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What gets me out there

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Many times I have been asked "What makes you want to get out there so much" or "Why are you so passionate about the outdoors"? For me, the question has always been an easy one to answer. Typically my response to their questions would be something like "I want to feel alive, not just survive", or "I am not afraid of dying, but of not living".

I am sure that some people thought that I was just a tad bit crazy when they heard my response, but in most cases they were intrigued and began to ask more questions about my experiences in the outdoors.

They would follow up with questions like "What do you do out there", "What activities are you involved in", or "Where is your favorite place to go?"  I would tell them that I loved to go hiking to see some incredible views, fly fishing to test my abilities against nature's bounty, or shooting to test my concentration.

When they are all involved in the conversation, someone will inevitably ask me to tell them about one of my most memorable experiences.

I have had many very memorable experiences, some bad, but the good ones certainly outnumber the bad. Some of the somewhat routine adventures fade over time and are replaced by more vivid and memorable ones.

One experience that lives vividly in my mind occurred a couple of years ago on a kayaking trip with my family. We took a trip to Utah to kayak the Weber River with some friends.

It was a perfect bluebird day high in the mountains of the Wasatch Front, as we unloaded our kayaks from our vehicles. With the temperature in the high 80's, everyone was anxious to get into the cool refreshing headwaters of the "Weebs", as we call it.

Everyone began to load their personal gear into their kayaks, while feeling the heat of the noon sun.  I grabbed my backpack from the back of the truck and checked to make sure that I had my essential gear in it. With the proper gear, and a few added bonus items, we donned our PFDs and eased our kayaks into the Weebs.

One by one, we sliced through the refreshing water, moving our kayaks downstream. The early spring snow melt of the high peaks, creates class II and III rapids among the scattered boulders as the gush of water makes its' way down the narrow canyon.

We paddled on down the river, enjoying the challenge of the Weber and it's whitecaps for about an hour while taking in the view of the majestic peaks passing by. The aspen shoots had begun to blossom, dotting the mountain sides with greenery and announcing the beginning of a new year of life in the mountains.

As we rounded a bend in the river, in the distance we spotted a cow moose and her young calf crossing a shallow sand  bar in the river. We slowly floated downstream toward the mother and her calf, snapping pictures of the pair.

As we watched them climb the bank of the river, we could see that the awkwardly long legs of the calf struggled to gain traction on the slippery reed-covered bank. After four or five attempts, he was able to claw his way up onto solid ground. As we paddled by, the cow watched us intently, while her young calf munched on some fresh ground cover near his mother.

With the sighting of the moose stored in our memories, we paddled down the Weber River until our stomachs began to rumble for food,, so we pulled our kayaks to the edge of the river. I am sure that we resembled the young calf as we struggled to land our kayaks and climb the bank of the river.

We opened our backpacks and retrieved our lunches from them. As we were enjoying our shore lunch and each others company, we spotted a bald eagle perched on an aspen limb just downstream from us. I grabbed a pair of binoculars from my backpack and we took turns using them to view the mature eagle, as we ate.

A few minutes later, the majestic bird flapped his wings a couple of times and leaned forward. With his wings at full spread, he glided down toward the water's surface. A quick flick of his sharp talons into the surface of the Weebs and he produced a nice sized trout for a lunch of his own. With a few flaps of his powerful wings, he disappeared down river, leaving us with a mini movie forever ingrained in our memories.

Now with our stomachs full and our bodies well rested, we took advantage of the calm pool of water to go for a quick swim in the Weebs. The invigorating water made us feel as though we were being jabbed with pins and needles all over our bodies, that is,  until complete numbness set in.

Slipping back into our kayaks, we continued our journey down river, taking in the beautiful sights that nature had provided. We paddled past some unique rock outcroppings and cliffs, as we enjoyed our afternoon in the company of our family and friends.

We neared the takeout point and the end of our incredible day on the Weber River. To this day, we continue to talk about that memorable day and when we are going to repeat the trip.

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