Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Romaine River Pre-Trip Updates: Snacks

Stockpiling has begun! There is an endless assortment of food
out there and we are hoarding them like squirrels!

A week ago Ben and I went over the food list. We have to cover 21 days of meals for 4 guys. This means approximately 21 breakfast, lunch, and suppers times 4, which equates to 252 portions of food/meals - otherwords, quite a bit! Anyhow, I won't get into the details of actual meals for breakfast and supper yet, as I'm going to address what we are doing for lunches specifically. As we are planning to be moving everyday, (we don't have any planned rest days - yet) we have opted to have "moving meals" for lunch - otherwords lunch is not going to be a stop/cook/feast ordeal. Rather we will eat on demand when necessary. This could mean eating more frequently or larger portions depending on need. So we have to have things we can quickly access, readily eat and keep moving. Its not always going to be like that, but from what we know of the route, there are going to be days when it will imminently happen. So quick and easy is the name of the game. Therefore we are counting on high calorie foods and snacks - namely bars, trail mixes, jerkies, sweets, cheese etc.

One of our favourite high-calorie snacks - there is almost 7lbs of
M&M's folks and I guarantee, not a
single one will be wasted!

Several days ago I went to Costco (great place for bulk items) and started racking up hundreds of dollars of the above mentioned stuff. Its always a good laugh when people look in your cart and wonder what the hell I'm doing. In actual fact, the fellow behind me actually began inquiring and mentioned that he used to canoe as well. Honestly, he didn't stop talking to me about our trip until we got out into the parking lot! He was really envious of our trip and wished us well! Anyhow we are probably not totally finished shopping yet, but here is a sampling of what we have so far:

68 Cliff bars - 4.896 kg
96 Granola Bars (assorted) - 4.064 kg
72 Fruit Leathers (don't want to get scurvy!) - 1.008 kg
M&M's (addictive) - 3.160 kg
Trail Mix (3 types) - 4.300 kg
Nuts (assorted - not us!) - 3.740 kg
Jerky (store bought) - 1.200 kg
Jerky (5 bags homemade) - ? kg
Sour Keys (don't ask) - 2.510 kg
Chocolate - 0.800 kg
Wasabi Peas (to clear our sinuses) - 0.900 kg
Cheese - 2 kg approx
5-6 big sausages (I could comment but I'll refrain) - ? kg

Why Sour Keys? - just because we love them. The are as addictive
as M&M's and they help to crave our sweet tooth!
My brother is responsible for this!

If you have been tallying up the total weight, it comes to approx 28.5 kg or 63 odd pounds of "lunch" food. And I'm positive, that number will somehow edge higher when our group reassesses the mounting pile of food and add to it. Its a good combination of salty and sweet, fatty and not to help satisfy our cravings. This not to say that if we caught fish, we won't have a shore lunch to supplement our meals, but we will pack as if we are totally dependent on what we take. Anything extra is a bonus. And believe you me, I'm positive our bodies will not be adverse to more calories when the opportunity presents itself! (Here fishy, fishy! or That cute bunny would look great in a stew!)

Now if you paddle hard and behave, you will get chocolate,
if not, you get Wasabi Peas!!!

By the way, some people are calorie crunchers and list to the exact number how many each person should have. I've never done that, nor does our group. To make it easier, we figure for certain how much we eat for a short period of time (eg. 4 days, a week) and then multiply that by the total days. We then add 10-15% extra to be on the safe side. More food is definitely better than less. We will regularly assess our food pile (documented for better tracking) and ensure we are ahead of the curve.

Caught red-handed!!! "Really guys, I was just doing quality
control! I was doing it for the group!"

Anyhow if anyone has any other suggestions, please email me. We are always open to new ideas (or offerings!). Now if I can only stop munching on these snacks! Be in touch soon with another update!


Monday, June 29, 2009

Isabelle - My Future To Be, Paddling Partner

Born Isabelle Jee-Hae Lee April 21st of 2009

This is an overdue post that should have been blogged a while ago. I guess it’s a case of better late then never.

