River Sports Magazine https://riversportsmag.com Good fun on Earth's life-giving rivers. Tue, 13 Oct 2015 03:28:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 43910345 River Sports Fun: French Broad, Holston Rivers Conflux at Tennessee Confluence https://riversportsmag.com/2015/10/12/river-sports-fun-french-broad-holston-rivers-conflux-at-tennessee-confluence/ https://riversportsmag.com/2015/10/12/river-sports-fun-french-broad-holston-rivers-conflux-at-tennessee-confluence/#respond Tue, 13 Oct 2015 01:18:45 +0000 https://riversportsmag.com/?p=2435 Mighty Rivers rise from humble beginnings, often hundreds of miles from their final, stellar display of power as they rumble into a junction downstream. The Tennessee River’s founding ranks as one of the more interesting in river history and recreation.… Continue reading

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Mighty Rivers rise from humble beginnings, often hundreds of miles from their final, stellar display of power as they rumble into a junction downstream. The Tennessee River’s founding ranks as one of the more interesting in river history and recreation.

Under the railroad trestle on the left flows the Holston River. Top Right, here comes the French Broad. To the lower right, there goes the newly formed Tennessee River

Under the railroad trestle (left) flows the Holston River. Top Right, here comes the French Broad. To the lower right, two become one in a marriage of water creating the Tennessee River. Burkhart Enterprises, a thriving riverport since the late 1940s, docks barges in the photo. See this point from their vantage below

A dozen miles above the vibrant East Tennessee city of Knoxville, two powerful rivers—the Holston and the French Broad—join in a confluence of waters launching the Tennessee River’s 652 mile navigable journey. Included in the flow route lay portions of Alabama until the Tennessee folds northward creating a wandering “U” shape. Then, near Paducah, Kentucky, the Tennessee merges with the Ohio River as its largest and equal tributary for only a short 46 miles when the Ohio converts to a tributary itself for the Mississippi River in Cairo, Illinois.

The Tennessee River's Alpha and Omega paths.

The Tennessee River from beginning to end. Note the confluence of Holston and French Broad Rivers at the Knoxville “dot” offering hundreds of miles of river fun

When Knoxville reigned as king of the region circa 1790, the river was popularly known as the Cherokee, named as such by the native Indian population. In fact their influence ultimately yields the name Tennessee from the word “Tanasi,” a Cherokee village. A distinguished monument overlooks the now submerged village, whose name roughly translates to “big bend,” 12 miles south of the town of Vonore.

On the west side of the confluence hill, one views downtown Knoxville, about 4.25 miles downstream at the Gay Street Bridge.

On the west side of the confluence hill, one views downtown Knoxville, about 4.25 miles downstream at the Gay Street Bridge.

The French Broad River begins near the small town of Rosman, North Carolina, and flows independently for 213 miles before mixing with the Holston. From Rosman it carries one of the heavier rainfalls in the United States north through Asheville, North Carolina, before tracking northwest across the Great Smoky Mountains, one of the river’s major water sources.

From the top photo looking East, one views Burkhart Enterprises, Inc, a family business since the late 1940s. Note the trestle over the Holston on the right, also visible in the top photo.

Burkhart Enterprises view of the confluence. Note trestle also in top pho

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the country and one of the best areas for enjoying the bounty of the French Broad River and the many smaller streams that feed it. Gatlinburg is a notably wonderful base for exploring these waterways with a plethora of outfitters running whitewater rafting, kayaking and paddle boarding adventure trips. Grab a bag of iconic Gatlinburg taffy then hop on the Pigeon River to experience class III and IV rapids that finish their flow into the French Broad above the Douglas Dam.

The Clinch River adding its own glory to the Tennessee downstream near Oak Ridge

The Clinch River adding its own glory to the Tennessee downstream near Oak Ridge

Pigeon River, named after the Passenger Pigeon, offers a lesson in that bird’s journey to extinction, something River Sport enthusiasts must keep in mind. While once one of the largest populations on the globe (four billion estimated just in 1700s North America alone), massive hunting for its cheap meat and habitat loss killed the species. Currently there remain a number of species globally facing the same demise, for instance the majestic Monarch Butterfly.

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The Holston River travels 274 miles to reach the confluence with twin, the French Broad, beginning in Bland County, Virginia. Uniquely, the Holston consists of three forks: the longest and more dominant North Fork flows from Sharon Springs. The “twins” Middle and South Forks converge NE of Bristol, a city straddling the state-lines of Virginia and Tennessee. These combined forks, then known now as “South,” later turn NW to greet the North Fork at Kingsport, Tennessee.

Then the three forks combo take off as one for 136 miles SW toward Knoxville. Tracking them lays the low elevation Bays Mountain on the south side of the flow nearly all the way. Take time from the canoe, kayak, or paddleboard trip

Western North Carolina Alliance (WNCA) enjoy a trip down-stream from the French Broad's Headwaters

Western North Carolina Alliance (WNCA) enjoy a trip down-stream from the French Broad’s Headwaters

to stop in Kingsport’s Bays Mountain Park. There, among deer and other animals, sits a wolf preserve where one, without any moonshine stimulant, howls with the wolves.

Cherokee Dam, named after the Native American tribe of East Tennessee, marks a key feature on the Holston waterway for river sport craft of all kinds in Grainger County and Jefferson County. Nothing better as Grainger grows the country’s best tomatoes from a lush farmland. Use them for your favorite BLT blend.

Grainger County Tomato Festival reigns as the kind of anything tomato. Join the famous tomato wars on the last Saturday of July. Oh . . . be brave and wear a white shirt.

Grainger County Tomato Festival reigns as the king of anything tomato. Join the famous tomato wars on the last Saturday of July. Oh . . . be brave; wear a white shirt.

Or just eat one like an orange. Better still, be at their world-famous Tomato Festival in late July; a perfect time once you find parking to prove your tomato-throwing skills.

Most do not know the area opposed secession by the state in Civil War days. President Lincoln’s railroad bridge-burning strategy, including one at nearby Strawberry Plains, a plan to combat Confederates that Tennessee joined in 1861, seemed to lead to more recruits for both sides of that dastardly conflict. Not far away one can enjoy Lincoln Memorial University’s Abraham Lincoln exhibit hall with important artifacts of his life, like a large copy of the wire announcing his death.

The telegram of President Abraham Lincoln's death 7:22 a.m., April 15, 1865. Photo taken at the Lincoln Memorial University Museum, Harrogate, Tennessee.

The telegram of President Abraham Lincoln’s death 7:22 a.m., April 15, 1865. Photo taken at the Lincoln Memorial University Museum, Harrogate, Tennessee.

Sadly, that day is now lost  among one of the most difficult days of the year for most Americans: April 15, Tax Day (see photo). That day needs changing to, say, April 30 or any other day for that matter. Lincoln’s day-of-death should not be lost among a scramble for deductions and paperwork. April 15 needs recognition as a day of honor.

There are winding creeks, lakes and water galore to explore in the area. Trout fishing with some lunkers (this from knowledgeable sources) remains a favorite in the Holston. Plenty of activity plays in the keeping of the rivers clean.

