Saturday, July 18, 2015

2015.03.262 - 2015 MEC Paddlefest Victoria

This morning, Louise and I headed down to Willows Beach for the 2015 iteration of the MEC Paddlefest Victoria. This year's event probably could not have taken place on a better day. With nearly constant sun and nearly no rain since April, today was another gorgeous day. Okay, I'm trying to put a nice face on it -- we're actually facing some extreme drought conditions and forest fire dangers in the province. It's going to be a long, hot summer. But things aren't bad enough that we can't put those thoughts aside for a while and enjoy today's event.

First, Louise and I wandered down to the Ocean River area where we bumped into Ben, and chatted with him for a while as we caught up with each other.

But of course the whole point of a paddlefest is to go paddling, so Louise and I took turns trying out the new Delta 17.
I enjoyed paddling this boat so much that I forgot to take a picture of it.

Then we bumped into our old pal Mark of Kayak Distribution, and spent a while catching up. We're starting to do more talking then paddling at these things.

Another successful paddling event!

Trip length: .10 km
YTD: 8.44 km
More pictures are here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

2015.02.261 - Canada Day Paddle

Louise and I went for our annual Canada Day Paddle on the Gorge. Every year, Gorge Road is closed for a mile-long block party.

We don't usually see much wild life on our Canada Day paddles -- most of it finds something better to do than hang around with a few thousand humans while they make music, eat food and play road hockey -- but we did see something fitting for this day: Canada geese.
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A quick paddle to the bridge and back and we were done. Time to get ready for the fireworks!
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Trip length: 3.39 km
YTD: 8.34 km
More pictures are here.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

2015.01.260 - Back In the Paddle Again

For a kayaking blog, Louise and I haven't done a lot of kayaking lately. In fact, we haven't been on the water since last July. And the fault is mine, or rather my right knee's. After stoically braving chronic pain and stiffness for some months (I call it "stoically braving" -- others may call it "living in denial"), I finally sought out medical advice. I could not fully extend my knee, nor could I fully bend it without extreme pain. Sometimes I could barely bend it at all. While some days I could walk on it fairly comfortably, on others I was reduced to dragging my leg behind me seemingly in a vain attempt to impersonate Charles Laughton. Paddling my kayak wasn't so bad, but it became quite a struggle to get in and out of my boat, never mind the travails of loading, unloading and carrying it around.
Last July, my knee finally reached its metaphorical breaking point, and clearly brave stoicism was not getting me very far. After an assessment with a physiotherapist, I was diagnosed with patella dislocation. Basically, this means that my kneecap was not resting correctly in the patellofemoral groove at the end of the thigh bone. While generally an injury that is the result of a sudden impact or twist, it can be the result of a chronic muscle imbalance, and that appears to have been the case for me. There had not been any sudden impacts on my knee, but there had been a slow decrease of function and increase in discomfort going back years. I first dismissed this as simply a sign of the aches and pains of an aging body, but now, after a few months of physio and more months of near normal function, it appears that I was mistaken.
The obvious question is what sent my knee down this road. Was there an incident that injured my knee just enough to create a minor injury that at first was an unnoticed inconvenience but without treatment developed into near-debilitating aggravation? Or is this the result of a long-untreated residual injury from my bike accident? Or just a chronic slight misalignment of parts that finally became unbearable?
That is an unanswerable question. But at least now I can walk around free of pain while I think about it.

So having been off the water for over seven months, this was really nothing more than let's-get-reacquainted-with-paddling paddle. Working out the kinks and seeing if everything still works. Where's my paddle? Did I remember my waterbottle? Where did I put my lucky kayaking underwear? Am I the only paddler who has lucky kayaking underwear?
One thing we suddenly remembered was that the last time we went out paddling, Louise blew out the knee seam of her neoprene pants. Clearly, that might have been an issue for a long day of paddling on the ocean, but not so much for our little jaunt in The Gorge. But Louise came up with a great idea -- she put a piece of duct tape on the inside of her neoprene covering the hole. Not a permanent solution, but it worked for today.

So we wheeled the kayaks down the hill and put in at The Gorge. Although quite mild for February, it was still a bit cool overall, but I was hoping the sun would be enough to keep us warm.

And we're on our way!

I took along a new piece of gear, a selfie stick. I was hoping to try and get something other than the same old kayaking camera angles. A bit of a work in progress, I think.

We headed under the Craigflower Bridge....
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...and into Portage Inlet.