I wrote many weeks back about the imminent arrival of a new paddler: http://passionatepaddler.blogspot.com/2009/04/imminent-arrival-of-new-paddler.html

Well a lot of time has passed since then and I wanted to give everyone an update. Most of you already know being parents, and some like me that have no clue, pregnancy is an exciting time filled with all kinds of emotions. For a while I was devoid of all the hoopla, but as the date of delivery approached and I spent some time with the expectant parents, it really started to hit me. So of course when I got a text message the morning of April 21 from my brother that Kerry was having contractions, I was excited, nervous, happy, and worried all at the same time! (I know, what a sap!, and I’m not even the dad!)

The proud mom posing with Isabelle. Check out
how much hair she's got!!!
Photo: James Lee

So after many anxious hours, 8hrs to be precise, Kerry finally delivered a precious girl named Isabelle. (apparently 5 hrs of contractions and 3 hrs of delivery - heck, I didn't even know there was a difference!?) She was a total of 7lbs 7ounces - a healthy size and weight I was told - I guess kind of like a nice sized speckled trout! Of course I wanted to head over right away, but I was TOLD to come after everything was settled and done. (sheesh!) So when I finally got the green light, our family immediately headed to the hospital with flowers and cameras in tow.

Feeding Isabelle for the first time! - that was the easy part.
Not so much the burping, she didn't like that.
Photo: James Lee

"Did Uncle D feed you enough?" - I think
its pretty self explanatory!
Photo: James Lee

Seeing tiny little Isabelle for the first time was so amazing. So was so cute and adorable we all fell in love with her. First off, let me clear something up about my use of the term "cute". Babies that are just delivered are not cute, period. Their head’s (and body) were just squeezed through a very small and physically almost impossible hole to emerge in our world. I’ve always liken these newborns to those (in my opinion) ugly and scary looking Cabbage Patch Dolls. Remember them? Anyhow, I will for certain say that babies are cute “packages” being so small and all, but cute face, ummmmm not yet. Once they've had time to fill out and look "normal", do they look cute. (some like me, never got to that stage!)

After the feeding (hard work!) I crashed with Isabelle
(talk about a responsible uncle!)
Photo: James Lee

Getting her off to a good start! And you think
I'm the irresponsible one!?
Photo: James Lee

Well fast forward a couple months and Isabelle is now 9 weeks old (I was corrected when I said she was 2 months old, - is there a different lingo for babies?!!) Anyhow, I absolutely adore my niece. I try and make it a habit to visit whenever I can and selfishly hoard her to myself for the duration of my stay there. Of course I hand her off at appropriate times (you know what I'm talking about) but the parents have been resistant to my attempts. Liken to learning how to swim for the first time and being thrown in the water, I've already had to feed her, burp her, try to soothe her when she cries, and even change her diapers! Talk about a crash course! The last time I was there, they wouldn't even come to help me change her!, yelling directions from downstairs! (if Isabelle wasn't so adorable!) So understandably the subject of baby-sitting has already came up. (do I in any shape or form look like I'm capable of looking after a baby?!!) Anyhow, time will tell. I do love spending time with her and I can guarantee once I get the okay, I'll be taking her on a canoe trip! That's my specialty!!

David: "Isabelle, do you want to go on a canoe trip?"
She says she'll think about it!

Congrats James and Kerry to a beautiful and precious little girl!

She's an adorable little munchkin!
Photo: James Lee


Monday, June 22, 2009

The Romaine River - Planning for the Big One

Thinking of better times and looking forward to
paddling again!
Photo: Dimitry Sapon

This year has been quite a ride so far in my life - the analogy being similar to paddling a canoe in the huge swells of Lake Superior. Every so often I disappear for a while and then re-emerge back ready for more. Yes, it was the multiple injuries this year when I was in the dumps, or should I say “troughs”, but now I’m riding the wave back out and there is no turning back! My shoulder isn’t 100% yet, but I’m almost there. I’ve been doing lots of resistance exercises/stretching and due to my rapid progress my physiotherapist has given me the green light for paddling again. Thus I now have my eyes clearly set and focused on a big 3 week expedition in mid-July.

