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Checkpoint Zero

KIX Newsletter June, 2004

Rescue Demo on the Hudson River
Just Some Quick (?) News

I'm back from my road and air warrior spring and early summer to enjoying the fruits (literally) from my garden! It’s that time of year suddenly when the raspberries, strawberries, cherries and peas are all edible right for the picking! Birds are playing in the trees along with the kids down the street and I have time to reflect on the myriad of experiences I’ve had this year.
Andree's flowers
From trying to find kayak related stuff for my newsletter in
winter I now have too much – if you want to just skip down to new dates and places for kayaking, please do! I’ve had so little time that I haven’t been able to develop any of the film to share!

The season started off with in-house instructor development courses (IDW) and staff training – what is the difference? The prior has a set curriculum and goal which is to present to instructor candidates the experience they will have at the succeeding exam, while the latter is basically me disseminating information as a trainer, and integrating some of those creative techniques such as breakout groups and scenarios.

Staff training is definitely the way to initiate an in-house group to the concepts they need to know for an IDW – this was re-enforced a few times this year!

Courses ranged from the sides of Lake Washington to the banks of the Hudson River, the shores of Long Island and the cold ripping waters of Wrangell Narrows of Petersburg, Alaska. I met a wonderful range of people along the way, and for a middle-aged gal (gee) actually had quite a few firsts!

Paddling with the Manhattan Kayak Company was a first – and as they say, they have a unique environment! We pushed off a floating dock to paddle either north or south as the tidal currents dictated. Alongside were cruise ships, water taxis and a helicopter pad was just a block away. We had a big thundershower and saw lightning hit the Empire State Building. We got stuck in traffic on Memorial Day weekend while driving through the Hamptons to our open water location (which actually wasn’t that open). (But now I can say I kayaked in the Hamptons!).

I met a great group of people who have honed the forward stroke down to a science as they specialize in long paddles to the Statue of Liberty or around the island – Paddle for Pride was just in the planning stages and everyone was training.

We also got to give a kayaking rescue demo to the New York Fire and Police departments. This was video taped by one of our talented participants and I hope to get a movie online soon.

Kayaking on the Hudson

Barge Manhattan Kayak

Barbies

New York fire department marine safety

The New York Fire Department was preparing to run safety for a race around the island and we were asked to give a rescue demonstration for the team.

One of the most striking side trips, of course, was to the 911 site. As people in New York say, we are still at war. Well, there is a little church standing across from all this devastation - still with green trees, green grass and headstones dating back to George Washington. The other three sides around the trade center were touched by devastation, but not this fourth side with the church. The inside is dedicated to all the hard work put in by volunteers. The whole place is very touching and worth a visit. Helping Hands at the church across from the World Trade Center and 911

Tongass Staff in Wrangall Narrows

The second morning we hit the water at 7:30 am to find tide rips for scenarios and had fun trying to sink a double kayak. Scott Roberge (owner) had no compunctions about losing his equipment as he enthusiastically open the rear hatch for us!

Off to Alaska (due to the horrible weather in Chicago I had four hours of sleep in Seattle between trips (which was similar to the trip to New York)) – my friends laughed at me when I stepped off the plane to comment on how nice the air smelled in!

The staff at Tongass Kayak Company was very excited to have some training and even asked to watch the video taping of their strokes over! Nice!

Kayaking Away from Petersburg

Now for some rare solitude – Scott dropped me off at his base camp near the La Conte glacier – complete with a beautiful tent, sleeping bag and all the camping amenities. I paddled the 7.5 miles out to see the glacier – it was raining and quiet in the morning.

Kayaking with Iceburgs in La Conte Bay

Floating and listening to raindrops and ice burgs melting will always be with me. The sun came out in the afternoon for the second half of the paddle. On my way to the glacier I saw river otters on shore and harbor seals with their babies lounging on the floating ice. This glacier is one of the fastest melting and it shows!

