Monday, June 28, 2010

Canoe Routes For The Drunk And On Drugs

Here is a different sort of trip reporting...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Northstar Expeditions Meets Kingston Kayak Instruction

The following was previously posted on Bryan's Blog and describes a course we took in June of 2008.

NorthStar Expeditions is the official name for a group of 4 guys (including myself) that I canoe trip with every year. This spring, as a Father's Day gift, our wives signed us up for kayak lessons through Viki at Kingston Kayak Instruction. Some of our group had a bit of experience but mostly we're fairly novice paddlers when it comes to kayaks so we signed up for the Flatwater Skills course. The course included a session discussing various aspects of boats and paddling, a pool session, and most of last Saturday was spent on the water at Pike Lake. Getting the opportunity to practice rescues in a pool was a great way to get comfortable in the water where tipping over in the kayak becomes play. The highlight of the pool session was jumping off of the 5 meter platform - that's a long way down and a lot of time spent falling to think about regrets. Jay jumped off of the 7 meter platform and he said it was a big step up from 5 m. Thankfully, the 10 m platform was closed.

Saturday at Pike Lake the day started off pretty nice with warm and sunny skies, but eventually thunderstorms and rain rolled in (as previously posted). The rain really didn't matter too much since we were spending the afternoon largely in the water anyway. A bit warmer might have been nice but it was OK. My outfit for the afternoon while we were wet and practicing rescue techniques was a "shorty" wet suit, a polyester t-shirt, cycling sleeves (arm warmers), PFD, paddling gloves, with my light cycling jacket thrown over top of everything (I didn't realise how odd the jacket over everything made me look until I saw the pictures later - think red beach ball with a head on top). I tried goggles for about 30 seconds but they immediately filled with water.

After getting pretty confident with our "eskimo rescues" (aka T-rescue) I decided it was time for an impromptu test. While paddling fast alongside Jay, I called over to him and asked "Jay, are you paying attention?" He looked over and said "yeah" or perhaps it was "nah" or maybe "huh?" I promptly flipped over (while still under steam) and began banging on my kayak hull, the signal that I need assistance. My thought was that Jay would just paddle right over and present his bow for me to grab onto allowing me to right myself without leaving the cockpit of the kayak. Only problem is that Jay was paddling fast in the slowest turning kayak in the group. By the time he even realised what was going on, I was under water, banging on my boat and moving my hands back and forth waiting for the sudden appearance of his bow in my hand. Everything also seems to go a little slower while your are hanging upside down under water. I quickly ran out of breath and had to wet exit. By the time I came up in the water alongside my kayak, Jay was rounding the turn in his kayak and just about on his way over to me. Well I guess it ended up being a good practice of assisted re-entry techniques.

At the end of the class our families found us and took some photos. Unfortunately the batteries on our camera were dying so the videos that my wife took didn't turn out.

In the photo below the class is grouped around Viki who is wrapping things up.
Viki and the others head back while the 4 guys paddle over to the families.
NorthStar Expeditions

Using the water pumps to spray the kids.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Coming Home

Jay's hobby was fishing. He spent all his weekends near the river or by the lake, paying no attention to weather. One Sunday, early in the morning, he went to the river as usual. It was cold and raining, so he decided to return back to his house. Jay went inside and headed to his bedroom, undressed and lay near his wife. The lights were off and he snuggled up behind her. She didn't even turn around. "What terrible weather today, Honey," he said to her. "Yes, she answered. "And my idiot husband went fishing."

Friday, June 4, 2010

2010 Plans?

As previously mentioned on the NSE blog, 2010 is a big year for Northstar Expeditions. It's our tenth year of paddling together so we want to do something a bit bigger than we had in the past. We are thinking a bit longer, and a bit farther afield, than our usual 4 day trips. And unlike our infamous April Fools Trip, this one is bounded by the realities of time, money, and practicality. However, this year we might even fly!

So, we are looking for suggestions. Here are the criteria and considerations:
  1. 5-7 days.
  2. If a flight is involved, it's gotta be a cheap one.
  3. We're 4 generally fit guys, but we're not super ambitious and we are not used to packing light (relates to point 7).
  4. Fish, the more the merrier.
  5. Starting within 600 km of Saskatoon (Missinipe, 460km away, is our usual launching point).
  6. Some whitewater (to play in and fish below) would be good (Class II+).
  7. Major nasty portages would not be good.
  8. We're OK with a layover day or two (relates to points 3 & 4).
  9. We'll be paddling in September so there must still be water in the river.
  10. Paddling on the shield is preferred. 
  11. Trip costs should be kept moderately low (we know, that's a relative thing).
  12. No international borders should intentionally be crossed. 
  13. We usually travel with only one vehicle so if a shuttle is required we probably would be hiring it.
Some ideas we have had in mind so far are the Paull River back to Missinipe (fly-in), Needle Falls or Black Bear Island Lake on the Churchill River back to Missinipe (fly-in), Nemeiban to Churchill River and back to Missinipe (drive-in), Sturgeon-Weir (drive-in with long shuttle), ...

Here is the Government of Saskatchewan Documented Canoe Routes page which is a very handy resource for trip planning in this region (Jay has a complete set of print copies which date back about 30 years). We also have a copy of the book Northern Saskatchewan Canoe Trips, A Guide to 15 Wilderness Rivers by Laurel Archer so will be browsing through that resource too.

If you have any good ideas or want to cast your vote for a route we would love to hear from you!