It’s an early morning - Could be Thursday or Friday, but either way, it’s day twenty-six. I’ve been paddling nonstop, head down for two hours already, when something stops me - that nagging feeling I’m missing something. I look up from the compass I’ve been glued to for the past thirty minutes, only to be struck by a amazing sight - The morning fog has burnt off, and with the sun rising, the glassy calm water has become a pool of molten pinks and oranges.

I’ll go out and admit it. Paddling a kayak around eight hundred miles of exposed coastline on Canada’s Vancouver Island, alone, is not exactly what one expects a 17 year old to be doing- yet here I am! Moments like that morning in Goletas Channel are few and far between, but it is a reminder of something we seldom do in our busy lives - look up. Whether hiking, paddling, biking, or any other activity we do in our day, we tend to focus our eyes on what’s ahead - by now, I could draw the nose of my boat in my sleep! While we are occasionally rewarded with stunning views and once-in-a-lifetime moments, there is, in fact a lot that goes on above and behind us that we simply don’t see.

Whether it’s an eagle soaring high above us, the sun silhouetting the trees and casting intertwined shadows over the land, we have a lot to gain by pausing our tasks at hand for a moment and taking it all in. After all, past the cracked and blistered hands, aching muscles, and tired smiles, we are all out here to enjoy everything that nature offers us in it’s entirety. So, next time you’re tired, shoulders slumped, and back sore, lift up your head, look around, and smile. This is why we do what we do, and that view is yours, and yours alone. You’ve more than earned it!

-Finn Steiner