Meeting up early in the year to discuss the trip

Some of you already know that our initial plan was to paddle the Mountain River in the Northwest Territories. However, we found trying to secure seats to Norman Wells with both Air Mile/Aeroplan points was extremely challenging. After many frustrating attempts and calls, we finally gave up and looked for an equally exciting trip without the hassles of commercial flight. After many rivers and routes were suggested and deliberated, we came to the agreement on one river -the mighty Romaine River in northeast Quebec.

The Romaine River is a wild and untamed river which flows from Labrador all the to way south to the St Lawrence River. There is many unparalleled superlatives that define this river route, such as sheer neck-craning canyons, thundering waterfalls, eskers criss-crossed by Caribou, and endless rapids to be run (and portaged around too!). But the single greatest reason that cemented our decision to go there was the fact that the river is on the verge of being damned for hydroelectric power. This is not a new concept by the power and money hungry Hydro-Quebec, as they have been well known to destroy and alter the life force of many of their native rivers. Therefore we thought it fitting to capture, experience and paddle this world-class river before the 4 dams ultimately change it forever.

Trying to agree on details can sometimes be
difficult. We have simple solutions!
Photo: Imroze Albert

Many have expressed interest in the trip from planning, logistics, and execution so I will try to regularly update the blog with relevant information as it comes available. It’s the biggest and longest trip for all of us thus far, so we are all both nervous and excited, but undaunted by the challenges. Lots of time was spent in discussion and planning this trip and it is slowly coming to fruition, so join us in the preparations for this trip of a lifetime!

Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Post 2009 MEC Paddlefest Update

Colourful tents and banners lined the main boardwalk as....

...endless types of watercraft lined the shore.

MEC's 2009 Paddlefest was a big resounding success with over 800 people attending the event! Of course that doesn't include all the people passing through the venue at Sunnyside Park as it is a popular weekend destination. The weather of course plays a big part, but thankfully other than some overcast skies on Sat morning, the weather was beautiful and the place was filled with lots of sun-worshippers and paddlers!

Paddle boards - the new fad in the paddling world.

There was no shortage of photographers shooting at the event.
Norman Javier working a big telephoto lens.

Ontario Parks Dave Sproule discussing paddling
routes with a new paddler.

The great thing about the event was that it catered to such a diverse group of new and experienced paddlers. The gamut of paddlers ranged from curious little tikes, new immigrants, Big Sisters and even a young (very) fit team of Asian dragon boaters. Its at events like this that I'm really thrilled to see so many people's keen interest in paddling sports. Especially more so this year since I had the opportunity to teach two land and water courses. Its hard to explain the sense of joy I get when I've helped people paddle or provided valuable information and to see them smile with acknowledgement or offer their sincere thanks.

Teaching the Canoe Routes course - it actually looks like
I know what I'm doing!!
Photo: Kas Stone

It was rewarding to provide relevant route info as well as
share some of my experiences
Photo: Norman Javier

Of course what else would I be doing if I wasn't paddling?!!
Photo: Norman Javier

MEC had multitude of courses that people could sign up for, but many were filled when registration was opened weeks ago, but it certainly didn't mean people couldn't get on the water if they weren't signed up. The Complete Paddler booth (where I also helped out at) provided dozens of boats - various types of kayaks, canoes and paddle boards for the general public to demo. Since it was free, the response was amazing from all the participants and people passing through. It was busy and hectic at times, but ultimately it was lots of fun seeing them off on the water. If you didn't make it out this year, make sure to attend next year! The combination of cheap courses, lots of expert instruction, and so much great demos and information makes it a weekend outing that shouldn't be missed!

The Complete Paddler crew: Costaine, Sara, Kelly & Amanda
Photo: Norman Javier

First off, don't mess with Sara in the morning, and when
she has 2 paddles in her hands! I can already
feel the heat!

Amanda suiting up a young paddler

Costaine getting ready to launch the unsuspecting paddler
into space,..er, the lake!

Kelly teaching a kayak self-rescue course

Kudos to Liz and Marc for all their hard work for organizing the Toronto MEC Paddlefest. Also a big thanks to the sponsors/organizations that provided prizes to my Canoe Routes course - Kelly McDowell from The Complete Paddler, Mark Smith from Chrismar Maps, Dave Sproule from Ontario Parks, Jim Stevens from Eureka and Kevin Callan. And one last thanks to my co-instructors, Sharon from MEC Burlington and Molly from Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Center. I guarantee I'll be there next year! - see you all then!


