issue no. 5

Editor's Note
By Kyle Hentschel

Before embarking on a 700-mile kayak expedition, Conor Phelan sat at a desk. I picture him spinning around in his chair, throwing a pencil at the ceiling to see if it sticks, and daydreaming out the window until someone snaps him back to reality. He, like many, was restlessly coping with the transition into an office setting. But his decision to take time off, trade work shoes for wetsuit booties, and pursue an ancestral mountain in the remote islands of Southeast Alaska serves as inspiration for anyone attempting to balance work and play.

The goal of course, is to make these elements one and the same, to find something that allows you to contribute to the world and also participate in it. Many people see this as impossible, as a lifestyle reserved for National Geographic photographers or professional athletes. But I see it as more of a challenge than a roadblock.

When I catch myself pondering this work-play tension, I think back to a question my friend Jake used to ask, “It’s 10:00 AM on a Tuesday ten years from now; what kind of shoes are you wearing?” My responses were always confused attempts to combine work and play in the same shoe – and I’m still working on the answer. But nonetheless, it’s a prompt I’d like to leave you with as you weave your way through Issue Five.

We’ve outlined some of the very best options for “play” to inspire your next adventure, now all you need to figure out is the “work” part of the equation. Easy, right? Good luck.

Paddling the past

Words & Photos by Conor Phelan

Standing on the dock in Ketchikan, our starting point, I had that palpable feeling of time simultaneously compressing and stretching. A trip that had been no more than a distant idea 10 years before was now my reality for the next 60 days.

beware of bear

Words and Photos by Ian Tyley

As we made our way through, we crossed paths with numerous day-trippers, a few of whom alluded to the presence of a bear at the campsite, near the Widgeon Falls trailhead and where we planned to spend the night. Our initial reaction should have been fear, but the possibility of meeting a bear face-to-face was too good to pass up. We paddled forward in a whirl of trepidation and increasing ferocity as our mutual excitement grew.  

More than Lyme

Words and Photos by Adam McKibben

For the past 15 years, Chloe O’Neill has fought the tick-born illness known as Lyme disease. She decided to ditch the status quo and craft a lifestyle that made her feel good, every day. She also founded More Than Lyme, an online community dedicated to enriching the lives of people with Lyme living all around the globe, through outdoor adventure and storytelling.

Paradise Found

Photos by Will Saunders

Nicaragua isn’t a destination for professionals seeking world class surf conditions. But let’s be honest, most of us don’t care! For those looking to drop the wetsuit, ditch the crowds, and catch wave after wave, the Pacific coast of Nicaragua offers a casual paradise, or at least that’s what photographer Will Saunders found when he ventured to the surfing hot spots of Popoyo and Playa Santana.

Field Notes: When cold-water surf photography really sucks.

Words and Photo by Marcus Paladino

Glancing at my watch, I realize I’ve spent three hours in the 44° waters near Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Most of that time was spent sitting on the reef waiting for the swell to pick up, and the few waves that did come in sent me tumbling into rocks. My feet are numb, my wetsuit is chaffing the back of my knees, and I’ve had no luck behind the lens. Time to head to shore.

    Just as I begin swimming in, I see local surf legend Pete Devries paddling out. I sum up all of the adrenaline I have and swim over to him. As he’s giving me advice on how the waves are breaking and how best to capture them, I can hardly hear through my chattering teeth and the, now incessant, rain. Waiting again for the perfect set, the light diminishes, my legs are dead weight from treading, and my arms are too tired to hold the camera. Now four hours in the water and I’m toast. When I finally wash up on shore, my aching feet cramp and fail to hold me up. I crumple to the ground yelling every curse imaginable

I rip off my fins, tear off my gloves, put them in my mouth and bite down, trying to make the pain subside. I hear whistling from the lineup and turn to watch as Devries drops into the wave of the day.

As the spit comes flying out, so does he. I throw my hands over my head and watch him carve three times before kicking out. I am in awe, thinking of the photos that could have been. Completely drained, I begin the long hike back.

It’s times like this that elicit yearning for the surf in Southern California, or even Hawaii. Nevertheless, the frigid and unforgiving waters of the Pacific Northwest always challenge me to keep coming back.