The roots for wavetrainSUP go back to early days when I brought an old rusty drawknife home from a visit to my grandparents. We lived in the country about ten miles outside Duluth, Minnesota. As a fifth grader (give or take a year), I remember doing country kid stuff that included lots of wood work. Pretty crude at the time, I imagine. That old drawknife had some fascination, relative to the other meager tools my brother and I had, or that our Dad would let us use. That drawknife soon met a pine 2×6 and a day later, my first paddle was born. At the time, I vaguely remember reading about voyageurs canoeing inland from Montreal and trading with natives. I remember reading about tall paddles with very narrow blades. So that’s what I made. I still have it. I usually bring it along to the shows that wavetrainSUP attends.
That turned out to be my first standup paddle, even though it was supposed to be for canoeing. Relative to how tall I was at the time, that paddle was way oversized, much closer to a SUP paddle than a canoe paddle, at least for that fifth grade version of me.
Once the college years came along, I went on to a couple of summer jobs working in northern Minnesota. Part of one summer was at camp duNord on a lake just outside of Ely, Minnesota. Lots of camp stuff, but a fair amount of taking families out canoeing as well. The next summer was at Camp House. I’d be hard pressed to find that again, but all I did there was take groups for week long canoe trips in the Boundary Waters. I recall a fair amount of trips starting off through the number lakes at the east end of the Echo Trail, going east out of Ely. There was an awesome sandy beach on Lake Alice that I always tried to camp at.
I was hooked. Those inland canoe summers were the gateway drug to a summer spent on the Rogue, Deschutes, Cal Salmon, the upper Klamath, and the McKenzie rivers out in Oregon.
That Oregon summer was the stepping stone that led to paradise – Idaho and the Main Salmon and the Middle Fork of the Salmon for the next two summers. Those Idaho trips always included a long drive from Riggins back over Lolo Pass and down through the Bitterroot valley to get back to Salmon, where our base was located. One of those trips included a stop in Missoula, which ultimately turned out to be where I finally managed to graduate and even start grad school. Not a week goes by, more than half my life later, that some memory of a day on some river pops in and reminds of how great those summers all were. I feel lucky to have spent my college summers working that series of watery jobs.
While adult life has taken me away from doing water for pay, my own time has kept me close to both water and wood. Paddling and paddle building have been part of the mix for a long time now.
Canoes and canoeing remain, but living near Lake Kegonsa now, I can take a long lunch and drive a few minutes to Fish Camp Park and spend an hour paddleboarding on the Yahara River. That remains my favorite of all paddling venues. I can do that multiple times each week, it’s close, I have that river to myself and there is always something to catch my eye. Love it. By the way, it all happens on a paddleboard I built myself, with paddles I built myself.
Paddle powered (and oar-powered) boats have been very good to me. Hand tools and woodworking likewise have occupied a fair amount of my time over the years I’ve been on this spinning orb.