Friday, November 27, 2009

Look What I Missed!

It's no secret that I've become a geocaching fanatic recently. I've discovered it's a fun way to motivate myself to get out, to hike and see places in my neighbourhood which I've passed by, thinking there was little to interest me. How wrong I was! With one kayaking/geocaching adventure weekend now completed, I'm eager to do more.

I began wondering what I missed in the way of caches during my summer's travels. The map above gives you some idea. I either paddled or hiked past hundreds of caches! They are hidden almost everywhere. Had I been more aware of this activity, I could have added a whole new layer to my travels making them even more interesting.

Most of the caches are on land, but some are within reach of a paddler. The fact that those water-side locations are few in number has only increased my eagerness to begin placing some caches some of which would only be available to those paddling. I have a few places already chosen and I'm sure there will be more to come...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dreamtime With Paul and Freya

Freya continues to hurtle along Australia's south coast on her 'Race Around Australia'. In a few short weeks she will complete the circle only done once before.

I was looking around for some biographical information on the first person to paddle around Australia: Paul Caffyn when I discovered a short piece on his page. Here is a brief excerpt:

"In December 1981, Paul set out from Queenscliff near Melbourne and spent the next 360 days achieving the first kayak circumnavigation of Australia. This 9,420 mile paddle is acknowledged as one of the most remarkable journeys ever undertaken by kayak. Paul had to contend with a tropical cyclone which nearly swept him off a small offshore islet in the Coral Sea, raging surf, tiger sharks which frequently bumped into the kayak in the Gulf of Carpentaria, crocodiles, sea snakes and three sections of sheer limestone cliffs. To overcome the three 100+mile plus long sections of cliffs, Paul used Nodoz tablets to stay awake and lomotil to keep his bowels dormant during these overnight paddles. The longest stint along the awesome Zuytdorp Cliffs in Western Australia, took 34 hours of continuous paddling. After 10 years of trying to interest a publisher in a book about the Australian trip, in April 1994 Paul finally self-published his story as The Dreamtime Voyage.

Sadly, most of Paul's books are not readily available, but perhaps Freya's journey will prompt a publisher into returning them to the market. In the meantime, go, Freya, go!

Map from, Australia.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Oprah's Secret Paddling Life

For those who follow such things - I don't - the news is out that Oprah Winfrey will be ending her career as a TV host and general commentator on all things entertaining as of September 2011. You might be wondering what she will be doing with her life after that point...

Wonder no more. It appears Oprah has a secret life! Never one to wonder who she was meant to be, she's been seen out trying on her new career, kayaking. In the picture above a bunch of paddlers hit the beach. Is one of them Oprah? I'm sure of it, because a few minutes later, the camp all set up, she was changed out of her paddling gear and caught on film imbibing the post-paddle drink of the day: Fireball.

I can hardly wait for her new TV series: Paddles With Oprah! This may just be the shot in the arm our sport needs to pull out of the post-recession blues, not to mention all of us getting into more classy camp clothing...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Paddling Out To Lunch

It was a beautiful day, so I took myself out to lunch. The spot I had in mind doesn't take reservations, but I went anyway, hoping there'd be room. I launched and headed up the river to the beach I'd reserved, in my head at least...

Under the bridges and out on the lake.

A perfectly calm lake awaited me...

Almost there. It should be just around the corner...

Yes! Not a soul about. I'll enjoy a quiet, leisurely lunch lanqushing by the lake...

It turned out Wilson was there. I don't know why. He never spoke the whole time I was there. Typical. Anyway, it was a perfect lunch, cheese, nuts, hard cider, quiet.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Train Wreck Paddle

When I was in my teens, my brother and I took up scuba diving. It wasn't long before we'd explored our local lake and began looking for other lakes to explore. One place we never managed to get to was a small lake where it was rumored a train had been wrecked and fallen into the water. It would have been a perfect dive site, but the chance to visit never arose and soon life took over. Until this morning...

