Edith and I have spent a few months preparing to go to Ski to Sea, and it ended up being a pretty good event. We went in with cautious optimism, and without being explicit we were pretty keen on having a good showing among other female crews doing the race.
We scoped out the start and finish areas, we ran the river the day before to learn the course and get used to the swirly conditions and obstacles, and we practiced running entry so we could get going early. We got lots of advice from Graham and Trevor, my favourite of which was ‘paddle wider when it’s swirly so you don’t fall in’. Happily the water dropped from about 10,000 cfm to about 8,000 cfm so things were calmer when we went to race.
Almost 30 boats headed out before our cyclist came in, and the last boat about 2 min ahead of us so we expected to be doing a solo time trial with no one else around. Edith ran in from the cyclist handoff with all the lightness and swiftness of an antelope, picked up the boat and we got going quickly. We hit a little gravel with our paddles on the upstream section, but we had the boat popped up in the shallows until we turned around the buoy into the downstream section. Then it was a swift downstream run trying to avoid the newly-exposed deadheads and tipped-boat-rescue-operations (our viking buddies shown here).
We passed 4 boats or so but were basically alone until the very end, when we realized we had a ‘bogie on our 6’: a pair of fast women in pink shirts and hats. Crap! I thought we had a chance to be the fastest ladies but when I saw them I thought we’d been caught by a boat who started way after us. I figured if they caught us by that much we should try to wash ride off them; and started looking for a good chance to get on their tail. They took some different lines than us which made us nervous, but they never actually passed us, so after 5 or so minutes I thought ‘forget it!’ and mentally stopped waiting and trying to catch the wash and instead tried to crush them. We took our own lines and stayed to the left so we could get into the finish beach. We cut in to the shore a little too soon and almost washed up on a gravel beach, but ended up surviving and getting to the beach first. The chasing boat slid up right next to us and took up Edith’s stepping spot, making it difficult to get out (clever girls!) I jumped out and yanked the boat out, and our mountain biker also helped. Our leg didn’t end until our boat passed the finish line, so we ran it up the sand and onto the grass.
We were feeling pretty good about it, although a little disappointed to have been caught by a boat. As it turns out, they started very shortly after us and followed the whole way – so we beat them on the last metres of the river and the beach! I am still a little suspicious of this since it doesn’t seem like we could have not noticed them for so long, but since this puts us first in the women’s boats and 22nd out of all 500 boats I’ll take it!
Here is the CKS press release:
Saskatchewan Paddlers Have Top Place Finishes at Ski to Sea
Several Saskatchewan paddlers contributed to top place team finishes at the annual Ski to Sea race held May 25th in Bellingham,Washington. The race combines cross country skiing, downhill skiing/snowboarding, running, road biking, canoeing, mountain biking and sea kayaking. 421 teams competed in the event.
Ivan English, Edith MacHattie, Trevor Robinson, Graham Smith and Catherine Trask of Saskatoon and Mike Vincent of Regina all competed in the canoe leg of the 7 leg race. English, Robinson, Smith and Vincent represented teams which posted 3 of the 4 fastest canoe times of the 421 teams competing in the event. As well, MacHattie and Trask were the top female canoe team.
English and Vincent represented Team Aeromech which finished 2nd of 52 teams in the Competitive Open Division and 2nd overall out of all divisions. The duo posted the fastest time of all teams in the canoe leg of the race.
Trevor Robinson was a member of the GetSimpleBox.com team which finished in 5th place overall in all divisions and in 1st place out of 7 teams racing in the Masters Division. Robinson and canoe partner Joseph Manns posted the 3rd fastest time in the canoe leg of the race.
Smith was a member of the Boomer’s Drive-in Team, which finished the race in 4th place in the Competitive Open Division and in 8thplace in all divisions. Smith and canoe partner Ron Williams finished in 4th place in the canoe leg of the race which is especially noteworthy as Williams is a 74 year old paddler.
MacHattie and Trask paddled for the Cascadian food.net which finished in 2nd place out of 12 teams in the competitive mixed division and 26th overall. The pair finished the canoe leg of the race in 22nd place and was the fastest women’s canoe team.
