Monday, June 6, 2011
Monday, May 30, 2011
I'm not sure where the idea came from, but Becky and I thought "wouldn't it be great if we could sail the Hobie kayak out to Marsh Island, catch a fish and then sail back?" This thought has rolled around in my head over the last couple of months. Recently we decided there was no time like the present, loaded up the Hobie Adventure Island Tandem Sailing kayak and headed for Cypremort point.
Becky and I met because of sailing. Back in 1984, windsurfing was a popular pursuit in the area. My search for windurfers that I could convert into instructors led me to the woman I have been married to now for 27 years. We would windsurf on the lake, take night cruises aboard a monohull sailboat that we had and enjoy ripping up the local waters on hobie cats. Sailing has not been as popular as it was back then, but many things about this trip reminded me why sailing is something we will always love.
A quick glance at the water as we drove though the gates of Cypremort Point state park told me a lot about the day we were about to have. The water was rough with the wind whipping the tops of the swells into whitecaps all across the bay. The Nestle Quik color of the water indicated it would be a tall order to catch a fish. Soon the kayak was on the sand. We popped in the sail, attached the ama's and aka's (the pontoons and braces), loaded our lunch, fishing gear, water bottles and a little bit of emergency gear. Within minutes, we were dragging the Adventure Island into the water heading south towards Marsh Island.
We punched through the chop with the sail hauled tightly to stay as close to the wind as possible. We would have to tack (zig zag towards the direction of the wind) since Marsh Island lies south of Cypremort Point. With the sail trimmed and the kayak heeled over onto the downwind pontoon, we raced across the swells. The feeling of freedom came rushing back as we sailed. "The wind is free" is a slogan that Hobie used in their advertising in the 1980's. The slogan pointed out how inexpensive sailing is compared to filling up your powerboat with gasoline price back then at an astronomical $1.20 per gallon.
Beyond this wink at gas prices, the slogan summed up the feeling of sailing. Free from the sound and smell of a boat motor, free from the daily grind, and maybe most of all, free from the feeling of always having to be busy doing something. We sailed south, bouncing across the swell knowing that all we had to do - and all we could do - is sit and enjoy the day. Simplicity is sometimes forced and the simplicity of sailing forces everything else out of your world. It's just you, the water, the wind and the boat. Connected at the same time to the sea and the sky in a leverage that has moved explorers across vast distances for a millennia.
Which is not to say that our situation was idyllic. As our kayak blazed its way through the water, virtually every swell would deposit a load of water into Becky's face. The thought of what would happen if something broke while we were far offshore crept into the back of my mind as Cypremort point faded into the distance behind us - finally disappearing completely. We tried to whoop with joy - but truth be told we were both nervous. No one else on the water other than shrimp boats and a couple of crew boats. I'm pretty sure the workers on these boats wondered what a couple of crazies were doing way offshore in skinny yellow sailboat.
After 2 ½ hours and over 18 miles of tacking southward, we started to wonder what we were doing out there as well. Even tacking and holding the kayak close to the wind, we were northwest of the island, but within sight of Southwest pass. With the continuous drenching, I could see that Becky's goosebumps had turned into shivering. We figured we had maybe an hour of tacking left to get right up to Marsh Island. After a quick discussion of the situation, we decided to turn to boat northward and head back to the point.
We didn't achieve our goal of catching a fish at Marsh Island. Maybe in retrospect, sailing and goals are counter to each other. Or maybe they should be. In any case, we left the goal out there for a future day.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
We are very excited to be bringing a screening of the documentary Bag It to Lafayette. Becky and I were able to attend a screening last fall and left the film feeling uplifted, motivated and inspired to do something about the litter problems that seem to always dog our area.
For more on the festival and to view some of the trailers visit:
Thursday, April 14, 2011
We would like to thank everyone that signed up and supported the Basinkeeper paddle trip this past weekend. This was our second time to run this event and we've seen it as a successful way not only to raise needed funds for the Basinkeeper program, but also as a way for paddlers and outdoor enthusiasts to meet Dean (our Basinkeeper) and get to know him and the important work he does right in the basin.
Through the support of participants in the past 2 Basinkeeper paddle trips plus a $1,500 grant from Patagonia we were able to donate $5,100 to this important program. Thanks to everyone!
