One of my earliest memories is sitting on one of my parent’s laps in their boat as we paddled around lakes, rivers, and on the ocean. While they ran courses and lessons I was mesmerized by the water. I remember the drops of water falling from the paddle shaft onto my lap as we made our way across the water.
Truth is I don’t remember a time without paddling. I’m pretty sure I was taught to respect the water before I was taught to look both ways when crossing the street. So many of my core childhood memories revolve around the water. I could write a book with stories and moments on the water from my first memory to last week. Moments of triumph, moments of curiosity, and wild imagination, and being connected to my family, myself and the environment. Paddling is deeply embedded into my story.
In the past few years, TPOW has been an integral part of that story. I was able to join my dad on several trips and we were able to foster a better and deeper relationship through paddling and coaching. As I stepped into a caretaker role as he had a short battle with cancer I was shocked at the impact our trips had. I have immense gratitude for those times together and for the opportunity to get to know the paddling community. Had I stopped being involved with paddling and TPOW after he passed I still would never be able to express my gratitude for TPOW and the community. Yet, I didn’t stop, I continued to have a space. Through paddling and coaching, I’ve experienced deep healing, growth, and joy that has provided more than I could have hoped for.
Paddling, coaching, being on the water, and part of the paddling community is where I choose to be. It will also always be part of the fabric of my story. I choose to be here and to continue to paddle because I have the privilege to make that choice and because I have witnessed the growth and healing of not just me but so many in this community. The Power of Water has created a space where people get to show up as they are and encounter growth and joy. Getting to be part of that is a great honor.
Two weeks after my dad passed I was in Grand Marais for the GLSKS, one of his favorite places to coach. As the sunset I paddled back in from spreading some of dads ashes on Lake Superior. I noticed just a touch of his ashes had gotten on my skirt. The droplets fell from my paddle shaft onto that tiny spot where his ashes had caught. A full circle moment in life and in death we are connected by water.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve been drawn to bodies of water. Whether it is a small backwoods pond, a trout stream, a rapid river, an inland lake, a Great Lake, or the Pacific Ocean – the Power Of Water is undeniable.
My first vivid memories on the water come from about 1982 (5 years old) on Gun Lake in West Michigan. In the old school paddle boat or in the aluminum canoe we (siblings, cousins, friends) would explore the shoreline looking for fishing holes with our Zebco rod’s, night crawlers, and a few artificial lures. It didn’t matter if it was small pan fish, or trophy Northern Pike…we went after it! At dawn and dusk nearly every day, we made our way up and down the shoreline on an adventure. Getting on the water at 6 AM before any wind kicked up and boats made waves, there was something awesome and powerful about that perfect glass so clear that you could watch birds fly overhead without actually looking up. After many years and hours logged in the canoe and paddle boat on those shorelines on Gun Lake, I appreciate that same tranquility and power to this very day. Today though, it’s on a SUP with a Sage fly rod. Still enjoying even more-so essentially what I have been doing for 30 years now. The best part about it – I’m now able to experience that with my son. I’ll observe closely and enthusiastically as The Power Of Water moves him like it moved me.
Next came the Pacific. All I can say is it isn’t possible to paddle out past the break and NOT experience the Power Of Water. Watch the cult-classic film ‘Point Break’ for all the super cheesy cliche that describes it…and some great acting to boot (HA!!). To date, I’ve experienced Trestles in San Clemente CA, the Kaanapali Coast on Maui (Honeymoon), and the North Shore on Oahu (Honeymoon). Next on my hit list is the gnarly coast of Northern California, because when the Power Of Water from The Pacific Ocean hits you, it’s the perfect balance of pleasure and pain…or like being extremely nervous and extremely aroused at the very same time.
I urge everyone living in Michigan to explore our incredible State to the best of your ability from North to South, East to West. Discover Michigan’s transcendental GREAT Lakes. Experience our historic rivers. Embrace our mystical inland lakes. And for the love of “whatever floats your boat”, feel The Power Of Water!
