And This Year’s Best Christmas Card Award Goes to…


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We get a lot of Christmas cards here at the Paddling Life office, and many also to the homes of its founders (hey, what can we say…we’ve been good this year). Accordingly, we couldn’t help but share the card below from the Wallaces, an outdoorsy family here in Steamboat Springs whose parents, Dave and Betsy, raised their kids, Dylan and Jessie, to be outdoorsy and watery just like them as well. While the card featured short year-long recaps from all four, it was the entry from Dylan that caught our “Why can’t we have a year like that?” eye and got our paddling juices flowing the most. Here’s to the upcoming year for all of us, as well as Dylan, living up to his:

Dylan: Whitewater Dirtbag/Kayak Instructor/Raft Guide

I started my year with a two-week ski trip with Jessie and some great friends at Grand Targhee and Big Sky. Soon after, I headed to one of the best whitewater destinations in the world, Pucon, Chile, to guide some trips with Pucon Kayak Retreat. My parents and Uncle Jim came down to do a trip with me, which was awesome. After Chile, I continued my work with the University of Vermont Kayak Club, working with a great group of students to help lead their annual spring break trip to the Southeast and their leadership development program. I also got to enjoy a short but sweet spring Northeast paddling season with friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. Once my kayak club commitments ended, I hightailed it to Idaho for some big water. The trip was absolutely bonkers, pushing high water marks and spending days living out of my kayak. In July it was time to work (though briefly), where I returned for the second half of the guiding season on the Arkansas River. Despite missing peak runoff, I still managed to catch many classic Colorado runs and had a great season. I snuck in quick trips to one of my favorite rivers: the North Fork Payette in Idaho and to the Kern in California. Unfortunately, a lack of paddling partners cut that trip short. I returned home, where my mom destroyed me on a bike. In late October, I returned to the paradise of Pucon. The season has been totally off the hook so far, and I can’t wait for the rest of the season on some of the best rivers in the world. I’m thankful for all the family and friends who have gotten me to this point, and cheers to the bet paddling year of my life!

And a Synopsis of the Year’s Recap from Dad Dave, at a Ripe 70 (lest you think the apple falls far from the tree)

David: 2023 stared with a big snow year for us: 448 inches at the resort, which made for some epic skiing and sh overlong. Betsy., Jim and I had fun visiting Dylan in Pucon, CIHle. Dylan is truly the Luke Skywalker of kayaking now, and I am Obi Wan. In mid-May, I got a private permit to do the Rogue in Oregon. Two couples from Steamboat joined us, and our old California friends Kevin and Jim rowed rafts. Jessie’s friends joined for their first multi-day raft trip. We had high water, good weather and lots of fun. A special treat was spending our last night at the Paradise Lodge…In late June, Dylan, Betsy, Jim and I did a Middle Fork Salmon trip. We had exciting water and big fun…I also went to Salida several times to kayak with Mike and Dylan. While I was in Oregon I noticed I couldn’t walk with pain in my right hip, so I had a hip replacement 11/3. I am six weeks out and doing great (I went downhill skiing today, 12/19!)…

Photo: Dylan running 30-foot Salto Coilaco in Pucon Chile.
Photo: Dylan running 30-foot Salto Coilaco in Pucon Chile.


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