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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Ammi Midstokke: New ways of exploring: Paddle board expeditions

By Ammi Midstokke For the Spokesman Review

Some of my favorite friends are the ones with a ridiculous sense of adventure and a impulse buying habit.

“What is on your truck?!” I ask Aubrey as he pulls up with what I assume is an inflatable advertisement he just stole from the parking lot of REI or something.

“This is the Megalodon!” he says with a long, long, long sweep of his arm because the Megalodon is basically the yacht of paddle boards. At 15 feet and accompanied by four paddles, this thing could transport expeditions, international cargo, and illegal immigrants, quite possibly at the same time.

As unsinkable and nimble as the Titanic, it promises to be perhaps the most fun way to get oneself into serious trouble.

“I should probably acquire a patch kit for this,” he says as we put in on the Priest Lake thoroughfare with the intention to paddle toward the Canadian border. We have one life jacket (intelligently stuffed in a duffle), a cooler with enough fruit to attract only the largest bears, and no whistle. Or bear spray. We’re more concerned with the unknown purpose of whistles on paddle board adventures than we are with our general lack of preparation.

The real possibility of sinking in the middle of a lake doesn’t seem to deter us or the brown dog, and we launch in a mosquito-escaping rush into the water. In my commitment to not lather myself with known neurotoxins, I have applied nearly a half gallon of mosquito-repelling hippie sauce (found at Costco right next to the 10-pound bag of pecans and the six dozen pairs of wool blend hiking socks I really needed).

Priest Lake mosquitos, it turns out, are of the organic supping variety themselves and seemed delighted with the tang of citronella my flesh offered.

“This one came with a vinaigrette!” I hear them buzz as they dine on me like an all day buffet.

While I have never been known for my skill in operating equipment, I have been known to get myself stranded on a lake in a dingy before. There is some sort of cocktail of science, buoyancy, and a gross underestimation of the drag weight of my buttocks that confounds my ability to effectively move anything in a body of water. Paddling a giant craft with a wandering dog and a far stronger co-pilot would be no different.

My only hope was that the wind was going in the direction we wanted to go so we may eventually succumb to exhaustion and just be blown home. Somehow, we made it to the upper lake where I promptly declared that we anchor to a tree near the shore for a picnic and a nap. All of these things could be done on the comfort of this expansive blow-up deck. In fact, I was half expecting some usual cruise ship amenities to appear at any time, such as a mediocre stand-up comedian and a chocolate fountain.

As we later ventured around the lake in slow motion and established competing sunburns, I made a few discoveries about exploring the outdoors. One of them is the affirmation that making memories and sharing experiences increases the joy exponentially, or therapeutic process if you have some resulting PTSD from almost drowning. (I fell in once, attempting a head stand, but as we didn’t have a whistle, I just self-rescued.) The other one, which I hope to apply more and more in my life, is that moving fast through nature is in no way superior. Also, I’m pretty sure naps should become an essential ingredient in any half-baked adventure plans.

To the kind gentleman who offered to tow us back to shore - thank you. Our zig-zag pattern was a mosquito diversion tactic.

Ammi Midstokke can be contacted at

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