Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Karma or Coincidence? Why wire clothes hangers are required kayaking gear

Why is hindsight always the smarter part of your brain that you discover a little too late . . . ?

When packing up to head for home after a great three-day kayak camping trip to Camelot Island in the 1000 Islands on the St. Lawrence River in Ontario, Canada last August, I had a little mishap. At the time, it felt like a BIG trauma!

The paddle buddies were all out on the water waiting for me. All my gear was secure in its proper place in my Boreal Baffin sea kayak, except for one last little important thing.

I put my Olympus Stylus Tough waterproof camera on the front deck of my Boreal Baffin and opened up the day hatch behind the seat.

When I turned to reach for it, the camera, and its bright orange camera float, suddenly slid off the front deck of my kayak and dove between the dock planks.


OK, I added a few four letter words to that sentence first. I couldn't believe it was possible. Look at the photos. The spaces between the dock planks didn't look that big. But I saw it happen.

I had never tested my waterproof Olympus. I didn’t know if it really was waterproof.

I knelt down on the dock and peered through the spaces of the dock planks. All I could see was the orange camera float on top of the murky water under the dock.

A paddle buddy paddled over to see why I was taking so long to depart. “Lost your camera, eh? You’ll never get it out of there. You can’t get under this dock and shallow muddy water. Better give it up.”

Me: “There’s no way I’m leaving without this camera! I need a hanger to pull it up!” Hangers aren’t things that paddlers usually have on hand on kayaking trips.

Paddle buddy smiling: “I bet the motor boaters would have a hanger . . .”

I looked at him in a special way I guess, and he quickly paddled off to leave me to my own devices. The timing was not very good for me to ask the motor boaters for help this morning.
I grabbed a nearby stick, poked it between the dock planks and hooked the camera float but it kept slipping off the stick when I tried to bring it up.

After a few failed attempts, I thought about yoga and calmed my breath and relaxed my focus and trembling fingers.

I finally pulled the camera up between two planks with a sigh of relief. My Olympus Stylus Tough waterproof camera was still attached, and the camera still worked. It really is waterproof as long as you properly close all the parts that open for the battery, memory card, and the mini USB port.

And that's why there are lots of pictures to go along with the series of six stories about kayak camping on Camelot Island that I've written for The Great Waterway, a cool new Ontario Tourism website, where I'm a regular blogger.

“Thank you kayak gods! I’ll never tromp down another dock again at dawn to protest a loud all-night motor boat party the night before, I promise . . . or leave my camera on top of my kayak when I’m on a dock with enough space between planks for a camera to fall through!”

Also, make sure to hang on to your keys if you're spending time on this dock on Camelot Island! You can't crawl or swim under it to fetch what you lose.

Karma or coincidence? 

Was it karma or coincidence that my camera fell through the planks? You're thinking stupidity, bad luck? Hmmm . . . maybe all of the above. We sometimes suspect karma when the timing for a lesson learned is very coincidental, right!? We rarely admit stupidity.

But now, I carry a wire clothes hanger in the back hatch of my kayak that I can bend into shape to hook and fetch things that fall through cracks on all trips and consider it, “required gear!” It comes in handy for other things too, like hanging gear up in trees and bushes to quickly dry in the sun and wind.

To find out why this incident may be karma or coincidence, you can read the full story on The Great Waterway. 
My next and last story in the Camelot series is now available: 

See: Breaking Camp at Camelot and Heading Home: My first kayak camping trip in the 1000 Islands with the Boreal Baffin. Awesome!

I'm a regular blogger for The Great Waterway, a cool new Ontario Tourism website, so you can look for a new story from me there each month, and you'll find lots of other stories, news, articles, reviews, and interviews right here on BaffinPaddler.

Thanks for visiting!

Happy trip planning!
(c)The BaffinPaddler

The 14th Dalai Lama will be live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada April 28, 2012, at the Ottawa Civic Centre. I plan to attend. I mean listen . . .

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Ok bird, you're the boss: Cycle to yoga on the Deschenes Rapids, Aylmer, Quebec

To spring paddle or not to spring paddle? That is the question.

In a Canadian spring clime I have to think twice about hauling out all the kayaking gear I need to paddle cold water so . . . the bike gets more action at this time of year.

The legs don't get much work in a kayak, so it's their time to play in spring. Biking is awesome at this time of year. Fewer people on the paths. Cooler temps.

