Remember your first whitewater experience? I sure do, it was a high water year on the Arkansas River through the Royal Gorge with a bunch of friends; it was a blast!. When PaddleXaminer sat down with Trinity Wall, premier whitewater standup paddleboarder in Colorado, we got to hear her story. She was on the Eagle River charging through the Dowd Chute section, in a kayak, during a high water year. The person she was paddling with ended up hitting their head, she had to rescue them on the river, and the injured person ended up getting stitches. “Well, I’m never doing that again!” Trinity said.
Turns out, she did try whitewater paddling again, just not in a kayak.
Trinity has been an athlete all her life. She started out skiing at the ripe age of two in Maine where she grew up. She was snowboarding in the 80’s/90’s, sponsored by Sims while competing in events such as the halfpipe and freestyle. She went through a Telemark skiing phase, and has now moved on to mostly backcountry skiing because it’s less crowded. She’s tried kite-boarding, and enjoys mountain biking. She’s also been practicing and teaching yoga for 21 years. All these athletic endeavors gave her a solid foundation to jump into whitewater paddleboarding!
Trinity’s SUP Journey
In 2015 Trinity decided to attend the Guide School with Stand-Up Paddle Colorado. Here, she learned all the basics of standup paddling which gave her a good toolbox of skills to rely on as she progressed in her standup paddleboard (SUP) journey. This is where she met Matt Buckley who was an instructor. Buckley, as he’s better known, is a seasoned raft guide with tons of whitewater experience. Looking back at this course, “it’s where I really found my passion”, Trinity said.
Her first SUP trip was on the Westwater section of the Colorado River for a rafting trip with Buckley where she would paddle on a SUP during the flatwater sections. Next, she did the Upper Colorado which is class II, with one class III rapid called Yarmony. Her third SUP trip was in Brown’s Canyon on the Arkansas River, during a hail storm no less. Needless to say, she was hooked!
Hala Team Rider
Trinity’s first SUP race was at Gore Fest in 2015 on the Upper Colorado. She remembers passing Peter Hall, the founder of Hala Paddleboards, during the race. We’re not sure who won between the two of them, but Peter offered her a Team Rider spot that day!
Team rider responsibilities include:
Have a presence on the water & represent the sport well.
Carry a social media presence.
Participate in SUP races such as the town series in Vail and GoPro games.
From then on, Trinity has been a fixture in many of the SUP races in Colorado. She has dominated the Vail town series, winning every year since 2016. But the competition is getting fierce; this year, she won the Vail Whitewater Series by a measly five points! Also in 2021, she had her first podium finish at the GoPro Games, coming in second in the downriver SUP event, which she was super stoked about. She loves the competition, has all her life; as the sport continues to grow it helps motivate her.
Being safe on the water is paramount to Trinity which is why she took the whitewater rescue training course with Vail Mountain Rescue. I’ve had the pleasure to paddle with Trinity a couple of times and she always checks with me to ensure I’m ready and have all my gear. I appreciate this because when you’re on the water you have to look out for each other. Similar to skiing in the backcountry, you want to feel safe and trust that the people you’re with have your back if things go sideways.
At home on the river.
In 2021 Trinity is rocking the latest technology from Hala on the new Hala Atcha with their Stomp Box 2.0. The Stomp Box is removable so it’s easier to store the board, the longer fin allows for better tracking in the water, and the enhanced river rocker rolls with the river; Trinity loves it!
Trinity is very passionate about the sport; I could feel her passion when we spoke, and I’ve seen it in action too. As a fellow SUP paddler participating in the Vail Whitewater Series, I’ve watched her on the water, and seen her offer tips to other paddlers. She wants to help get more women involved in the sport, and be an inspiration to others. Being on the river gives her peace of mind, it helps remind her to be in the moment.
This fall she’s looking to do a trip to Idaho and Montana with her Shred partner Buckely to explore some new rivers; paddle on Trinity!
You can follow Trinity on Instagram at trinwa.