LegacyParks.org works to promote public use of the Holston and French Broad Rivers

LegacyParks.org works to promote public use of the Holston and French Broad Rivers

Panther Creek State Park, as just one suggestion of a park to visit, offers plenty of camping spots and activities to engage time in and out of the water. Sport kayaking, canoeing and fishing (in and out of canoes and kayaks, too) enjoy the dam’s reservoir along with multiple hikes reaching high grounds that once were enjoyed by the Cherokee Indians circa 1785.

Also note Blue Hole Falls on Holston Mountain, so named because of the pool under the falls with a deep blue tint. Located along Mill Creek, the falls are not far from South Holston Lake.

Blue Hole offers a refreshing pool to visit . . . and take a dip!

Blue Hole offers a refreshing pool to visit . . . and take a dip!

The name Holston River (and the mountain also) derived from Stephen Holstein who settled in the northerly part of the river in the mid-1700s. Keep an eye out on the Holston Mountain for Holston High Point where the FAA maintains an aircraft beacon at 4,260 feet.

The Tennessee River has North Carolina and Virginia to thank for its origin . . . and the tremendous variety of water sports the Holston River and the French Broad River offer.

Just think: nearly 500 miles from these two rivers combine with the 652 miles traveled by the Tennessee to the mouth of the Ohio. The many tributaries and contributing rivers such as the Little Tennessee and Tellico near Knoxville, make this region a river sport dreamland. Get this: on May 30, a paddleboard race starts in Knoxville on the Tennessee River and races downstream for multiple distances. This isn’t their first year of their race, either. No longer are such events just the providence of hidden streams and small rivers. The explosion of self-propelled river sports incorporates all good waterways. Just remember Lincoln’s adage, though: “It is best not to swap horses while crossing the river.” Kayaks, canoes and other water craft, too.

Phillip@ultrasuperior.com

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Rafting British Columbia: A Summer Bucket List Requirement https://riversportsmag.com/2015/10/03/rafting-british-columbia-a-summer-bucket-list-requirement/ https://riversportsmag.com/2015/10/03/rafting-british-columbia-a-summer-bucket-list-requirement/#respond Sat, 03 Oct 2015 23:15:43 +0000 https://riversportsmag.com/?p=2650 British Columbia offers amazing, affordable, accessible adventures for river rats, and famed B.C. waterways like the Thompson, Fraser and Chilliwack Rivers are no secret to outdoor enthusiasts. Rafting is one of the few water sports where you’ll actually enjoy paddling … Continue reading

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British Columbia offers amazing, affordable, accessible adventures for river rats, and famed B.C. waterways like the Thompson, Fraser and Chilliwack Rivers are no secret to outdoor enthusiasts. Rafting is one of the few water sports where you’ll actually enjoy paddling hard for short intervals, soaked to the bone inside a dingy-like raft with a few other crazy people.  Toss in an overnight stay at a haunted bed and breakfast like The Teague House in Yale (Sasquatch Country), one of British Columbia’s oldest houses built in 1867, and you’re in for an unforgettable B.C. experience.

Most rapids in this area are considered class 3.5 to 4.0. Aside from being a thrill ride, there are so many other reasons you need to add a rafting trip to your bucket list. For starters, the scenery is epic. Regardless of which river you choose to paddle, expect to find yourself in awe of the beauty of B.C. But be aware that if you spend too long gawking at the views instead of paddling, your “funny” rafting guide may just decide to toss you in for a quick swim. Rafting is a true team activity that requires everyone’s participation for success. It’s a great team building activity and you’re sure to make some new friends after a day fighting rapids called “Jaws” and “Hell’s Gate” together.

Companies like Fraser River Raft Expeditions have been pumping people safely through whitewater for over 20 years. There’s a reason these rafting outfitters are still in business: they all have a loyal crew of crazy guide characters, all of whom are dedicated to the rivers and an outdoors lifestyle.  Educated, skilled, witty guides make the trips more memorable and fun.

Rafting outfitters like Hyak, Canadian Outback Adventures and Kumsheen are also fairly close to major cities like Vancouver and all offer fun day trips into the mountains. Expect to be entertained and well fed on a full-day trip, but don’t forget to bring essentials for yourself like a water bottle, sunscreen and waterproof camera. Dry bags are usually provided to keep valuables safe. A pit stop for a picnic lunch along the river’s edge is part of most trips offering a great chance to grab some photos and chat with your team while you refuel. The minimum age for rafting in these parts is 12 years old, so leave the youngsters at home for this one so they (and you) aren’t up the raging river without a paddle.

Nothing beats the summer heat better than a icy, refreshing shot of whitewater in the face. Cross this adventure off your summer bucket list and make B.C. your next whitewater destination.

By: Stephanie Florian @PlayOutdoorsCA

Follow Stephanie and Fraser River Rafting Adventures through some B.C. rapids:

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Kayaking Maine’s Orr’s and Bailey Islands https://riversportsmag.com/2015/09/14/kayaking-maines-orrs-and-bailey-islands/ https://riversportsmag.com/2015/09/14/kayaking-maines-orrs-and-bailey-islands/#comments Mon, 14 Sep 2015 21:21:57 +0000 https://riversportsmag.com/?p=2669 For thousands of years man has gone out on the sea alone in a kayak and experienced what might be the ultimate soul journey on the water. The Orr’s and Bailey Islands are part Harpswell Island chain located off the … Continue reading

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For thousands of years man has gone out on the sea alone in a kayak and experienced what might be the ultimate soul journey on the water. The Orr’s and Bailey Islands are part Harpswell Island chain located off the central coast of Maine. Although they are but two of many islands in the area featuring a myriad of bays, coves and wildlife that can be explored by kayak, Orr’s and Bailey stand out as some of the most magical spots to experience the joys of paddling.

Orr's and Bailey Islands in Central Maine

Orr’s and Bailey Islands in Central Maine

Kayaking season here runs roughly from late May through September and sometimes into October, though some enthusiasts extend their time on the water even later in the season. There are many places to put in on these islands, from quiet bays and coves to open ocean. Coves offer protected waters, while the larger bays will get choppy quickly if there’s even a slight breeze. For open-ocean outings, it’s important to stay updated on weather and tide changes, especially in early spring or late fall. Air temperatures in late May range between 43 and 65 degrees. In October the range is 37 to 59 degrees, while summer temperatures vary from 52 to 79 degrees. These are just averages as plenty of days in July and August can sizzle in the 90s.

Route 24 on Bailey Island

Route 24 on Bailey Island

One of my personal favorite routes begins by launching from the small sandy beach area at Mackerel Cove on Bailey Island and heading south among the lobster boats and pleasure craft out around the end of the peninsula, then paddling north to Merriconeag Sound.  There will be swells during the transition out of the cove to head into the Sound, but otherwise this route is pretty smooth. You’ll cruise among brightly painted buoys that mark where the lobster traps lie, and if you plan accordingly, you can pull in at a variety of places for a taste of the day’s fresh catch or to try a local brew, such as at Cook’s Lobster or the Salt Cod Café, located adjacent to H2 Kayaking Outfitters. You could also paddle through the Bailey Island Bridge–a unique, crib-stone bridge that connects Orr’s and Bailey Islands–and tie up at the float behind Morse’s Cribstone Grill, which puts you back on Bailey Island.

Morse's Cribstone Grill

Morse’s Cribstone Grill

For an alternate route in this same area you can launch your kayak at Land’s End at the tip of Bailey Island and head out the same direction to go over into Merriconeag Sound. This launch point is a very small sandy beach below the end of route 24.  If you put in here, make sure to visit the lobstermen’s statue on the ocean side of Land’s End Gift Shop, a bigger-than-life tribute to the many men in this region who make a living out on the water.

