Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Spring Run Down the Red Deer River

Put- in - Fort Normandeau
 This year, I am approaching my road travel very differently from the previous 9 years and it involves travelling with our toys ie. boats and bikes.

My body is demanding a different kind of pace and it's been wonderful.  This past Sunday I had the opportunity to get onto the Red Deer River in Central Alberta for a very fast and beautiful run (re: flood waters) from Fort Normandeau to MacKenzie Trails, in the heart of the city of Red Deer with Mark and my cousin, Jarret.

The sign at the put-in was awesome (see to the right). 

Historical Site
Fort Normandeau is a National Historic site and because of its shallows and low sloping banks allowed, historical, buffalo herds to cross here as well as First Nations peoples   It also makes for an great put in.  Special thanks, to Fort Normandeau Historian, Peter Allen for some additional river info. As well as the crew at Valhalla Pure Outfitters in Red Deer (our local Kokatat and Werner Paddles dealer).

Local knowledge is always important to access before venturing out on a river that is not known to you. 

Put-in, Nikki and Jarret
Mark taking our Hurricane Kayak, Excursion 128 through the paces.

Mark and Jarret
This was also a great opportunity to get into some of our demo boats primarily our Excursion 128 by Hurricane Kayaks and the Jackson Kayak, Karma Unlimited/RG.  While the Karma Unlimited/RG was not in its ideal waters (think whitewater creeking or ocean play/rock gardening) we were reminded of the unmatched outfitting by Jackson Kayak and the speed of the Karma.

We were very impressed with the Excursion 128, at home, in the Hybrid Touring category (Day touring quiet coastal waters and larger lakes).  This boat was lightweight and beautiful looking and it performed well with excellent tracking, stability and speed.  It was maneauverable even in a strong current, I could eddy in and out easily.  The outfitting was solid (loved the thigh braces for edging) and very comfortable with the AireStream Seat.  Watch the Hurrican Excursion video HERE.

Thanks to Kokatat for our super comfortable, Maximus Prime, Maximus and Aries PFD's.  Contact your local dealer today to try one on .  We used the following Werner Paddles: Premium Performance - Camano, Premium Performance - Shuna and the Standard Performance - best selling, Skagit.

"a bad day on the water is better than a good day at work" and lucky for us it was a FANTASTIC day on the water!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Stand Up For Men’s Health - Two Werner Paddles Athletes Help Raise Awareness Alongside Olympic Champion

Departing on June 12, two of Werner Paddles Canadian, SUP Athletes will be participating in the “Stand Up For Men’s Health” with Olympic Champion Simon Whitfield.  

Lina Augaitis and Mike Darbyshire will be joining Simon on a crossing of the Salish Sea.  Here are the details from the press release.  In addition, our friend, Yannick Michaud of Ocean River Sports will also be one of the SUP adventurers.    "I am excited to participate in this expedition, particularly in my own backyard.  The opportunity to paddle with a group of SUP athletes of varied experience, to  promote Men's Health in Canada, is fantastic", comments Mike (Darbyshire).
Lina recently returned from Nicaragua where she won Gold for Canada in the Women's SUP Distance Race. 

Mike continues to train while hosting the TNR series at Deep Cove Outdoors in North Vancouver, BC.  Watch for Mike on the race circuit this season in Western Canada and the PNW.  Photo courtesy of:  Sundog Adventures Sports 
In partnership with CMHF “Champion” Simon Whitfield, and in conjunction with CMHF’s first annual Canadian Men’s Health Week, Olympic Champions, world class paddlers and accomplished adventurers dedicated to improving the health of men across Canada will“Stand Up For Men’s Health”

The “Stand Up For Men’s Health” event will begin on June 12th from English Bay in Vancouver, cross the Salish Sea, through the Southern Gulf Islands and conclude in the Victoria Harbour on June 15th. The paddle will be a highlight of the first ever Canadian Men’s Health Week and ends on Father’s Day in Victoria.

KEY OBJECTIVES: To provide the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation (CMHF) and their supporters a high-profile event platform to promote the launch of a national campaign, and to create awareness around the mandate of the organization.
-  To leverage four Olympic Champions, including Simon Whitfield and their celebrity status to promote the mandate of CMHF through an event worthy of national media coverage
-  To build an event that promotes men’s health through active living
-  To be the first annual expedition series that provides ongoing media and brand awareness for CMHF and engages with Canada’s elite athletes who embody active living

CMHF is in the process of launching a national media campaign to promote the recently formed Foundation and its mandate. Simon Whitfield is a proud “Champion” with CMHF and is committed to building an exclusive annual expedition to promote CMHF, starting with #SUP4MH. With a shared passion, the two have the power to create an event platform that harnesses the team’s celebrity status, while providing CMHF and its partners with an opportunity to promote their mission to inspire Canadian men to live ten healthier years through positive lifestyle choices.

