Want To Start Kayaking – Beginning to Kayak?


Beginning to kayak, or if you’re thinking about how to start kayaking?  Then there is some information you need to know before you try it and make decisions on if you like it or not from your first and only attempt.

What most newbie paddlers don’t know is there are many types of kayaks and the ease of paddling; ease of tipping over varies wildly depending on the model and type.  Some people will try kayaking once and decide they don’t like it because the kayak they used tipped over and they got wet, maybe got embarrassed at what is referred to as a “wet exit” in kayak talk.

One way to get introduced to the sport is to sign up for a kayak symposium event.  At these events well known certified instructors provide all levels of instruction.  This is kind of a “one stop shop” for someone new to the sport and wanting to quickly try it out and improve skills in a compressed time period.

There is usually a kayak demo event so you can tryout all kinds of different boats in the water.  All of the kayaks may look similar in the store showroom.  But it is sort of like buying a car; you have to drive it first before you know if the boat is right for you.

There are 4 kayaks in my garage and I’m starting to build a Greenland style Skin On Frame kayak in February.  My main kayak is a roto mold P & H Capella it is 22” wide and 16’7″ long, classified as a sea kayak. I consider it a very stable kayak and it does not roll unless you want it to. My friend has a Valley Nordcap it is 21” wide and 17’ long. I found the Nordcap at a demo to be much more unstable than my kayak. The hull design for the most part dictates the stability of the kayak. In a kayak small dimension changes make a big difference. These differences cannot be discovered until you are in the water with the boat.

So I recommend going to a demo in the water prior to jumping in and buying a kayak. Many kayak stores run demos as well, the beauty of a kayak symposium is that you get the demo and instruction all in one spot, immersed in a place with lots of experienced paddlers. Go online and search for kayak symposiums in your area and sign-up soon before they fill-up when the nice weather returns.

I do most of my paddling on the Huron River chain of lakes in Southeast Michigan. I live on the chain so it is easy access for me. I will be heading to Northern Michigan this summer for several kayak symposiums where I hope to improve my skills. I’m already signed up for the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium in Grand Marais Michigan (I was the first to sign up).

When getting in a kayak to try paddling even a demo, remember to wear a Personal Floatation Device (PFD).  All experienced kayakers wear them and you should too.  Paddle safe and enjoy kayaking, it is good fun exercise.

What are you going to do when winter ends?

A Downhill Cross Country Ski Run From The Summit Of Peach Mountain


Out getting some winter exercise cross country skiing, normally a very fast run, this one was slowed significantly by the fresh snow and the high 20’s temps.  This was the final hill going back from several hours of skiing at Peach Mountain.  Barely hit all the trails, there are so many, I would have to spend the day skiing to hit all the trails.  Some of the hills are very steep both going up and down the tail.  It is a very good workout.  Peach Mountain has the Huron River on one side at the base, overlooks Portage Lake and Little Portage Lake.  The Huron River chain is great for kayaking in the warmer months. I was using back country Rossignol Skis, which have a metal edge, are shorter and a little wider than normal cross country skis. I found the skis on sale online at REI.

Winter Exercise

Pool Antics With Kayaks


Open pool session at the Brighton High School on Sunday for some skills tune up and fooling around by some of the more skilled.  For some it was a good time to practice rolls (called Eskimo rolls to some) and work on learning to roll.  We played water polo or football depending on what you want to call it.  Three kayaks per side no paddles and no rules were mentioned other than getting the ball to the goal – hitting a bench on each side.  Lots of wet exits occurred, most were chap shots.  It’s harder than it sounds to move around the kayaks with just your hands and long sea kayaks in a small area.

We had kayaks full of water bobbing in the water, paddling without kayaks.  It was 12 degrees outside and warm an summery inside.  People still wondered what we were doing in the parking lot with kayaks.  There was a wrestling match going on down the hall in the gym and the windows into the pool provided entertainment for passersby.

Other pool sessions there are kayak classes put on by Expanding Horizons Kayaking

I Can’t Start Kayaking – Cross Country Ski Instead For Exercise


Had a great time getting exercise and cross country skiing with fresh snow and warmer temperatures.  I saw a large hawk, a pileated wood pecker (they are large and look like woody), and three white tailed deer.  So a good day for wild life viewing.  The snow kept the speed down going down some of my favorite hills.  I only saw two other skiers out there, but I was not the first on all the hills. Went I got home cleared the driveway of snow and loaded my kayak on my car for some kayak rolling practice at the pool tomorrow.

