Sunday, August 24, 2014

Mountain yogis unite - 5 ways to take your yoga practice outdoors

For my outdoor friends and new visitors to this blog, you may enjoy this article. Some people just can't relate to yoga - I know, it's not easy. It can be confusing and difficult to get into, and to keep up with. It's diverse. Challenging. Rewarding. Sometimes, I question myself. "Why are you doing this? Why do you keep doing this?' Yoga.

But, it can be good for you.

Indoor yoga studios make some outdoor people cringe and feel uncomfortable and confined.

The good news is, many of us get out of the indoor yoga studios and do a little yoga in the outdoors.

You can really take it to the next level, literally! when you trek up a mountain trail. It's a great cardio workout to warm up the body and open up the lungs, then do a little, or a lot of yoga with beautiful views.

Inspiring outdoor views naturally touch the heart chakra. You can feel it, even if you don't know what that is. It feels good. A warm, happy feeling. So sweet! And hey, the heart chakra, the fourth chakra, is associated with the colour green and the element air.

I have found doing yoga, or even just striking or holding a few of my favourite yoga poses in the outdoors incredibly powerful. Always much more powerful and meaningful than what I ever find inside a yoga studio.

The cool thing is, more and more people are doing yoga and finding creative ways to make it interesting, engaging and fun. It's a great way to connect with all things. I love both indoor yoga studios and all those outdoor yoga spaces we find along our path. Outdoor spaces for practice are infinite and roomy!

My next story is up on the Wanderlust Journal inspired by awesome experiences during the Wanderlust Tremblant yoga festival in Quebec, Canada from August 21-24. If you'd like to have a look, here's the link.

5 ways to take your yoga practice outdoors

Happy trails!
The BaffinPaddler

Friday, August 22, 2014

What's in the Wanderlust Tremblant Mandala

Oh cool. I'm a guest blogger at the Wanderlust Tremblant yoga festival that runs from August 21-24 (Quebec, Canada.)

You're probably wondering what the heck this is in the photo above. I didn't have a clue either. So I found out and wrote a story about it with some much appreciated help from the Wanderlust editor. I'm still just a baby in the yoga world.

My first story is up on the Wanderlust Journal if you'd like to have a look. Here's the link:

Let Art Be Your Guide

Better yet, come join us in Tremblant for a fantastic yoga festival with indoor and outdoor classes, treks and runs on mountain trails, SUP yoga on Lake Tremblant, music, food, and yoga gear for sale! The weather is perfect and so are the vibes:) I'm not sure if there are any classes still available though. You'll have to check the Wanderlust Tremblant website schedule.
Everyone loves the Tremblant resort village and surroundings. They keep telling me so.

I'll be up late again tonight working on another festival story. Yogi by day. Writer by night.

I miss my kayaks! I'll catch up with them in the fall.

Happy trails.
The BaffinPaddler

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The calm before the storm - 2014 IRONMAN North American Championship Mont-Tremblant

The 2014 IRONMAN North American Championship Mont-Tremblant (Quebec, Canada) starts early tomorrow morning at 6:36 a.m. from the beach on Lake Tremblant with the 2.4 mile swim.
It's a full Ironman.
  • 2.4 mile swim (3.86 km), athletes have 2 hours, 20 minutes to complete it
  • 112 mile cycle (180.25 km), athletes have 8 hours to complete it
  • 26.2 mile marathon run (42.2 km), athletes have 6 hours, 30 minutes to complete it.
The beauty and peace at the depart for the swim the day before the competition defies the cold front, rain, and fog that rolled in this week.
This week the nights have gone down to 9 degrees Celsius 9 (48 F). The days sometimes warmed up to 15 degrees Celsius (59 F). All this, and just last week some of us were bemoaning temperatures around 32 C (90 F), with a little humidity. 

The cold, rain and fog offers an ominous calm the day before the triathlon. The lake is quiet.
Today I felt very lucky to enjoy a few quiet moments at the Ironman swim departure site after the meeting of volunteer kayakers for swim support.
Tomorrow morning, the swim depart site will be quite the opposite when the beach and water is filled with action, athletes, and tremendous energy. 

Each swim buoy marker is 130 metres (426.5 feet) apart along the 2.4 mile swim. The 2.4 mile swim distance may not look like much on a small map that you see in a local newspaper. But, when you see the Zodiac boats hauling out, and quietly placing each numbered marker, the scale of the swim, and the distance the athletes will cover, suddenly starts to come into stark perspective. Wow! I'm happy I'll be in a kayak.
There are 13 numbered yellow buoys heading out from the swim depart at the Tremblant Beach and Tennis Club - they disappear quickly in the fog - there's a turning point - the swim is a loop - and 13 orange numbered buoys on the return stretch to Parc Plage. The distance between the yellow and orange buoys in the middle of the loop is about 400 metres (.2 miles). Swim support is inside and outside the swim loop and there are some resting platforms along the way at specified buoys.