There is parking at both launch areas. On a good day with calm seas and you might choose to take a picnic lunch and paddle out to Eagle Island, home of the late Arctic explorer Admiral Robert E. Peary, instead of paddling into the sound. There is a boat landing here and, in season, you can tour the explorer’s historic residence. This route is open water kayaking all the way.

A kayaker can also put in beside the Bailey Island Bridge adjacent to H2 Outfitters. From here a paddler can reverse the direction and instead paddle south down Merriconeag, past Graveyard and Pott’s Points on one side, and the entrance to Mackerel Cove and Land’s End on the other.

Bailey Island crib-stone bridge

Bailey Island crib-stone bridge

Paddlers putting in beside the bridge on Orr’s Island can chose also turn north to head up the sound instead of taking on the open water route. The sound is a great place to enjoy the scenery, take some photos and enjoy a relaxing float in the coves. Orr’s Island Campground is located in Reed Cove on Merriconeag Sound and is the only camping facility on either island.

Another option when putting in at the crib-stone bridge is to go under the bridge and head for the open waters of Casco Bay right away. On this side of Bailey and Orr’s Islands, the water is rougher and paddlers need to pay close attention to weather and tide information before heading out, but views along the rocky coast are unforgettable, whether heading south in the direction of Land’s End or north toward Lowell Cove. This is all open water paddling but within sight of the coast.

H2 Kayaking Outfitters

H2 Kayaking Outfitters

When I am out here in open seas in summer, my spray skirt is running with water and I am often sweating under my PFD, but the pure athleticism of paddling combined with the screams of gulls and the rocking of fishing boats at their moorings brings incredible satisfaction and peace. As I watch the rocks along the coast, the occasional seal will pop up to look at me and the sleek, dark cormorants often perch on ledges to dry their wings. When a fish jumps or a seal surfaces I know I am sharing a special moment with these water creatures that have come to meet me.

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Repose Along the Oswegatchie River https://riversportsmag.com/2015/09/10/repose-along-the-oswegatchie-river/ https://riversportsmag.com/2015/09/10/repose-along-the-oswegatchie-river/#respond Thu, 10 Sep 2015 20:20:04 +0000 https://riversportsmag.com/?p=2653 Imagine days of paddling on a narrow, lazy river that snakes through marshes and pine forests, passing by large boulders and tiny beaches. Picture a land of herons and beavers, where the prints of a muskrat or raccoon sometimes reveal … Continue reading

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Imagine days of paddling on a narrow, lazy river that snakes through marshes and pine forests, passing by large boulders and tiny beaches. Picture a land of herons and beavers, where the prints of a muskrat or raccoon sometimes reveal their passing, and where each bend in the river takes you further into the wilderness. Contemplate an area where “development” means a campsite, or in its most advanced form, a lean-to. One might think that such a place can only be found in the Western United States or Canada, but the east branch of the Oswegatchie River is actually found in New York’s Adirondack Park.

The Oswegatchie provides tranquility and a sense of solitude.

The Oswegatchie provides tranquillity and a sense of solitude.

Accessing the Oswegatchie is a small adventure unto itself. South of the tiny tourist town of Cranberry Lake lies a hamlet called Wanakena, which, from the highway, appears to mostly consist of forest, picnic tables, hiking trails, and The Ranger School. Off of route 3 is a dirt road that leads back away from the highway for miles, deep into the woods, intersecting snowmobile trails. Abruptly, the road reaches the river and what appear to be a few seasonal homes. One of the camps is accessed by a footbridge that traverses the water. To the right is the end of the road and a public parking area at what is known as The Inlet, a grassy area with river access. While The Inlet has an outhouse and camping is permitted, an hour of paddling on the river leads to spots that are far more secluded, wild and peaceful.

One hot, August afternoon, my partner and I found ourselves at The Inlet, preparing to launch our canoe. The put-in has space to launch multiple boats simultaneously, which worked to our advantage as we happened to arrive as a large group was in the lengthy process of loading their canoes. We soon left them behind and within 5 minutes it seemed as though we had the river to ourselves. We paddled upstream along bends and curves and through tall grasses. There were holes in the grasses where small animals had made paths to access the river. In a few places the water was low over the rocks. In those spots, I was glad to have a “beater boat” that I didn’t mind getting scratched up. It turns out that the trip would be nearly impossible to undertake without scratching up a boat, especially this time of year. Motorized boats are not allowed on this section of the river. With the shallow water and frequent beaver obstructions, they would be completely impractical, regulations aside.

One riverside beach

One riverside beach

Less than an hour upstream from The Inlet we came to our first campsite. Under the pine trees that shaded the riverbank, we enjoyed a lunch break while gazing out on the water. The cool river, dark with tannins, was a refreshing spot for an after-lunch swim. Back in the boat, we paddled upstream through frequent curves and bends as the river gradually narrowed. Though we passed a few other paddlers, the river never felt crowded. Less than a minute later we were around the next turn and had the place to ourselves again.

After one bend in the river we discovered that we had arrived at High Rock. The Oswegatchie quietly flowed just next to a large boulder. The rock boasts a campsite, set back in the woods up by its top. While High Rock would be an exceptional spot to spend the night, it was still early in the day, so we continued on. Our Adirondack Paddler’s Map North listed Griffin Rapids as our next landmark. Aside from being listed on the map–an easy Class I section that didn’t require any hard paddling–the rapids were hardly noteworthy. In fact, the main difficulty of the day wasn’t even on the map. Prior to reaching our campsite at the Buck Brook lean-to, I had to exit the canoe in thigh-high water and pull it over a beaver dam that we weren’t able to paddle up. A good pair of water shoes and the ability to comfortably enter and exit the canoe in shallow water are a must for anyone undertaking this trip. The sheer number of beaver dams, especially further up the river, requires paddlers to get in and out of their boats often.

The beach at Buck Brook

The beach at Buck Brook Lean-to

The view from Buck Brook Lean-to affords beauty with a sense of privacy.

The view from Buck Brook Lean-to affords beauty with a sense of privacy.

Buck Brook is one of several lean-tos along this section of water. From a bank along the outer edge of a bend in the river, the shaded lean-to looks out on the water.  While the campsites along the Oswegatchie are numerous, they are spread out enough (with the exception of those at High Falls) that each one feels completely private. We opted to pitch a tent rather than get eaten by the swarms of mosquitoes that descended upon us once we pulled out our boat. The tent had an expansive view of Buck Brook and the marshland that surrounds it. Our guidebook specified that this section of the Oswegatchie is known for bear problems. As usual, we stored our food in a well-hung bear bag. Enjoying a fire in the pit by the lean-to, we had the site to ourselves. It was dark and our eyes were focused on the glow of the fire when we heard a large splashing noise in the water. We heard it once again and then no more.

One of many beaver dams that tested our paddling skills (and patience).

One of many beaver dams that tested our paddling skills (and patience).

