Who Knew Exercise Could Be So Fun

Adventure Cascades, Arlington/Darrington

I don’t know about all of you, but I am not a go to the gym kind of gal. It isn’t that I don’t like it, in fact I love working out and the feeling I get from doing it. The problem for me is that it is repetitive and boring. Just like with work, I’d rather be out doing something fun. Okay, that might not be a good analogy for me, seeing as my work is fun more often than it is not, but you get the point. So what is my kind of exercise? It’s the kind that comes with a side of adventure and a whole lot of the great outdoors.

If I’ve piqued your interest, good! Now how can you find this kind of exercise/adventure balance in your life. Hiking is a great place to start. Depending on length, elevation gain, and difficulty, you could get a week’s worth of workouts done one day a week. While its a great way to lose weight, when it comes to strength and muscle building, hiking has only got your legs covered. So, what about those ever important arms. That is where activities like kayaking and river rafting come in. They are both all arms, all of the time.

Both are something, my kids and I have experienced first hand over the last two years thanks to Brian Pernick and his company, Adventure Cascades. He is the man behind the best adventures we have ever had in the great outdoors to date. Looking back on it all, I couldn’t even begin to tell you how we met or how I discovered his company, but regardless of that, I am beyond happy I did.

During the first summer of Live the SnoCo Life (2016), we rafted the somewhat gentle, but still fun, Suiattle River in Darrington with him. It was an opportunity to get our feet wet when it came to white water rafting (pun intended). Then that Fall, we got the opportunity to try out their Stilliguamish River float before anyone else. While rapids are way more fun, the photographer in me appreciated the opportunity to take in the beauty of the river and be able to take photos.

Fast forward to the summer of 2017, and The SnoCo Kid and I were all in for hitting the much bigger rapids of the Sauk River with Brian. It was an amazing experience and one we can’t wait to relive this summer. It is also one that left us wanting more, adventure s on the water, and me wanting to check another item off my bucket list, kayaking.

It was the very thing I had been putting off the most. Why? Well, my health problems have resulted in the slow ongoing deterioration of my muscles and bones. Things that require arm and leg strength are a challenge for me, even on a good day. It is part of why we got into hiking. I could take things at my own pace, gradually build up difficulty, and maximize the benefit to not only my body, but my spirit as well.

There is nothing like conquering not only a trail, but increasingly difficult ones, when faced with the potential of losing the ability to do so at all forever. So, when Brian began offering kayak rental trips down the Stillaguamish River, it was fate, and my arms and I were ready to rise to the challenge. Okay, not exactly, at least not right away. Kayaking a river, regardless of how fast or difficult it is, is a serious matter. Preparation was in order.

 

Once the warm weather began making regular appearances, I nervously got the kids and I our very own kayaks to begin practicing with on Lake Stevens (there are perks to living on a lake). The nervous part almost got to me. While my nerve pain was mostly under control at that point, I was increasingly struggling with my arms and hands. At that point I had twice dropped a weightless box of oatmeal from a high shelf at the store because I couldn’t hold on to it, and all the typing that is my job has become harder and harder.

How the heck was I supposed to hold an oar, let alone propel myself through water, if I couldn’t even manage those things with ease. I should probably add the fact that my health wasn’t the only thing making me nervous. I have not swam or gotten into a lake or river since I was a kid. Back then I nearly drowned when the canoe my dad and I were in tipped over on a lake. I’ve been terrified of the water and canoes ever since. The rafting trips with Adventure Cascades were my first time back on the water, and somehow okay, because I was in a big strong raft, and  the chances of falling in were low.

If you are thinking a kayak is a lot like a canoe, you are absolutely right. I didn’t let my arms or my fears get in the way though. We got into those kayaks and we started hitting the lake a few times a week. Surprisingly, once I was confident with keeping my balance and a lower chance of tipping over, I found that my arms could actually keep up. I could hold onto the oars and I could use them without going home, or waking up, to sore arms. It was awesome.

Better yet, the more times we kayaked, the stronger I could fee my arms getting when it came to everything else. I can now pick up an oatmeal box with the best of them (yes, it is okay to laugh at that). There was more to it though. My health problems tend to keep me isolated and indoors at a desk when work doesn’t require otherwise, and my kids are about the same when it comes to video games and computer time.

Getting out and getting exercise wasn’t high on any of our to do lists, but just like hiking, kayaking changed that. Both were ways for us to get a workout without feeling like we are working out at all, We have too much fun and see too many beautiful things and places to see it as anything other than just that.

Fast forward two months, and we were ready to face the Stillaguamish, or at least so we thought. The original deadline for this article may have gotten us out there a bit before we were ready, but we did it, and even finished on time. You’re probably guessing there is something I’m skirting around, and you are once again absolutely right. Along the way, and amongst the beautiful scenery, I got to face my fears first hand.

