Clark: So you recently completed the 14 mile paddle to Emerald Bay from the South Tahoe Standup Paddle Boat House at El Dorado Beach. You must have been paddling for a long time to accomplish such a long paddle, right?
Julie: I estimated the trip to take about 5 hours initially but it ended up taking longer due to the condition of the lake coming back from Emerald Bay. The wind had kicked up and the water was very rough. The wind was pushing hard from the north (my left side) so it ended up being a right sided paddle the whole way back. The water was rough with waves from both sides. I knew it was going to be a long paddle coming back.
Clark: How’d you get started standup paddling?
Julie: I heard about standup paddling last year from a few people at church. Especially from the Brackett girls who help me in the nursery. Then I would see articles in the paper about the Brackett family and this business they were growing. It intrigued me enough that I went out on my first paddle ride on a Friday night for Ladies Night in late May 2012. That was all it took! Julianne and Janessa took me up along the shore and into Upper Truckee Creek. I knew after that ride this was something I wanted to do so I bought a season pass on June 1 and paddled all summer.
Clark: How’d you get the idea to do the Emerald Bay paddle?
Julie: Well, the idea actually came from you Clark after seeing your post on the STSUP Facebook page, 30 Days to Emerald Bay. I talked to Chris about it in regards to my skills and fitness level. He assured me that after paddling all summer and racing that I would have no problem completing the journey. So rather than wait until the end of Sept. I decided to go on Sept. 12th.
Clark: What was your biggest fear about 14 miles on a paddle board?
Julie: Probably not having enough energy to finish. I was not afraid of the water or falling in, that type of thing.
Clark: When you set out the morning of your Emerald Bay paddle, how’d you feel when you first got out on the water?
Julie: I was really excited actually and a tiny bit nervous. I had recruited Julianne Brackett to ride along with me because I wanted someone with a good deal of experience on the lake by my side. It was a great contrast. She is 18 and I am 53. We talked a lot on the way out and soaked in the beauty of Lake Tahoe. A bald eagle flew right over us at one point. Her father Chris decided to come along with us at the last minute. I am so glad he did because he brought his iPhone and took some awesome images of us on the ride and video of us arriving back at the boathouse.
Clark: You dedicated your paddle to someone special in your life. Can you share a little about this?
Julie: Sure. After the initial challenge and idea from you, I realized that this was not going to be all about me, Julie. God showed me that there had to be a deeper purpose and it was my daughter and her battle against cancer. She has been diagnosed and treated for cancer twice in 3 years so my journey to Emerald Bay and back was a tribute to her and what she endured in surgeries followed by radiation and chemo treatments. I simply felt that if she could endure the emotional, physical and spiritual battle against cancer then I could endure whatever God had for me on the lake on Sept. 12th.
As a result, we established a web domain entitled “STANDUP Against Cancer”. Lord willing we will have a local event next year in Sept. so others can paddle for someone they know who has battled cancer.
Clark: Was there a difficult moment when you felt like you couldn’t go on?
Julie: I never actually felt that I could not go on, but there were moments on the return, because the lake was such a mess and the wind was blowing so hard, that I knew it was going to be one paddle at a time. Not only did we have to paddle on the right side the entire journey back, but you had to push the paddle out to the side as well to keep the board straight. It was a true test of endurance physically. Mind over body. Changing hand positions on the paddle, just whatever I could do to take pressure off one part of my body and put it somewhere else for a while. My right foot and ankle fell asleep as well. My right shoulder burned from fatigue. I talked to myself a lot…and asked God for the strength to finish.
Clark: What was the highlight?
Julie: First, the bald eagle flying over us in the morning as we approached the bay, but once in the bay we stopped at Fannette Island, got off the boards and played for a while up in the tea house. That was awesome. Chris took some incredible photos there as well.
Clark: How’d you feel when you came to the final stretch and knew you were almost there?
Julie: Relieved!! The 6 plus miles paddling back from the mouth of the bay to the boathouse was very long in terms of distance and time so when I finally got to a point where I could see the pier and people standing and waiting, I started to cry. It was quite a relief to be back and see many familiar faces waiting to greet me.
Clark: What did you take away from your 14 miler?
Julie: Go the distance, whatever it is. Don’t be afraid. You would be surprised what you can do when you put your heart, mind, and body the test.
Thanks, Julie, for sharing your story! And congratulations on a great accomplishment!
By the way, I did follow Julie two weeks later and completed the 14 mile Emerald Bay paddle. It was awesome and you can read my take on the experience here.
Tahoe SUP friends, you also need to make sure you’ve downloaded the South Tahoe Standup Paddle Smart Phone App. Here are 5 reasons it’s a must on your phone! But add to that list the fact that we’ll be introducing some great Christmas specials available only to those who’ve downloaded our app!