All posts by rY outside

Colorado-based gal. Photographer. Writer. Adventure seeker. My name is Ryan Michelle and I'm an avid outdoorswoman, passionate photographer, writer & life-long adventure seeker. My words and images share the stories of who I am & the truths of my world. I grew up in the hills of Pennsylvania & spent many years exploring the backwoods of my home state along miles of streams & singletrack. In 2009, I fell in love with the west after a short stint in the Colorado high country & found a home in a southern CO alpine desert by 2014. My life is fueled by adventure & a passion to seek answers to unknown questions - the questions that draw our souls into the wildest of places where we can truly learn what it is to Live. I have had the opportunity to contribute words and images to great projects and publications like Southwest Fly Fishing, Trout Unlimited, Denver Outfitters and more. View more at: ryoutside.com & instagram.com/ryoutside

ride

It’s been and will be a whirlwind of a few weeks.

Work travel, photoshoots, toddler chasing, family trips, wedding attendance, cattle dog management, partner time, friend time…2017 is the year of Go.

But between it all, I am SO thankful to pause and take a moment to indulge in myself for more than an hour or two- an act that happens very rarely, I’ll admit. On Sunday, I had the opportunity to take an awesome ride with one of my closest friends I met since moving to CO.

Fat biking, fly fishing, and some real outdoor gal time is both refreshing and rewarding. We got covered in mud (and probably cow poop), caught fish, and drank some yummy beers…

Every woman/mom should have another chick/mama to let it all out with – whether it be one or a whole crew. Here’s to the women who support all of you through bike rides, beer drinking, or just front porch sitting, may all us mamas have a support system to remind us to decompress every now and then.

Before the mud and downhill
Burro Creek Trail, Rio Grande NF
Get a little mud on the…
The sneak attack…
Small, but mighty.
Let her rooooooar!
Keeping it fat.
Success!!

family

Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to work with a family with deep roots to a beautiful spot within the San Juans. After forty years of vacationing in the area, they decided to hire a photographer to capture some family portraits – actually, three families portraits, senior photos, and 20th wedding anniversary photos. What an honor!

After three hours of running around the beautiful property they call home for a couple weeks every year, I headed back to my family. It was a gorgeous sun-filled drive home along the Rio Grande and as I reflected on our time together, I was reminded of how important it is to step away from that everyday grind and indulge in something that is uniquely yours: your family.

 

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SUP?

I wrote this review a number of months back and I was waiting for it to post elsewhere, BUT, I really wanted to share it with all of YOU because this year, I’ll have another story on SUPs – BOTE, specifically (which I am in Love with!) and I’m stoked to be able to compare a couple different brands.

So, without further delay, here’s some SUP’ing reviews for your reading pleasure…

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Paddling along Poague Lake on the Rio Grande NF (Photo: Sam Scavo)

SUP: Red Paddle Co. 10’6″ Ride MSL

Where to buy: Use the “Find a Shop” tool on the company website

Perfect for: All levels of riders and types of waters, from flat lakes to flowing rivers.

*Disclaimer: I received the SUP from a company representative to demo test and review. I was not asked to publish a positive review in exchange, and I received no financial compensation for this review.

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Hiking into Poague Lake (Photo: Sam Scavo)

Testing Grounds

As the aspen leaves turned golden yellow and the water temperatures began their steady decline to freezing, I had one thing on my mind last fall while my mom visited us down here in southern CO: searching out places I can still explore before the snow falls.

On a cool autumn day, I took out the Red Paddle 10’6” Ride MSL Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) to enjoy the colors and the water. I decided to bring my six-month-old son, my adventurous mother, and a little bit of courage along to explore one of my favorite high-country sites: Poage Lake on the Rio Grande National Forest, near Del Norte, Colorado.

This was only my second time on a SUP and my first time using an inflatable one.  I was cautious at first, but quickly realized that the inflatable SUP was just as sturdy and dependable as the traditional style. I even took my son out with me, though we didn’t stray far from shore.

In my experience, there are few differences when comparing an inflatable versus a hard SUP. When I stood on the inflatable, it felt very similar to a hard board – only the Red Paddle Co model had a much more comfortable material underfoot, compared to a simple fiberglass hard model I first used.

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Red Paddle is packable! (Photo: Sam Scavo)

As for the ride, for a typical recreational SUPer, inflatable and hard boards perform very similar in speed and maneuverability tests. Where an inflatable board wins the contest is when considering some other factors like transporting the board, the location where it will be used, and storage. An inflatable SUP rolls up easily, can be carried on your back or rolled to your destination, and fits in a trunk when on the move or a closet when in storage.

