Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I'll be a guest blogger at Wanderlust Tremblant, August 21-24, 2014

The power of the pose. You can strike a powerful yoga pose, or notice it in something else.

It can create an opening. It opens a door. You'll have to step through that door to see what's next.

This morning, I stepped outside 10 minutes before my yoga practice to have a look at the day and what it might bring.

Before we step into a new space we normally look down to see what we might be stepping onto.

I saw a toad sitting upright, enjoying a warm, dry spot on the stone patio. He was facing North.
When I came back with my camera minutes later to capture his focused, meditative sitting pose, he stood up on all fours and held this fierce, confident pose for a long time.
It reminded me of several yoga poses: Table top, Plank, and Up Dog.

Then I realized it was his Warrier pose. I was in his space.

I've never seen a toad do this before. Usually they just hop away or sit still when they realize you've spotted them.

After my own morning yoga practice, I turned on a favourite TV channel and saw a random quote flash across the television screen:

Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting. So get on your way. Quote by Dr. Seuss.

Today, it seems I'm being sent some strong reminders not to forget to get online and schedule the classes and events I want to attend at this year's Wanderlust Tremblant yoga festival than runs from August 21-24.

For those of you that don't know the mountain or the region, Mont Tremblant Resort (known as Tremblant) is a beautiful, world-class, year-round resort in the Laurentian mountains of Quebec, Canada. It's about 80 miles northwest of Montreal. Tremblant is best known as a ski destination, but also has a large lake (Lake Tremblant) and several golf courses.
The name of the mountain, Mont Tremblant, came from the local Algonquin natives, who called it the "trembling mountain". The summit is some 875 metres (2,871 feet) high, making it one of the tallest peaks in the Laurentian mountains. It's fantastic for skiing in the winter, and trekking the mountain trails along waterfalls in the summer.

Last year I missed Wanderlust Tremblant because I waited until the last minute and all the classes were sold out.

But this year, I'm happy to say that I'll be one of the guest bloggers at Wanderlust Tremblant. I'll be attending the event every day and writing a daily story.

The event organizers want us to step out of our comfort zones and be creative.

I'll provide a link on my BaffinPaddler blog to my articles on the Wanderlust website if you'd like to follow along. I've never participated in a Wanderlust event before, so it will be a new experience for me to jump in head first and share it with you.

The Wanderlust motto is Find Your True North.

Why did the toad's powerful standing pose and Dr. Seuss's quote remind me to get off the fence today?

Who knows. But I got the message! Time to schedule some classes!

If you'd like to find out more about Wanderlust Tremblant, and book your classes sooner than later, here's the link. It's an experience, it's a festival, it's a journey, it's a celebration, it's yoga and more . . .

Wanderlust Tremblant, August 21-24, 2014

Happy trails!
The BaffinPaddler

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

When the wind is up - kayak surfing on Lower Beverley Lake

Here's a little kayak bite from me to contribute to the love of paddling. It's National Paddling Week in Canada from June 6-15 so it makes me think, "Do something with one of your kayaks!"

If you can't find any organized paddling events in your area, you can create your own paddling event with the wind. It's often abundant and free!

That's what we did at Lower Beverley Lake, from the Village of Delta, Ontario (Canada) when we had a forecast with a 25 km/h north wind blowing us south across the lake towards Lyndhurst Creek.

But, it was the 40 km/h wind gusts blowing behind us that gave us the surfing power.

These conditions are my maximum for my smaller girl size, strength, and skills.

It's a lot of fun to get a feel for kayak surfing on lakes in moderate conditions if you've got good surf sea kayaks, some decent paddling skills, and the proper gear. If you don't know what stern rudder is yet. . . and have no rescue or rolling skills, it's not a good idea to give this a try.

If you don't have access to ocean waves and tides to surf on, and you're looking for a fun lake to kayak surf on, Lower Beverley Lake is a good candidate when motor boat traffic is low and the wind is up.

Lower Beverley Lake is an an awesome lake for day tripping with kayaks, wind surfing, boating, and fishing, with 28 kilometers (17 miles) of diverse shoreline adorned with granite rock formations, forest, marshland, small sandy beaches, and some cottage development.

