What price sanity?


“I hate this commute,” was all I could think as I sat in a river of stopped cars on my way home from work last week. “Why would anybody CHOOSE to do this?” I whined as the traffic jutted ahead 2 feet before stopping again. “I want to be hiking!” I screamed from inside my prison. I hated being confined to my metal box, but I’d sprained my ankle halfway up Old Speck on the Appalachian Trail in Southern Maine, and not just a little sprain, a severe sprain.


Icing my freshly sprained ankle in a waterfall near Pinkham Notch, NH

“Go big or go home,” is our family motto, and certainly a thru-hiker motto, and my ankle had gone big… to about the size of a grapefruit… and I’d had to go home… It happened on Memorial Day weekend and was a heartbreaking start to my summer… I wanted to hike… I NEEDED to hike… hiking wasn’t just a hobby for me anymore, hiking was a part of my daily meditation… The two-mile walk to- and from- work had been keeping me sane while I attempted to re-acclimate to civilization, but I’d gone to the ER and they’d booted me… like I booted car, I wasn’t going to be using that ankle to get very far, very fast…



I looked longingly out the window of the car… The sky was a gorgeous blue, and trees were finally, beautifully, green… I knew exactly where I was supposed to… out there! This car commute was driving me mad… It didn’t help that my right ankle was the one I sprained, so every time I had to step on the gas, or hit the brakes I was flooded with physical pain as well as psychological pain.

“Hmmm… Maybe I could buy a bicycle, and bike to work while I wait for my ankle to heal…” It had been a couple of weeks and my ankle was getting a little better… It would get me out of my daily traffic jam, but biking on a sprained ankle seemed like it might be pretty painful.


“Or… I could get a kayak, and paddle to work everyday…” There’s a river near my apartment, and it connects to a brook that leads right to my office… There are even showers in the bathrooms at work, so I could shower when I got in! …”That would be perfect!” I’d wistfully thought about this before as I hiked along the river, but I couldn’t think of any good places to park my kayak at work.

“Aaargh,” I moaned as the traffic moved forward another couple of inches… It had been 15 minutes and I’d barely moved 15 feet. “That does it! I cant do this ‘car’ thing anymore!” For my sanity I need to figure out another options… “What I need is a collapsible kayak,” I thought and vowed to look into it.


Eventually when I got  home I did just that! It looked like I had three options: an inflatable kayak, a skin-on-frame kayak (Folbot Kayak), or an origami kayak (Oru Kayak). Yes, you read that right, a human-sized origami kayak… I was excited that there were actually options! So I sat down and tried to figure out what I wanted out of my ideal kayak:

What price sanity? All of the options would be breaking the bank… but if I could actually commute in it? Priceless! After a lot of hemming and hawing, I ended up getting the Oru Kayak (The Bay). It seemed like the right balance of ease of setup, space, and weight for me… It also helped that I could get it from REI, which allowed me to go and check it out in person, and gave me greater confidence that if I had a problem with it, I could just return it.


Coming soon: “Log Jams Not Traffic Jams: My Week 1 Review of the ORU Kayak”

8 thoughts on “What price sanity?

  1. I feel your pain…literally. Broke my leg Jan 31 and with it came tendon tears. This week, yes almost five months later, I am going to go do my first real hike. Hoping you heal quickly!


  2. Way to turn a disappointing situation into an adventure! And you are avoiding traffic! Injuries are the worst, my boyfriend tore his meniscus and got a blood clot in his lungs last summer in June and totally threw our summer into chaos. No hiking for us or any climbing or anything at all actually for months. It was rough! But it passed and now he is healthy and stronger then ever, determined to make up for lost time.


  3. Good for you! Sounds like a great stopgap solution. Ahhh…ankles! Just finished a section hike on the AT from Hog Pen Gap to NOC. Sprained my ankle at Dick’s Creek. Tripped on air! (Fellow hiker blamed it on the mythical rock frog…guess it jumps away before you can see it.) Bandaged up in neoprene and soaked in streams, but was able to finish…thank goodness for trekking poles.
    Hiking does become so compelling. I love how you beat back the doldrums of going back to “real life”


  4. Pingback: Logjams Not Traffic Jams: My Wild Kayak Commute (Part 2: Alewife Brook) | Patches Thru

  5. There are so many lakes, creeks and waterways around Seattle, I’d been thinking I need some sort of “portable” boat to get around like a packraft. (Portable, in the sense that I can carry it around since I don’t have a car!) But an origami canoe sounds intriguing…. It looks a lot bigger and heavier than a packraft, but probably easier to navigate with. I can’t see myself backpacking with it, though, which I can with a packraft. I’d get them both if these things weren’t so darned expensive!

    Anyhow, nice to meet you while you were hiking down from Moosalauke! Turns out, I’m finding your blog even more interesting than our chat! =)

    — Green Tortuga


    • I have taken it backpacking, but it’s a bit heavy and rather awkward (still working on the trip report)… It’s incredibly maneuverable, which is nice… All in all, a joy for city dwellers with limited storage space, and lots of waterways…

      I’m glad you’re having fun with the blog! I don’t know how you manage to do a post a day, that’s dedication!! It’s fun to see how your trip compared to mine though :)

      It looks like you’re getting pretty nice weather for the Whites! I’m headed up to the AT in Maine to check out some sections that are supposed to be gorgeous, but were in a cloud of snow when I went through last time! Maybe I’ll see you in Maine later on this summer… I’ve been looking for an excuse to re-hike the 100 mile wilderness, email me or comment when you get close and I might be able to make some trail magic happen in the wilderness (patchesthru at gmail dot com)!

      Happy hiking!


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