Congrats to TEA Parent Rick Chapman for Completing His Paddle Across Lake Tahoe
In the spirit of celebrating TEA’s Adventure pillar, Rick set off for on a solo paddle-board journey of 22 miles across Lake Tahoe this Tuesday. Check out Rick's personal account from the journey. And it's not too late to donate to Rick's paddle-a-thon!
Words and photos by Rick Chapman.
THIS TUESDAY’S PADDLE REVIEW
Oct 25, 2019
It could not have been a more beautiful day on Lake Tahoe this Tuesday for the big paddle! Though the wind gave me an unexpected surprise in the afternoon, the 22-mile journey went very well and gave me a deep sense of satisfaction on many levels.
Once I got past the pre-departure butterflies standing at Burnt Cedar Beach in Incline Village and got onto the water, the morning hours were spent just laying down miles on a glassy kind lake. Steady and confident, I put a lot of focus into thinking about how lucky I am to have so many great people in my life and to have the life that I have…so grateful. The only thing that startled that sense of bliss was when I looked back at Incline Village and saw a huge plume of smoke on the hillside….even though it looked like it was probably a “prescribed control burn” it still was shocking to see the scale and density of the smoke from so far away
It was so odd and so awesome to be that far away from everything and everyone…just a guy sitting on a paddleboard eating a sandwich at noon daydreaming. A time I will never forget. It was magic.
So as I paddled on aiming south, I didn’t realize that I was actually tracking pretty closely along the CA/NV state line and therefore eventually came upon one of the big yellow weather buoys that sit on that invisible line many miles out. By then it was oddly comforting to have something other than my thoughts and the water vistas to engage with, so I spent some time looking over all of the gadgets, from my point of view of standing on water.
One of my biggest goals for the journey was to find myself exactly in the middle of the lake via my own horsepower, a place I officially named on Tuesday, “The 611116 Church” (6 miles from the east shore, 11 miles from the north shore, 11 miles from the south shore and 6 miles from the west shore). It was there that I was gifted with the most glassy water of the day. I was getting hot, my feet were numb from static standing and I was hungry….so I very carefully unzipped the legs from my special pants, took off my shirt, sat down, dangled my feet in the cold water to bring them back to life and ate my turkey sandwich. It was so odd and so awesome to be that far away from everything and everyone…just a guy sitting on a paddleboard eating a sandwich at noon daydreaming. A time I will never forget. It was magic.
I sat in the 611116 church for a while feeling happy and calm, and then I had this weird urge to look over my shoulder to the south….and much to my surprise I saw lots of sparkles….the reflection of the sun off of waves that were clearly coming my way…..the wind was not supposed to be coming at me from the south according to the forecast I had seen and based my day on!!!!!
Yup, my state of bliss very quickly shifted to concern…..so I packed up everything tight, got up quickly and started paddling south straight at the sparkles…. And then, sure enough, a wall of wind hit me in the face. Had I not been so far from any shore at that point, I may not have been so concerned, but suddenly I was paddling directly against a pretty stiff wind that was not supposed to be there and it sort of freaked me out. All I could think was, “If this wind keeps going all afternoon, I’m going to have a very hard time making it all wth way to Camp Richardson”. So there I was, solidly in a TEA “Survive and Thrive” moment, just like the kids getting pushed to their edges out on their school expeditions, needing to persevere and push thru, mentally and/or physically. The wind in my ears is what was really messing with me psychologically while my body was in full speed ahead mode pushing thru wind and waves. So even though I had not planned on listening to music on the journey, I was thrilled to have my headphones to push into my ears to block the wind, and then I turned on my Spotify Playlist titled “Rockin In A Beer Garden” which I typically listen to as pump-up music en route to snowboarding….Back Sabbath, Soundgarden Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains….you catch the vibe…. YEAH!!!!! FIRED UP!!!! H#LL YEAH!!!! So I cranked up the tunes (here’s the playlist) and I started singing and yelling and continued paddling as hard as I could. And I just kept going and going until about an hour and a half later when the wind finally died back down.
It was a thrill to land the board, give her a huge hug and settle into knowing that I had made it through a perfectly dynamic day standing and paddling on the waters of Lake Tahoe!!!!
So, VERY HAPPY to have the lake flatten out, just as quickly as it had filled with wind waves. I was still hours from Camp Richardson and, to be honest, pretty worn out in the shoulders from the 1.5-hour freak-out paddle session. But again, that was part of it…working thru the shoulder discomfort and numbing feet one stroke at a time, aiming south. The end of day water was smooth and kind, the air was warm and the light was beautiful as I passed by great views of Emerald Bay and yellow aspens lining the southern shoreline beyond. At around 5 pm I rounded the end of the dock at Camp Richardson and Lesley was there to greet me. It was a thrill to land the board, give her a huge hug and settle into knowing that I had made it through a perfectly dynamic day standing and paddling on the waters of Lake Tahoe!!!!
Sending out a huge thank you to Scott Bolen, Eric Martin and Darren Cooke who had my back on land with access to boats and any other 911 support I may have needed. And as always, enormous gratitude for my incredibly supportive wife Lesley, who dropped me off at the north end of the lake and picked me up on the south end, and documented the happening from both shores.
Some of my friends wanted to know that I made across the lake before pledging money to the effort (You know who you are! …So now you guys are on the hook!) The pledge link will remain live for a few more weeks so anyone may still put money toward the effort if you so choose.
On behalf of Tahoe Expedition Academy and myself, I’m sending a HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who supported this effort with your financial pledges, warm wishes, and consistent encouragement. So far, together via this Paddle-a-thon, we have raised nearly $10,000 in support of Adventure Programming at TEA!!! This blows my mind.
With sincere gratitude,