Showing posts from 2013

I got lost in the Roads and Rails: Everyday Life in the Age of Horses exhibit at the Adirondack Museum

Roads and Rails is the museum's largest exhibit. I got lost in it physically and mentally. I stayed so long, enjoying stepping back in time in this fantasic exhibit at the Adirondack Museum in upstate New York, that at one point, I found myself alone in total quiet. It was an odd and intriguing feeling. I was wondering if I might get locked inside and have to spend the night in a stagecoach. There were several to choose from.

After an unhurried lunch in the beautiful museum cafe, which sits on top of a 200-foot-high cliff with ample views of Blue Mountain Lake down below, I lost track of time. You get the idea. This is a place you don't want to hurry through.

Then, while staring up at a big fancy stagecoach from Turner's Tavern, I heard someone I couldn't see call out, “There's one over there.”
Someone else with a walkie-talkie replied: “Yeah, I've got her.”

I had a funny feeling they were talking about me. I couldn't see anyone with all the big wagons and…

The Dack Duck

Now that winter is here and the lakes and rivers are frozen or getting there day-by-day in Canada, it's time to pull out some of those short-n-sweet paddle stories I parked in my mind but were never told. They are pleasant memories. The ones that make me kick myself for not kayaking more this year. These memories will make me plan more kayaking trips in the new year. My awesome kayaks deserve it.

This is the story of The Dack Duck.

That's what I named her anyway. Perhaps I should have named her Grace.

A couple of years ago, I was on a kayaking trip with a small group in the Adirondacks, in upstate New York (U.S.A.). We were paddling a series of lakes from one day to the next.

One drizzly, foggy day, that I thought was far better for visiting the awesome Adirondack Museum, we paddled Big Moose Lake. I lost the vote. And luckily so. Along the remote, wild, east end of the lake, a cute little female duck broke away from the flock and swam over to my kayak and led the way out of t…

A metaphor for urban sprawl

Like the city, the forest suffers from it too. Urban sprawl. The uncontrolled expansion of urban areas. Cities and suburbs and industrial parks. Uncontrolled and poorly planned. Or not planned at all.

The forest like the city starts out simple. There is lots of space and light.
Then development starts to crowd the space.
Things grow, get bigger, taller, and more powerful, taking up most of the space and resources.

The infrastructure ages. There is moaning and groaning. The structure and the environment can no longer support the weight and demands of the sprawl.

Things collapse. It's a tangled mess.

But the forest, unlike the city, regenerates itself . . . if the city lets it.

Befriend a forest. There are so many that need a lot more human friends.

Befriend a forest, especially urban forests and parklands, otherwise, urban development and profit-generating organizations will take it over and remove it for good.

Happy trails. Make more green friends. Be a green friend. Support gree…

A jog with the dog in the fog or a snowshoe? November in Canada confounds

November is a transitional month in Canada when fall has to find its way to winter. November just can't make up its mind from one day to the next. And we fiddle with what gear to break out, or put away.

One day you're jogging with the dog in the fog on an urban trail.
The next day, you're kayaking in the rain and running into a thin sheet of ice on a mountain lake.
 Then, wake up to over 20 centimetres (7 or 8 inches) of fresh snow.
This is November folly in Canada.

In the National Capital Region of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario/Gatineau, Quebec), cross-country skiing has already begun in Gatineau Park, Quebec.

November has finally made up its mind in Canada, it's winter!
Happy trails.
The BaffinPaddler

This is what November looks like

No need to rub your eyes. This is what November looks like on a cold mountain lake in the Laurentians in Quebec, Canada when it rains and the sun sets way too early. It is a little blury, surreal, and foggy. The only colour to be seen is my bright yellow kayak and my red PFD. Everything else is a shade of grey or black.

Then at the nose of my kayak I suddenly hear crunch, crunch, crunch as we break through a thin sheet of black ice that I couldn't even see covering the shallow bay of the lake and we grind to a stop. It surprises me.  It was 10 degrees Celsius (50F) with a light rain and hardly any wind. How could there be ice already, the air felt warm to me.
The water is so cold. It feels like a drink with too many ice cubes. It's my hands that notice. Not a good time of year to forget the gloves or mitts.
Yes, this is what November looks like . . . until the sun comes out.
Happy trails.
Stay warm, dry, and safe.
The BaffinPaddler

Video-Snapping Turtle laying eggs on the Moira Riverfront Trail

Watching a female snapping turtle while she was laying her eggs and burying the nest along an urban path was like stepping back in time. It was an odd feeling. Time stood still. Turtles take their time, and they have endured through the ages.

Her face was covered in sand, dirt, and gravel. I felt a bit sorry for her. Then I noticed her beady little eyes trained on me while she continued her methodical task. I wondered what she was thinking as I took pictures from a distance so as not to disturb her business at hand. She really had no choice. She couldn't stop now. This is a very vulnerable moment for a turtle, or any creature giving birth or laying eggs.

It was such an odd sight to come across a snapping turtle digging a nest and laying eggs as we were cycling along theMoira Riverfront Trail in Belleville, Ontario, Canada.

While she laid her eggs, her prehistoric-looking spiked tail was braced inside the nest to hold her up in the sandy hole she'd dug with her tough, wrinkly…

When one sport informs another . . . where's your center? Paddleboarding, yoga and cycling

I love this question. I began thinking about it while cycling. I haven't cycled very much this summer, but why do I feel so strong and have so much cardio despite the heat and humidity?

Why do I feel more balanced? Why do my standing yoga poses (on land and in the studio) feel so much easier and grounded? I can hold them longer in comfort and relaxation.

Nothing hurts. My muscles are long and lean.

The only thing I did differently this year from past years was lots of SUP (Stand up Paddleboard). What I call "simple SUP". Just paddleboarding at a relaxed easy pace for an hour (or two) several times a week. Even 30 minutes feels good if that's all you've got time for, or if a thunderstorm rolls in and you have to get off the water.

The results of simple SUP, something I find just plain fun and easy, are amazing.

When one sport or practice informs another, they are complements to each other. Athletes call it cross-training.

When one sport or activity informs anoth…

Old dock or snapping turtles?

My paddle partner said, "I need to take a break ashore somewhere. Oh look. There's an old dock over there. Maybe I can climb out."
Me: "OK, I'll wait out here in the middle of the creek!"
Paddle partner: "Come over here with your camera! It's not an old dock. Look! It's a bunch of snapping turtles on a fallen log!"
Oh joy. Do I have to? There's a little current in the creek pushing me one way, and the wind is blowing 25 km/hr with 40 km/hr wind gusts pushing me the other way, and all I've got is a little hand-held snap'n'shoot camera with only a 3X zoom, and you want me to get a picture of this without scaring them all off the log if I get too close!
I did this for you turtle loving friends and almost lost my paddle. My quick drift and shoot plan worked out, and the turtles stayed on the log while I cursed that I don't yet have a GoPro camera, and that I forgot my paddle leash on such a windy day. 
The pictures turned o…