The “Stand Up for Men’s Health” event is presented by Duracell with support from the following partners: Canadian Tire, SunSki Canada, The Edge Food Energy Company, Starboard SUP, Westin Hotels & Resorts and Harbour Air Seaplanes.

Lina had this to say about the invitation to participate, "Personally,  I am very excited to be a part of this event.  I think it will be a great adventure (which I am always about) that is physically challenging as well as uses and promotes the amazing beauty and environment we live in here in the Pacific Northwest.  We are bringing together athletes from around North America to support a really great initiative and new foundation. Along the way I hope it inspires others to get out and enjoy the outdoors, think about the importance of staying healthy and open their eyes about different ways they can stay healthy in order to continue to enjoy their lives for themselves and others.  It is also a great way to promote this amazing sport of SUP and further demonstrates the positive community SUP has developed throughout the country and world. I can't wait to further explore our local waters!"

We look forward to some images from Lina, Mike and Yannick and some comments about their experience on the expedition at a later date.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

The First 2 Years: Keeping the Whitewater Passion Alive Amidst Diaper Duty

Today we welcome, guest blogger, Lori Neufeld from Winnipeg, MB.

Lori and her husband, Dan along with daughter Finley drive over an hour to enjoy their local playspot (minus a farm run-off ditch in Spring :).  Lori works with inner-city youth and Dan works for +Wilderness Supply.  Lori's favourite place to paddle - Sturgeon Falls, Manitoba.
Lori - Downriver Race -Kananaskis WW Festival Photo: Dan Neufeld

My passion for whitewater kayaking and the desire to have a family came right around the same time.  So when our daughter, Finley, was born 2 years later, it came without question that she would be raised on the water.  Finley attended her first paddling festival at 7 days old and 6 weeks later our family left on a one month paddling/climbing trip out west.  But as determined as I was to keep kayaking a priority in my life, I soon realized that things were different now. 

Supper time at Harvie Passage, Calgary, Alberta.  August 2012.  Paddler, Christine Haylock.  Photo by Dan Neufeld
First trip out to Sturgeon Falls, Manitoba.  July 2012.  Photo by Paul Fields

 Kayaking sessions didn't come easy for me that first summer, but thanks to great people in the Manitoba paddling community and a very supportive husband, I got on the water more than I expected.  Our second summer was nothing like the first and we learned quickly that a day of kayaking would now fall into one of 3 categories; paddling as a family, bringing the family to watch on shore, or leaving the family at home. Having just turned 1, Finley spent most of that summer at home but the two us did visit the Ottawa River in fall where she was mesmerized by the colorful boats running through the Lorne.  Shortly after that trip, Dan and I knew that the next step would be to invest in some family friendly boats and just a few weeks before Christmas, Finn's new Fun 1 and a Dynamic Duo were shipped our way.  We knew Finley was too young to actually be paddling, especially in whitewater, but just like any other sport that parents introduce to their children, we wanted to start young.  
A new Werner Amigo to go with the Fun 1.  February 2014.  Photo by Dan Neufeld

 The Fun 1 has sat in our rec room every since and Finley loves playing with it.  She calls it her "kakai" and has become very protective of it.  Pool sessions have been a winter highlight and we've had many laughs watching pieces of Duplo and Goldfish Crackers come floating out of Finn's boat.
Pep talk in the pool from Mom.  April 2014.  Photo by Dan Neufeld
Happy paddler!  April 2014.  Photo by Dan Neufeld

This summer will be yet another year of learning by trial and error, and making many mistakes along the way.  Between 2 parents working full-time, changing diapers, and meltdowns in the grocery store, one might think that kayaking should take a backseat for awhile.  I disagree.  While I may not be running huge lines or throwing big tricks, kayaking both challenges and renews me.  I'm a better mom after a session on the river.  Long days at work and sleepless nights are not so bad when I know that I'll be boating in just a few days.

First family paddle in the Dynamic Duo.  December 2013.  Photo by Judy Wilson
So as Dan, Finley and I write our own manual on how to incorporate kayaking and other outdoor activities into our lives, we're excited to share what works for us, what doesn't, and where our boats will take us.

Green River, UT

Green River, UT
Photo: Shawna Franklin