When you think of ways to workout the first thoughts come to mind are usually running and working out at the gym. When you think of a getaway with the girls, you usually think of poolside resorts with fancy drinks and spa appointments. Well let’s blow some holes into those thoughts and talk about when you do a Paddle to Climb with Casi Rynkowski of Performance Training and Outdoor Fitness.   I am not one to sit by the pool for vacation, drink fancy drinks and book spa appointments. I get too bored. Additionally, my workouts are not typical (think CrossFit, Spartan Races and Triathlons) so when I signed on for the Paddle to Climb I knew I would be challenged while having fun.


Paddle to Climb pic

Our first day started out on a very windy but warm morning on the Connecticut River. Casi guided us on how to load up our Stand Up Paddle Boards with tents and camping gear. This was a first for me as when I typically head out on my Stand Up Paddle Board it includes one small dry bag and me. So, to put it mildly, step one was already outside of my comfort zone. For those who need an image, my BIC board was equivalent to a camel loaded with gear for a journey across the Sahara desert. Once we were all balanced and comfortable, we were ready to head down the brackish river in a fast running down winder. This was going to be fun! As we headed down the river the wind was behind us and we had a nice push of current and waves, which allowed us to enjoy the scenery and the company of each other. We had 18 miles ahead of us and a lot of river to cover and see.


IMG_1002Our first stop included a break from the wind and current. Through one of the side rivers we stopped for an early lunch in a small inlet cove. It gave us some time to rest and power up for the remainder of the trip. Once we got some protein and water in our bodies, we were ready to continue down the river. As I jokingly asked if there were gators in these waters, we came upon a sign warning us of the Copperhead Den, I would have been happier to see a warning for gators as I am extremely afraid of snakes, and yes, this was the second moment outside of my comfort zone. I was fine, moved passed the warning sign but kept my eye triggered for any sign of those unwanted friends.   As we continued down the river, I stopped to realize I was not in training mode for a race but actually taking a pleasure paddle and enjoying my surroundings, an area I am not familiar with. It was nice to just slow down, breathe and enjoy the moment that was happening around me…..nature.


As the river came to an end we headed into the harbor where the winds had picked up even more and our down winder was pushing us harder…but what a ride. Although no one said it out loud at first, we all knew with such a great ride down that we would pay for it on our paddle back. In order to get out of the wind, we entered into protected waters that brought us into town, which gave us the opportunity to sit out the wind for a bit. With any adventure, you need to explore your surroundings and so we did. We decided to walk into the town and when we did, we felt as if we had walked back in time. The town had this small General Store that carried everything from snacks to antiques. We fueled up on some ice cream (that may or may not have been expired) and then headed back to our boards. The wind seemed to have slowed and switched on us but we discovered that was not the case once we left the protected harbor. We had a battle in front of us but that is what Paddle Boarding is all about, being able to handle all different situations. This portion of the trip we lovingly named “Satan’s Bowels” as we had to dig deep to get ourselves to our campsite on Selden Island. We made it to the campsite feeling that we had accomplished a lot in those 18 miles and it was a great feeling.


Paddle to Climb pic2Third moment outside of my comfort zone… camping. The night before I practiced, with the help of my husband, how to put up this tent and that was my job as we prepped our campsite. With some help from Kate Egnaczak, fellow paddler and climber in the group, the tent was up. At this point the fire was also going and we were ready to eat. Casi’s excellent culinary skills provided us with yummy chicken fajitas, and we enjoyed an evening of getting to know each other better. Eventually the evening came to a close and we headed off to our tent as we had a big day tomorrow, which included the fourth moment outside of my comfort zone….rock climbing.


Matt Shove, Founder, Senior Guide & Instructor at Ragged Mountain Guides met us the next morning to begin the second half of this adventure. We hiked to the first location which was a climb that provided a beautiful scenery and included propelling down in order to climb up…”hmmmm…you want me to do what???”. Well I propelled down, started my climb up with Matt’s guidance along with the supportive words of Casi and Kate. As I got to the top, the feeling of accomplishment overwhelmed me and I felt a huge boost of confidence and the undefeatable feeling of “I can do this!”. After a couple of more climbs, we headed back to camp for some lunch and believe me when I tell you, the almond butter sandwich I made never tasted so good. After lunch, we gathered our gear, got back on our boards and headed to the next location…the interior climb.
The interior climb described by a person who has never climbed before….”oh S**t! I am going to climb that??”. The response was “yes and you are going first.” As they told me, the first climb will frustrate you and then you will learn to take your time and think through it like a puzzle. They were right, the first climb was frustrating, however I did get to my comfort point which was not that far up, but far enough to understand that I need to sit back and watch the others in order to get this done. As I watched the grace and grit of the others, I realized what I needed to do to get this done. My turn was up for the second climb and I listened to Matt’s guidance on where I should put my footing, how to use my legs to push up to the next spot, and how to feel along the rock on where to put my fingers. Listening to Casi telling me that I can do this and to not give up pushed me even harder to get to the top and that is exactly what I did. What a feeling to know that I just did this climb, something I have never done before by pushing my fear aside, clearing my mind and enjoying what I was doing in the moment. We moved over to a more flat faced part of the rock and continued to climb. This time I went last and knew I had to finish my day with one last good climb. I started the climb, felt along the flat surface with my hands looking for tPaddle to Climb last climbhat perfect spot, pushed up with my legs and then moved to the next spot on the rock. I took my time, repeated this movement while looking up for my next spot to move to. I kept telling myself to “clear your mind, listen to your breathing, and enjoy the moment and the view as you are above the trees”. I made it to the top, touched the top as I was ringing a bell and propelled back down with this pumped feeling that I could do anything at that moment. Paddle to Climb propellAs I reached the final decent to the ground I was greeted with a supportive congratulations from all and then told that I just climbed a rock that was rated a 5.9. What does that mean you ask? It means the level of difficulty and a 5.9 means that the climb has smaller holds but is a confidence builder for a beginner climber. It did just that, it gave me the confidence I needed and made me fall in love with climbing.


The adventIMG_1005ure was a positive moment from the day we headed down the river to the last climb on the second day. There was endurance building, pushing yourself to the limits and constantly working outside of your comfort zone within a supportive atmosphere. Casi through her company, Performance Training and Outdoor Fitness has created a not so typical workout and made an adventure workout that pushes you to go from “I can’t do that” to “I can do that and I want to do it again!”. If you are looking for such an adventure, then I suggest you join the next one offered by Performance Training and Outdoor Fitness to find that adventurous you!


On to the next adventure!!!!

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