The next morning, we ate breakfast with the early light glistening off of the water before getting underway. The paddling was more difficult than the previous afternoon. The river was narrowing, with less water flowing and more frequent beaver dams. Some of the dams we were able to paddle up, while we had to haul the boat over others. One of the campsites had some large river rocks and fast moving water that required some spur of the moment route planning. Further upriver where the Five Ponds Trail crosses the water, we portaged around some rapids that we couldn’t muster the strength to paddle up. At another section slightly further upriver we tracked the canoe up a very shallow section with swift water. The miles passed slower with all the obstacles and we considered turning back several times, but ultimately opted to continue.

By early afternoon we had finally made it to High Falls, our final destination. While the river continues above the falls, a simple portage away, such a trip was outside the scope of our one-night trek. Contrary to its name, High Falls isn’t a particularly tall waterfall. However, it is an attractive feature and very interesting to watch. The falls are multi-tiered with multiple flows that diverge and converge.

High Falls and the surrounding water

Approaching High Falls

After contemplating the waterfall for a few minutes, we were glad not to have turned back earlier in the day. The mist and breeze off of High Falls kept the bugs away, making it the best lunch spot on the river. While visiting the waterfall is a worthwhile trip, the camping in the immediate area could be jarring after the quiet and solitude of the river. With five campsites and a lean-to, High Falls is a hub of activity. These campsites do have the advantage of easy access to hiking trails that lead to numerous ponds and a mountain. However, there is a quiet, private campsite just a short way downstream of High Falls that would be my choice if I were to camp in the area.

Heading downstream past a boulder

Heading downstream past a boulder

After our lunch at High Falls, we prepared to head back to The Inlet. While we had another 13 miles to paddle on the return trip, the second half would be downstream. Being able to paddle over most of the beaver dams rather than having to haul the canoe over them saved a lot of time and hassle. I was also able to find lines down the two sections of rapids that we hadn’t been able to paddle up. The faster pace did mean that sometimes I had to tell my partner to stop paddling so that I could steer us around the sharp bends. During the last hour and a half on the river we paddled hard to try to get off the water before a distant thunderstorm came too close. By the time we arrived back at the car we were tired and sore. Although our trip was more rushed than I would have liked, I was still left with a sense of awe from the serenity and wildness of the place. Anytime I feel that sense fading, I know where I can go to find it again.

lalala

Inspiration around every bend

All photos used in this article were taken by Tim Moody.

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How to Plan an Overnight River Trip with Kids https://riversportsmag.com/2015/08/29/how-to-plan-an-overnight-river-trip-with-kids/ https://riversportsmag.com/2015/08/29/how-to-plan-an-overnight-river-trip-with-kids/#respond Sat, 29 Aug 2015 18:01:19 +0000 https://riversportsmag.com/?p=2629 We’ve done several overnight paddling trips as a family over the last few years and are slowly learning how to make them both safe and fun! Ensuring group safety was the first priority but we know that a trip has … Continue reading

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We’ve done several overnight paddling trips as a family over the last few years and are slowly learning how to make them both safe and fun! Ensuring group safety was the first priority but we know that a trip has to be enjoyable for the kids too if it’s worth repeating.

This year we chose to paddle the Columbia River near its origin at Columbia Lake in Canada. We floated lazily down the river for two days and camped on a beautiful island for the night while the kids played in the mud, swam, and discovered their inner wild child.

Family-friendly paddling on the Columbia River

Family-friendly paddling on the Columbia River

Why choose a river trip over a lake trip

We had the opportunity this summer to do a multi-day lake circuit instead of our river trip but I couldn’t get over how much work would be involved with the numerous portages we’d have to do. This might be doable with canoes, but we prefer to kayak and I’m a stand up paddleboarder. Add our son’s toy kayak that we brought along, and we had 3 vessels for our one family alone! A lake circuit with portages was not an option for us!

I confess that I’m also a bit lazy when it comes to paddling and I appreciate having a current to help out (even if it is a gentle float trip with river that barely moves). I’m also terrified of head winds being that I choose to do these trips on a stand up paddleboard, and lakes often have strong winds.   Meanwhile, rivers are easier to navigate in windy conditions and the current helps a lot when it comes to keeping your boat moving down stream.

Stand up paddleboarding down the Columbia River

Stand up paddleboarding down the Columbia River

How to choose a river

This year, we chose to paddle the Columbia River for several reasons but one of the biggest factors was warmth and calmness of the water. We wanted the kids to be able to swim and play in the water, we wanted to relax on our trip without worries of hypothermia should somebody fall overboard, and we wanted to enjoy ourselves without constantly thinking of the next set of rapids around the corner. Our float trip was benign in every way with next to no risk at any moment. We didn’t have to tie down gear, we didn’t have to chastise the kids for wiggling too much in the canoe, and we didn’t have to be hyper-strict about river safety every second of the trip. Careful but relaxed is much more fun.

Other factors to consider:

  • What is the ability of the most novice family on the trip?
  • How old is the youngest child? (Class II rapids might not be appropriate with a wiggly toddler for example.)
  • How many days do you have for your trip and can you find a stretch of river that’s doable in that time frame (and remember, no child wants to sit in a boat for 5 hours at a time while you try to conquer 20 miles in a day on a slow moving river)
  • How well do the children swim? (trust me, that’s important if they are taking a plunge – even in warm water)
  • Do you need a permit to paddle your chosen river?
  • Will you be able to camp anywhere on the river or will you have to make a reservation in advance at an official river-side campground?
  • Finally, how easy will the shuttle be to set up and can you leave a vehicle or two safely at both the put in and take out spots?
Relaxed floating down the Columbia

Relaxed floating down the Columbia

Simple ways to make a river trip fun for the family

My best advice: Stop often, play in the mud, go for a swim, have a water fight… but don’t take the trip too seriously. We met another group doing the Columbia River at the same time as us and we asked them for some suggestions on where to camp for the night. They proceeded to tell us about “friz dock” – which they felt was the best beach in the area. As it turned out, this was an annual trip for them and the beach they referred to was where they always stopped to play Frisbee. They all looked forward to this beach break and I sensed it was a highlight of their trip each year.

We were lucky that the group decided not to actually camp on this beach after their break and grabbed it for our own use. It was paradise indeed and the kids played in the mud until it was time to change into pajamas for bed.

Paradise on the Columbia River

Paradise on the Columbia River

My second piece of advice is to bring a variety of boats with you. Kids get bored and the simple act of jumping ship to a new vessel helps to break up the monotony of sitting for hours on end. We had kayaks, a canoe, a stand up paddleboard, and a child-sized toy kayak. The favourite by far was the paddleboard! The adults took turns using it and the kids enjoyed riding on it as well. Trading kids back and forth also serves well as a break when parents need a fresh personality to deal with in their boat. 😉

The paddleboard was a popular vessel on our trip

The paddleboard was a popular vessel on our trip

How to choose a campsite

We got very lucky on our last trip because in our entire two days of paddling, we only found one beach that would have been large enough, suitable, and pleasant. Therefore I can’t stress enough that you go in to the trip with some idea of where you will camp. Talk to the folks at a local visitor centre, do some searching, read guide books, and ask around. But going in “blind” is definitely dangerous and as I said – we got lucky.

If you aren’t entirely sure of where you will spend the night, the two safest things you can do are to get an early start and to have a plan B lined up. Start your paddle early in the day so that you aren’t still searching for a site with darkness approaching. Second, figure out what you will do IF you can’t find a spot and be ready to execute the alternate plan if necessary. For us, we would have had to complete two days of paddling in one day – and the early start would have been imperative!

