February 12th, 2013
In the spirit of sharing, inspired by Derek Sivers, the amazing guy who started CD Baby and made it into a phenomenal success, I thought I’d share some paddling tips I’ve learned over the years. The ones below are for expeditions in particular.
Give yourself more time, not less. Whenever there’s question of how long it might take to paddle a certain stretch of a river, always plan for more time instead of less. Bring extra food. Then, if you’re using a SPOT device, your pick-up person will see you’re running a little behind and pick you up later.
You don’t need all the fancy gear. A quick-dry shirt and pants that dry fast are about all I would say you need as far as particular clothes. You don’t need expensive wool long johns — they are $100+ in some stores! — any old pair will do. Boring old rubber boots, whatever water socks or sandals you like. It’s one of the best hobbies for not needing a lot of specialized gear. I hate to say it, but MEC and similar places make you think you need to spend hundreds on clothes, but you don’t. At all. The only exception to this, I’m afraid to say, is a good quality bug jacket and hat!
Bring extra socks. When you’re cold and wet, nothing feels better than a clean, dry pair of socks. And they are so small, it’s easy to pack a few extra pairs. Along those lines, always have two pairs of footwear, such as sandals and rubber boots, or running shoes and boots. Try to keep one dry at all times, so you have can have happy, warm feet in camp.
Follow along on your maps. Always keep track of where you are. You never know when you will need to go for help. It can be tricky on bendy rivers, but you have to find a way to do it. GPS units are great too, but don’t assume yours has any good databases showing the rivers — check first. You can always use your GPS to confirm your location by looking at your current coordinates. If you don’t know how to read a map, learn (I’ll do a post on this another time)! It is also a very good idea to know the wilderness rating of the river you are going on.
Wear some type of footwear at all times. It can seem so fun and fancy-free to be barefoot in your canoe, but if something should happen and you get separated from your boat, you might need to walk out. Doing so barefoot would be a thousand times harder than even the skimpiest sandals (running shoes, even better).
Take along some fire starter. You can’t always assume there will be dry tinder readily available. Have some paper, fire starter-sticks, or whatever you find to work best and, of course, matches. If you need a fire in a hurry, this will speed things up a lot. Double bag it in ziplock bags.
Don’t forget about fresh food. For shorter trips, you’d be surprised what food will keep. Fresh cucumbers or tomatoes are so tasty! Mind you, food always tastes better when you’re on a trip. I don’t know if it’s the outdoor air, the exercise, or the river flowing by, but supper in camp is always the best. Don’t you agree? 🙂