Here is a blog that Dean put together about the trip this past weekend:
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Recently, I did a talk for the Louisiana Hiking Club on one of the most problematic things outdoors people face in their journeys. Wet weather. And I mean day after day wet weather that can start to saturate even the most careful packer. I've decided to share some of these ideas via my blog. This will be done in a number of installments (the talk lasted 1.5 hours). Our first installment will focus on packing systems.
Location and Priority of Accessibility
A major key to keeping your gear dry is where your gear is loaded in your pack or boat. I like to think of my packing in 3 levels of accessibility. Level 1 is all the things I could need to get to without taking my pack off or beaching my boat. These items should be in areas that are easily reached while walking down the trail or paddling. These items include:
Rain Jacket (Pants are level 2)
Navigation (Map, Compass, GPS)
Water Purification (Filter, Chemical Treatment, Steri Pen)
Stove Fuel (I keep this outside not for convenience - but rather to prevent leakage inside my pack)
Level 2 items are things that you may need during the day and can access without removing the raincover from your pack. These items include:
Rain Pants, Hat & Gloves
First Aid Kit (Note that a blister kit could be level 1 if you are not sure of your boots or you are leading an inexperienced group)
Lunch for the day
Day Shelter (Bothy, Tarp, or Fast-Pitch portion of your tent system)
Level 3 items include everything else. These items are generally things you will need once you set up camp (spare clothes, sleeping bag and pad, tent body, flashlight etc...)
Pack Liners and Pack Covers
Pack covers are essential for keeping your pack dry. Think of it as a rain jacket for your pack. All packs leak at the seams and zippers - so a pack cover is absolutely essential. An alternative is a Pack Liner. This is a lightweight drybag that goes inside your pack. This system is utilized by hikers in wet climates like Scotland and proven to be superior to Pack Covers in keeping gear dry. All dry gear goes in your pack liner with damp things above it. Or - get 2 pack liners and use one for damp items and one for dry items. Many thru hikers utilize a very simple pack made with fabrics and foams that will not absorb any (or much) water. They rely on their pack liners and don't worry about bringing a pack cover.
Obviously, good raingear is essential for wet weather outdoor use. My preference is for a rainsuit (jacket and pants) as opposed to a poncho. Your rainsuit becomes your outer layer blocking not only rain, but cold and wind as well. It provides the most protection.
What you want to look for in a rain jacket is a high quality waterproof / breathable material that does not utilize a nylon or mesh lining on the inside. These linings add weight and become saturated with sweat anyway. The jacket should have taped seams and covers over every zipper. The hood should have a nice large bill on it to keep water from running down your face. A good suggestion is to bring a quick dry ball cap to wear not only for sun but also under your rain hood to help out with the problem of water running down your face.
I always recommend a very light base layer such as Patagonia Capilene 2 underwear to wear under your rain jacket. This spreads perspiration allowing it to vent out of the jacket quickly and easily. It also stops body oils from getting into the waterproof breathable coating inside the jacket. Even in warm weather - you WILL be more comfortable with a light longsleeve shirt on under your raingear.
Keeping your raingear in good shape is absolutely essential. EVERY waterproof breathable jacket - no matter the price needs to have the outer Durable Water Repellancy revived from time to time. This DWR allows water to bead and roll off keeping the nylon from saturating - allowing the jacket to breathe much better. To do this, we recommend a product called Revivex. It is applied while the jacket is wet after washing. You then "Set" the DWR into the jacket by running it through a warm dryer. Anytime your jacket isn't beading water anymore - it's time to Revivex it.
Hiking in raingear in warm humid weather is a challenge. For this I recommend an Umbrella. The umbrella can be affixed to your pack strap easily allowing your hands to be free for trekking poles. Click here to view how to set this up. If you like to take it to the extreme in lightness try a rain kilt instead of pants. Not only are they more ventilated and cooler - but you look at least 30% more tough (or maybe goofy).
Remember - it's not about looking cool. It's all about going light, being efficient with your gear and enjoying your experience in the outdoors.
