SKCC Paddlefest and The Traditional Paddlers Gathering

When I arrived in Thunder Bay for the Superior Kayak & Canoe Club Paddlefest I couldn’t help but take a deep breath of the warm air. During my last visit temperatures had dropped to -37 celsius, and the water that had been frozen solid then, was now a comfortable temperature for swimming, canoeing and of course… kayaking.


Testing out a canoe.


And stand up paddle boards.


The weekend’s events at Boulevard Lake included a morning yoga session, strokes classes for both canoes and kayaks, a rescue and recovery class, an on-land incident management class, an evening presentation on my summer travels, paddle tricks, rope gymnastics and socializing around a fire. There were kayaks, stand up paddle boards and canoes to demo, and a surf ski, that was so tippy that it prompted a contest on who could paddle it the furthest without tipping it over. After two days of fun on the lake, I conducted some backyard private rolling classes for those who still had energy to play in the water.


A very tippy surf ski.


Paddle tricks.


Rope gymnastics.


This was my fourth visit to Thunder Bay, and it’s always great to see Joe O’Blenis and Diane Hogan of Joe O’ Paddles, as well as the rest of the Thunder Bay crew. Thanks for having me out again!

After spending several days in Thunder Bay I hopped on a plane to Minnesota and headed to Lake Carlos State Park for the Traditional Paddlers Gathering. This was my second year at this event, although the location had changed since last time. The new location is fantastic, complete with bunkhouses, a community room, a craft building that served as a yoga studio and a large fire pit that provided a great place to socialize during the warm summer evenings.


Deluxe accommodations.


The gang.


The parking lot.


Throughout the weekend I mentored students through rolling and rescue and recovery in skin-on-frame kayaks. Strokes was also offered, as well as rescue and recovery in contemporary kayaks. Jeff Bjorgo conducted his famous harpoon throwing contest, complete with styrofoam seals, and I did two evening presentations. Thanks to Jeff and Michelle Forseth and Tony Schmitz for organizing this fun event and for feeding and watering me throughout.


Hitching a ride.


Harpoon contest winners.


Mark your calendars for next year, September 6 to 9. Rumor has it that the event is going to put a cap on registration… so make sure you register early… and get practicing on those harpoons!

Photos by Helen Wilson, Alan Drummond and Chris Johnston.

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