Sunset on the Columbia River

Sunset on the Columbia River

Basic Wilderness Guidelines for camping on a river

Wilderness camping on a river is very similar to backcountry camping on a trail and the same “no trace” rules apply. For a complete list of these rules, follow this link to The Leave No Trace 7 Principals.

In general, nobody is coming down the river after to clean up after you. Carry out what you bring in, and leave your campsite better than you found it.

Packing is also similar to a backpacking trip except that you will want to wrap your sleeping bags and mattresses in heavy-duty garbage bags in case water should get into your boat. Dry bags are also recommended for items that cannot get wet (think keys and phones for example,) for your clothing and for your food.

Finally, bring a good water filter if you aren’t bringing jugs of drinking water, a small backcountry stove, and a trowel for digging the latrine at camp.

A comprehensive packing list can be found here on the River Sports website. (Just don’t follow the list too seriously because you don’t need a fully stocked camp kitchen or a table for an overnight trip.)

Poor packing had us towing our large food bin by the end

Poor packing had us towing our large food bin by the end of the trip

General Safety notes

I don’t profess to be an expert so please consult these Tips from the American Canoe Association if you are new to paddling, have never done an overnight trip before, or just want to refresh yourself on safety guidelines. When in doubt, taking a lesson before embarking on a big trip is never a bad idea.

For more information on our specific paddling trip on the Columbia River with put in and take out locations in the Columbia Valley, check out the story that’s published on my personal blog:  Paddling and Camping on the Columbia River with Kids.

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Wildlife Encounters on the Water https://riversportsmag.com/2015/08/04/wildlife-encounters-on-the-water/ https://riversportsmag.com/2015/08/04/wildlife-encounters-on-the-water/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 20:22:50 +0000 https://riversportsmag.com/?p=2607 The words “canoeing” and “the wild life” seem to be in contradiction, since canoeing connotes a relaxing and peaceful paddle on a remote lake or flowing river; while the wild life indicates someone who is wild, impulsive, excitable, and a … Continue reading

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The words “canoeing” and “the wild life” seem to be in contradiction, since canoeing connotes a relaxing and peaceful paddle on a remote lake or flowing river; while the wild life indicates someone who is wild, impulsive, excitable, and a party-person. However, canoeing and watching for “wildlife” while on a water trail are most compatible.

Canoes are packed…somewhere in there is a camera for capturing photos of wildlife.

Canoes are packed…somewhere in there is a camera for capturing photos of wildlife.

I learned how to canoe during my time in the Boy Scouts and have not stopped since. My first encounter with wildlife in a canoe takes me back to around age 10 or 11. One day, out on the water with a friend at our Upper Michigan scout camp, I remember how intrigued I was when we came upon a good-sized turtle working its way through the water. I always enjoyed turtles, so we followed this one as far as we could before it submerged. I remember the thrill of exploring the waters in a canoe and discovering wildlife in its natural environment.

One highlight of observing wildlife in my adult life took place during a solo paddle on Shagawa Lake while vacationing near Ely, Minnesota. It was a peaceful evening as the sun was settling on the horizon. I paddled out about 100 yards from shore where a common loon was floating in silence. My strokes were deliberately slow and quiet as I drifted closer toward the loon. I eventually got within two paddle lengths of this magnificent water fowl. Its eyes were red and beady, its black beak long and pointed, and its throat held a white stripe. The top of its white speckled back floated just above the waterline. She was also much larger than I expected a loon to be.

At this juncture, the loon was moving slowly out into the open bay and I was alongside it moving at the same speed. She looked at me occasionally, but kept moving without concern. We must have traveled a couple hundred yards together. Realizing it was getting dark, I stopped paddling and the loon continued on. I returned back to shore. I then realized I should have kept a much greater distance from the big bird. However, circumstances allowed me this rare opportunity for a close encounter.

Pelicans along the shore of Wisconsin’s Big Eau Pleine River and Flowage.

Pelicans along the shore of Wisconsin’s Big Eau Pleine River and Flowage.

In the Big Island Lake Wilderness, a chain of lakes in the Hiawatha National Forest of Upper Michigan, a friend and I were paddling on Twilight Lake toward our designated campsite. Out of nowhere, a swift moving creature swam under our canoe, and then another came just as quickly from another direction. It took several seconds before we realized we were being investigated by a pair of otters. They were quite curious, but eventually swam away only to entertain us on occasion by popping their heads above water.

Another wildlife encounter took place in the Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario while paddling back to our portage on Pickerel Lake near Atikokan. A long, narrow river connected two lakes on our route, which is where we spotted a huge moose. It was feeding in the marshes and refused to move for us. Its ears were pressed back against its humungous head, letting us know he was not pleased to see us. We kept our distance and patiently waited before paddling on. We sat for quite some time, when finally the moose raised its head, looked at us and walked out of the river and into the forest.

On another occasion, while paddling with a group on the Manitowish River of Northern Wisconsin, a couple of eagles decided to follow us down stream. It was quite amusing watching them sashay back and forth, landing in a tree ahead of us, and then following us again as we paddled through the Northwoods.

A moose emerging from the river.

A moose emerging from the river.

Wildlife encounters abound when canoeing or kayaking on lakes and rivers. While backpacking, I also see other wildlife, such as bear, fox, wolf, squirrels, raccoons, snakes, birds and other woodland creatures.

Observe, But Don’t Disturb

According to the Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report 2014, there were an estimated 422.3 million total outings among American birdwatchers, and 413.4 million total outings of those viewing wildlife in 2013.That’s a lot of observers!

A committed wildlife observer will watch from a distance and not make a disturbance. In the Sylvania Wilderness Area of Upper Michigan, for example, visitors are not permitted on any small island from the time the ice melts until after July 15 so that loons may nest peacefully. It is illegal to disturb a nesting loon site, so the policy is to stay clear of the nests and off the islands during this season.

In the Wisconsin Wildlife Viewing Guide, written by Mary K. Judd, she identifies the following viewing ethics and responsibilities:

  • Don’t disturb the animals
  • Never chase or harass animals
  • Don’t feed the wildlife
  • Don’t pick up orphaned or sick animals
  • Leave the site undisturbed
  • Honor the rights of private landowners

Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Nature Viewing Tips add to the list: don’t trespass on private property (ask before entering), leave pets at home, be courteous to other wildlife viewers and don’t approach certain animals.

For best viewing, I recommend using binoculars to spot wildlife. I have two pairs that bring my eyes closer to any creature in the forest or on water. To lighten my load, I also have a monocular that does well for spotting animals, too.

The best time to catch wildlife in motion is in the early morning or early evening because animals are the most mobile at those times for feeding and watering. It’s important to be patient–sit and wait for the best sightings. It’s also helpful to learn about tracks, scat and markings so you can try tracking certain animals you wish to observe. There are some good field guides for making positive matches.

A bald eagle observes paddlers below

A bald eagle observes paddlers below

For The Record

Birders are notorious record keepers, using their camera and a record book or journal for keeping track of their sightings….especially when going for “A Big Year” (annual competitive bird search). Do likewise and take your camera along on your canoe or kayak trips. Invest some money in a quality point-and-shoot camera with a zoom lens, and purchase a waterproof case to protect the unit. There is no sense in spending a lot of money on a good camera, only to have it get wet.

