MOUNTAIN LIFE - Blue Mountains | Spring 2021

47 or guide I’ve paddled with has said something similar. Squamish- based Norm Hann, who leads SUP expeditions in the Great Bear Rainforest, loves the perspective one gets atop a board. Olympic triathlon champion Simon Whitfield was drawn to the defiance of SUP as he navigated the transition away from intense competition. And Karl Kruger, who once paddleboarded from Washington State to Alaska in 14 days, craves intimacy with water as an act of personal healing. “My joy in that experience was slipping back into the skin of what it means to be a human being and move through this environment happily and safely, and not just survive but thrive,” Kruger says about completing the unsupported Race to Alaska. “We crawled out of the water a long time before we walked. It’s integral to who we are.” My sojourn to Maine was tame, as were my spring and summer in Ottawa’s blue space. Water levels dropped and the ocean remained off limits because of pandemic travel restrictions, yet flatwater paddling kept me sane. Then my family snagged a cottage rental on Lake Huron, south of Tobermory. At the head of our bay, the limestone shelf extended into the clear waters, creating a small surf break. Every morning, I’d paddle out and ride the breaking waves. Skimming toward the rocky shoreline, there was always a humbling touch of fear. But mostly bliss. Pivoting to head back, the swells pushed and jostled me from behind. But balanced on my board, I knew to stay loose in the turbulence and let the water do the rest. Bruce Peninsula. ZAK ERB “We crawled out of the water a long time before we walked. It’s integral to who we are.”