Stand Up Paddle Boarding was the last thing I could do before I had both my hips replaced. After more than a decade of chronic pain due to osteoarthritis I made periodic shifts in what was once a very active lifestyle. Opting for one new activity after another, each more low-impact than the last I finally had a decision to make. When I lost my spot on the summit team for Expedition Denali, the first group of black climbers to attempt an ascent of the highest peak in North America, I set the appointment for surgery and had my joints replaced with prosthetic MAKOPlasty implants.
Now less than two years later I’m literally back on my feet and ready to resume my career. As a professional adventure writer I’ve worked hard at creating opportunities to travel and experience things in the world outdoors to share with an engaged audience. Though I’m still not in the best physical condition SUP has given me a secure point of reentry back into a life of adventure.
This week I’m traveling to the East Coast to paddle at least a portion of a restored North American waterway. The Bronx River winds its way through a borough of New York City. Once a dumping ground for industrial and domestic waste today it’s a thriving ecosystem at the heart of a densely populated metroplex. I’m told that the waters there support a population of trout and small mouth bass. Over the next several days I aim to explore the Bronx River and indulge another new outdoor activity I’ve come to enjoy.
Tenkara Fly Fishing was introduced to me earlier this year while on assignment for Angler Trade Magazine. Part of a system now available through Patagonia called “Simple Fly-Fishing” Tenkara is an ancient Japanese technique for catching fish. In a scaled down version of the traditional angler’s equipment it involves only a rod, a line, a barbed hook lure called a fly, but no reel. And having practiced a bit with this easy to use system I have come to believe,that Tenkara Fly Fishing is a wonderful way to experience the outdoors, even in a major city.
On an urban expedition traversing of sorts I plan to paddle an SUP board into this enclave and cast my Tenkara fly rod. Working in cooperation with the Majora Carter Group, an urban revitalization strategy consultancy, I’ve created a unique adventure opportunity to travel down the now fully restored Bronx River Blueway. Home to an emerging community of environmentally conscious local residents, this neighborhood can now enjoy recreation through paddling and fishing on a new level that has yet to be completely realized. I’m excited to see what it has to offer for myself.
The outdoors isn’t just for people who live near natural wooded areas, in rugged mountains or along free-flowing rivers. Adventures in the wild can be found anywhere there is fresh air and open space, where there’s green grass and trees can grow. Nature is all around round us. And it’s my hope that with a better appreciation for the incredible natural resources available to them the residents of cities like New York might come to love them and dedicate themselves to their long-term protection and preservation. What a wonderful adventure it will be.
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