WoA

Taking on the Salt River as an SUP Virgin

SUP-woa

Taking on the Salt River as an SUP Virgin Growing up in a Midwest city founded on murky rivers didn’t present many opportunities for water sports. And partaking in the annual Polar Bear Plunge in January’s 20-degree weather wasn’t exactly my idea of fun. There are a few lakes on the outskirts of where I lived but unless you owned a boat or knew someone who did, you lived a life without water sports.

I had never even heard of stand up paddle boarding (SUP) when I moved to Phoenix last February. So when Women on Adventures hosted an SUP event in August, I had to check it out.

Heather and her crew at No Snow SUP in Mesa accommodated all 30-something of us adventure loving women one morning. They helped us rent our boards and safely strap them to our car roofs (you don’t need a pick-up, my Civic worked just fine).

We drove out to the Salt River and, despite the notorious heat at 7am, it was a gorgeous August morning. One by one we put our boards in the water. Most of us sat or kneeled on our boards until we got away from the shore. I thought standing up on the board would be comparable to learning to walk, but it was surprisingly easy—as long as you’re balanced. Once everyone was up and ready, we started upriver.

sup on the salt rive

Paddling was easier than I thought and I was surprised by how much of a full body workout SUP is. Arms, back, core, quads—you exercise a little bit of everything. And you can make it as intense of a workout as you want. The majority of us took it easy (since it was our first time) and chatted as we paddled upstream. This also gave us the opportunity to appreciate the beautiful scenery around us.

We continued for about an hour before we turned around and coasted downstream. As I paddled and appreciated the occasional breeze, I knew two things: that I wouldn’t want to lift anything over five pounds for the next two days, and that I would definitely be doing this again. 

Soon.

Arizona Adventures in Rock Climbing

Conquering the bolder
by Jenny Z

Did I have enough coffee? Where will we be climbing? I hope I don't fall? What if I have to pee? Did I have enough coffee? These thoughts run through my head as I sit shotgun next to my fellow Women on Adventurer. She is talking about her sleepless night and bad dreams. Anxiety is running deep here in this car and understandably so since this is our first time rock climbing in the great outdoors.

We pull to the gas station at 8:06am and run in for extra supplies and one last bathroom stop. Everyone starts to arrive and there are many smiles and a tiny bit of nervous energy. Finally Jared and Misha arrive and tell us we will head to Tom's Thumb Trailhead. Whew, at least I'm familiar with that location, and there is a bathroom.

 

We arrive at the trailhead and get fitted for all of our gear, shoes, harness, and helmet. After our fitting Jared takes time to go over a few rules before we hit the trail to hike to our rock. I was grateful for the baby rock climb. The guys did a great job picking a place where we can work hard, but still reach the top with a great view of Four Peaks and the valley below. It was achievable and helps us to feel confident in our new found climbing abilities.

We all take our turn scaling the rock, which doesn't have a name until WoA ladies conquer it. It will now be called WoA boulder, of course.

Rock climbing is a crazy beast. The guys say "your foot is solid, go up" and I say "my foot is on a teeny tiny pebble. What are you talking about solid?", and then I push up and wouldn't you know it, solid. We are holding onto tiny rocks sticking out of the boulder. Rocks about the size of your finger tip! Amazing!

 

It's easy to let the boulder get the best of you mentally. Looking up the face of it with what appears to be nothing to hold onto until you step up and suddenly there is a spot, and there's a spot, and another. Before you even know what's happening you are at the top! Again, kuddos to Jared for picking the perfect scalable boulder.

I'll admit there is a point on my first climb where I had a little bit of an "oh shit" moment. I never look down for a reason but I also forget to look up and see what is next. There is strategy involved in climbing. Looking to see where your next move is so you don't get stuck. I almost forgot to plan which is pretty typical of my personality. You wouldn't think so since I founded a group based on planning, but we all have our things to work on and rock climbing helped me realize one of mine.

As our day comes to an end we all move slowly to gather up our gear. Ropes come down from the rock and we all make the short trek to our cars tired, cut, bruised, and happy. We celebrate over cocktails and talk about our adventure. I always tell people the reason WoA is such a positive supportive successful group is because we are constantly doing team building adventures. We support each other through challenges both internal and external. There is never competition or complaining. It's all about helping each other be awesome adventurers.

Big thanks to the WoA members who showed up!

HUGE thanks to The Climbing School!

Biggest thanks to Jared and Misha for keeping us safe!