Lower Beverley Lake has open water, large and small bays to hide in on windy days, 14 islands to skirt around, and several adjoining creeks that are interesting to explore (Delta, Lyndhurst, and Morton).

It’s a fairly deep lake with an average depth of 9.1 meters (30 feet), the deepest parts are 28.7 meters (94 feet).

There are some limestone shoals to watch out for. Most are marked with small white rock buoys with reflectors and lights.

You can launch from a public boat launch on Delta Creek.
The public boat launch is only a few paddle strokes from the beautiful Old Stone Mill, in Delta, Ontario. Although, if you see the Mill from the water, turn around and paddle the other direction out to Lower Beverley Lake. You can visit and tour the inner workings of the historic grist mill, built in 1810, but not by kayak. The entrance is at the front at 46 King Street (County Rd. 42). Don't get too close to it by kayak. The Mill has a working water wheel.
Delta Creek is short, sweet, and narrow with a bit of current and lots of cottages and campers surrounding it. But the giant willow trees along the route make it worthwhile for a short visit.
Now, how long did it take us to cross Lower Beverley Lake from Delta Creek to the opening of Lyndhurst Creek with a big push of wind? Only 30 minutes.

The orange boathouse on the southeast shore of Lower Beverley Lake in Halladay Bay sits at the opening of Lyndhurst Creek. It was our marker for finding the opening of the creek from the lake with no GPS.
You can paddle down Lyndhurst Creek from Lower Beverley Lake to Lyndhurst (or vice-versa). We were much more protected from the wind once we entered the creek, and the kayak surfing was over. Lyndhurst Creek is about 4 km (3 miles) long from Lower Beverley Lake to the public boat launch at Lyndhurst. The total distance one way from Delta to Lyndhurst is about 7.5 km.

At Lyndhurst there's a public boat launch with free parking, a waterfront gazebo/picnic shelter, a few picnic tables, and a public restroom.
You can't paddle past this point, there's a small dam. But, you can enjoy the views of the historic Old Stone Bridge, the oldest bridge in Ontario, built from 1856-57.  Don't get too close, the wind and the current may push you towards it.

Lyndhurst Creek is an outlet of Lower Beverley Lake. The creek is wide enough, the current slow moving, and the water fairly deep that it feels more like a little river (with no rapids) than a creek. The shorelines have marshland and some cottages along the way, and is populated with snapping turtles if you like to catch them sunning on fallen logs.
I know what you're thinking, "Oh, yeah. It was a fun ride down in the wind, but how was the ride back to Delta!" 

On windy days, and depending on the direction of the wind and where you launch from, you may want to shuttle a car between Lyndhurst and Delta, or earn your paddling points by paddling back against the wind, curse the gusts - they are wicked, and duck into a bay or hide behind an island when they hit and wait for a break. Then paddle like mad back to your cabin or take out before another wind gust hits. This will test your best paddling hat!. Luckily mine had a neck strap. I wore my paddling hat around my neck on the way back.

On calm days with little wind, this is an enjoyable paddle without the kicks! Bring friends. This makes a great day paddle for groups.
Love your kayak . . . or keep shopping!

Happy and safe paddle trails.
The BaffinPaddler

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Good News - More campsites you can reserve in the 1000 Islands

For you kayak campers out there, here's an update on some good news in the 1000 Islands National Park (along the St. Lawrence River, Ontario, Canada).

Remember the old days when you couldn't reserve any campsites on the islands and had to paddle out to a few, cross your fingers, and hope for the best? Times are not only changing for us, but improving.

The number of campsites that can be reserved in the 1000 Islands National Park of Canada has increased to 36.

You can now reserve a campsite on Beau Rivage, Camelot, Cedar, Milton, McDonald, Gordon, Georgina, East Grenadier, Central Grenadier, Aubrey and Mulcaster Islands, with the remaining 25 campsites still available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

oTENTik accommodations on McDonald Island, Gordon Island and Mallorytown Landing (on the mainland) are also reservable, so you don't need to pack a tent!
Now, let's wish for even more great news that generators will not be allowed on any camping islands! And, that more and more motorized craft will rely on solar power. Call me greedy, or call me hopeful. But I know park staff are working on phasing out generator use on all islands bit-by-bit.

