Sweet Shot: That first paddle of spring, a mid-westerner’s perspective

Bryce Haack Minnesota spring banner
Bryce Haack Minnesota spring banner
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While some of us here in the North East think we’re pretty rad for paddling through some gnarly NE winters, our hats are OFF to the folks in Minnesota who are just getting their feet wet again after the deep freeze over of inland waterways of a mid-west winter.  Here’s outdoor adventure photographer, Bryce Haack’s perspective of that first paddle back out in spring.

Bryce Haack Minnesota paddling
Bryce Haak finds the freedom of the ice melt in Minnesota.

Minnesota Paddle Dreamin’

Living in Minnesota means that there are certain activities that aren’t an option for certain parts of the year.

“Paddle boarding allows you to leave the stresses and obstacles from your day on the shore and recharge for awhile.” – Bryce Haak

I personally love winter, but the one major setback is not being able to paddle board due to the fact the lakes and rivers are covered with two feet of ice. This makes it that much sweeter when the ice clears and I get out for the first paddle of the year.

This photo was taken during the “maiden voyage” this spring. I’ve been using the Imagine Surf 11′ Icon LTE inflatable as my primary board because it allows me to pack it in the Jeep if I think there’s any possibility I’ll be able to get out and I don’t need to waste a bunch of time going home to get my board and gear. Often, the time it takes to drive and get my stuff makes the difference as to whether or not I’ll be able to get out.

“There is just something so exciting and satisfying when you’re able to finally paddle out after a long winter.”

A few months ago I added a new GoPro to my paddle boarding gear and it has already opened up some cool opportunities that I hadn’t had in the past. I love photographing my adventures, but when many of them take place on water it often complicates things and adds a level of risk as far as camera equipment. The GoPro is rugged and waterproof. I’m not personally a fan of selfies but it is nice to be able to get some photos or videos from my board when I’m not out with anyone else.

For the first paddle of the year I ended up heading out by myself and taking advantage of Rice Lake in glass-like conditions. This is one of the local lakes near me that I often go to because it’s very close so I can get out there quickly, I hardly ever see another person, and I don’t need to deal with boat wakes. There is just something so exciting and satisfying when you’re able to finally paddle out after a long winter. I’ve been out countless times by myself as well as with others over the years and I’ve found that paddle boarding is just as rewarding whether you’re alone or with a whole crew. There is just something special about gliding across the water after a full day and being able to clear your mind.

Paddle boarding allows you to leave the stresses and obstacles from your day on the shore and recharge for awhile. I find myself loving this photo because that’s exactly how I felt as I got the board in the water after a long winter.

– Bryce Haack
Outdoor adventure photography

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Evelyn O’Doherty
Evelyn O'Doherty, owner & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0, worked her way up the ranks in the world of stand up paddling. A former surfer gone rogue, Evelyn stepped onto a SUP for the first time in 2009 when a plaguing neck injury kept her out of the water from surfing. Discovering the core benefits and expanded perspective on the water that stand up paddling brings, Ev immediately was hooked. She became a strong SUP racer in the North East and a year-round SUP surfer, gathering multiple top brand sponsorships including becoming a team rider for Starboard SUP and a national ambassador for Kialoa, as well as celebrating all aspects of the sport with additional brand ambassadorships including lululemon athletica, Clif Bar, Cobian, Kaenon & Indo Board. Her love of watersports and commitment to advocacy in preserving our marine environments led to a short film made with The Nature Conservancy as part of their Clean Water initiatives on Long Island, NY, called "A New Perspective". Evelyn just keeps paddling. Today, she's stepped up to take over the helm at Standup Journal after having worked for the magazine for 2 years as senior online editor. Her dedication and belief in the power of print to immerse readers in the watersports they love even if they don't have access to the water in a daily existence plus a powerful desire to spotlight the amazing people doing rad sh*t on the water is what drives her vision for Standup Journal 2.0. Evelyn welcomes the conversation about how to make the magazine benefit as many people as possible and encourages feedback, letters to the editor and communication at editor@standupjournal.com . Now, as owner/publisher for Standup Journal., Evelyn continues to live in East Hampton NY where she has daily access to the water. When the swell is working, you can find her in Montauk rattling around in her Ford Ranger surfboards hanging out the back headed for points East.