Natalie goes to Colombia and paddles the Cal Salmon

Some trips just aren't meant to be.

I was planning on an incredible trip to Colombia, South America in March where I would get to team up with Celliers (owner of fluid kayaks), Mark Hentze (author of Colombian Whitewater) and other Fluid team paddlers. Mark organized the trip and was really psyched to share with us his favorite place to paddle in the world. I was super excited to get to know and paddle with Mark and Celliers and the rest of the crew. Celliers even pushed production on the Bazooka so that we could have a photo shoot while we were down there. Here are some links to paddler reviews of the Bazooka: Valentin Grollemund, Bobby Miller and Andrew Kellet video. But fate, or the gods, or whatever, did not want this trip to happen. Things started to not come together the week before the trip when

1. I find out that Celliers wouldn't be able to make it because he was too busy getting the new US factory up and running. And, he wouldn't be able to bring me my new paddle that Steve Horvath was going to hand off to him.

The weekend before the trip, Leif and I drove out to Salt Lake City for a little skiing and family get together. On Monday, while I was in Salt Lake, Leif dealt with a flurry of e-mails between Fluid and a shipping company because...

2. The Bazooka did not get crated to Colombia, like I thought it was going to be, and Fluid wanted to express ship my boat to me before I flew so that I could take it on the plane. They ended up shipping it to Miami, where I was spending the night on Thursday.

Okay, so sweet, we got that arranged, but oh no!

3. My paddle was not going to get to me on time- instead I had to borrow one of Leif's, which he let me do reluctantly.

4. Tuesday morning before my Thursday flight we get the most tragic and unexpected news that Mark, the team organizer of the trip, passed away on a kayak expedition. He and Eneko were resting at camp when a flash flood occurred and swept him away (Here is Eneko's story about that night). This was very, very upsetting for me to hear. I decided that I still wanted to go and support what Mark had planned and paddle for him. I hopped on my flight with my paddle and paddling gear on Thursday.

5. It turned into a bit of a hassle to get my boat from the shipping company. The warehouse was a 20 minute drive from the airport and I landed at 10:00pm. I rented a large minivan and a super nice guy met me with his wife at the warehouse at 11:00pm (Thanks Arturo at On Time Freight in Pompano Beach for going above and beyond!). I then drove back to the airport and slept in the car in the parking garage, determined to go to Colombia in the morning.

6. Morning arrived, I showed up at 7:30 for a 10:30 flight on Spirit airlines. It was havoc and I didn't get to the front until 9:00. Then I was literally told that "your boat will break the plane". Mark had flown with boats to Colombia before on Spirit and I mentioned this to the agent to no avail. Not this time! I was denied my flight and issued vouchers for the cost of my ticket.

In my research of Spirit's baggage policy beforehand it seemed like I would just have to pay extra if if was over 80 inches long, it turned out that they wouldn't accept it if it was over 80 linear inches (total inches in all directions). Suffice it to say, their baggage policy is less then clear and it really depends on who you get at the airport.

I could fly without my boat, but the price difference between the tickets and the cost of shipping my boat back home was just not worth it. I decided that the gods had ruled not in my favor and I took a Southwest flight (I had a free flight saved up) with my boat back to Salt Lake Friday night. I spent the night with my Aunt and Uncle (Thank you Suzanne and John for coming through in a pinch!). Leif and crew picked me up on Saturday morning on their way to California for a Spring Break trip playboating trip.

By the way paddlers- Southwest has a Baggage policy for kayaks. $50 for your boat and the extra oversize and overweight fees if they apply. I ended up paying only $50 because the agent forgot to charge me the other two fees, sweet. I fly southwest all the time and love those guys.

7. Unfortunately my paddle got broken and I lost my phone en route to Salt Lake.


I ended up having a great time with my brother, Russell, Leif, Spencer and Nathan out in California. We kept it a low key playboating trip because Leif was, and still is, recovering from his ankle injury, and I was still unsure whether I had recovered from my blown ear drum that also happened in Mexico. We mainly just went to the Cal Salmon and surfed the Ikes wave (this was where we were married last year), visited with our friend Ken Ratihn, who let us stay in his house while it was raining, surfed the ocean and played chess at my brother's house. Although way more low key than last years trip when we surfed the aftershock waves of a tsunami , ran Burnt Range Gorge at 10K, and dropped Metlako on Eagle Creek, and it was just as much fun.

And, it was gorgeous:

Here is a slideshow of the Spring Break trip:

Here is a video that our buddy Spencer but together with some of the footage:

Spring Break in Cali 2012 from Spencer Mauk on Vimeo.

After way too much traveling, in too short of a time (Salt Lake-Denver-Miami-Salt Lake-California-Colorado in a week and a half) I am finally home and gearing up for the boating season with some flatwater and low water Poudre and Gore runs.


  1. Sorry I missed you guys, and to hear about the fateful Colombia trip. Hope you're having fun enjoying the melt! Cheers,

  2. “The refusal to rest content, the willingness to risk excess on behalf of one's obsessions, is what distinguishes artists from entertainers, and what makes some artists adventurers on behalf of us all.


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