Harbor Seal on Ice

The following day I paddled back to the south side of the island so I could see the estuary of the Stikine River. I thought I had left early enough (6:30 am) to beat the mudflats, but alas, I had to paddle around them and then, at about 1:00 pm, wait an hour for the tide to come in. Waiting was ok if you don’t have to do it every day – I took a nap, ate M &Ms and cherries and drank milk! The trip was a long 16 miles against a wind and a current and was I tired!

Non-the-less, my friend Linda had me walk on a boardwalk over the muskeg to a tidal river that was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen – verdant greens against a snow capped mountain, fish actually jumping amid rounded grey boulders.

Indian Paintbrush

Moose

Iceburg

Lunch Neah Bay

Back to Washington I went to the coast
to an instructor gathering and tried out my new
Silhouette in the surf!

It was fun, but when the going got rough I
realized I needed more padding as those
waves wanted to pull me right out of cockpit!
Nothing like pushing your rear end
back into a boat before you roll in the surf!


Last weekend I drove (again) east of the Cascade Mountain range to give a rather dry land introduction to kayaking to a group of very accomplished women. This was sponsored by the Washington Outfitters and Guides Association. (Other clinics included archery, plant ID, survival, driving mules with carts, Dutch oven cooking, blacksmithing).

I got to take a tour of a working horse ranch near Mazama, see how saddles are made by hand, help lead and saddle my horse (Snoopy) and then ride him through some beautiful woods!

The area is actually being changed rapidly by an influx of wealthy land buyer-uppers – they have the same issue we have with saving access to trails.

I hope there is a national organization that can help them out or we will see the demise of a whole tradition that families have been immersed in this outfitting lifestyle.

Women in Wilderness, Washington Outfitters and Guides Association

Swinging through Bellingham to demo the First Light kayak at Lake Padden topped this off. This folding kayak being imported from New Zealand. It was really a fun, light kayak that responded to paddle controls easily.

Coincidence brought another paddler, Manfred, to the lake. He competed in slalom at the nationals in the seventies. I had gotten some tips from him a few years ago and so asked him for more – and what a blast! We spent an hour together sharing strokes and techniques and ideas – some of his drills were so hard I flipped and came up laughing.

Phew! The range of kayaking is amazing – this was also apparent to me while training for a new certification as a whitewater instructor trainer at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina – it was so fun to see such a range of people in kayaks on the Nantahala – from kids in slalom boats to people in double open canoes, playboaters, rafters – ad infinitum.

Most of all I realized that what kayaking brings to me is a way to stay outside and enjoy what the outdoors has to offer. For me that is what it is all about – getting outdoors with great people.

That’s about as much of a nutshell as I can pull off!

Upcoming stuff – I’m working with Agua Verde Paddle Club in Seattle (I love that place – kayak on Lake Union and adjourn for some of the best Mexican food you’ve ever had!

We are getting courses going in Bellingham as well – check the schedule and wait for more news there.

I’m planning instructor certification courses in Jacksonville, Florida, and at the tip of Long Island, New York. These will probably be in September and October.

October brings the annual cert classes in the northwest – there is a great and very excited group of candidates coming to our ICE, which will probably be at the coast this year.

Upcoming Dates


Introduction to sea kayaking (Quick Start):
Port Townsend - July 6 and 7 evenings
Port Townsend - July 31
Port Angeles - July 24, 2004
Agua Verde Kayak Club, Seattle - August 1

Strokes Update:
Seattle - Agua Verde Paddle Club - June 22, June 30, 2004
Bellingham - Boat Works - June 23, July 1, 2004
Port Townsend - July 2, 2004
Port Angeles - July 8, 2004
Poulsbo - July 15, 2004

Whitewater:
Redmond: July 9 - 18th

Deception Pass:
August 7 - 8 (discount for club members)

Outdoor Retailer Show, August

San Juan Island Excursion:
August 26 - 29


Evening clinics on whitewater - taking advantage of all that sun!

Check the URL for the spring schedule: http://www.kayakinstructionexcellence.com/KIX/ClinicSchedule.html

Kayaking and other items from the store

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