Wandering Around Out There With A Canoe On My Head

The Frozen Offseason

by Preston
October 30, 2011


Getting the camera read for Movember
Getting the camera read for Movember

With November coming up in a few days, it’s probably safe to say the portaging season is pretty much over. Depending on where you live, there might still be a few paddling days left, but tripping is left only to the truly hard-core. And so it is that we must start thinking about things to do while the water is frozen. Get ready, because it’s coming.

For me, it’s a time to catch up on my writing, which will keep me pretty busy considering all that’s happened this year. So for you I guess that might mean getting some reading done, so keep your eye on the RSS feeds, facebook and twitter for new posts. For the latter two options, you’ll get some bonus pictures of Nancy, news on other paddling related stuff, along with the occasional smart ass remarks. Either way it should fight the boredom a little as you stare out the window waiting for the seasons to change.

So what else can you do in the meantime to keep up your portaging interests? I’ve included a short list of ideas:

Yeah, that's no good
Yeah, that's no good

Best in Shows:
This is actually the best time of year for outdoor and paddling shows. This is a great way to not only to do something canoe and camping related, but also keep up to date with new products, services and trends. You can also pick up some tips and tricks from a demo offered, or meet some well known outdoor personalities. The best part is just being around outdoor people, meeting new friends and chatting about your favourite subject. Here’s a short list of upcoming shows that I’m considering attending this year:

  • November 25-27: Great Outdoors & DIY Weekend. If you have a cottage, like woodworking along with your outdoors interests, this is the place to be. It’s also slowly becoming the outdoor show of choice (in my opinion) because of all that’s available. They have guest stars and an extensive speaker and demo series (for each interest) – including Portageur favourites Kevin Callan of Happy Camper fame and “Uncle Phil” Cotton from the Wabakimi Project. Of note is the “Women of the Outdoors” panel, which I’ll be sure to check out – in my finest, cleanest outfit with a bouquet of flowers just in case. (In the off chance any of them read this, I am kidding of course. I already have a never-gonna-happen-girlfriend to chase.)
  • February 24-46: The Outdoor Adventure Show. There are three cities this show visits, and each is slightly different. Calgary and Vancouver may get Mantracker, but we get Kevin Callan and Les Stroud – though I’m not sure who the special guests will be this year yet. Plenty of demos here and a lot of other outdoor interests other than camping and canoeing. In fact, they usually have a pretty big section of travel exhibitors that’ll help you get somewhere where the water is not only unfrozen but nice and warm too.
  • March 14-18: Toronto Sportsmen’s Show. By March, I’m usually pretty itching to get out there, so this show is a must, even though it’s not my favourite. It’s kind of like visiting Bass Pro Outlet – it’s really more oriented to people who go outdoors by motorized transport and/or to hunt and fish – and the relatively small camping section reflects that. What keeps me going is the dog section, which includes a Rare Breed Dog show, but I’ve found this is getting smaller and pushed aside. Having said all that, it’s got the biggest selection of outdoor gadgets (in Ontario) and the best place to stock up on some jerky.
  • March 9-11: Canoecopia. I’ve not yet been, but this is supposed to be the best paddling show around, even claiming to be the ” World’s Largest Paddlesports Exposition”. Looking at the list of exhibitors and speakers, I can see why. I’ve always wanted to go, but being in Wisconsin, I’ve wondered if it’s worth the drive all the way out there. I’ve asked around, and word is that it may very well be – specifically worth it for the best seminars, and a must to go for not just a day, but the whole weekend. I should submit a request to be a speaker, to justify the travel. What do you think? Should I do a seminar on getting poop off your dog, how to still look cool after falling out of the canoe in freezing April waters, or what to eat when your food bag gets a leak and fills with beaver dam water (aka “Thank goodness for Ziploc”)?
When I click this, it's supposed to take a picture. Why isn't it working?
When I click this, it's supposed to take a picture. Why isn't it working?

Find a Winter Activity:

This is always easier said than done, but there are lot of fun winter activities out there. I’ve been trying to find one I like as much as portaging, but still have yet to really get into something regularly. Cross country skiing, snowshoeing, downhill skiing, snowboarding or even winter camping… they’re all good. No matter what you do, try and get out there and keep active, and appreciate the season for what it is. It’ll make waiting for the water to melt much more pleasurable. Nancy and I sure take advantage discovering wild places just going back to the same parks as in the summer and appreciate the beauty of it’s snow covered look. Or you could do something crazy like the folks over at Swift Canoes. Being a canoe company, they might be especially susceptible to cabin fever waiting for spring.

Yeah, this isn't working
Yeah, this isn't working

Prepare for next year:

The most fun of the offseason, to me anyway, is planning next year’s trips. At this point you could go anywhere. Get the maps out. Have a planning party. Dream of all the places you want to see next year – perhaps those that you couldn’t last year. Then figure out how to do it. These activities tend to satisfy your portaging fix, but fair warning: it may make for impatient yearning. If nothing else, it should help you get through the offseason as you’ll have something concrete to look forward to.

Prepare yourself for next year:

Not as popular as the previous item, and sometimes considered a downright chore, finding a way to keep yourself fit during the cold months has a lot of advantages. It gives you something to do, sure, but it’s funny how you can use your want for paddling as a means to stay healthy. Imagine how many more lakes you can cross, portages you can get over, if you were just a little more fit (or conversely, not unfit from inactivity and holiday meals of the winter months). At best, this thought might keep you working out a little longer than you might have otherwise and at worst, keep you doing something, anything, that you may not have otherwise. If you’re one of those people who have found a winter activity, even better. Good for you (read: La-ti-dah!).

Just a little off
Just a little off

Distract Yourself:

The fact is, winter is going to happen, and you’ll just have to deal with it. It might be a good time to learn a new skill, catch up on your outdoor reading, or even get into things that have nothing to do with camping or canoeing (yeah, I know). For example, I’ll be participating in Movember – the month formerly known as November – where people grow mustaches to raise funds and awareness for men’s health. It’s a worthwhile cause, a lot of fun, and a great chance for me to post humiliating pictures of my attempt – and so for you to laugh I suppose. This year, I’m going to make my best attempt at a Frank Zappa (I can hear the laughter already). Again, keep up with me on facebook and twitter for full enjoyment, as I’ll be posting a daily picture of my progress – and there’s going to be a fun surprise coming up in a couple of days.

More to come

So make sure to come back soon, as I’ll be posting more on each of these items during the offseason, as well as posts on this year’s activities. Writing these posts is certainly one activity that I will definitely do while waiting for the rivers to open up again.

Ready for Movember!
Ready for Movember!
  • […] us depending on how north you live. So what do we paddlers do to occupy ourselves? To continue our discussion on what to do while the water is frozen, I propose you go out and get involved with something to do […]

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