Kayaking with Outback

Karla Dubey enjoys a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean after a morning of kayaking.

May 1, 2013

The Pacific Outback offers a student her first taste of kayaking — and a bit of home on the Pacific Ocean.

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There’s something very peaceful about sitting in the middle of a calm, smooth lake in a kayak, listening to the river splash and flow against the stroke of a paddle.

This weekend marked my first kayaking trip with the Pacific Outback and my first time in the water since I moved to Oregon last year.

The Pacific Outback offers students a chance to enjoy the great outdoors. Students can sign up for various activities, including Voyages at the beginning of the year or mid-year trips to go canoeing, rock climbing, hiking and more. The trips are often led by trained student leaders, and they’re an affordable way for students to try something new.

It was cold and foggy at 6 a.m., when we arrived at Nestucca, near Pacific City. Nevertheless, our group leaders Kylie McDermott ’13 and Jessica Hattig ’15 began with a quick but through lesson in Kayaking 101. We learned different strokes and the correct way to execute them, what to do if we fell out of our kayaks, and the names and uses of all our gear. By the time the lesson was over, we were all excited and ready to get in the water and begin our adventure.

I set out in a double kayak, quickly learning that an extra set of arms reallymakes a difference. Our kayak was fast, easily able to overtake the entire group. So my partner and I just relaxed, paddling only when we lagged a little too far from the group.

An hour into the trek, the sun came out bright and shiny, and we sat back, enjoying the scene. Every now and then, a seal popped its head out of the water to peek at us. We paddled closer to shore when we saw deer running about, and my partner pointed out the different species of birds that occasionally flew above us or sat on the shoreline.

“I just love being out here,” said Hattig, as she detailed stories of her summer endeavors: teaching little kids how to kayak.

We reached the shore about 2 ½ hours later, peering at the ocean on the other side of the sand.

“Hello again, Pacific Ocean,” said Hannah Beltran ’16, a smile on her face. I knew exactly how she felt. With the sand between my toes, the smell of salt water in the air, and the sound of the waves crashing against each other, looking out into the ocean reminded me of home.

After a quick lunch and rest, we got back into our kayaks — this time I got a single — and started the trek back toward the vans that would drive us back to Pacific.

“It’s always faster going back. This time we’re going along the current and the wind. It’s so nice. This is what I love most about kayaking: It’s almost like we’re all one with the river, really peaceful,” Dermott said.

By the end of the trip, I was covered in salt water, exhausted, a little sunburnt and sore. But I enjoyed every minute of it.

It’s safe to say that my first attempt at kayaking won’t be my last.