I'll be posting more kayak bites during Canada's National Paddling Week, which runs from June 6-15, 2014.

Get out there and paddle or join in some paddling festivities in your area and enjoy!

Happy paddles and safe trails.
The BaffinPaddler

Credits: Thanks to Parks Canada for providing me with information and updates about the 1000 Islands National Park.

Monday, June 2, 2014

I love it when my sea kayak takes me to the beach - Rivière Rouge

It wasn't my idea. The wind and the current of the Rivière Rouge (Red River) were pushing us towards this long, white, soft, sandy beach, so I agreed with my kayak, "Hey, let's stop here." Why resist. There are so many sandy beaches along the shores of the Rivière Rouge, I have trouble choosing which one to visit. 

My kayak picked this one. 
Seems my kayak not only has good timing, but also good taste. It picked the nicest stretch of beach along our route that day.

A few minutes after landing on the beach, a big wind gust picked up and we had a sudden 5-minute sandstorm. Say what! 

Then the wind fell quiet again. Thank you kayak. How did you know? After the surprising wind gust, we continued on our way with a little extra grit in our teeth.

We were paddling against the current, launching from La Conception, Quebec heading upriver (NW-N) towards Labelle (about 15 minutes north of Tremblant, Quebec).

There's about 20 kilometers (12 miles) of winding, twisting river with current, and no rapids along this section. Paddling some distance against the current is a great way to get in shape and test your power strokes and torso rotation.

If you want to add more distance to your paddle route, you can include the stretch of Rivière Rouge from Brébeuf further south downriver.

If you don't want to paddle against the current, you can shuttle a car at a pick-up point downriver, and launch from upriver and go longer distances with the flow. It's fun and much easier.

You can also rent basic rec kayaks or canoes from a local outfitter with a shuttle service, like Kayak Cafe in Labelle, Quebec, and they'll pick you up at several points downriver.   

With big, lightweight, fibreglass paddle spoons and two high-performance sea kayaks and relaxed power strokes, we didn't have any trouble paddling against the current the first day of June with a moderate to light wind, and a few strong, sudden gusts. 

All the people paddling downriver from Labelle in canoes and sit-on-tops seemed to look at us in surprise, as if to say, ''Aren't you going the wrong way?" 

Nope. This is good training. And, we're wearing PFDs!

You don't need a kayak compass to navigate this stretch of river. There aren't any islands or big bays to confuse you, just farmland, cottages, trees, beaches, and mountain views. You can't get lost. 

But, I find it more interesting to always know the direction I'm going, and where the wind is actually blowing. The weather report doesn't always get it right. 

My kayak compass showed the true twisting and turning of the Rivière Rouge. We went NW, N, NE, SW, S, SE, E, and W. The compass readings are not necessarily in that order, I just remember, we did them all. Upriver or downriver, you'll have views in all directions. On windy days, you can test your skills and paddle strokes with headwinds, tailwinds, and crosswinds. Enjoy! You may visit a few extra beaches. 

After 2 hours of paddling against the current came the reward. Turning around and going with the current! But the wind had other ideas! It decided to make us work a little. No free rides!

The Rivière Rouge is a beautiful, clear river to paddle, with a slight red tinge from the sandy, shallow bottom. The bottom is mostly sandy - not rocky, and very shallow in many spots along the way. In the summer months, you may need to get out and carry or drag your kayak a bit. Watch out for fallen trees and the odd deadhead. 

The Rivière Rouge always inspires me to do a little impromptu yoga in the outdoors.
Just be extra careful paddling or swimming in this river in the spring (the water is cold) or after lots of heavy rainfall. The current, or an occasional cross current can surprise you. You can't swim against the current. You can swim or float with the current or swim perpendicular to the shore to get out of the main current and seek shallow footing where you see beaches. 