Big Costaine hauling all the PFD's after the event.
I could always use someone like him
on portages!!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

MEC Paddlefest Jun 13-14 09

I had the pleasure of paddling with notable paddlers Becky
Mason and her husband Reid McLachlan at
the 2007 MEC Paddlefest

Greetings Everyone!

Its that time of year for the annual MEC Paddlefest in Toronto. This event now spans the country and is hosted by Mountain Equipment Co-Op in 8 different cities. It is a great event to promote paddling in the community and is open to paddlers of all skill levels. Of course I wouldn't be writing about a paddling event and not attend myself! (ok I admit, I missed a few due to tripping)

This year instead of just being a participant, I've been asked to instruct some courses so it won't be just free-wheeling for me. I invite everyone to come attend this event if you don't already have plans. (the weather is supposed to be hot and sunny!) Its an opportunity to not only participate in some water/land classes, but learn new things, make contacts and socialize with other like-minded people. There will be prominent paddlers around, tons of vendors displaying their goods as well as a bunch of prizes to be given out. How can you go wrong! (even I secured some prizes to hand out in my canoe routes course!) So come on out and take part!

Andy Baxter - Kevin Callan's paddling partner & sidekick
teaching the Canoe Routes course at the 2007
MEC Paddlefest - the pressure is on!

Here is the link to the actual Toronto MEC Paddlefest website if you would like more information: http://www.mec.ca/Main/content_text.jsp?bmLocale=en&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374302884675&bmUID=1244650860868
Hope to see you out there!

On a side note, just wanted to update everyone on my injury. Things have been going very well, just very slow. I'm out of the sling now and doing physio to stretch the ligaments/muscles (they stiffened up quite a bit) and strengthen the shoulder. Its painful but necessary to get me back into shape - my physiotherapist told me that I would hate her for this. First off, I can't because she is such a doll, and secondly because I told her to hurt me. (hmm, that doesn't sound too good, does it?) She followed through with my enthusiasm as the pain sometimes takes everything I have not to speak my mind! (*%#@! - "No really its fine, don't stop." @*%#!,..@#%$!!!)

I found another use for the green Theraband that I do my
resistance exercise with. (my physiotherapist
is going kill me!!)

With all the good progress I made, I decided to venture out this past weekend with a friend to paddle in the Kawarthas on a very easy route. Everyone was understandably reserved about my decision, but the good thing is the shoulder felt great and the paddling went very well! (just don't ask me about getting in the hammock!) I feel almost normal now! It still is a long and painful recovery but at least there is an end in sight. There is a big expedition in the near future that I have my eyes sent on. (I will write more about it soon) I've already missed many trips and I won't let this one get away! Its all about forward progress! (okay Jen, hurt me again!)


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Palmerfest May 14-15 2009

What would give away the fact that there was
some paddling event going on here?!

Palmerfest is a weekend of whitewater fun on the Madawaska river sponsored by Rapid Media. There is open canoe and kayak courses, live entertainment, food and drinks, a screening of paddling films, as well as exhibits and demos from various boat manufacturers, outfitters, and paddling organizations. Basically it boils down to one big whitewater paddling party, - I couldn't find any reason not to go! (other than the fact I always seem to find myself on canoe trips during this time of year) Well this time I was determined not to miss it and make sure I was there for the festivities, - and of course the paddling! So time was set aside, payments made and everything organized for the weekend, all I had to do was show up! Then the injury! (arghhhh!!)

The endless display of colour didn't end with boats -
it continued further on land with tents!

Plain and simple, people were at Paddlefest for the
whitewater! Okay,....to party too!

Of course I couldn't paddle. It was a no brainer. The injury was extensive - dislocation, fracture and torn rotator cuff. (no, it couldn't just be one, could it?!) Initially for the sake of my partner, I quickly gave up my spot so that he could find a replacement, - which he did, thank goodness. However, I really didn't want to stay home the long weekend. I was actually getting sick of being home due to the injury. So I spoke to Kelly at The Complete Paddler and wondered if they needed any help as they have a booth at Palmerfest. Initially they were fine, but a last minute drop-out paved the way for me to not only help them out, but attend the event as well! (finally some good news!)

