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  • Radford Bean

Overcoming Paddler Boredom

I confess. Some of my paddling has become rather boring. It’s not the type of paddling I’m doing; it’s where I’m paddling. I find myself going back to the same locations over and over again. Even places I love to paddle and go many times a year, like Beaver Creek, have started to bore me a little.

Now, granted, I could never get tired of seeing river otters and watching their antics, but seeing the same wildlife each time gets tiresome after awhile. How I would love to encounter a humpback whale breaching, see a wolf walking along a stretch of isolated beach, observe a grizzly feeding on a salmon it just caught, or observe a moose feeding on grasses along the banks of a pond. My trips, however, always seem to entail the same ubiquitous wildlife: Canada geese, great blue herons, mallards, belted kingfishers, ospreys, red-tailed hawks, robins, nutria, muskrats, sea lions, harbor seals, and occasionally white pelicans. My paddling has seemed to hit a rut.

Oregon has some extremely beautiful places to paddle, but they can get old after awhile if those are the same places you keep going to every year. For instance, my paddling trips consist typically of Beaver Creek, Vancouver Lake, Salmon River, Yaquina River, Drift Creek, Willamette River, Siletz River, and the Tualatin River. Most of these trips are predicated on driving mileage.

Do you find yourself having similar feelings? Has your paddling hit a rut? Perhaps you find yourself paddling the same locations over and over again or seeing the same wildlife day in and day out, and this is leading to paddling boredom. Change things up. Search for new locations, new wildlife.

I know this site is focused on paddling in Oregon, but don't be afraid to try other places in other states and countries. I find myself journeying more to the Puget Sound because of the variety of flatwater paddling and with hopes of encountering orcas and maybe gray whales. A planned trip to Protection Island to view auklets is on the horizon this summer, as is a trip back to New England and several days of paddling off the Maine coastline. I’ve never paddled Lake Billy Chinook in central Oregon, so I’ve planned a trip there this year. Other trips this year to places I’ve not paddled before, like Port Townsend, should provide new experiences to help break up some of the paddling rut I’ve been suffering.

That’s not to mean you won’t find me paddling some of the same places this summer I paddle frequently. I’m hoping to get back out to the sea cave at the base of Cascade Head.

I have also taken to traveling to the Salmon River with the express purpose of observing a family of river otters. As a result, I don’t paddle as much of the river as I used to, choosing instead to stay around that section of the river where the otters typically hang out.

So change up your paddling venues.

Maybe even step out of your comfort zone as I did last summer when I joined a group of fellow kayakers and journeyed out to the Cascade Head sea cave.

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