Chillin’ with the ‘Earthblazers’
Ryan Bradley puts in long, long hours under hot lights in the film industry in Los Angeles. But between shoots, you’ll probably find him chillin’ with his posse, the ‘Earthblazers’, on a kayaking and camping trip to Lake Powell, the Colorado River, or another of the remarkable bodies of water just a couple hours outside the City of Angels.
“I had no idea kayaking would be this cool”
“I have a Sea Eagle 330 inflatable kayak. I love it. I’ve gotten friends interested in kayaking. Several of them got Sea Eagle 330’s and 370’s and we go kayaking together. We call ourselves ‘Earthblazers.’ We’ve posted dozens of photos and describe what we do as ‘promoting an awareness and a lifestyle that reveals the great outdoors to be the missing piece of the puzzle in your modern life.’ We’re adventure enthusiasts using kayaks for adventure and enjoyment.
We go boating and primitive back country camping — the longest trips have been three and four nights. My favorite trip was to Black Canyon, on the Colorado River, south of Hoover Dam. It’s a National Water Trail. The water is super-clear and chilly, then you get to hot volcanic pools and hot waterfalls you can practically paddle into.
Kayaking in Lake Powell’s slot canyons was one of our coolest moments. We paddled to the end of the canyon then discovered that over a small rise the water continued. We portaged our kayaks and had our own private paddling paradise, almost another world. We camped in a huge natural alcove that was awesome. We ate Korean barbecue, set up a few speakers, and played music — it was like a big amphitheater.
My ‘posse’ and I are talking about kayaking the Russian River near San Francisco. I understand it has a 50 mile stretch of navigable water. We want to go back to Black Canyon. And the Verde River in Arizona, too.
I was hooked
I live in LA and work in the film industry. I’m a key grip; I handle the technical aspects of lighting for the films, TV, and commercial work I’m involved in. I’m self-employed and work long, long hours — kayaking is a great break from the working world.
During some downtime on one video shoot in Georgia, I took a boat ride down the Chattahoochee River. I knew I wanted to do a lot more boating and camping. Then I did a five-day trip in Utah and I was really hooked!
I soon realized I wanted my own vessel — something small because I didn’t want hassles with transport or storage. I started looking into kayaks and inflatables made a lot of sense to me. I live in a duplex and don’t have a lot of storage space. Inflatable Sea Eagles seemed affordable, light, and efficient. Mine is just 26 lbs. and fits in one bag.
Money’s worth 10 times over
I wasn’t comfortable spending a lot of money on something I wasn’t sure I’d like. But my Sea Eagle was just a couple hundred dollars and I got my money’s worth 10 times over. And even my inexpensive SE330 is rated for Class II and III rapids. I’m very happy with it! I keep it in a duffel bag in the back of my car.
By now, I’ve kayaked in the LA River, Lake Powell, the Colorado River, the Pacific Ocean, Florence Lake in the Sierra National Forest, and more. I kayaked with dolphins in Morrow Bay, California, south of Big Sur. It’s the coolest thing seeing a dolphin swim next to you in the water. They were just eight feet away and I paddled right along with them. Then I paddled near the jetty where there were seals paddling around near me.
I had no idea paddling would be this cool. Paddling in Florence Lake, I photographed horses running wild. I saw some deer, some very wild forest. I’ve kayaked and hiked Lost Valley that winds through the John Muir Wilderness.
For me, kayaking is pure entertainment. I do it just because I enjoy the outdoors. It’s a great relief from the business world — really, it’s just heaven. I carry a cooler, backpack, tent, and everything I need.
I find paddling is zen-like. The consistent movement of paddling almost gives me an out-of-body experience. You just point your kayak’s nose where you want to go and enjoy the motion. I enjoy paddling and how that repetitive motion can put me in a meditative state. I’m outdoors, I have the river to myself, and I can take whatever I need with me in a backpack. There’s a health factor, too; I’m getting exercise as I paddle. Sometimes I just drift with the current and take photos.
This is a very stable kayak. I always feel safe, never feel in danger. I always have a life preserver and have never had any issues. Of course safety is always important and I never do anything unsafe on the water.”
— Ryan Bradley, LA, Sea Eagle 330 Owner, ‘Earthblazer’