Millions of children grow up without shoes and at risk of infection and disease. One Day Without Shoes is the day we take off our shoes to raise awareness of the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child's life. As part of this special event, Pack & Paddle employees will be going without shoes for the day, and we encourage other businesses, organizations and individuals to participate in this event.
Come by Pack & Paddle barefoot on Tuesday April 5th, and you'll receive a coupon for Saturday's big Style Your Sole event worth 10% off your TOMS shoes for that day. Not to mention getting to see Skip and Amy's toes!!!
Here is a link to the One Day Without Shoes website page:
Style Your Sole Lafayette Day Saturday, April 9th
As a companion event to TOMS "One Day Without Shoes", Pack & Paddle will be hosting an official TOMS "Style Your Sole" Day. On Saturday, April 9th, local Lafayette artists will be at Pack & Paddle to turn your new pair of TOMS shoes into a wearable piece of art. A $10 donation to the artist helps support them for the day, and your purchase of a pair of TOMS shoes gives a new pair of shoes to a child in need. Pack & Paddle will have special TOMS shoes on hand for adults and kids that are perfect for your artist to style for you.
About the TOMS One for One Movement
In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS customers.
Many children in developing countries grow up barefoot. Whether at play, doing chores or going to school, these children are at risk:
•A leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted diseases, which can penetrate the skin through bare feet. Wearing shoes can help prevent these diseases, and the long-term physical and cognitive harm they cause.
•Wearing shoes also prevents feet from getting cuts and sores. Not only are these injuries painful, they also are dangerous when wounds become infected.
•Many times children can't attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don't have shoes, they don't go to school. If they don't receive an education, they don't have the opportunity to realize their potential.
Why We Give
Many children in developing countries grow up barefoot. Whether at play, doing chores or going to school, these children are at risk.
* Growing Up Barefoot. In many developing countries, children must walk barefoot for miles to school, clean water and medical help.
* Education and Opportunity. Children who are healthy are more likely to be successful students, and access to education is a critical determinant of long-term success.
* A Better Tomorrow. A village of healthy, educated children have a better chance of improving the future of their entire community.
Where TOMS Currently Gives:
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
The following Blog entry was written by Georg Popp. Georg is a noted professional landscape photographer. He traveled to our area last fall in order to photograph the amazing virgin Cypress at Lake Fausse Point. I thought that Georg's blog put into perspective the world class beauty available to all of us here in South Louisiana.
To view more of Georg's photos and learn more about him and his wife, go to:
Assuming it’s mostly locals that come over to Lake Fausse for a leisurely paddle amongst gigantic bald cypresses and take some photographs, it must sound odd to hear a photographer from as far as Vienna, Austria would fly over for a week to do just that.
At least, when I stood - up to my chest - in the swampy waters of the Lake in early dawn on my first day here last November, my tripod deeply sunken in the muddy bottom, bracing myself to the knee-roots of a cypress, I felt pretty odd, too. Odd, but enormously happy to finally made it. As easy as it seems for somebody living nearby, it was quite the feat – from a logistic and organizing standpoint – to execute this photo-trip.
To explain this, it might be a good idea to give you a rough job description, of what my life usually looks like. I happen to be a professional landscape photographer, who – together with my wife – search for unusual and unusually beautiful – or unusual, beautiful AND unprotected (or even threatened) places of the earth. To do that, we have specialized in the traditional style of taking photographs with a large formal view camera. This means, we still shoot film, we have no autofocus, zoom lenses or any exposure programms to operate with. Worse, the whole set-up is clumsy and heavy and the 4x5 inch large slide films are expensive. All in all, the camera has not changed much from the early days of Ansel Adams.
A second advantage might be the fact, that such a camera system seriously slows you down and forces the photographer to contemplate a lot about what he’s trying to achieve, which was exactly what I was doing on my first morning in the water, long before sunrise and under a cloudy sky that would prevent me from getting any special sunrise-light.
The main goal for me on a photo-journey is, to come away with at least one photograph, which I will print, publish or show to the public in any way I can, to make folks aware it is out there. No more, no less. If it happens to be a photograph that can make people look for more than a fleeting moment, get them interested in what they are seeing, my mission would be acclomplished. Of course, I’d like to believe some of our photographs have had some effect on helping to protect some of “nature’s jewels”.