Also, keep a record or a journal of your sightings with the date, time, location and the creature that you saw. Other notes such as weather conditions, circumstances and stories about the viewing are always good to record too.

Do Some Research

The animals I have observed while canoeing have been indigenous to the Midwest. Those who paddle in other parts of the country may see other kinds of animals, birds and reptiles. Do your homework before heading out and learn about wildlife that roams the area in which you plan to travel. Know what to look for and where to look for them.

Purchase some filed guides, such as the National Audubon Society Field Guides, Peterson Field Guides, and National Wildlife Federation Field Guides. Or, pick up a compact reference such as Pocket Naturalist Guide Series, since they are light and easy to carry in your pocket. Such literature can be valuable tools in identifying wildlife and learning about them as you observe them.

My wife and I live on the Big Eau Pleine Flowage in central Wisconsin. I have paddled on the Big Eau Pleine many times. Wildlife abound on our 6,000-plus acre water trail, with eagles, osprey, blue herons, cormorants and pelicans. Last summer I found roughly 50 pelicans residing in a backwater bay where there is very little boat traffic. They were magnificent on land and beautiful in flight, with black on the end of their sophisticated flowing wings.

Educator Maria Montessori once wrote, “We cannot create observers by saying ‘observe,’ but by giving them the power and the means for this observation and these means are procured through education of the senses.” When canoeing or kayaking on lakes and rivers, learn to observe wildlife with your senses and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer.

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SUP Touring the Canadian Rockies https://riversportsmag.com/2015/08/04/sup-touring-the-canadian-rockies/ https://riversportsmag.com/2015/08/04/sup-touring-the-canadian-rockies/#respond Tue, 04 Aug 2015 17:24:12 +0000 https://riversportsmag.com/?p=2578 I will never forget my first experience on a stand up paddleboard (SUP). I’d been hearing about the new paddle sport for a couple of years and had been longing to try it. I finally got the opportunity to rent … Continue reading

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I will never forget my first experience on a stand up paddleboard (SUP). I’d been hearing about the new paddle sport for a couple of years and had been longing to try it. I finally got the opportunity to rent a board on a summer vacation in British Columbia. I hopped on the board after a very brief demonstration on how to hold the paddle, and was pushed off into the lake with a personal flotation device (PFD) strapped to the board and instructions to stay within sight. While perhaps not the best introduction to the sport (and certainly far from a lesson) I discovered quickly that I could stand on the board with ease, and that paddling was relatively simple. Within five minutes I had my child on the board with me, and we had found a new favorite activity.

SUP Touring the Canadian Rockies - bucket list worthy!

SUP Touring the Canadian Rockies – bucket list worthy!

I bought my first stand up paddleboard within a month of renting one on vacation, and by the end of the summer I had already paddled a river. I was also looking into lessons for the following year so that I could tour all of the lakes and rivers in the Canadian Rockies where I live. Fast forward a few years, and I have now paddled over 25 lakes, eight rivers (complete with class I rapids) and even tried my hand at paddling on the Pacific Ocean along with SUP surfing in Mexico.

First River Run on the Bow River in Calgary, Alberta

First River Run on the Bow River in Calgary, Alberta

Of all the places I’ve paddled, and given the choice between rivers, oceans, and lakes, I would choose a river in the Canadian Rockies any day. While I am still far from considering myself an expert river paddler, I love the thrill of running a river, navigating around sweepers and tight corners, and keeping my balance as I ride over small riffles and rapids. The scenery found along the Bow River in Banff National Park is also a major selling point for learning to SUP rivers, and one gets plenty of opportunities to watch for wildlife while paddling on the river.

Learning to SUP on 40 Mile Creek, Banff National Park

Learning to SUP on Forty Mile Creek, Banff National Park

Starting out: Where to Rent a Board and Learn to SUP in the Canadian Rockies

Travelers and locals alike will want to stop at the Banff Canoe Club in downtown Banff, Alberta, to rent a board and get some practice paddling on a calm section of the Bow River. From the Canoe Club dock it is possible to paddle upstream on the river as far as you want to go, and then let the gentle current carry you back to the dock. This is beginner paddling at its finest and you’ll enjoy a new perspective of Mount Rundle and Cascade Mountain from the water. You can expect to see deer drinking from the water and maybe even a bear or elk standing on the riverbank.

The other paddling option from the Banff Canoe Club is to paddle up Forty Mile Creek to Vermilion Lake. This is a scenic paddle and gives you the opportunity to practice some tight turns on the small narrow creek. On your way back, it is a gentle float downstream right back to the docks.

Paddling on the First Vermillion Lake, Banff National Park

Paddling on the First Vermillion Lake, Banff National Park

The Banff Canoe Club can get busy so it is recommended that you show up early in the day if you want to rent one of their inflatable boards. Once you get a board though, the staff will make sure you know how to use it, how to paddle, and will outfit you with PFDs and all necessary gear for your outing. For more information on rentals through the Canoe Club, visit their website at the Banff Canoe Club. Note that on-site stand up paddleboard rentals are new for the 2015 season and the website may not be up to date with this information. For current information on rental rates it is best to contact the Canoe Club directly.

Other Options for Novice Paddlers and Locations to Rent Boards

Kananaskis Outfitters has stand up paddleboards for rent on Barrier Lake in nearby Kananaskis, Alberta, on weekends during the summer season. This is a good introduction to flat-water paddling before you attempt larger outings on the Bow River. Barrier Lake will also test your skills if it’s windy while you are there. Expect small waves and white caps that will challenge the most experienced paddler if conditions are not calm.

All information on renting boards and other boats from Kananaskis Outfitters can be found on their website. It’s always wise to call in advance as well to ensure that the lakeside rentals are open on the day that you plan to visit.

SUP Touring on the Bow River from the canoe docks in town

SUP Touring on the Bow River from the canoe docks in town

Bow Valley SUP has a rental shop set up in downtown Canmore, Alberta, during the summer months. Advanced reservations are recommended and you will have to transport your board to the nearest body of water on your own. The company has both inflatable and hard boards for rent, and they can also get you set up with tie down straps and foam blocks for your vehicle. From here you can SUP on the Canmore Reservoir or transport your board to Banff and float back to Canmore on the Bow River in a two- to four-hour paddle.

 

Stand up paddleboarding in Canmore (photo:  Bow Valley SUP)

Stand up paddleboarding in the Bow Valley (photo: Bow Valley SUP)

SUP Touring on the Bow River

The beginner stretch for this river runs from just outside the town of Banff, Alberta, back into town in a short two-hour paddle. Parking is available right off the TransCanada Highway at a pull off just past the turnoff for the Hwy 1A. From here it is a short 2-hour paddle back into Banff to the canoe docks at the Banff Canoe Club.

Park a second vehicle here or stash a bike for a quick ride back to your car. To bike back, follow Vermillion Lakes Drive and the Legacy Trail past the Vermillion Lakes to the Highway 1A turnoff. After that it is a short ride on the highway back to your vehicle.

This section of river is scenic and great for beginners. There are a couple of sharp corners with sweepers near the put in spot but after the first 20 minutes, the outing quickly turns into a float trip and you’ll have to paddle if you don’t want to spend four hours on the river.