Peach Mountain is owned by the University Of Michigan and does not allow any machines, perfect for hiking and cross country skiing.

Winter Cold With Exercise Scam


Well it is not a scam that you can lose weight in the winter, and if you chose your activities it could actually be fun to be active and burning calories.  Some people think the only way to lose weight during the cold winter months is with a special diet where you do something extreme in your diet.  This to me is a scam that you need to spend money to be on a special weight loss program, buying special food or having to get the book or video.

In the warmer weather I kayak several times a week and bike as often as I can. The dogs get long dog walks with the next lake over as the destination for midpoint watering, there are roller blade tails nearby at Hudson Mills Metro Park for a Saturday or Sunday morning skate. Now the lake is frozen, only a couple kayak paddles will take place down the Huron River in sections that are not frozen, biking and roller blades just don’t work well in the cold, not to mention the snow. I will see die hard bikers out there but the wind chill on the face I find not fun. So what happens to most people’s weight during the winter?

It is now January and post two to three big food consumption holidays. So most people were adding a few pounds at each holiday if they have not kept up their physical activity. This happens when we stay inside watch more stuff on TV while stuffing our faces. The present is the time to do something about this and not wait till your clothes don’t fit or wait till the spring time when the job of reduction is a bigger task. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist or have a PHD in nutrition (I am neither) to figure out the simple equation of input versus output. If there is more input of food and less output of exercise then what’s not used is stored. This storage accumulates around your middle.

According to James O. Hill who is a PHD (of Medicine at the University of Colorado), most of us gain weight by eating only 100 to 200 hundred extra calories a day. More than two thirds of all adults in the US are overweight or obese. Why do I care and why am I writing about it? Well there are negative health effects from being overweight and that drives up the cost of my health insurance and my taxes. Not to mention it’s embarrassing to be from a country full of out of shape fat people. As we age it gets harder to lose weight since most people do less. For some getting older means to stop exercising and stop doing fun active activities. People forget how good it physically feels to carry around less weight.

People go on fancy diets which for many are difficult, they want you to give up all of something, sugar, bread, all carbs, or massive reductions in food. These are changes that for the majority of people, cannot maintain. Therefore the changes must be easy and easy to maintain. Simply change the equation, reduce food intake a little bit just a few hundred calories per day and get some more exercise. Find something you like to do that burns calories or find a new activity that you may have not considered.

Its winter so most activities that are fun and burn calories are going to be outside. I find working out at a health club inside boring and not fun exercise. Indoors there is volleyball and basketball, racquetball, hockey, and perhaps a few others, however these involve getting other people together and reserving court time. These may be fun and good activities but again are not easy to maintain by yourself. Find something that you can do yourself, preferably several times a week. For winter sports that burn calories there are many activities such as cross country skiing (one of my favorites), there is hiking, there is snow shoeing. None of these take a lot of skill, and are not that expensive to get into if you don’t have equipment. For hiking all that is required is good boots and the right clothes.

Ski In The Woods

Exercising In The Woods

Yes, it can be cold outside, but with the right activity and the right winter clothes, being outdoors in the winter can be very enjoyable. Technology has brought warmer lighter clothes to better enjoy being out in the cold. The secret to staying warm is not to overdress when you’re going to have vigorous activity in the cold, if you are just a little bit cold starting out, that’s a good sign. The other secret is layering with the correct base layer usually made of polypropylene so that sweat wicks away from your skin to keep you warm. Dry clothes are warmer than wet clothes. If you’re unsure of the proper clothes go to an outdoors store and ask for assistance. I have found the sales staff at REI to be knowledgeable as one source example, there are many others. Find a store that has expertise on staff. This is not likely at big box stores. Research on the internet is another good way to learn about outdoor gear.

Another way to stay warm in winter when exercising is stay out of wide open areas if there is wind. Go hiking, cross country skiing, hiking, or snow shoeing in the woods. The winter wind does not get into the woods as much. The woods can be very serene and beautiful under a blanket of snow; a side benefit of getting exercise in the woods is that it can be an attitude adjustment. On a calm sunny day being in the open can be enjoyable and warm – soaking up the sunshine, getting your winter vitamin D.