And, in the true spirit of a good kayaker who loves the water, I did pick up some Budweiser along the way! Although, it was not mine . . . 
Happy paddle trails!
The BaffinPaddler

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Level Six Capital Cup - Whitewater Freestyle Kayak Competition at Bate Island, Ottawa

Yesterday, I caught a glimpse of the Level Six Capital Cup, a whitewater freestyle kayaking competition that showcases both men and women, amateurs and professionals.

While it's more fun to watch the competitors negotiating the excitement of the rapids, and this is what the photographers love to shoot and the kayak manufacturers love to promote, it was the irony of the baby stroller parked next to the whitewater kayaks that caught my eye. "Are you watching mommy compete?"  Go girl! 

The event is put on by Level Six with other sponsors such as Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), NRS, OWL Rafting, Madawaska Kanu Centre, Wilderness Tours, and Ottawa Kayak School.
The Level Six Capital Cup also includes a SUP race and a raft race. This is fun to watch! You can find a link to professional photos of the event on the Level Six Facebook page. Just Google it.

The event takes place each spring in Ottawa, Ontario (Canada) in the powerful Champlain Rapids from Bate Island, just off the Champlain Bridge, as long as the water levels cooperate. And this year, the Ottawa River was happy to oblige with big spring flows and fair weather. Saturday, May 3 was generous with no rain, a moderate wind, and 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit).

The water levels, rapids, and standing waves the first week of May at Bate Island are still in mint condition after April's big melt-down and powerful flows.

Look at the big, bad, cup! It was well-guarded at the event. I was lucky to get a photo of it. Adam Chapel won the Men's and Brenna Kelly won the Women's. For more information you can look up the results on the Level Six website.
If you missed the Level Six Capital Cup this year, you may want to check it out next spring. Watching the event is free and so is parking at Bate Island. It is relaxed and low key. Bring a picnic lunch. Cycle to the site. Competitors pay an entry fee.
I'm not a fan of whitewater kayaks, but those river runners and creeking kayaks keep calling me. As a sea kayaker, I like a longer kayak.
Pyranha Burn III - new in 2014
Next week, Ottawa's Tulip Festival kicks off. Let's hope the tulips will cooperate and bloom in time with our late-breaking, chilly, overcast, and soggy spring weather.

Happy trails!
The BaffinPaddler

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ça Cogne! It's spring in Canada.

What "cognes?" The ice melting, breaking up, and flowing downstream to be churned up in the rapids as they hit the whitewater kayaks playing in the big, fast, spring flows of the Ottawa River off Bate Island.

Over the weekend, I watched the melting ice flows moving downriver towards the rapids. They are almost impossible to see churning in the whitewater of the rapids. I asked a whitewater paddler at Bate Island, "What about the ice?"

He responded in French, "Ça Cogne."

In English, you can choose the verb of your choice: it bangs, knocks, hits, thumps, whacks, wallops, or clobbers.

I guess the size and speed of the ice chucks hitting your kayak would help you choose the best word.

Then I asked him, "What if you go into the water."

He responded calmly with a smile, "Cover your face."

Spring thaw usually equals big spring flows on the Ottawa River. And this year is no different.

Each year I look for the peak spring flows off Bate Island. I can usually tell by a convergence of whitewater paddlers lined up along the shore, waiting for a turn at the high flowing rapids and big standing waves.

They were there this long Easter weekend, and so much fun to watch.
It's quite a show. Especially when you're standing close to shore, the incredible speed and powerful rush of the water during spring flows is impressive and frightening, and challenging fun for the whitewater paddlers.

Spectators gather to witness the yearly spring paddle pilgrimage to this spot at Bate Island on the Ottawa River between the cities of Gatineau, Quebec, and Ottawa, Ontario in Canada.  Bate Island has a small park with picnic tables, a large picnic shelter (gazebo), free parking, and can be accessed in either direction from the Champlain Bridge.

