Sweet Shot: That first paddle of spring, a mid-westerner’s perspective

Bryce Haack Minnesota spring banner
Bryce Haack Minnesota spring banner
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While some of us here in the North East think we’re pretty rad for paddling through some gnarly NE winters, our hats are OFF to the folks in Minnesota who are just getting their feet wet again after the deep freeze over of inland waterways of a mid-west winter.  Here’s outdoor adventure photographer, Bryce Haack’s perspective of that first paddle back out in spring.

Bryce Haack Minnesota paddling
Bryce Haak finds the freedom of the ice melt in Minnesota.

Minnesota Paddle Dreamin’

Living in Minnesota means that there are certain activities that aren’t an option for certain parts of the year.

“Paddle boarding allows you to leave the stresses and obstacles from your day on the shore and recharge for awhile.” – Bryce Haak

I personally love winter, but the one major setback is not being able to paddle board due to the fact the lakes and rivers are covered with two feet of ice. This makes it that much sweeter when the ice clears and I get out for the first paddle of the year.

This photo was taken during the “maiden voyage” this spring. I’ve been using the Imagine Surf 11′ Icon LTE inflatable as my primary board because it allows me to pack it in the Jeep if I think there’s any possibility I’ll be able to get out and I don’t need to waste a bunch of time going home to get my board and gear. Often, the time it takes to drive and get my stuff makes the difference as to whether or not I’ll be able to get out.

“There is just something so exciting and satisfying when you’re able to finally paddle out after a long winter.”

A few months ago I added a new GoPro to my paddle boarding gear and it has already opened up some cool opportunities that I hadn’t had in the past. I love photographing my adventures, but when many of them take place on water it often complicates things and adds a level of risk as far as camera equipment. The GoPro is rugged and waterproof. I’m not personally a fan of selfies but it is nice to be able to get some photos or videos from my board when I’m not out with anyone else.

For the first paddle of the year I ended up heading out by myself and taking advantage of Rice Lake in glass-like conditions. This is one of the local lakes near me that I often go to because it’s very close so I can get out there quickly, I hardly ever see another person, and I don’t need to deal with boat wakes. There is just something so exciting and satisfying when you’re able to finally paddle out after a long winter. I’ve been out countless times by myself as well as with others over the years and I’ve found that paddle boarding is just as rewarding whether you’re alone or with a whole crew. There is just something special about gliding across the water after a full day and being able to clear your mind.

Paddle boarding allows you to leave the stresses and obstacles from your day on the shore and recharge for awhile. I find myself loving this photo because that’s exactly how I felt as I got the board in the water after a long winter.

– Bryce Haack
Outdoor adventure photography

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Evelyn O'Doherty, editor & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0 is a former school teacher gone rogue. She left her career as a teacher in order to spend more time near or on the water after learning to surf turned her life around (upsidedown?). She is a year-round surfer and paddler living on the eastern tip of Long Island in NY who is a certified SUP instructor, seasoned SUP racer and avid longboard surfer. Evelyn was hired as Online Editor to Standup Journal in 2016. Her passion for the project quickly led to her success and eventually taking over the mag herself in Oct. 2018. Today, as editor, publisher and chief bottle washer at Standup Journal, Evelyn keeps her toes wet writing, traveling, paddling, surfing, and learning to foil. You can find her most days paddling out on Gardiner's Bay or surfing Ditch Plains in Montauk, NY.