The Ski to Sea race has been running since 1973. It is based on an historic race called the Mt. Baker Marathon which was held from 1911 to 1913. It attracts participants from around the world and includes several divisions in the competitive and recreational categories.
For event information please visit the official website at the following link: http://www.skitosea.com/
For results visit the following link: http://results.skitosea.com/
In April 2004 I got a call from someone I didn’t know in Bellingham asking if I wanted to do Ski to Sea. I had heard about it, but wasn’t sure it fit into my plans. The fellow ended up convincing me to paddle the anchor kayak leg and ring the finish line bell for a sponsored women’s team: Boundary Bay Brewery. It was a success, all of the women won their respective legs and our team was first in the women’s category. yay. I paddled with them again the next year and then started to do more school and less paddling.
Now it is 10 years later and I am gearing up to do ski to sea again, this time as a canoer on the marathon canoe leg. I don’t have a very strong ‘athletic CV’ as of late, so I am paddling on a non-sponsored team for the experience and to post a time in the hopes of getting sponsorship next year. Good thing I am employed this time, because getting the boat there, flying to Vancouver, and renting a car to drive down to Bellingham will be a bit pricey.
The Nooksack is fast and cold and can be pushy, it will be a challenge but not as much as it would have been 10 years ago; paddling lots of kilometers in these boats on the North Saskatchewan and Qu’appelle rivers will be a big help. I also have a great partner: light and stern-with-finesse Edith, who was also my XC coach this winter. Here are some videos that show what it is like:
So I am back in the coaching game, albeit in a limited and distributed way. Edith and I had some chats about ways to bring more people into our club, so over the winter she and her partner Cory developed a new club website and facebook page. We formalized the club programmings, especially on Wednesday nights where we now have a structured sessions with learning objectives and mentors paired with new folks.
This is a bit of a departure for me, having come from flatwater kayak which has a professional coaching culture, and athletes are used to being told what to do by folks who know in a structured setting. God bless Mike Vincent who explained this difference to me in my first months doing marathon “you might be used to that, but get used to figuring it out for yourself now, this is a mentoring culture”. We have advertised the new structure and the first Wednesday night session last week (single digit temperatures) had 8 boats out. I think that is as many as we had out in July last year! Here’s hoping we can grow these new folks into keen paddlers and maybe next year they can be the mentors. 🙂
For the first time in more than a decade, I did a Spring training camp. For the first time ever, it was in a tropical place. We stayed with a group of Saskatchewaners and Manitobans and paddled in the swampy, winding rivers all over central Florida.
We stayed together in a rental house and later in resort cabins, both on the river front by the Rainbow and Withlachoochee rivers. WE could pick up the canoes and put into either one for an early morning or later afternoon paddle.
When we headed out on these adventures, we did a morning paddle, ate a picnic lunch, and then paddled again in the afternoon before packing up and picking up groceries on the way home to dinner. These were usually 2.5 hrs or so for each paddle, so that really added up over the week!
I paddled bow and stern and learned a few things for each. I was a little sore, but ate ‘ferociously’ and had lots of time to stretch and recover, so I wasn’t dragging by the end of the week and didn’t need to take any workouts off.
I’d do it again for sure. It was a great escape from the frozen North, and a nice break from regular work life as well.
I thought Vancouver was unique in being a place where you can paddle and ski in the same day. I have done it lots, but not many locations will support this. However, this last weekend (for the first time in most people’s memory) there was a day where one could comfortably and safely paddle and ski in the same day.
The ski was 3 laps at Holiday Park, with nice tracks and good snow coverage, except for some scattered pine cones under trees from a recent windstorm. It was a little windy but warm enough to take off my jacket.
The paddle was better than many winter paddles since there is still a piece of the dock in the water. This Autumn the beavers started building in the last section of dock, and now it is stuck to the sticks and mud etc, and I think there might be beavers living in the lodge-extension. The noise of us stomping overhead must be bad for them, but I guess they like the location overall.
It wasn’t that long ago that I paddled in Vancouver, but it was nice to get out in a boat again . Hopefully we get a few more warm days like this that make a weekend paddle possible.