The variety of skilled paddlers and surfers who show up to ride the big standing waves and play in the icy-cold rapids may surprise you. We expect whitewater kayaks and whitewater canoes. They are made for this.
Each year, it's the surfers and stand up paddleboarders who surprise me the most. Yes, they ride and play in waves and tides, but what about rapids with strong currents and some ice chunks thrown into the mix? My images simply can't convey how fast and furious the water is. You have to be there to fully appreciate it.
Whitewater art comes in many forms. Some forms will swim more than others.
When going into the rapids, choose your best weapon.
The whitewater kayak is king.
It's still missing from my small fleet of sea kayaks and paddleboards. But I'll get one or two for play in less intense waters and rolling practice.

I had a rolling lesson in a Jackson Zen 65 river runner, and I liked it. It's the only whitewater kayak I've ever sat in that made me think I might want one. I usually don't like the feel of them.

Stay warm and safe. If you are new to the river, beware. The very dangerous Deschenes Rapids are downriver from Bate Island.
Deschenes Rapids, Ottawa River, Aylmer, Quebec, Canada
You do not want to paddle downriver from Bate Island or run the Deschenes Rapids from upriver. The rapid along the Quebec shore races with fury through an old hydro facility that has crumbled. But you can view these impressive rapids from shore if you cycle the path along the river

Happy trails!
The BaffinPaddler

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring training for the paddler

Learning about navigation aids is especially important for the paddler. Part of my spring training for the upcoming paddling season, while waiting for the water to thaw and warm up, is hitting the books, or the websites with information I need to review and . . . try to remember.

I've found myself confused about buoy markers and marine signs more than once on a variety of waterways in Canada and the U.S.

In my early paddling years, on a large lake with several islands, I found myself kayaking towards a black and red buoy. Not knowing its meaning and thinking it was a channel marker indicating a safe passage between islands, I paddled towards it. When I got closer to it, I said, "Oh shit!", it's a buoy indicating DANGER. I could suddenly see the big shoal it was sitting on, and I was paddling right for it with an unfavourable wind when I should have been taking extra care to paddle well away from it.

Now, every spring, I make an effort to review some of the navigation aids. They can be confusing and I tend to forget things over the 6-month long winter in Canada.

The image above is a red and white FAIRWAY BUOY 

It is parked on land as it waits for the water to thaw. I took a picture of it so you can see what's in the water with you. It is heavy, solid as a rock, and comes to a nasty point at the front. You don't want to get too close to it or get pushed into, or under it by wind, waves, current, or big boat wakes.

A fairway buoy is used to mark safe water and is usually used to mark a channel entrance, the centre of a shipping channel, or a landfall. This buoy indicates that there is safe water to pass on either side but it should be kept to the port (left) side of your vessel when proceeding upstream or downstream. It is painted half in red and half in white. If it is equipped with a light, it is white in color and operates on a flash cycle (flashing Morse Code "A", which is a short, then long flash, repeated 10 times per minute).

There are good, free, online resources and navigation courses you can take. If you're going to paddle in waters with navigation aids and motorized craft, you need to know the rules of the water, or at least some of them, before heading out.

In Canada, sea kayaks are subject to small vessel regulations. 

Under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, Transport Canada is the government department responsible for pleasure boating. Sea kayaks are subject to Small Vessel Regulations under the Act.

For more information, see page 16, Regulations: Sea Kayaking Safety Guide, Transport Canada

For more information about navigation aids, and their meaning, here are a few links for pleasure craft operators in Canada. This more detailed information is also very useful for the paddler sharing the same waters with motorized craft. 

Happy and safe trails!
The BaffinPaddler

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Should you put Toko eXpress Universal Liquid Wax on the fish scales of your waxless classic skis? Even if the manufacturer says so?

Well, I can answer that . . . NO!

I already learned my lesson the hard way by listening to the advice of a ski shop in the Tremblant, Quebec region to apply Toko eXpress Universal Liquid Wax to the kick zone (fish scales) of my new waxless, classic, cross-country skis "to protect the fish scales from wear and tear".

Say what! Put a slick, liquid wax on the kick zone (fish scales)? The advice to do so is also written on the product by the manufacturer, ". . . "for kick and glide zones".

Usually the advice is to the contrary. Do not put glide wax on the kick zone (fish scales). This is where the ski needs to engage so you can kick off and advance or climb hills. Only put glide wax on the smooth surface of the classic waxless ski for better glide. The Toko eXpress is called a universal liquid wax for both grip and glide zones.