So what was it that made me come to Lake Fausse Point?
First of all it was our current project – an exhibition on forests and trees of the world, which we are inivited to present later on in 2011 during a large photo-festival in northern Germany. For this festival, we have opted to present only a very few prints. These prints will be very large ones – up to 7 feet on the long side, shown in a very attractive setting. During the ten day festival, many thousand people will walk by these prints.
Because of the high profile of this show, we wanted to present very different kinds of forests and very special ones, too. And instead of opting for the classic California Redwoods, we wanted some other special forest of North America to be included. One that might catch people by surprise and make them shake their head, for not having seen such a place.
Just which forest might fit, we didn’t know.
By accident we stumbled upon the fine photographs of Louisiana based nature photographer David Chauvin (www.davidchauvinphotography.com) and were immediately convinced!
With the decision made, there were only a few questionmarks left: Where exactly can I find a spot to maybe get a chance to come away with a good shot in only a a week? How do I get out to the trees? Are they in deep water? Will I be able to stand in the water? Will my tripod (or I for that matter) sink and get stuck in the mud? Do I need a boat? Where will I be able to get a boat? How will I be able to transport the boat (canoe) with my rental car to the Lake? What would be an ideal time of year? What about mosquitos, and last but not least: will I get bitten by Alligators?
It ain’t so easy from oversees in Europe to find out all the answers, believe me! So it was the help of David (the photographer) who answered most of these questions and linked me up with John (of Pack&Paddle). I emailed back and forth with David about autumn conditions, water level etc.and when it seemed to finally come together, I booked a plane, packed my bag, jumped on and arrived here in the timespan of 72 hours…
On my first morning out, David was so generous to even accompany me out in a kayak to show me some good spots! I couldn’t believe how smooth it all turned to be. Against my initial plans to just hop into the water with my street clothes (or maybe hiking clothes) or maybe even without clothes, for hours, John convinced me (it wasn’t hard) to borrow his hipwaders (it turned out we have exactly the same shoesize!) and to rent a sit-on-top kayak instead of a canoe. (much easier to get in and out) Above all, the water level allowed me in many places (not all though) to be able to stand in the water, set up camera and compose some decent photos. We were even lucky enough to witness a bald eagle close to us, snap a fish right out of the water.
My only setback during the days to follow was the weather, which was often way too warm (around 75 F in mid November) for morning mist to build on the water and a constant breeze, which made the spanish moss move during most of my (usually long – up to 2 minute long) exposures.
For seven straight days, I was getting out in the lake every morning (rise at 4.30, drive to the launch spot, paddle out 40min) and every evening, paddling back in the dark. I felt as happy as a kid in the bathtub! I had such a great time, I even hoped for a Gator to swim by me, while I stood in the water, but it wasn’t to be.
The results from my week of shooting however, I would only see much later on, after returning back to Austria’s cold and snow. Because of the large format camera, I couldn’t be sure whether I achieved my goal of one special photograph for our festival or not.
But photography aside one single morning made my trip so very special – no matter how the prints would turn out in the end:
I arrived at the canoe launch with the full moon still out, total calmness and fog on the water. It was one of my most memorable mornings ever! I needed no headlamp, my kayak gliding effortlessly through light mist, between ancient cypress trees, underneath the mystic looking moss, listened to an amazing number of owls, fishes jumping in the water here and there, bald eagles were already up too.
It was like being set back in a different time – maybe millions of years back. Some of the cypress trees appeared like dinos or huge creatures spreading their arms and staring at me. The knee-roots sticking out of the water like tails from a reptile. Like creatures from a different age, forgotten in an enchanted swamp, only coming out in the morning mist and hide during the day. To know there are REALLY some very large reptiles nearby was only making it even more perfect for me. When the sun came out and light beams wandered across the water and into the forest it was so magical, I almost forgot to take pictures. I just sat in my little kayak soaking it in, holding thumbs, that these “creatures” will forever be able to hide in the mist.
