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Unique new perspective ignites passion for local paddler

'It’s so different from a canoe or kayak because you’re standing up. It’s like being on top of an aquarium and seeing nature in its own little world,' she says

Seven years ago, Michelle Bloom would never have imagined that her daily routine would become one of waking up at 4:45 a.m., leaving her home in the dark, and making her way to the water to launch her SUP (stand up paddle board).

Growing up in the Kawarthas with a family that spent a lot of time in the outdoors, Bloom was familiar with paddling a canoe or kayak, but when it came to stand up paddle boarding, she was a skeptic.

“I watched stand up paddlers and didn’t get it,” said Bloom. “Why not just be in a canoe or kayak – I didn’t see the appeal at first.”

That all changed when she and a group of friends decided they needed a summer of trying new activities. One of the things they did was sign up for a beginner stand up paddling course.

Fast forward several years and Bloom says she is in love with the sport and can’t imagine not having it in her life.

Bloom, who lives with her partner and son in Oro-Medonte near Lake Simcoe, works as an administrative director, but is also known, especially in her global social media network, as a passionate and accomplished paddler and SUP role model.

How passionate is she? Bloom is on the water at least four days a week and in all seasons, yes, even in the winter (with her neoprene booties and other safety gear)! Not to mention the 4:45 a.m. wake-up calls so that she doesn’t miss a sunrise on the water.

Once Bloom tried stand up paddle boarding, she was smitten.

“What I immediately loved was the perspective it gives you,” explained Bloom. “It’s so different from a canoe or kayak because you’re standing up. It’s like being on top of an aquarium and seeing nature in its own little world.

"You get to discover life below the surface while also being able to take in the horizon and magnificent vistas. Seeing things from a new perspective is what never makes paddle boarding old for me.”

The unique ability to connect with nature is what motivated Bloom to embrace the sport and make it a regular part of her life.

“Being on my SUP has helped me to return to that feeling of simply being curious and taking in the beauty of nature around me. It gives me a chance to clear my head and hit the reset button," she said. "It’s my best form of self-care – I feel like I’m a better person after a paddle.”

Paddling is also a social activity for Bloom who often meets up with friends for a sunrise paddle followed by coffee.

“I never thought I would grow to love a 4:45 a.m. wake-up call,” said Bloom. “But I have FOMO (fear of missing out) in the morning – I just don’t want to miss that magic moment.”

For Bloom, “there’s no better way to start the day than to go for a sunrise paddle.”

One of Bloom’s favourite destinations for chasing the sunrise is from the west side of Lake Simcoe, where she says the sunrises are spectacular. Some of her other favourites for an early morning paddle are Bass Lake, Lake Couchiching, Matchedash Bay or the Green River.

“I have fallen in love with the waterways and lakes in this area – the choice, from meandering rivers to expansive lakes – is amazing,” said Bloom. “When I discovered the paddling guide published by Orillia Lake Country (OLC), it was like finding a goldmine. The OLC has done such a great job at developing routes and launch sites and you can find it all online.”

In addition to the OLC resources, Bloom says social media has opened up a whole new community of skilled, knowledgeable paddlers who share their experiences and paddling tips.

When it comes to her own paddling expertise, Bloom says she enjoys sharing her love of the sport with others and may consider becoming a certified guide and instructor in the future.

For those interested in trying the sport, she highly recommends taking a lesson or course.

“It made the world of difference to me. Once you learn the basics, you will be able to enjoy the sport so much sooner.”

Bloom loves to challenge others to try the sport.

“For anyone looking for something extraordinary, I challenge you to try it sometime. It may surprise you and you too will find yourself with a 4:45 a.m. wake-up routine!”

To get a glimpse of the special kind of magic Bloom looks forward to in her early morning paddles, head to her Instagram account – bloomfoto, where she describes herself in three words: “I’ll be outside.”