Author: ASJ Staff

Outdoor Afro

Expanding access to adventure

By Leonie Sherman

Harriet Tubman was born into slavery, escaped to Philadelphia, and then promptly turned around to rescue her family. She made 13 missions that delivered 70 enslaved people to freedom, traveling by night and using a network of houses known as the Underground Railroad. At Combahee Ferry she became the first woman to lead an armed raid in the Civil War and helped liberate more than 700 enslaved people. She’s remembered as an icon of courage and freedom, but rarely as a wilderness leader. The Oakland-based organization Outdoor Afro aims to fix that by changing the way we view black history and inspiring a new generation of black outdoor leaders.

Ten years ago, Outdoor Afro founder and CEO Rue Mapp noticed there weren’t a lot of people in the outdoors who looked like her. To find out if others shared her passion and …

Read More

Stand Up or Sit Down

A Paddler’s Guide to California Classics

By Roger Schumann

Whether you prefer to paddle securely seated in a kayak or favor the enhanced view and balance challenges while standing tall atop an SUP, or both, California offers an outstanding variety of world-class waterways to explore. 

From renowned seashores to picturesque Sierra lakes, many of the state’s classic paddling destinations conveniently have rental and tour operations nearby. They are suitable for giving first timers and dabblers a nice taste of the wild and scenic nature that makes each unique. More experienced paddlers with their own boards or boats—along with the skills, gear, and savvy to do so safely, can venture further afield to experience the full flavor of the watery best. 

Assessing Skill Levels

Like whitewater rafting, skiing or rock climbing, paddling has its own rating systems, such as the five-level system used by the American Canoe Association, the nation’s largest …

Read More

Gigi McBee

Crusading for whitewater safety

By Deanna Kerr • Photos by Jason Bates

Based in Lotus near the American River, kayak and swift water rescue instructor Gigi McBee has been on a campaign to keep herself and other paddlers safe on the river for over 20 years. Through commitment and hard work she has become a role model and an inspiration, making many in the kayak community safer in whitewater.  

McBee has been passionate about rivers for as long as she can remember, but her fascination with whitewater kayaking began when she was 13 years old.  She was living in Santiago, Chile with her ex-patriate family when she noticed a group of campers learning to roll in the Maipo River. She knew at once it was a sport she had to do. Kayaking would become the way she would always stay connected to the magic of rivers.  

McBee spent the …

Read More