Water is transforming. Beautiful. Intimidating. Clear. Distorted. Exhilarating. Ominous. A release. An escape. And a sanctuary. Life. Water is and so am I.
My first real memory of THE POWER OF WATER was at ten, eleven years old. We were camping at a beach in Last Chance Bay on Lake Powell. My dad ran trips up there and always brought me along. Twenty five to thirty adults, ten power boats, four pleasure cruisers, a giant barge and me. Oh yes, and an inflatable Sevylor kayak! For ten days straight as the afternoon “adult” festivities ramped up, I would head out into the nooks and crannies of the cove in my kayak and fish. All alone. On my own. Free.
There was nothing like it. Not waterskiing or tubing or driving the big boats. Nothing. The water is crystal clear on Lake Powell, yet it is filled by the silt and sediment laden waters of the Colorado and Escalante rivers. How is that possible? You can see down forty feet and watch the fish play. You get lost for hours in the rocks and the crazy sandstone formations. Just me… all alone… floating in the sky. I am there right now, almost forty years later. That is THE POWER OF WATER. – Trey Rouss
One of the key words that The Power Of Water stands for-Play. I got to play in a kayak for my first time on Friday, during the winter! I never knew there were places to use kayaks during the winter months.
I am newly enjoying the lessons and fun that there is to be had all year long. I went to Brighton to play with a couple different kayaks in the high school pool. I learned and practiced safety on the water. After learning different things, like what to do when you capsize (flip over), I cannot imagine going out on the water without this knowledge. If I had gone on a kayaking adventure without knowing how to properly and calmly deal with capsizing, I feel it would be very dangerous because I would be nervous and feel helpless. Practicing with the help of Trey(owner of The Power Of Water) I definitely feel much more confident for my next time on the water. I cannot wait for this summer to play and continue learning about kayaking, canoeing, and stand up paddle boarding, or now that I think about it, I cannot wait to discover the actual power of water! I look forward to reading about everyone else’s experiences! ~ Hannah Easterle
On an early Tuesday morning in May of 2013 the sky was ominous but we were eager to paddle. The radar indicated we would be rain free for the day on the Little Muskegon River. Unfortunately we didn’t check to see if the night’s rain filled the river. It looked high but we didn’t check. First mistake: it was flood stage!
From the moment we entered the river it was full of challenges at every turn. Just about all of us got wet, sometimes purposefully as we needed to help someone who went for an unplanned “swim.” To be sure, the river claimed us all in some way… as well as a half-skirt, a new dry-bag, multiple lunches, a really nice rain jacket and nearly two paddles. Second mistake: we should have read the messages in the ‘carnage’ and gone ashore to call for help.
But getting wet is no big deal, neither is dumping and pumping out boats. But it is a really big deal reclaiming a boat… or two… then three, caught under strainers and sweepers! It is a really big deal to hoist boats up the side of a 4 to 6 foot vertical (outside) river bank. And, it is a huge deal when the current is so strong that we had to hold each other lest we got carried down the river. Third mistake: standing in the river and its rushing waters.
A paddling journey that should have taken 4 hours took over 6, feeling as thought it would never end. We all agreed that it was the most challenging kayak adventure we ever experienced. We did employ amazing teamwork and a lot of ingenuity in getting everyone back into their kayaks and moving downstream to safety. However, once home we knew that we needed to better understand what happened and how to prevent it from ever happening again. As a result of our ‘Little Muskegon Mishap’ we contacted Trey and his chief coach, Scott, to discuss our experience. After their initial shock and amazement they developed a plan to teach us safety, better boat control and, overall, how to become more skilled paddlers. No mistake: we called the experts to train us!
Epilogue: The same group has paddled the Little Muskegon at least three times since our near-disastrous experience; each time we have traversed it expertly thanks to Trey & Scott.