Rob, Ben, Dimitry and Zeb ready to tackle some whitewater

The folks with The Complete Paddler: Steph,
Christa, Kelly and Deliah

When we arrived Friday night and saw endless cars lining the road, a plethora of colourful boats and tent city, I was all fired up. I was like a kid in a candy store! Despite knowing that I couldn't paddle, I still was excited! Once we finished unloading, the guys barely found enough space to pitch their tent. I lucked out bringing the Eureka Chrysalis, which is the hammock shelter I spoke about in an earlier post. It fit perfectly between two trees where no one would consider pitching a tent. (I'm already appreciating it!) We then walked around making ourselves familiar with the place. We could already sense the mood of the weekend when we were offered a beer at the Complete Paddlers tent, then a Margarita at the Level Six tent (more on this later) - thank goodness I came!!!

It literally was a sea of tents! Reminiscent
of Woodstock?

The next morning we were greeted with rain, which made it hard to get out of our warm sleeping bags. As well as falling asleep fairly late due to all the restless paddlers staying up till the wee hours of the morning. (trust me, if you can't sleep with noise, this place is not for you!) Rain continued unabated while we had breakfast under the tarp and the general mood to paddle was understandably subdued as it was also fairly chilly. But given the choice, I would much rather paddle then watch paddlers. So the boys donned their cold gear and bravely marched on.

A stampede of boats and paddlers came to the
waterfront at the start of the courses.
Get out of the way!

I spent the day under the Complete Paddler tent helping to sell lots of neoprene gloves, as many paddlers didn't think it would be this cold. Judging by the pool that was noticeably getting larger infront of the tent, it was actually nice to be warm and dry watching chilled paddlers slosh by. (maybe it wasn't so bad not paddling this weekend?) It was also a nice opportunity to meet other vendors, exhibitors, and paddlers during the lulls while the courses were going on. I also helped out later on when The Complete Paddler and Level Six hosted a contest to give away tons of prizes including a sweet new Salus Whitewater PFD called the Jazz. The idea was to toss a throwbag into a nearly erect kayak and to lodge it on the seat, - it was not easy, nor was dodging the errant throwbags aimed my way!

Oh yes, the Eureka Chrysalis hammock - the most comfortable
sleep I've ever had in a shelter, period!

Later in the afternoon the rain stopped and the sun actually appeared. It set the stage for the rest of the evening as we enjoyed a delicious catered supper while a live band was hammering out tunes. Once the taps started flowing and the coolers were opened, a boisterous party ensued. I find paddlers in general to be happy people - throw in drinks and good music it just takes it up a notch. (or two!) Such as Matt from Level Six who had rigged up a bike to power a blender to make Margarita's! The only thing was someone had to peddle the bike to mix the drink and crush the ice. Not that there was a lack of volunteers - especially when it included a free drink! Let me tell you, not only was the set-up ingenious, the drinks tasted great. (somehow I kept finding myself around that tent?!) It was awesome to see everyone socializing and having a good time. Its exactly what I expected and was thankful to Kelly to have me here rather than at home!

Steve, another Complete Paddler staffer showing
off some moves in his C1

He looks way too comfortable!

The next morning was freezing. It may have dipped below zero as people noted some snowflakes in the early morning. Probably a good thing, - people needed a shock to get awake. (I barely got 4 hours!) However, the cold was enough to convince many to pack it up for the weekend including a few in our group. I don't blame them. A cold dry suit is one thing, getting into a practically frozen wetsuit is another! Kudos to Ben, - he was literally in tears getting into his! Time was spent in the afternoon taking some action shots of people running the rapid at Jessop's (while salivating) and then heading back to camp to pack up with everyone else. The weekend may have been bittersweet not being able to paddle but I left with only good memories. I met some amazing people and even made some new friends, besides having a great time. This was enough for me to guarantee I will definitely be back next year! Hopefully to paddle!!!

Ben and Dimitry tackling the run at Jessop's rapid

Its all smiles folks!!!
(Usually! lol!)