On the May long weekend I was invited to a ‘ladies’ paddling weekend’ in Regina hosted by Fiona. She had invited some of her American friends to come up, and there are several fast ladies at the Regina club, so it was quite a group. It was mostly women, but there were also some mixed boats with some of the local guys. Sorry no pictures (wise not to rbing a camera in the boat), but Fiona said she’d send me some so I’ll post them when I get them.
Although I have been on the water since mid-March, crappy weather prevented very long paddles and it took so long to warm up after that I only recently started paddling twice a day for a few days per week. As a result, I was not as well-prepared for a super-volume weekend. …and volume it was, along with adventurous routes and skill-building. Friday I paddled with Fiona in their local creek, and got feisty leading upstream to the weir, wondering if we could get up it. Fiona thought the drop was too steep and it was right, but I made a silly mistake steering us out of it and we went swimming. 😛 Luckily Fiona was very patient and good-natured about it; we got back in and paddled a bit more.
Saturday we went out on the creek again, with me in the bow with Carina from Boston. We portaged around the weir, then put in and tried to wiggle under the bridges we came too. The first one was a disaster. Generally you can lean forward under a bridge, unless it is really too low for you to bend double. In those cases you need to lean back over the canoe and turn your head sideways to save your visor, sunglasses, nose, and teeth. Although I am generally risk-averse, I have never been afraid of bridges. You can’t paddle underneath them in that position, so I try to paddle hard up to them and then paddle hard when I can sit up again. I did that this time, but in my enthusiasm to get going again I sat up fast and wiggled the canoe. Carina reflexively sat up too, but since she was in the back she was still under the bridge – POW! She was a real trooper about it, a big deal since she has like 4 degrees up in that head. We ended up doing really well with the next bridges and the portages, and led the group for a while. We headed back to gobble some lunch and stretch, then back out for afternoon session downstream at Wascana trails. This was a VERY technical rapids course, so I was in the bow with Mike. Good thing too, since it would take some skills to guide us down as I don’t read the water that well.
“Watch our for that rock, Catherine”
“What ro…BANG” Seriously, all I could see was waves. Hopefully this gets better in the future. It was fast, but a bit hairy at times and a little hard on the boat. You’d think it would be easy to go downstream, but the steering strokes are pretty muscular so I was sore by the end.
Sunday we went on an out and-back in Lumsden, starting upstream and then turning around. I got plenty of scratches and cuts as Carina and I stuck to the edge-eddies going upstream, the best of which was a tick beaver-gnawed branch that stuck me in the ribs, broke off, and STAYED THERE. I took a few strokes to clear the snag, took one stroke off to pull it out, and then kept paddling. I think I must have looked like a super-hero viking, but I was trying not to cry and didn’t want to stop. Overall this was a good paddle too, Carina and I stayed (mostly) with the mixed boats, and we were very aggressive in our strategy and lines. This came back to bite us when we went for a swim, but overall we were both happy with it and the water was not too cold. We were feeling too sore and tired to get excited about another paddle on Sunday, so we decided to do something for recovery. I would have walked through fire to get to a hot tub, but instead we decided to do yoga in the backyard. Since I have led yoga before, I was going to do some some gentle and lazy yin, with adaptations for the less flexible folks (no hand stands, no balancing postures, no cirque de soleil shit). Instead we did a P90X DVD that was power yoga – and not the easy kind! But I didn’t went to wuss out so I stood at the front of the room (6 people behind me) and did 9 million chatarongas. Giant greedy dinner followed, then early bedtime.
Monday we headed out for a long downstream run on Wascana River to the Qu’appelle. This was over 3 hours of very pushy turns and eddies, and there is no easy steady with this group – it was sprint to the next corner EVERY DAMN TIME. I don’t like to be passed, so despite my desire for a lazy float down the river I ended up sprinting a lot and feeling really done by the end. I was hungry, but only if I could lay down and have someone pour nutritive slurry in my mouth (a fork was just too much). I thought I would head home then, but after a good lunch was convinced to stay and do a row on the lake in a Voyageur-style row-paddle boat. It was pretty fun, and pretty low-key with no sprinting.
Although tired, I was in a great mood, well-fed, fully recreated, and ready to crank the tunes for the 2.5 hours back to Saskatoon. I stopped by superstore while I still had the car (flour and laundry soap just suck on the bike), and got home and unloaded by 10:00PM. I missed Tuesday morning ladies’ paddle (fancy that), but was back to boot camp Tuesday night and then 06:00 and 18:30 paddle Wednesday.
The total volume for the weekend was about 13 hours, not including the 90-min ‘restorative’ ashtanga yoga on Sunday. I was feeling happy but pretty run-down. I didn’t realize how much so until I weighed myself at the gym on Tuesday night: I lost 3 kilos at that camp! No wonder I felt a little crappy.