I cycled to a pretty cool place to do some outdoor yoga along the shoreline of the Deschenes Rapids with views of some dam ruins, if you can call them views. They are really dangerous industrial decay that they don't know what to do with in Aylmer, Quebec, Canada. The rapids are extremely dangerous here. Not for paddling or swimming but spectacular to view from a safe spot.
I wanted to climb up on a piece of rock, actually dam ruins along the shore, to strike a few yoga poses and stretch out.
But the gulls rule here. The sentries said, "HEY. It's our rock!"

So I said, "Ok. I'll back off."

I had to be happy with a smaller rock. It was so much easier. And a lot safer. Easy feels good. Safe is better. Sea gulls are wise. And you can't do standing poses looking at moving water.
The spring forest path seemed a bit bleak.
But I changed my mind. There is proof where the sun shines.
Early spring is my least favorite time of year. I don't know what to do with it or what to make of it.

I am thinking of that first spring paddle. Where will it be?

Happy trails.
Stay warm and safe.
The BaffinPaddler

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Gordon’s odd charms got me in the 1000 Islands

Tree pose in Gordon Island's historic 1904 Gazebo, 1000 islands, Ontario, Canada
The first time I walked around Gordon in the summer of 2011, it reminded me of a war zone.

At first sight, it was a wasteland of many tall, dead trees and burned out trees from a controlled burn on parts of the island by the St. Lawrence Islands National Park in the Spring of 2010 in their efforts to restore natural habitat and rejuvenate oak tree growth.

The tallest trees weren’t burnt, but they were dead and barren. Almost all of Gordon Island's mature red oaks have become victims of short-horned oakworm, ice storms, and not enough rain in past years.
Part of Gordon's trail was lined on both sides with a dense tangled mass of the tallest wild raspberry bushes I’d ever seen.

I felt like I was walking through a three-foot tall corridor of barbed wire.

All the proliferating wild raspberry and blackberry bushes on the island shade out the struggling oak tree seedlings, and were part of the reason for the controlled burn on sections of the island. The remaining bushes along the trail were growing like weeds and full of berries. I picked and ate some. Sweet. But, ouch! The thorns were wicked when I reached in to get the best berries.

Along another stretch of trail was a big patch of poison ivy and a red danger sign.

Then, Gordon suddenly changed my mind.

I saw the large historic gazebo built in 1904 with its octagonal shape and sandstone walls.
Gordon Island 1904 gazebo, 1000 Islands, Ontario, Canada
The birds seemed to love it here.There were lots of them singing in the trees and swooping across the wooded trail above me, especially Red-winged Blackbirds. The dead trees make Gordon Island a woodpecker's paradise. You can also spot warblers, nuthatches, and chickadees.
I noticed two big Osprey nests. Tall, dead trees make great nesting sites for them. 
The little wild beach on the north shore of Gordon Island has enough room to land a few kayaks and a sweet swimming hole with crystal clear water and a soft white sandy bottom. I went for a swim.
The odd island has charm, history, and an awesome gazebo with a nice waterfront view of the St. Lawrence River. 

Gordon Island, unlike most of the other islands in the 1000 Islands, is made up of a sandstone conglomerate rather than the more usual granite of the Canadian Shield
Gordon Island sandstone bluff, 1000 islands, Ontario, Canada
Suddenly, I found Gordon Island's trails enchanting. The island was both struggling and flourishing.
This is why I was here. To see if Gordon Island was a good Paddle to Yoga destination.

Was it? I thought so.

And from this inspiration, I took it further. I continue to look for, and stumble upon, more good outdoor locations that inspire me to strike a yoga pose or two. I find doing a bit of yoga in the outdoors awesome.

More about Gordon’s charms
My next story in the series of stories I’m writing for the blog of The Great Waterway, a cool new Ontario Tourism website is published on their site if you’d like to check it out: 

Paddle to Yoga on Gordon Island in the 1000 Islands

Coming soon to this series of six stories: My first kayak camping trip to Camelot in the 1000 Islands with the Boreal Baffin. Awesome!
  • Breaking Camp on Camelot and Heading Home
See also:
Happy paddles!
(c) The BaffinPaddler

Many thanks to the staff at St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada, Parks Canada for their help in answering my questions about Gordon Island and other islands in the park.