If you are thinking a kayak is a lot like a canoe, you are absolutely right. I didn’t let my arms or my fears get in the way though. We got into those kayaks and we started hitting the lake a few times a week. Surprisingly, once I was confident with keeping my balance and a lower chance of tipping over, I found that my arms could actually keep up. I could hold onto the oars and I could use them without going home, or waking up, to sore arms. It was awesome.

Better yet, the more times we kayaked, the stronger I could fee my arms getting when it came to everything else. I can now pick up an oatmeal box with the best of them (yes, it is okay to laugh at that). There was more to it though. My health problems tend to keep me isolated and indoors at a desk when work doesn’t require otherwise, and my kids are about the same when it comes to video games and computer time. Getting out and getting exercise wasn’t high on any of our to do lists, but just like hiking, kayaking changed that.

We survived, and had an adventure that left us better kayakers and ready for more time on local lakes and rivers. You probably still won’t catch me in a canoe though, so don’t even ask. That’s just not going to happen. As for you, I recommend you get out and give rafting and kayaking a try, whether it is for exercise or otherwise, especially if it is with Adventure Cascades.

Brian is an awesome individual, one that has not only found a way to make a living doing what he loves (something I’m not longer jealous of, thanks to my own job), but shares that love and the beauty, nature, and history of Snohomish County’s rivers with others. You won’t have a better experience with anyone else.

Brian Pernick, The Man Behind Adventure Cascades

How did you get into rafting and what do you love most about it?

I grew up on a small lake in Michigan, so I have always been around water. When I started snowboarding at 13, I was hooked, and my desire to live in the mountains began to take over!

In college, I achieved my goal by spending a few winters snowboarding at Mt. Baker. It’s common to see cars at the ski area with mountain bikes and/or kayaks on the roof, and I quickly realized that snow sports were just one way to play in the mountains.

In 2006, my little sister talked me into going to a raft guide training with her in Pennsylvania, I immediately fell in love with floating and playing on rivers. Paddling provides me the same freedom to explore nature that I seek in snowboarding. I also learned that I enjoyed guiding and introducing people to the river.

What made you decide to open your own rafting business?

I got an engineering degree from Michigan State, moved to Washington, and got a job in an office. In spring 2008, I was laid off, and immediately went back to working on the river. I guided in ID and WV that season, and knew I could never go back to a “normal job”. There wasn’t really any looking back from there!

What are the differences between rafting the Suiattle and Sauk River?

Both are great runs!. The Sauk is definitely a whitewater run, with over 20 rapids, while the Suiattle has a few class IIIs and miles of swift water. Despite having fewer rapids, the Suiattle is like a wild younger sibling to the Sauk. The valley is completely undeveloped, and it is very rare to see anyone else out there. You get a much different experience.

What kinds of things can rafters expect to learn about and see?

Sometimes guides just repeat things that they have heard to fill time. That’s never worked for me. I’ve always tried to do my own research. It’s important for me to personally have an understanding of the world around me, only then can I help others learn about the places we visit. (He’s pretty funny too!)

You get to see lots of beautiful spots and things from your raft and kayak during the trips your provide. What doe you look forward to most?

Yes we do!

We know these rivers well, and while the scenery and even the rapids seem static to the occasional visitor, every single day is different.

The Sauk and Suiattle are wild rivers, and they’re constantly changing. Sometimes the changes can be dramatic and obvious. Most of the time however, the changes are subtle. Flow, water color, weather and flora change daily. Winter flows move rocks and gravel, clear log jams and make new ones.

It’s a challenge to know these rivers, and I love it!

What are the typical months that your trips and kayak rentals are available?

For those looking for the biggest whitewater of the season, May is the time for a rafting trip with us (we are going to have to get out there soon). The rafting continues through the summer months, with low flows arriving mid July.

Kayaking starts in May and goes until the rain returns.

Find out more about Adventure Cascades and book your rafting or kayak trip at:

www.adventurecascades.com

Be sure to follow @adventruecascades on Facebook/Instagram too. You don’t want to miss out on Brian’s adventures!

Did you know that this article, as well as all of the others featured on our website are part of a monthly magazine. Our monthly magazine is available in both electronic and print form (yes, you read right, print!). As if that wasn’t awesome enough, each issue contains exclusive content that can’t be found on our website or social media accounts. So if you aren’t getting a copy each month you are missing out.

Monthly and annual subscriptions can be bought HERE. Finally, a limited number of printed copies are available at The Chic Boatique,  Artisans Mercantile, and Tried & True Boutique in Snohomish and Reclaimed Heart in Arlington, Vintage Company No. 7 in Bothell, Ladders Clothing & Company in Stanwood Island, Rustic Redemption in Granite Falls, and Vintage & Rust in Monroe each month.

Let us know what you think! Share your comments and experiences below and don’t forget to spread the love on social media at the bottom of the page.

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