The experts say not to weigh yourself every day, however for me if I see the pounds go up and stay up on the scale for a few days, then I know that I either need to reduce my intake a little or get some more exercise. It does take self-control to reduce intake but it does not take much, remember just the 100 to 200 calories per day. If your clothes are too tight and you need the next size up. Hello, you are eating too much; don’t buy the next size up, do something about it. If you’re already overweight start changing the equation, it does not have to be drastic just consistent. The easiest way to lose weight is to find fun things to do that don’t feel like exercise, don’t make the food reduction hard but be conscious of reducing the calories. Do it for yourself, do it for your health, and do it to keep your health care costs and taxes down. Most of all, get off the couch and do something fun and active.

The Recession Is Over!


This blog is a little of a departure from my normal ramblings, perhaps just thinking about the year ahead and the year behind.  I’m promoting that the recession is over in 2011, maybe that will catch on.  If the news media will report it’s over then it will be over.

If you are like most people, you spent a lot of time preparing for one day called Christmas, spent lots of money, eat lots of food and perhaps lots of drink also.  I’m not addressing the other non Christian faiths as I don’t know enough about them to comment.  The fun times are now over, all the good cheer is disappearing and normal life retuning.  Everyone is back in their routine after the holiday whatever routine that is.

I’m back to a technical job that pays the bills but does not offer much future for me since I’m not politically correct and I find the work unfulfilling and not much fun.  The work is the same just another year and another model year for the product.  I’m not complaining mind you, at least not much.  I do have a job, and it pays well, more I know than most people can say.

I have a good friend (at least I consider him a good friend) retired early from corporate, now works from home with his first and only wife making guinea pig cages.  Does not make a ton of money doing it, but he does not even know what day of the week it is, does not have to fight traffic everyday and gets to choose who to be around everyday.  He also was not always politically correct, tells it bluntly like it is, which for most people they just don’t know how to respond to all that honesty.  The truth is not always pretty.  Technically he was always much brighter than me, but most companies don’t know how to channel talented people.  They want everyone to follow the rules and all be the same.

So I blog about kayaks, network, and hang out with cool energetic people who want to build their own business.  Maybe someday I will learn the secret to replacing my day job income with an online stay at home business.  I do know some smart people who this dream is a reality, maybe it will rub off.  At least the dream is there and it keeps me going.  If nothing else it keeps me from being in front of the TV every night.

I have lots of activities planned for January, some kayak rolling practice in the pool, starting to build my own kayak with a group of great kayak people which will take lots of time for the next 3 months.  Trying to build an online business at least so it makes some profit.  I’m thinking about getting involved with a biking group as well to get me out of the kayak and onto the bike seat more often.  The first bike meeting is this month.  If the snow returns I also want to do a regular routine of cross country skiing.  There are only so many days in a month and January is getting busy, going fast.  Who says the winters are long in Michigan?

Bottom line is I have a lot to do and try to get as much fun and exercise in as I can.  I feel best with exercise and it has got to help me stay healthy.  I am happiest when outdoors doing some activity.

Huron River Paddle

Winter Paddle

Solo Skate Around The Lake


Yesterday it was 45 degrees and sunny, snow melted and water on the lake, then the temp dropped and today it’s 25 snow flurries and the ice is good enough to skate on.  So for the first time since November I was able to to go around the lake, not in a kayak but on two blades.  Managed to skate around the whole lake without falling or falling though the ice.  Except for where there are springs, and rivers the ice is about six inches thick.  Ice fishermen were back out after removed their huts yesterday during the melt and before the freeze.

The ice is very clear and does not appear to be as thick as it really is, except for the cracks that show the thickness -would have been a little scary to skate in the deep parts out on the lake alone.  I did have the company of geese and swans at the Hell Creek river outlet.  I enjoyed the exercise and being outdoors.

I was the first in 2011 to skate around the lake and may be the last if the snows come before next weekend.  You have to take advantage of the conditions that nature presents.  I used some new video editing software, let me know if it it looks better than the other videos.  Please leave a comment.

Huron River Frozen Paddle 12/28/10


We started out meeting at 11 AM at Hudson Mills Metro Park, I live the closest to the Park and was the last one in the group there.  I think I was the only one in the group that went to the office to pay for entry to be legal.  2011 yearly sticker was already valid and I visit the park often year round, mostly in the summer using the 6 mile paved loop trail to roller blade.