Stand up paddling the Bow River from the Hwy 1A turnoff back into town

Stand up paddling the Bow River from the Hwy 1A turnoff back into town

For a good intermediate “trail”, start at the end of the Banff Golf Course or below Bow Falls in downtown Banff, and paddle to nearby Canmore in a 14-mile trip. Full information on what to expect from this stretch along with put in and take out directions can be found on the Parks Canada website. The site says to expect a four-hour paddle, but it only took us two hours to do the run in kayaks.

Extreme caution should be taken on this stretch of the Bow River from Banff to Canmore as we encountered sweepers at every corner. Good navigation abilities are crucial to make it around the tight corners while avoiding the trees and logs sticking out into the water. There are also a few sections with class I rapids to negotiate. I chose to kayak this section of the river so that I could get a good glimpse of what to expect next time I bring my board.

Recent paddling trip from Banff to Canmore on the Bow River

Recent paddling trip from Banff to Canmore on the Bow River

Advanced SUP paddlers can also run the full stretch from Lake Louise to Banff or Canmore (portaging around Bow Falls in Banff) with full information found on the Parks Canada website.

A great video of the Lake Louise to Canmore run by stand up paddleboard can be found here at SUP Bow River Expedition – Down by the River by Milky Chance. If this video doesn’t get you packing your bags for a paddle trip to the Rockies, nothing else I write will.

Additional Information for Travelers and Visitors to the Rockies

Please visit the Banff Lake Louise Tourism website for additional trip planning resources and information on where to stay while in the area. Other useful information can also be found on the Tourism Canmore website.

 

Paddling at Lake Louise on Moraine Lake (a good warm up before tackling the river)

Paddling at Lake Louise on Moraine Lake (a good warm up before tackling the river)

 

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SUP and Yoga in the UK https://riversportsmag.com/2015/07/30/sup-and-yoga-in-the-uk/ https://riversportsmag.com/2015/07/30/sup-and-yoga-in-the-uk/#respond Thu, 30 Jul 2015 19:23:55 +0000 https://riversportsmag.com/?p=2315 The two may seem like an unlikely pairing, but river sports and yoga have gained a great deal of ground over the years, particularly among SUP (Stand-Up Paddle board) enthusiasts. These days, it’s not hard to find SUP yoga classes … Continue reading

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The two may seem like an unlikely pairing, but river sports and yoga have gained a great deal of ground over the years, particularly among SUP (Stand-Up Paddle board) enthusiasts. These days, it’s not hard to find SUP yoga classes and lessons.  Whether it’s on a slow moving river, the clear waters of a lake or a sheltered bay, SUP yoga will lift your spirits to new heights, irrespective of experience level.

A beginner stand-up paddle board is wider than other boards for increased stability.

A beginner stand-up paddle board is wider than other boards for increased stability.

Using 10 to 12-foot-long boards, similar to a surf board, SUP yoga combines traditions from two different culture rooted in India and Hawaii. By bringing the two together, balance and muscle tone are vastly improved, and stress levels greatly reduced. For a chance to try this popular sport in the UK, Lagoon Watersports at Hove Lagoon, outside of Worthing, is a perfect location. The lagoon’s flat and sheltered waters make it ideal for learning to maintain posture, keep your balance and improve your SUP skills.

To begin, an instructor from Lagoon Watersports will teach you the basic yoga poses on dry land before venturing into the water on paddle boards. You are guaranteed a great workout owing to the less than solid surface, and although you will need to focus totally on balance, the enjoyment and challenge will be well worth it.

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Combining yoga and paddle boarding maximizes physical challenge as well as stress relief and relaxation.

Lagoon Watersports is BSUPA accredited and its instructors have a strong passion for paddle boarding, which they are only too pleased to share. Their SUP yoga courses run from early June to early September and cost £17.50.

Further afield on the North coast of Cornwall, you’ll find Harlyn Surf School near Padstow. The history and scenery of this North Cornish coastal area combined with the protection from high winds and waves by the Trevose Head rock formation creates an ideal environment in which to learn this innovative sport. The beach at Harlyn Bay is reckoned to be one of the finest in Cornwall due to its relative safety and dog-friendliness. It’s a place to come and relax or be as active as you wish, much like the overall sport of SUP yoga.

In partnership with Hang Ten Yoga and Ride On Retreats, the Harlyn Surf School offers a variety of SUP yoga lessons, classes and tours. Vacation packages combining SUP instruction, meals, accommodation and even spa access are also available.

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From Plank to Board: Building Strength and Flexibility https://riversportsmag.com/2015/07/25/from-plank-to-board-building-strength-and-flexibility/ https://riversportsmag.com/2015/07/25/from-plank-to-board-building-strength-and-flexibility/#respond Sat, 25 Jul 2015 19:26:54 +0000 https://riversportsmag.com/?p=2353 There’s a lot more to that paddle stroke than just a flex of the arms and shoulders. It’s core, knee-to-shoulder core, says Katie Rowe. Rowe is a World Paddle Association Level 1 certified instructor and a 200-hour yoga instructor based … Continue reading

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Photo courtesy of Katie Rowe.

Plank pose: Photo courtesy of Katie Rowe.

There’s a lot more to that paddle stroke than just a flex of the arms and shoulders. It’s core, knee-to-shoulder core, says Katie Rowe. Rowe is a World Paddle Association Level 1 certified instructor and a 200-hour yoga instructor based in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. She is training for Chattajack 31, a 31-mile stand up paddleboard (SUP) and kayak race through the Tennessee River Gorge.

We’ve all heard a lot about core lately. These are the muscles that connect your upper and lower body. They are used in most sports activities, so keeping them strong and balanced is key for any athlete.

“When I am training for SUP I look for exercises that strengthen the core–abdominal and back muscles–legs and shoulders. I also look for poses or asanas that stretch the hamstrings, open the shoulders and hips, aid in trunk rotation, and of course, balance. A cardio routine doesn’t hurt either,” she says.

For starters, Rowe recommends the plank pose. “Plank strengthens your entire core. It also strengthens your shoulders, and legs. Plus, there are so many different variations of plank, you can’t get bored with it,” she says. She likes practicing her plank pose on her paddleboard, which offers the added challenge of finding stability.

To really wake up your core, Rowe suggests this trick: “Start from the ground! Lying on your stomach, place your elbows directly underneath your shoulders. Make fists with your hands with your thumbs on top. Squeeze your shoulder blades back and down. Engage your glutes (butt) and quads (thighs). This should cause your knees to lift up off the ground. Dig in your toes and finally lift your body up,” she says.

Start with intervals of 30 seconds she says. Variations on plank can include shifting from forearms to extended arms and lifting arms and legs off the ground.

Chaturanga Dandasana: Photo courtesy of Katie Rowe.

Chaturanga Dandasana: Photo courtesy of Katie Rowe.

Back in Shape

San Francisco-based fitness trainer Alexis Craig suggests that you also strengthen your posterior chain. “That means the back side of the body including glutes, rhomboids and lats. You use the backside of your body to propel the board forward,” she says.  Most people are much more aware of the front of their body, the anterior chain, Craig says. We use those muscles for walking and running. At the same time we spend a lot of time sitting at desks or in cars, which isn’t so great for the posterior.

“It is important to use the posterior chain for paddleboarding because you are pulling the paddle toward you which uses your back, and you are squatting which uses the glutes. Because the power phase of the paddleboard stroke is in the hip extension standing up, you have to use the entire back side of your body,” she says. Craig, a PaddleFit and 200-hour yoga trained fitness coach, suggests moves like squats, rows, and pull-ups. “Not only will they help build strength in the posterior chain, they will improve your posture too,” she says.

