BOTE PRESENTS //

CATALINA
STORY: ERIN O'MALLEY
PHOTOGRAPHY: SEAN MURPHY

Well, to be honest, I was born in the spirit of adventure. At 8,000 feet during an intense winter storm in the Eastern Sierra's, to be exact. When you grow up somewhere like Mammoth Lakes, it's hard to ignore the immense beauty of the wilderness. That craving for the beauty and new adventures seems to only grow stronger as the years pass.

My current passion is operating a stand up paddle outfit in sunny Laguna Beach, California. The rugged cliffs and marine protected areas make it a paddler's dream.

A few years back I had the pleasure of meeting the team of BOTE boards and their resident photographer, Sean Murphy. What struck me the most was Sean's openness and his very apparent excitement for new experiences. Earlier this year I got a call from Sean saying, "hey, let's do something!". I knew what he meant and I was not going to let the opportunity pass to paddle rad boards and hang with such a cool guy who happens to have badass photography skills.

From there our Catalina weekend was born. For many people California symbolizes bronzed beach babes and epic coastlines. That's a pretty fair assessment but the wilderness of California is so much more. The climbing mecca of Yosemite and even the more hidden gems like Two Harbors on Santa Catalina Island. Beyond the excitement of a weekend filled with paddling, hiking, fishing and camping, this california winter season blessed us with something extra special- a REAL winter with rain and all! The winter storms have given way to the most spectacular spring in almost a decade. Needless to say, as Catalina came into view from our boat it looked like a far-removed tropical paradise.

Our campsite was nestled right at the cliff shoreline and each night's sunset left everyone speechless. Well, everyone but Komron. Komron is never short on words or entertainment. And lucky for him, he's never short on fish, either! Watching Komron and Sean tandem paddle the Zeppelin was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Our first night on the island the fish were playing hard to get, unfortunately. Lucky for us Komron and Sean have more than enough tenacity for all of us. They were on the water before dawn determined to make a great catch. And that they did! A beautiful calico bass with fire grilled veggies and fruit was one of the most delicious breakfasts, not to mention the sweetness of experiencing a little sliver of "living off the land".

Our second day post fish feast was spent exploring Cat harbor and its beautiful tall grass fields. The day was capped off with a sunset paddle and a little dance of SUP yoga just for fun.There really is nothing like paddling an island coastline as the sun sets.

It always strikes me how accessible remote paddling is these days with the invention of inflatable SUP boards. Their performance is stellar and as long as there's a body of water, you're dialed. Inflatables are the absolute way to go for adventure/destination paddling and our Bote boards had us covered- fishing and paddle yoga included!

This trip was definitely one for the books. Being a born and raised Californian, seeing her in all of her wild beauty, dressed in green and wildflowers brought a deep gratitude and in some ways a great relief to see the landscape as it should be. Speaking of gratitude... It was such a treat to spend this weekend with Sean, his lovely lady and my favorite fish master. The wilderness is always there waiting for us, so make new friends and get to outside. There's truly nothing better.