All landscape photos are by Georg Popp
Photos of Georg working are by David Chauvin
Monday, February 14, 2011
I wanted to update you on the reps that will be representing their companies at our upcoming Adventure Trade Show scheduled for P&P on Saturday February 26th. Here's our current listing:
Jose Ruiz - The North Face
Tom Jester - Native Watercraft Kayaks
Steve Oxenford - Hobie Kayaks
Keith Richard - The Camp Fly Fishing School
Steve Sell - Wilderness Systems Kayaks
Walt Ernest - Steri Pen - Gregory Packs - PacSafe Travel Gear
Daryl Khoury - Spot Locater Device
Dave Blanding - Jackson Kayak
Thomas Flemmons - Diablo Kayaks
Jon Stewart - Hurricane Kayaks
Andy Duemling - Merrell Footwear and Chaco Footwear
Greg Allen - Yakima
Sabine - Vibram FiveFingers - Patagonia Footwear
Jerald Horst - Author of Troutmasters and other books
Saturday, February 26th, these and other reps will set up booths inside and outside of Pack & Paddle. This is the perfect time to meet the reps, talk gear and see new stuff for 2011!
While you are at the Adventure Trade Show, you will be able to sign up to win one of these great prizes:
North Face Tent
The Camp 1 Free Hour Casting lesson Private ($75)
Jackson Kayak Tee shirt and hat
$100 Merrell Gift Card to be used for the shoes of your choice
$100 Chaco Gift Card to be used for a pair of Chaco's of your choice
Costa Del Mar 400 Series Sunglasses - $189 Value
10 Costa Del Mar Croakies - LSU Colors
10 Merrell Coffee Mugs
12 Pairs Smartwool Socks
Werner Hats and Waterbottles
Mountain Hardwear hats and cozies
You MUST attend the Adventure Trade Show on February 26th to sign up to win!
I wanted to pass this news along from Kacy at the Nature Conservancy at Lake Martin:
I thought you might be interested in the attached photo and recent sighting of a White-winged Scoter in Lake Martin. Matt Pardue (our Land Steward) and I saw him last week, but Matt couldn’t make a certain ID and went back out today to go get him. This is a very unusual sighting and the first recorded White-winged Scoter on Lake Martin.
In other bird news, the Great Egrets are arriving late this year. At least, we hope that they are arriving. So far, I have not seen any large groups, but we had had a report of one group leaving in the early morning. When Matt and I went out last week to work on the rookery boundary, I was encouraged to see a good population of nesting Great Blue Herons- there were 30 to 40 treetop nests in the middle of the rookery area (where we would expect them), along with their nest tree mates, Neotropic Cormorants. We also saw about 10 pairs of Black-crowned Night-Herons in the north rookery area (they seem to prefer that over their old nesting area in the north end of the lake). I will let you know when the birds begin to arrive in numbers.
This year, we are going to begin to gather a baseline set of data with early morning point counts for the rookery. The scenario will basically be three people set up in three different places, 30 minutes before sunrise, either once or twice per week for eight weeks beginning in the middle of March. We will count fly-overs for an hour. It will be an annual effort after this year. In this way, we will be able to accurately estimate if numbers are increasing or decreasing from year to year. We will not be able to achieve an actual hard number for the birds in the rookery, but feel it will help immensely with estimations. Please let me know if you might be interested in helping with this effort.
All my best, -Kacy
Friday, January 21, 2011
A new feature for the Adventure Trade show on Saturday the 26th will be our new Seminar Room. We'll offer "how to" and "where to" seminars all day long. I've already booked most of the seminars - and will release a schedule for the day soon.
Also the Reel Paddling Film Festival is all set for Saturday evening February 26th at 6pm. We have received our tickets from RPFF and they are ready for purchase. Last year was a blast - and this year promises to be even better. I really advise everyone to purchase your tickets as soon as possible because we are limited to around 50 tickets - and have already sold over 10 as of this blog.
Our demo is on track to be a great event again this year. It's scheduled for Sunday the 27th of February. Virtually every factory rep will be on hand - as will the Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club, the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club
Friday, January 14, 2011
We are so proud and happy to have yet another Williams around. We can't wait to spoil him with great trips paddling, hiking and kayak fishing.
Brand New Liam still in the hospital.
Baby or Tree frog?
Mom and Dad already reading to Liam about having adventures.
Liam is already wearing Patagonia clothes!
Becky with Liam - His first time on a kayak!
Already a nature lover.