Uneven Treatment

Whether you are new to paddle sports or want to kick up your workout try a Bosu ball says Angela Thomas of Over Board Paddle and Fitness. They launch on the Choptank River in Cambridge, Maryland. Bosu balls are training tools that look like half an exercise ball topped with a platform. “Using a Bosu ball is the best for building balance because it is very similar to a being on a SUP Board with the side to side balance,” she says. She recommends doing squats, lunges and even working your upper body while standing on one.

Craig also recommends adding in exercises that will mimic the environment on the water. In this case, she says to add in resistance with the muscles that will move the paddle. Craig likes the TRX Rip Training®, it’s a bar anchored on only one side and attached by a resistance band. “Rotational power and stability is important both for being strong and stable, as well as having lots of strength to propel the board forward. I like to train using the TRX Rip Trainer so that you can use elastic resistance to mimic the SUP environment. The best moves are the Rip Stack, and the Rip Paddleboard Row,” she says.

For a full simulation, try out the Surfset Fitness® board, a land-based surfboard that mimics the water’s uneven motion. “This way they can do the entire workout in an unstable environment so their body develops strength into the stabilizers,” she says.

Humble Warrior

Humble Warrior. Photo courtesy of Jana Olenio, SUP Yo.

Humble Warrior. Photo courtesy of Jana Olenio, SUP YO.

Jana Olenio owner of SUP YO, a registered and certified SUP yoga teacher, knows the strength and flexibility that comes with yoga both on and off the water. She teaches SUP yoga in coastal Massachusetts and New Hampshire. She likes to pay careful attention to the hips. “You are using the hips a lot when you are doing a proper paddle technique,” she says. You want to help open those areas, Olenio says, so that your joints and muscles won’t feel tight. Two poses that get the hips loose and “lubricated” are squat and pigeon Olenio says.

She also recommends opening your shoulder area too. One trick she likes is a modified camel pose while holding a paddle. And for good overall stretching and strengthening in these key areas, try the humble warrior. That opens shoulders, strengthens quads and stretches hamstrings. “You get all three with that one,” she says. And like all the others, Olenio likes a strong core. Her go-to is boat pose.

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Headstand. Photo courtesy of Jana Olenio, SUP YO.

Also consider a yoga routine just before you head out on the water. “I like to do a few rounds of Surya Namaskaaram (Sun Salutation) to warm up before a paddle. This sequence warms up and stretches all the major muscle groups and joints, increases your heart rate, improves flexibility, and it contains my favorite pose, plank,” says Rowe.

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Covered Bridges and Salmon Pools: Life on a New Brunswick River https://riversportsmag.com/2015/07/11/covered-bridges-and-salmon-pools-life-on-a-new-brunswick-river/ https://riversportsmag.com/2015/07/11/covered-bridges-and-salmon-pools-life-on-a-new-brunswick-river/#respond Sat, 11 Jul 2015 21:37:11 +0000 https://riversportsmag.com/?p=2558 Saltwater might run through the veins of many New Brunswickers, but fresh river arteries are the life blood of the tiny Canadian province. The St. John and Kennebecasis are the two largest, but the many smaller tributaries are home to … Continue reading

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Saltwater might run through the veins of many New Brunswickers, but fresh river arteries are the life blood of the tiny Canadian province. The St. John and Kennebecasis are the two largest, but the many smaller tributaries are home to iconic covered bridges and spawning pools of the noble Atlantic salmon. The salmon have been in decline over the years, so most of the fishing you’ll encounter is catch and release.  However, the age old tradition of swimming in the deep, pristine pools and wading in the rocky shallows under the bridges has been passed from generation to generation.

The Hammond River is home to three covered bridges and dozens of salmon pools. It is one of the few remaining spawning areas in the world for the Atlantic salmon.  Many of these pools are located directly beneath the bridges, making them ideal places for summer beaches, known mostly to the locals. You’re more apt to see children splashing in the deep holes than a salmon, but you’ll no doubt encounter the tiny fry nibbling at your toes or catch a glimpse of a school of parr or smolt through the crystal clear waters. Check out the life cycle of the Atlantic Salmon here: http://www.asf.ca/life-cycle.html

Nice, long stretch of beach for picnicking, bonfires, and tenting

Nice, long stretch of sandy, pebbled beach for picnicking, bonfires, and tenting

Long stretches of shallow rapids tumbling over boulders suddenly turn into deep, tranquil currents, often buffered by huge boulders and granite cliffs. The more adventurous climb as high as they can before leaping into the dark, cool depths. The river narrows and widens at will, often changing its course after long, cold winters. Many years can go by with only subtle changes, but one year of heavy ice pack that breaks up too quickly and you might not recognize your favourite swimming hole.

Granite outcroppings are common near salmon pools along the Hammond River

Granite outcroppings are common near salmon pools along the Hammond River

The Smithtown Covered Bridge and salmon pool is a favourite, local beach on the Hammond River. Year after year families return with their children and grandchildren to play in the refreshing waters. The current can be dangerous early in the season or after a heavy rain, but once the dog days of summer arrive, water levels lower making for slow, lazy drifting on inner tubes or just lying on your back. The shallow shoreline is a perfect spot for younger children and those who just want to cool off, but there is plenty of deeper water for avid swimmers. The bridge is a perfect retreat from the hot sun, or unexpected showers.  The sandy, pebbled shore makes an ideal place for small bonfires in the evenings, with room for small tents for overnight adventures.

We like to bring snorkels and masks to do some exploring around the boulders in the deep pool. Outcroppings of granite submerged in the cool waters act as caves for brook trout, salmon, and small mouth and striped bass.  Binoculars are recommended for the great diversity of flora and fauna that make their home along the river’s edge. Ducks, shore birds, and raptors are abundant. Turkey vultures circle in groups overhead searching for carrion. The majestic osprey and bald eagle are easy to spot fishing and hunting for prey or feeding their young in their giant twig nests.

Kayaking is a fantastic way to explore the covered bridges and salmon pools. Hammond River is 40 km (about 25 miles) long, so your options for launching are many. Depending on where you choose to put in and the time of year, you may need to portage some of the river. I recommend putting in at Smithtown Bridge, then paddle your way under the French Village bridge, past the Hammond River Angling Association Lodge in Nauwigewauk to the Darlings Island Bridge.  The river current slows dramatically by the lodge, and flows through a substantial wetland before draining into Darlings Island Lake. You can continue on to the mouth of the river which flows into the Kennebacasis. Just a short drive from nearby Hampton or Saint John, the Hammond River is easily accessed by nearby Mackay Highway.

There are 60 covered bridges in New Brunswick, with 56 still in service. Sixteen of these are in Kings County making it the covered bridge capital of Atlantic Canada. Touring the covered bridges is a favourite pastime of locals and tourists alike. Always a favourite with photographers, don’t be surprised to see wedding parties in and around any number of the bridges. (http://celebratesussex.tripod.com/coveredbridges.html)

The Hammond River Angling Association (www.hraa.ca) has worked hard over the years to educate the public and landowners on best practices in order to ensure the river stays healthy. Water quality surveys along the river have been deemed excellent or good, with only four sites considered fair (http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/env/pdf/Water-Eau/Watersheds/Hammond.pdf).

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