You can see in the image below, the smooth glide surfaces on the bottom of the ski, and the etched surface in the middle in the kick zone.

Waxless classic cross-country ski with fish scales on the kick zone
Waxless classic skis don't need wax. But we can use a glide wax for a smoother glide and sometimes a faster ride.

Waxable classic skis are another story. They use a grip wax on the kick zone and don't have an etched surface (fish scales). The entire bottom surface of the waxable classic ski is smooth. Classic skiers with waxable skis use a wide range of different waxes for the glide zones depending on conditions and snow temperatures.

I listened to the advice to put the Toko eXpress Universal Liquid Wax for Grip and Glide on the fish scales of my new skis and gave it a try.

Why not? The ski store in Tremblant and the manufacturer must know better than I do, right?

Instant disaster!

Nothing but kick back on my new Rossignol Zymax Classic waxless skis. If you don't know what kick back is on classic x-country skis, think about spinning your wheels on ice. You don't get anywhere. Then think of the next worse scenario - flying down a snowy hill with a long, skinny, classic ski on what feels like slick ice. That's not kick back. It's an overly slick ski picking up more speed than you might be comfortable with.

Once the product was on the fish scales, it didn't seem to wear off. The problem with kick back remained. My new skis were useless, and not returnable. Once you purchase skis and have bindings applied, they are yours.

I needed help and advice on what to do. And the fix was simple.

I want to say thank you to the Sports Experts store and the staff at 25 Blvd. du Plateau, Gatineau (Hull sector), Quebec. 

I went to them for a second opinion on my new skis, to verify if they were properly balanced with the binding placement. All was fine. The length of the ski was correct for my size and weight. They helped me solve the kick back problem by removing the Toko eXpress Universal Liquid Wax from the fish scales of my skis with a base cleaner. It was fast and easy. I was impressed with the friendly, efficient, knowledgeable staff and good service at the store. The store is at a convenient location near Gatineau Park.

Once the Toko eXpress Universal Liquid Wax was removed from the fish scales of my skis, they behaved as they should. I had grip and glide and I started to really enjoy my new skis. 

If you need to remove glide wax from the fish scales of your classic waxless cross-country skis, the KUU Bio Citron Base Cleaner worked well for me. It's about $13 CAD. People with waxable skis use this product or use other methods for removing wax. 
It might be a good idea to keep a bottle handy during ski season. You never know when a well-meaning ski buddy might apply the glide wax to then entire bottom surface of your classic waxless skis, including the fish scales.

I'm sharing this with you, so that, if this situation ever happens to you, you won't waste as much time as I did figuring out what to do. 

I will say though, that I do prefer the Toko eXpress Universal Liquid Wax as a glide wax for the glide sections of my skis. I find it is easier to apply, goes on smoother, and seems to last longer than the Swix Glide Wax

I don't agree, however, with the advice from the manufacturer that it is for kick and glide zones alike! It made my kick zone too slick.   

And now, I know how to easily remove any glide wax from my fish scales if it ever finds its way back where it doesn't belong. 

Thanks Sports Experts, for helping me turn this year's ski season into one of my best.

I see they are still sharpening skates, and now, tuning up and repairing bikes. The store is stocked with quality outdoor and sports gear. The repair and service shop is at the back of the store.

I think we've enjoyed the best of spring skiing this year in Canada's National Capital Region and beautiful Gatineau Park.
Rossignol Zymax Classic Waxless Cross-country Skis
There is much to learn about waxing skis. I like to keep it simple and inexpensive. This is why I prefer recreational, waxless, grab n' go, cross-country skis.

This winter, I upgraded my skis from a wider, shorter, lower profile Fisher waxless classic ski, to a longer, slimmer, lighter, Rossignol Zymax Classic waxless recreational performance ski designed for fitness oriented skiers. And . . . I like them. They are faster and have good directional stability. 

To wax or not to wax . . . that is the question when making your choice with classic skis.  

Lessons learned from the previous ski season make the next one even better! And the end of season sales can still be found online. 

Happy trails. 
The BaffinPaddler