I am also trying to get some skiing kilometers in, since I signed up for the 55km Canadian Birkenbiener. I am hoping my halvasan experience and general fitness will help me along here, since I don’t have too many kilometers this season. On the bright side, since halvasan my technique has definitely improved and I have had some formal instruction RE: ‘how to ski’. There are snacks along the way and I have 8 hours to finish (I am hoping to do it in 5.5 or less). Here’s hoping for some good snow conditions!
The last paddles in October – warm weather stayed pretty late this year (for SK).
Here are the scenery photos from the Desolation Sound trip. Lots of variety in weather and conditions, landscape and flora: dry little islands with lichen, rainforest, deep coves and (felt like) open ocean.
Erica has some awesome photos too, and I think hers are more likely to have me in them. I’ll post some if I get a hold of them.
Erica and I talked for a long time about going on a paddling trip in Haida Gwaii. Our preliminary research showed really high costs, kind of sketchy water conditions that require some chart reading skills, and guiding options that require advance booking. So, we decided for our first kayak camping trip we should try something a bit less tricky: desolation sound on the sunshine coast.
It had been such a lovely warm summer in BC that we felt assured of a week of swimming, suntans, and busy boat traffic up the inlets. We ended up getting the most precipitation of the summer, but it meant we had our own private islands for some of the time (and we still got to go swimming).
Even for a shorter, less-involved trip, there was quite a lot of preparation that went into it. We divided to conquer: I took care of food and Erica took care of maps and wayfinding (and driving). I was so happy to see ocean and mountains that I didn’t care specifically where we went, and Erica is so easygoing that she was willing to eat whatever I made.
I needed some new equipment (bigger drybag, compass, egg holder, condiment bottles, water treatment), but Erica had quite a lot already: a stove, pots, awesome tent, and a ton of tarps. We rented kayaks for the week from MEC (so reasonable!) and that included boats, paddles, paddle floats, lifejackets, sprayskirts, pump bailers and throw ropes. We also brought water and water treatment (and TP!) with us, since we were doing the kind of wilderness camping where there are no electrical plugins or showers or taps. Each of us carried more than 15 L since we were prepared for hot weather – freakin’ heavy! We ended up not needing it all, and fortunately we also did not need the bear spray that Erica bought (no carnivores bigger than seals on this trip). However, our first night spent on the mainland was a bit less restful than the ones on small islands, since I was listening.
Meals went pretty well, and certainly conserved on fuel since most was the home-dehydrated add-boiling-water-and-wait kind. Although vegetarian it was certainly flavourful and spicy, and I think maybe just as well we were on small bear-free islands. Here are some menu items:
- Falafel and Moroccan Couscous with chick peas and apricots
- Black bean chili
- Curried lentils with roti
- Thai coconut curry
- Bipimbap: Korean spicy cabbage and egg with rice
- Just-add-water walnut and cherry museli (it has powdered milk mixed in)
I think most of these things would work well as traveling-athlete meals too since most hotels have a kettle, but you’d want to make sure your body was used to eating them. T&T superstore was a surprise venue for a lot of ingredients: coconut milk powder, miso soup powder, and kim chi (which doesn’t really need refrigeration in the short term like they say).
There were a few lessons learned I think we can apply to the next trip (Haida? Broken Islands?), including our updated packing list. Thing we brought that was unexpectedly useful: bailing sponge. Thing I most wish I bought: thermos (everything cools down quick in the coastal winds). For next time:
- Waterproof matches
- Face Cloth
- Fibre towel
- Bear Spray
- Water jug
- Sleeping pad
- Sleeping bag
- Small pillow
- Dish Soap
- Tin Foil wind block
- BBQ lighter
- Map bag (ziplock)
- Chopping board
- Metal Whisking Fork/flipper
- Water bottle
- Garbage bag
- Dry bags
- Waterproof camera
- Radar Reflector
- Tide Charts
- Marine GPS
- Life Jacket
- Reading material
Scenery shots and wildlife report are coming soon!
Graham is racing in Hungary right now at the World Championships. It seems things are going well for them, with medals in every distance so far. The open (men’s) Team, Mixed Team, and Women’s Team all have medals – a much better showing than 2011 in Tampa. Must be the paprika?