surround. There are tons of opportunity to not only challenge your body physically, but also kick back and mentally unplug. As in all things in life, work-life balance is very necessary. Take the time to relax, unwind and UNPLUG. There’s no phone signal, internet cafe or wifi for miles, so just accept it and go with the flow. Take photos, make friends, smile at the locals, try some fry bread and contemplate what life was like without the almighty Google!

Cool fact: Supai is one of the only towns that receives mail via horseback.

True story, just ask Charlie Chamberlain!

Pre-teen Opens Paddleboard Business

She’s not your average C.E.O.

Sage Offutt sports ponytails and loves to rock out to Sheppard’s “Geronimo” with her besty as much as possible.

But still–this pre-teen means business…#forreal

While most 12 year old girls spend their spring break and summer vacations soaking up the sun, listening to tunes or developing summer crushes, Sage Offutt decided to take her fun-in-the-sun activity to the next level on the crystal clear waters of Navarre, Florida. The chipper Colorado native has opened her own paddleboard rental business, Sage Paddle Co., featuring the latest Pop Paddleboards and hasn’t looked back since.

“Every time we go paddleboarding as a family, we would get questions like ‘oh my gosh, where did you rent the boards and where can I get one?’” said Offutt. “So we started to see that there was a need on the island for this. We are a very outdoorsy family and love any activity in general.”

After taking a small loan out from her parents, Offutt invested in six paddleboards under the condition that she pay them back by the end of the summer.

“Within 17 days after the first rental, I had not only paid my parents back for all six boards, but I had also invested in a golf cart to go with a trailer that we already had for the paddleboards.” said Offutt.

What started as a business conducted virtually over the web has since blossomed into a physical location for Offutt’s booming profession. The young pre-teen has partnered with REMAX Vacation Rentals on Narvarre Beach as their official supplier of six ocean kayaks as well as over two dozen paddleboards.

“When I first came across Sage, I couldn’t believe she was 12 years old and running her own business,” said Pop Founder Nick Lanfranco. “Most kids at that age are opening lemonade stands, but not Sage. She is a mature young lady who is going to have a bright future!”

After scouring the web for paddleboard companies, Offutt concluded that Pop resonated with Sage Paddle Co.’s life style. Most importantly the two companies share the same value as Sage Paddle Co.’s motto, which originated from Offutt’s grandma:

“Live life to it’s fullest and without regret.”

“I really like the Throwback,” said Offutt. “I have a very bubbly bright personality and I think that board really represents me. Pop’s video on the throwback board is actually my favorite video that they have.”

Never Ending Summer – POP Paddleboards from POP Paddleboards on Vimeo.

Whether she’s on a boat, surfboard or paddleboard, Offutt has always been on the water as early as she can remember. Since she was six years old paddling on Chatfield Lake with her father, Offutt found her passion for the ocean through paddleboarding.

Dolphins swim alongside a boat off of Dana Point, CA.  Photo: C.O.A.S.G.

Dolphins swim alongside a boat off of Dana Point, CA.
Photo: C.O.A.S.G.

“For me paddleboarding is a stress reliever,” said Offutt. “I can paddle on the water and just clear my mind. I’ve had a lot of experiences with dolphins. Sometimes they jump over our paddleboard, you can literally reach out and touch them. We have seen a lot of sting rays, jelly fish, turtles and a few sharks.”

Not only does Sage Paddle Co. rent boards for the visitors of Navarre, but they also deliver and teach lessons.

“I love seeing people’s reaction when they have that moment of success, when they finally get to stand up on the board–that is really important for me. I get really passionate about that,” said Offutt. “I want to share that with other people so they know what it’s like.”

Offutt hopes to become more involved with giving back to her local community, as well.

“My mom is a special education teacher, so I’ve grown up with a lot of autistic kids and got to work with them,” said Offutt. “I want to do something where they can get a chance to paddleboard, too.”

Today: Navarre

Tomorrow: The world

Photo Courtesy: Pop Paddleboards

Photo Courtesy: Pop Paddleboards