We had the parking lot and kayak launch site to ourselves, in fact we saw no other boats on the river.  Five hardy kayakers, 4 guys and a gal were there to do the river from Hudson Mills to Zeeb Road estimating a 2+ hour paddle.  We left one vehicle at Hudson Mills and spotted the rest of the vehicles at Zeeb.  Return car trip back to the launch site courtesy of our self appointed photographer Bill who did not paddle.

Traveling down Huron River Drive by car we did not spot any frozen sections of the river.  South of Zeeb we knew it was frozen in the wider section of the river South of that point.  There was a concern at the Rail Road bridge as the side normally paddled on was frozen, the open side looked like it had a drop off.

Launching was fun sliding down the snow covered hill into the river.  The current was a bit strong there just after the rapids South of the Territorial Road bridge and where the Mill used to be.  Once we were all in the water we headed down the river, the current was enough to move us at a good pace with a very light paddle.  The river had lots of ice sculptures from when the level was higher.  The temperature starting out was 26 degrees going to a predicted high of 30.  We were all quite comfortable, two people had dry suits, everyone had on the appropriate gear for a cold paddle if we stayed out of the water.

We spotted lots of wild life: hikers in the park looking at us like we were nuts, geese, an eagle, an osprey, muskrats, and blue birds.  No deer were spotted.

We came around a bend an hour and 15 minutes into the paddle and found a frozen over river.  This was almost to the cider mill in Dexter and a section we could not see from the road.  We all knew the river was open again just around the next bend.  A couple kayaks tried to break the ice without much luck.  There was private property on one side and was densely wooded on the other side of the river.  So a portage around the ice was not a sure thing.

Decision was made to turn around and paddle up the river.  For this kind of effort we were all over dressed, in no time we were over heating inside our outer shells, the hats came off and we really got our exercise.  The current was the strongest at the launch point and the water shallow to get much of a bite with the paddle.  An hour and 45 minutes later we we back at the launch point.  The dry suits turned out needed as one person needed some assistance in the water to reach the take out point.  I was paddling in a couple places as hard as I could and was not making forward progress, the combination of the current and the shallow water was making it almost impossible.  I floated back a little, tried a different angle of attack, and at one point used my paddle as a pole to push me against the current.  There was no plan to paddle back up the river on this trip.

Well we all made it, all got into the one vehicle to go down to Zeeb to get the rest of our cars.  We shared hot chocolate on the ride (one person was thinking ahead).  We left all our kayaks unattended, as not many people have racks on their cars in the winter to do anything with the abandoned boats.  Back at the launch site we very quickly loaded the boats onto our vehicles, got out of our sweaty clothes and into dry ones.  It was now almost 3:30 PM.

Next stop was the Dexter Pub for some liquid refreshment (Two Hearted Ale and Guinness) along with some well earned burgers.  The Pub has some great food.  We were known as “table one” the crazy kayakers.  All the cars got a spot in front of the bar and it looked like a kayak convention.  Not a normal sight in winter on main street in Dexter.

Next time we are going to find someone with a small plane to go down the river before we do to find any frozen sections.

Frozen Huron River Winter Kayaking


Well a group of five crazy kayakers are getting together myself included to get their kayaks on the roofs of their vehicles, get out the winter gear, one member has a new dry suit he is anxious to try out in the elements.  Some people just don’t get enough of kayaking.  The challenge is to stay dry and keep the kayak head side up.  Precautions will be taken, like a second set of dry clothes and we do have the honor of having a certified kayak instructor in our group to coach us on being safe if we look like we are going to do something stupid.  I may add some video footage later after the run down the Huron, if the camera works in the cold.

For a warm-up the day before I’m going cross country skiing to get back into shape after the holiday eating and drinking.  This can be a great way to burn those winter calories as it is an active sport, gets your heart rate up and keeps you warm as toast on a cold winter day.  Where I ski there are hills so calories are burned on the way up, with the reward of a fun run down the hill.

Cross Country Ski In The Woods

Ski Trail Through The Woods

The rain is coming at the end of the week so I have to get my skiing in now.   For the past few years the snow gets messed up over the holiday break when I have the time off to use it.  Oh well, not much I can do about it and nobody wants to listen to me complain.

What do you do in the winter for exercise?

Ski Trail

Cross Country Track Going Up The Dense Hardwoods

Exteme Kayaking Or Is It A New Sport?


This video is over the top.  Somebody must have spent too much time in the Pub thinking this one up.