Construction

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The Red Paddle Co. 10’6” Ride MSL is, like the name suggests, a 10’6” inflatable paddleboard and features MSL (Monocoque Structural Laminate) fusion technology covered in a machine-laminated structural PVC layer. According to the website, the process includes includes “fusing a second layer of hard-wearing polymer to the drop stitch core at the raw material stage, removing hand gluing errors.”  In plain speak, this makes the board cleaner (no wrinkles or cosmetic blemishes), lighter, and stiffer at a lower pressure.

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The 10’6” Ride MSL is 32” wide, 4.7” thick, holds up to 220 pounds, features cargo tie-downs, and is fully packable (with a carrying weight of 29.8 pounds). It also comes with a backpack-style carrying bag, a Titan Pump for portable inflation, a repair kit, and a water-resistant phone case.

Function

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Inflating this SUP takes some time and energy, but the Titan Pump works well. It features a long hose, a psi gauge, footholds, and two air settings.

A green notch on the air pressure gauge indicates when the SUP has reached proper inflation. I counted 100 pumps on the first setting (which uses both air chambers for quick inflation) but gave up counting when we switched to the high setting (which uses one air channel to reach a higher psi).  All told, inflating this SUP to proper pressure took about 10 minutes. I didn’t feel restrained while pumping it, thanks to the longer hose, and I noticed that the footholds helped me put extra power into the pump.

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When I stood on the Red Paddle Co Ride 10’6,” I immediately felt confident. This SUP is stable. It glided beautifully through the water, even when the wind kicked up, and felt great underfoot. Again, even with this being only my second time on a SUP, I still appreciated (and immediately noticed) the smooth and controlled ride. 

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The tie-down cords have nice elasticity and allowed me to strap down the paddle when pausing to soak up some rays in the middle of the lake.

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The three fins on the base of the board help it track well in the water. While there are many fin number options available on the market, the three-fin option is especially useful when maneuvering through waves or choppier water, like on the river. Standup Paddle Boarding Guide says the outer fins do cause some drag on flat water, but I feel the ease of maneuvering outweighs any drag that may occur while paddling on flat water, like lakes.

The fins even come with protective covers for when the board is rolled up and packed in the bag. Though the travel bag is cushioned, I feel the covers increase fin protection when in transport. Whether driving on rocky roads or traveling through airports, having added protection (within minimal added weight) is always a plus.

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For those new to the sport, this board helps build confidence on the water. It maintains its glide and maneuverability while letting you explore flat water, like lakes and ponds, as well as rivers. Its construction is solid, yet the 20-pound board maintains is on the low end of the paddleboard weight spectrum. I bumped into several downed trees with pointed edges, and the board did not falter.

I also appreciated how packable this model is: everything (board, pump, paddle) fits easily inside the Red Paddle Co backpack and hiking with it on my back was easy for the half-mile into Poage Lake. In addition to wheels and side carry handles, the pack has well-padded straps, a waist belt, and enough room to carry both the board and paddle as well as a liter of water, snacks, and an extra layer.

When deflated, the SUP rolls nicely and clips inside the bag. I found the bag convenient for both paved travel (thanks to the wheels) and trail travel (thanks to the straps). Hiking on varied terrain in sandals with the backpack loaded, I felt confident and comfortable enough to jump over stream crossings and logs. The bag didn’t flop around or throw off my center of gravity, but I did notice that I was slightly hunched over under weight. However, that issue may be resolve with the availability of a hip belt in the new models.

 

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The Nitty Gritty:

Pros:

  • Packable and inflatable, which makes it easy to transport to high country lakes and hike-access rivers
  • User-friendly pump features two airflow settings and easy-to-read gauge
  • Comfortable pack is included and features backpack straps, wheels, and handles
  • Tie downs are included on the nose of the board, allowing you to bring extra gear along

Cons:

  • Paddle must be purchased separately
  • It takes some time to inflate (but it’s worth it to not have to haul a full board into the backcountry)

 

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adventure weddings 

Have I mentioned just how much I enjoy helping document a story? Whether our personal journey in this little family of mine or others’ via wedding and family sessions, having the opportunity to capture a moment that can then be shared with generations to come is an amazing thing.

First – thank you to Beau and Jennifer for giving me the opportunity to work with them on a couple of gorgeous days down here in southern Colorado. I don’t think the days could have been any more beautiful! And the love those two have for each other is down right inspiring!

Next – if those of you reading this are engaged, planning to get engaged, or about to have the wedding of your dreams, consider packing up the party and doing something like this…inviting all your loved ones to experience your joy right along side you for a few days before saying “I Do” – it’s just a thought;)

And If you need a photographer along for the wild ride, give me a shout!

Here’s some inspiration, just in case you need a little push…