Louise was starting to feel the brisk air. Fooled by the bright sun, she was wearing thin gloves instead of her Hot Shots paddling mitts and the cold was getting to her. We turned to head back as we weren't planning to stay out long anyway.
We saw a hawk fly by, but not much else. But as we began our turn around, I saw a heron in a tree. Then another. Then another....
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Twelve herons in all. Do we have a new heron rookery in Portage Inlet?
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We'll have to check it out next time we're out here. In the meantime, Louise needs some hot tea!
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Trip length: 4.95 km
YTD: 4.95 km
More pictures are here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

2014.06.259 - Canada Day on The Gorge

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A beautiful sunny morning greeted us as we rolled the kayaks down the hill, and it was only going to get better. Forecast to be the hottest day of the year so far, it's also Canada Day. So Happy 147th Birthday to us!

Every Canada Day, Gorge Road is closed for a mile-long block party. It starts with a parade.
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Ace Mascot, the mascot of the local Saanich police came by and surprisingly did not try to arrest me, but gave me a high-five before joining the parade.
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Paula joined Louise and I for our quick little jaunt up the Gorge.

And we're off!
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We weren't expecting to see much wildlife today, and we didn't. With all the hustle and bustle, we've come to expect that the wildlife in the area will go into hiding on Canada Day. But we did see a couple of swans enjoying the holiday.
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As we paddled down the Gorge...
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...we passed the beginning of the parade. Ace was still having a good time.
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After flying the flag...
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We checked out the classic chairs...
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...and the artisan booths.
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And we checked out the road hockey tournament. After all, what's more Canadian than hockey in July?
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Trip length: 3.81 km
YTD: 29.89 km
More pictures are here.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

2014.05.258 - The Great Experiment

Louise and I decided to head to the dark side today and try our hand at stand-up paddle boarding. It's something we've always wanted to try as The Gorge near where we live would be a great place to SUP. We could carry the boards down the hill easily and launch into its flat and calm waters.
We hooked up with Jason from Epic Surf Co. for a lesson.

We met early on this cloudy and drizzly morning at Gonzales Bay, a small but sheltered bay on the southern shore of Victoria.
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The first thing we liked about paddle boarding? These boards are light!
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But then the hard part began, getting on the board and standing up.
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It's not as easy as it looks. First you have to get on your knees, then try and move to your feet, then stand up. It sounds simple, but it takes some getting used to. And it didn't always go well.
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But finally, she's up!

Louise was really good at it, and really got the hang of it. Although she had a few falls, she was really good about getting back on the horse and trying again, and managed to stand up quite a few times and went for a couple of long paddles. I was able to get up on my knees, but really found myself having a hard time balancing on my feet. I did manage to stand up a few times, but I didn't stay up for long. :)
There's something about not being on solid ground that my feet don't like. I have the same feeling if I'm in skates or rollerblades -- my feet total rebel, they want to be on the ground, ground that preferably isn't moving. It's odd...while on the paddle board on my knees, I had no problems. (Although you can't edge really well on a paddle board. As I found out.)

Most of the time, my view was this:

But Louise was a whiz at it.
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Will we do it again? Not sure. No question we had fun, but I am not sure we were convinced enough to try it again. We'll sleep on it and see. And you will see it here, if we try it again.

Trip length: .5 km
YTD: 26.08 km
More pictures are here.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

2014.04.257 - Baby Hunt


A warm sunny morning greeted Louise and I as we rolled our kayaks down the hill for a paddle. The object of today's paddle was our annual pilgrimage up The Gorge to look for baby swans. There's two local swan couples, one in The Gorge that have lived there for a couple of years, and another couple in Portage Inlet that have been there for at least six or seven years. So be warned; there's possibly lots of cute feathered goodness ahead in this post.

First, we noticed a heron preening in the morning sun near our launch point.
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We kayaked by the first swan nest. Mom was sitting on the nest, and there was no sign of baby swans. Or dad for that matter. We'd thought we might have seen mom and some babies a few days ago from a distance when we were on a walk, but we really weren't sure. And with the the high grasses, mom could be hiding almost anything in there. But if she had any baby swans in there, we saw no sign of them today.
A few minutes later we spotted dad out for his Sunday morning walk, er, swim.
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Soon, we paddled by some geese and clearly they had had some luck on the baby front.
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Another heron was fishing for breakfast.

Then we headed for our first trip under the new Craigflower Bridge after its official opening a few weeks ago.
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This fancy new bridge replaces an 80 year-old bridge that looked like this:
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Going under the bridge moves you from The Gorge to Portage Inlet and we headed for the nest of the the other swan couple. But disappointingly, there was no sign of them. The beach area where they've nest for years looked undisturbed, so we wonder if they are still around. Perhaps they've moved on.
So, no swan babies. But as we looked in vain for them, we saw a pair of youngish looking herons.
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It was high noon, but low tide and we were getting stuck in the mud and silt botton of the Inlet. Time to head back.
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Trip length: 6.83 km
YTD: 25.58 km
More pictures are here.
2014-06-08 The Gorge