Performing Yoga on an SUP. I can barely do this on land.
Another Outdoor Adventure Show is in the books. It’s one of my favourite events. It gives me a chance to meet up with other outdoor enthusiasts, see some neat new gear, watch some demos and of course see some presentations.
My first task when the event’s schedule comes out is to find when and where Kevin Callan (The Happy Camper) is presenting. His talks all always insightful and entertaining – not to mention funny – and as usual he didn’t disappoint. On Saturday morning it was “Tales of a Wilderness Wanderer”, showing us pictures of some of the adventures he’s been on. In the afternoon it was “How to be a Better Camp Cook”, talking about food and recipes around the campfire. In both, he combined tips with stories, and a lot of fun. I’m not sure how long this will continue, but apparently his new thing is to toss hats into the audience. If you get a chance to see him, I’d recommend getting there a little early and getting a seat close to the front, as the hats don’t seem to fly too far.
Of course the feature of these talks was to promote Kevin’s two new books. First was Dazed but Not Confused: Tales of a Wilderness Wanderer, a great new book that I loved reading and will review soon. Second was The New Trailside Cookbook, a recipe and tips book for making tasty and fun meals on a camping trip. Apparently Kevin had only one copy of this book, the first copy, which he decided to give it to an audience member who answered an intelligence test. He started by asking the crowd “Who has been on a canoe camping trip that didn’t require a portage?” When someone answered “Yes”, he gave the book to them, telling them “Smart.” Interestingly, this person was friend of mine, and Kevin later signed the copy of the book. I’m not jealous at all. I’d rather buy my own copy anyway. A new copy, without all that writing in the front cover. Not jealous at all.
Some of the best moments at the show are around the demo pool. First we watched Swift Canoe and Kayaks demonstrating their light weight canoes, offering tips on choosing your preferred self-propelled boat and a few paddling techniques. I like to keep up to date on all the latest models myself, so when I win the lottery I don’t have to waste any time figuring out how to fill the very large canoe rack I will have. (For me, a trip to the show is not complete until I stop by and visit the Swift guys and Mike from Badger Paddles. I’d drop by again on Sunday, but more on that below.)
On Saturday we also got a chance to see some Paddle Canada kayak demos, which are always fun. I’m not a kayaker and I don’t normally feel the tug to get in there and join them, but I have to say, there isn’t much more impressive than seeing some kayak rolls. They might – might – have inspired me to consider learning to roll a kayak … maybe. Speaking of impressive, we also caught a SUP demo, but this time with a twist. The Complete Paddler teamed up with Osha Paddle Boarding and Yoga to show us how to do yoga while on a paddle board. I’ve done yoga. It’s hard. I can’t even imagine how difficult that would be while floating on a paddle board. But I bet it’s fun! I should try this, as of course they offer lessons – when it’s warm and no one’s looking, because I’m going to fall in. (They seem pretty reasonably priced too.)
Of course the highlight of all the demos is the show that LearnToKayak.ca puts on. If you haven’t seen these guys, look for it next year. They show all kinds of kayak skills, demonstrating what you’d learn on the different leveled Paddle Canada kayak courses, starting with the basic rescues to more and more complex rolls. Then they really start to show off. James Roberts, in particular, is quite talented. In the half hour demo, he must have rolled a hundred times. He rolled with and without a paddle, with someone clinging to the back of his kayak, with two people on his kayak, 11 times in a row, and the coup-de-grace, pictured at the top of this post, was rolling while keeping his coffee cup out of the water and not spilling a drop (talk about rolling up the rim). See the two videos at the bottom of this post to view the hitch-hiker and multiple rolls on video.
And now for the real unique thrill of the weekend: Meeting the legendary Hap Wilson. I’ve read his books – I mean, he literally wrote the book on Temagami canoe routes – and so was eager to take the opportunity to meet him. He’s an artist, author, photographer, guide, and trailbuilder and probably the person most recognized with the Temagami area. He was going to be visiting the Swift booth, but only on Sunday from 12:00 to 3:00. I got there early because I didn’t know what kind of line up there would be. I was absolutely shocked to find the booth relatively empty. (And a little embarrassed for having rushed into the show like a mad man. I apologize to anyone I knocked over. Pretty sure it was a garbage can, but it might have been an old lady for all I know. )
The guys at Swift later told me that it was kind of a last minute thing, so the word hadn’t really gotten out. Still, I question why fellow canoeists weren’t stopped in their tracks as they walked by. Nevertheless, even with the lack of a huge line, it took me a while to drum up the courage to go up and talk to him. But I’m sure glad I did. He was very nice and super interesting. We chatted about tripping, his eco-friendly trail building business, and what he’s been up to lately. I probably took advantage a bit, because of the lack of people that were there at the time, just asking more questions so he’d keep talking. I even got a chance to pose for some photos with him.
Another reason to attend the event was to view the new gear the outdoor industry has to offer this season. A couple of things stood out to me. First were these bungee cords that attach to stand-up paddleboards by suction cups, allowing you to secure a good bit of gear with you for longer SUP excursions. I’ve been thinking I’d like to try tripping using a paddleboard, for the experience and the inevitable stories. I wonder how many of those would involve me falling off the board. The suction-cup-bungees would at least be an easy way to keep my stuff from floating away when I do take an involuntary swim.
I also saw something that I really think is going to make people’s lives a little easier (or at least mine): multi-coloured and patterned yoke pads by Hooligan Gear. Last year when on a trip up through Canoe Lake on a long weekend, it was busy. The first portage was packed full of canoes, with others cramming in as soon as there was room (or debatably even when there wasn’t). The canoes were all rented from the same place (The Portage Store) and so looked identical. A few, like mine, had the rather popular blue yoke pad. In fact, until Sunday, I’ve never seen them in any other colour than blue. Once I got my gear out of the canoe, I went over to grab my canoe but with all the traffic there were a bunch of identical empty canoes on the beach. With all the rushing to get out of people’s way, bumping into those who wouldn’t get out of your way, and all the canoes coming in, I honestly could not figure out which canoe was mine. “No problem,” I thought to myself, “Yours has the yoke pad.” Yeah… they all had blue yoke pads. So now I have to figure out which new colour will be the least popular.
Needless to say I had a great time, met some great people, and saw some really neat stuff. Speaking of neat stuff, as promised, here are those kayak roll videos of James Roberts of LearnToKayak.ca:
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