There are many more details and lots of professional support for the athletes, but let's rest before the event and enjoy the peaceful foggy views.
It is my first experience as a volunteer for an Ironman competition. The dedication, organization, and the volunteer and professional support for the athletes at the event is incredible. Of course, the dedication and training the athletes go through, and the support from their families is another story. Why they do it is their story.

During the event, of course, we volunteer kayakers are on duty and working. No photos. The media and event photogs are onsite for that.
   
Best wishes to the athletes, their families, and their support teams at the 2014 Subaru IRONMAN North American Championship Mont-Tremblant on August 17.  

Happy and safe trails.
The BaffinPaddler   

Monday, August 11, 2014

Does my Ironman Tremblant T-shirt make me look fat?

Yes it does. Let's blame it on a bulky belt on the jean shorts. What the hell. This is no time for vanity. I couldn't help striking a yoga pose in from of the big red M in the Tremblant Ironman village today.

I call it the Ironman village, because the massive white tents and stages for the event are already set up at the base of the Tremblant resort village. You can already feel the Ironman mania and high energy building in town. Parking further and further away, and taking longer and longer to find a parking lot with space is your first clue! August is a busy month up here!

The full Ironman Triathlon in Tremblant, Quebec, Canada on August 17 is fast approaching. It's what I call the totally insane Ironman. The full Ironman - not the half. How this is humanly possible in one day is beyond comprehension. Yet some 2600 athletes from over 50 countries, including Quebec's elite racers, will give it a go. Preparing for a full Ironman takes several years of hard training and burns a lot of calories.

Full Ironman
  •  2.4 mile swim (3.86 km), athletes have 2 hours, 20 minutes to complete it
  • 112 mile cycle (180.25 km), athletes have 8 hours to complete it
  • 26.2 mile marathon run (42.2 km), athletes have 6 hours, 30 minutes to complete it.
Everything is raced in that order with no breaks. Athletes need a lot of support along the way to accomplish this and help insure their safety.

Tremblant is stunningly beautiful, but it is no picnic for distance cycling and running. We have mountain grades here! The swim in Lake Tremblant is the best deal unless the wind is up. The water is cool and refreshing, not cold in August and the views are awesome year round.

I'm one of the many volunteers that will help support the event and the athletes.

Today I was on one of the volunteer teams to sort and organize the T-shirts for the captains of the volunteer teams for swim, bike, run, and other athlete services. That's a lot of red T-shirts!  Close to 2500 volunteers are required to make the event a success and ensure security at the.2014 Subaru IRONMAN North American Championship Mont-Tremblant on August 17.     

On event day, I'll be on the water (beautiful Lake Tremblant) as a swim support volunteer with my 17-foot long, bright yellow Baffin sea kayak.
We have to be there at 5:00 a.m.! The Baffin is always ready to go. I'm going to need coffee and a rooster crowing to get me out of bed way earlier than that.

The first wave of athletes run to the water at 6:36 a.m. An oddly precise time. I'll peek at the exact time on my white, waterproof Ironman watch when the first feet hit the water. The watch was a Mother's Day gift many years ago, and is the only watch I've ever had that has survived all my outdoor activities and has never gotten lost or destroyed.

We have to be on the water during the event for 4-hours without a break. Now I'm really kicking myself for not bothering to learn how to roll (again this year I ignored all training camps). It would be a great way to cool off, keep myself awake, and stretch out some muscles that are sure to get cramped after sitting around for so long.

This Ironman event will be a first for me and my Baffin sea kayak. It will be an amazing experience.What an awesome thing to share with your kayak. The list can always grow. Your kayak is always there for you.

I'll try to grab a few stunning shots of the Ironman experience and the Ironman village at Trembant as the event descends and takes over the resort and the surrounding area for miles!

Many roads along the path of the event or in the path of the event will be closed or will be blocked off at 6:00 a.m. on event day and won't reopen until well after the event.

I'll have to spend the day in the Ironman village at the Tremblant resort, and will probably be found on a bench somewhere later in the afternoon sound asleep with my camera in hand, unless the sheer adrenalin of the event keeps me going all day.

My red volunteer T-shirt may be very weary and wet by day's end. I may jump into the lake or practice a Cowboy Scramble or two after my shift is over.

So far, the weather report for this Sunday looks perfect. Let's hope it stays that way.

Happy trails!
The BaffinPaddler

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 fantastic ski and snowboard destination, but also has a large lake (Lake Tremblant), excellent for water sports, private resort beaches, and several outstanding golf courses. Everyone loves the brightly-colored European-style resort village where pedestrians rule, shops, pubs, restos and family activities abound, and vehicles live and travel with care on the outskirts where they belong!
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