I was looking for some new geocache sites to visit when one appeared on the screen, called 'Train Wreck'. I checked the Google map. It was THE wreck from my youth! Here's the cache description:

"This cache is located near a very active train line. Do not use the train track to get to the cache. This cache is meant to be found by boat.
"This is a traditional cache, which is located underwater next to an old box car in Orford lake. The depth of the cache is less then 3m. You will need a dive mask once you get to the site. The cache is a Nalgene water bottle.
"It is recommended that you use a canoe or kayak. There are two place to put into the water.
"The government picnic area located at 
N 45º17.419’ W 72º16.136’
 fire truck water intake location at 
N 45º17.605’ W 72º15.653’ parking is available across the street.
The lake offers a nice afternoon for kayaking. A good secluded place for lunch is at 
N 45º17.765’ W 72º15.767’"

Well, well, just what I like. Two of my interests coming together to complete something left undone from the past. I'll be checking this geocache out next summer. I'll have to free dive as I no longer have scuba gear, but I'll definitely be paddling my kayak to the site.

The photo? Not a train wreck, I know, but a few more million years and this lovely scene will be a sandy beach. Those waves are slowly wrecking that huge rock...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Changeable Weather

Any time one goes out for a paddle, it's wise to go prepared for changing weather. This rule is especially true in the Fall and today proved no exception. Have a look above at conditions while I was getting ready to launch. 15°C, calm. T-shirt weather?

I hadn't been on the water fifteen minutes when everything changed. A stiff breeze came up and within minutes, breaking waves had built up making things quite lively.

Even trying to take pictures started to get tricky! I was glad to be warm and dry in my drysuit as I played in the waves.

Friday, November 6, 2009

KayakWays' Qajaq Barn

If you know anything about the two people in the photo above, you'll know they're a dynamic pair. Never ones to wait for things to happen, they've made an enormous impact in the development of traditional kayaking skills during their travels around the world.

Well, once again, they haven't been sitting around. They've made an exciting new thing happen, this time along the Maine, New Hampshire border. They've built a barn!

Not just any kind of barn. It will be a place to build qajait, traditional craft, based on those in Greenland. I suspect it will become much more than that. It will become a gathering place, a center of excellence, a destination for those seeking more than just another roll, or a new boat. I can't wait to get down to Brownfield, Maine and have a look around!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Living Life Upwind

Kayaking is gradually become a cold weather - cold water activity as the season crawls slowly into winter. What we wear becomes important and for me what I wear can mean how I smell! Living life upwind can affect the lives of those down-stream, which in turn can affect you!

Paddling in Newfoundland, where one wears cold water gear all year around, presented a problem for me a few years ago. Not having easy access to places to wash out my fleecy top and pants resulted in the development of that 'paddler's aroma' we all know so well. Once, using my car to head back to the put-in, I was horrified at the odor it gave off having sat in the warm sun all day. The lady who drove with me never said anything, but I had no doubts about what she was thinking. 'Nice day of paddling, but...!'

After that trip, I began to re-evaluate my cold weather clothing choices. Now, I look at fleece differently. It's warm, easy to wash and dry when facilities are available, but rapidly takes on odors. Wool, on the other hand, is warm, easily washed, although is slow to dry. However, and this is the crux, it is much slower to pick up odors. For this reason, I have been buying wool garments rather than synthetics. I especially like the merino wool clothing put out by people like Icebreaker, Helly-Hansen and Mountain Equipment Coop. They tend to cost a bit more initially than similar fleece clothing, but at the end of the day, I'm a lot more pleasant when standing to windward!

Monday, November 2, 2009

That's A Lot Of Geese

Instead of going for a paddle the other day, I went bird-watching and geocaching on a local pond in Danville, Quebec. This pond, situated virtually in the town itself, has been a lay-over spot for migrating snow geese for several years. At first only a few hundred had been showing up, but more recently they number well over 100,000 birds!

In the photo above, I was standing in reeds and bull-rushes well over my head trying to get some video footage on the swirling birds. This still was among the mix I took. It gives the feeling of drowning in reeds and birds which was exactly how I felt at the time!

We have a few hundred on a pond closer to the house, but the shear number on Burbank Pond in Danville is staggering. A sight to see!

Oh, and lots of fun geocaches in the area as well!