Girl Paddler Profile: Raquel(US)

Welcome to our series of profiles on our Girl Paddlers community!
We have a diverse, global community who all bring something unique to our group.
Let’s get to know them, in their own words…  

Meet Girl Paddler – Raquel – from Tennessee, USA! 

GP: Hi Raquel! Please tell us about yourself.

Raquel: Hello friends, I am Raquel Toombs and I was born and raised in Middle Tennessee. I am an avid kayaker and enjoy spending every moment I can outdoors soaking in all that nature has to offer.

I believe that our rivers, lakes, oceans, and forests are the lifeblood that fuels the heart and soul of an adventure lover like me! Time spent paddling out on the water refreshes the mind and soul, helps us relieve stress, and live a healthier and happier life.

Whether it’s a weekend paddle in one of my favorite local spots or a paddle in new waters discovered while traveling, I believe that you can’t go wrong with a kayaking adventure! Like I always say, get outside, y’all!

GP: What inspired you to start paddling, and how long have you been paddling?

Raquel: My love of the great outdoors drew me into trying a kayaking adventure about a year ago and I instantly fell in love. My favorite paddles are solo adventures that begin early in the morning, so I can enjoy the peace and serenity of being on the water all by myself and also have a better chance of spotting wildlife along the way.

GP: Can you share some of your favorite paddling spots or routes and why you enjoy them?

Raquel: My favorite local paddling spot is the Buffalo River. It’s crystal clear azure blue waters are simply gorgeous and the route always has plenty of wildlife watching along the way. My favorite out of state paddling spot so far is Silver Springs, Florida. Go when the manatees are in the springs for the winter! Such an awesome experience.

I also enjoyed my kayaking adventure in Tampa Bay, Florida to Shell Key Preserve. Hanging a shell with a hole in a tree on the island is a tradition and it was pretty cool to be able to leave my mark in a way that did not disturb the beauty of the island.

GP: How do you typically plan your paddling trips, and what essentials do you always bring with you?

Raquel: I either wake up in a Saturday morning and decide to go for a paddling adventure or plan weeks in advance. I like the spontaneity of an unplanned adventure, but I do book ahead for more popular paddling spots.

I always wear a trucker hat and water shoes, so I can avoid a sunburned face and hop in the water and play along the way. A waterproof backpack with lots of water, snacks, a picnic lunch, and a towel are essentials as well. Stay hydrated!

GP: What benefits have you experienced from paddling, both physically and mentally?

Raquel: Kayaking is my favorite way to relieve all the stressors of life. Being out in the open water and breathing in the fresh air while the sun shines down has the most peaceful and calming effect.

I’ve also had a few kayaking adventures in the rain and let me tell you how fun that is! It’s like taking a shower compliments of Mother Nature and marveling at how cool the water looks when it’s foggy and rain drops dance on the surface. Just magical!

GP: How has paddling influenced your relationship with nature, and what do you appreciate most about being out on the water?

Raquel: Paddling has strengthened my relationship with nature and given me a new way to experience and enjoy the great outdoors. My love for the outdoors started at a young age when I used to fish, hike, and run cross country races.

Being able to get great exercise and be in the water at the same time on a kayaking adventure is simply heaven.

GP: What advice would you give to someone who is new to paddling and looking to get started?

Raquel: Start with a short, guided paddle first in a river or creek where the water is not so deep.

Once you build your confidence with your paddling skills and abilities, try longer paddles and new places.

Wear your life jacket and water shoes for the best experience until you become more of a novice.

GP: Can you describe a particularly memorable or meaningful experience you’ve had while paddling?

Raquel: My favorite paddle so far was in Silver Springs, Florida. This was on my bucket list and I took a last minute, solo birthday trip to check this off my list. Being able to interact with manatees and alligators so up close and personally was an experience I will never forget!

GP: How has your approach to paddling changed over time, and what have you learned from your experiences?

Raquel: I have built up my a confidence and skill level to a point where I can conquer 10 mile paddles or longer in a shorter amount of time. I am a steady paddler, unless I spot wildlife I want to snap pictures or video, so paddling has allowed me to improve my health and well-being.

I am stronger and more fit since I started paddling and it’s a good way to get in exercise I enjoy.

GP: Can you share any upcoming paddling adventures or goals you have in mind and what you are most looking forward to about them?*

Raquel: I have a 12 mile paddle booked in Las Vegas in July starting at the Hoover Dam and ending at the Emerald Cove that I am really looking forward to! My goal is to find a new kayaking adventure when I travel so I can experience paddling in more new places.

GP: Is there anything else you’d like to share? Maybe let us know what you think is missing in the world of paddling for women. What are some of the challenges you have in your paddling journey? 

Raquel: I would encourage more women to try paddling with a group or even solo once you increase your skills. This is a great way to meet new people, get fit, and enjoy nature all at the same time.

Like I always say, get outside, y’all!

GP: Thank you, Raquel! We appreciate you sharing your story with us and for supporting Girl Paddlers in Tennessee!

If you have any questions or comments for Raquel, leave a comment below.

You can also find Raquel on Instagram @raqs_excellent_adventures, and in our Facebook Group: Girl Paddlers.

If you’re interested in being profiled on Girl Paddlers, please leave a comment below or email us at [email protected]


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