Holy S**T!!! Why didn’t I start tuning my skis sooner?

Wow.

I just put a fresh coat of wax on my skis and redid the edges.

I feel born again!

More to come tomorrow!

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National Paddling Film Festival Roadshow

Yeah, I realize I haven’t posted in ages. I didn’t follow through on some of my travel plans for fall 2008 and I’ve been busy skiing otherwise. I may start dropping skiing posts here since we’re having such a great winter and so many great days on our local hill.

The other item I want to mention in this post is the National Paddling Film Festival Roadshow. I was checking out the local events calendar and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it will be playing down the street from me this February 5th.

I’m definitely planning on going, and I’d recommend that all avid paddlers check to see if this film festival is coming to their neighborhood!

More info is available here:
National Paddling Film Festival Roadshow in Rochester
National Paddling Film Festival Roadshow

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Weekend Outing: Burnham Point State Park, NY 8/15 to 8/17/08

This will be my second outing in the month of August 2008, and it should be interesting. I am planning to camp on the shores of the St. Lawrence Seaway at Burnham Point State Park. This is a little bit downstream from Long Point State Park.

This is the route I have planned:

burnhampt.png

Overall this should be a nice 9.5 mile outing for an afternoon. It offers the option of heading upstream to Cape Vincent to hang out for a bit if I get an early start.

Once again I’ve planned this route so the outgoing leg is to the west against the wind and current and the return leg follows an easterly course to the campground.

It’s tough to see on the posted graphic, but I shouldn’t have a problem with any lakers. If I keep close to the southern shore the water should be too shallow for their draft. I figure any lakers I see should be at least 1/2 to 1 mile north of my planned route.

Burnham Point is also an interesting state park because the sites on shore do not have any vehicle access. Campers have to hike their gear in. This should be a good stepping stone to later camping adventures involving more strenuous hikes with gear or situations where I won’t have easy access to my car.

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Weekend Outing: Long Point State Park, NY 8/8 to 8/10/08

So this fine year 2008 hasn’t worked out quite the way I planned it, but things are still going pretty well. That said I present my next weekend outing up at Long Point State Park here in the 1000 Islands region of NY State:

longptny1.png

This route takes place within the sheltered waters of Chaumont Bay and it is about 9 miles in length. The first, upwind leg takes me west near the shore. The returning downwind leg brings me back east to my campsite.

The protected nature of Chaumont Bay should mean that I don’t have to worry about dealing with Lakers or their wakes! I’m also hoping it gives me some respite from the westerly winds that are typical of the Great Lakes region.

Hopefully the weather holds out for me!

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Trip Report: Little Traverse Bay, MI, 7/1/08

Sorry about the long period between posts. I’ve been busy starting my new position at work and on the road. Fortunately, I was able to get on the water a couple times while I was in Michigan.

My first outing on the water was between the beach at Petoskey State Park and the waterfront of Harbor Springs, MI. This route is seen in the plot below:

LittleTraverse.png

Note that this route does not show the return leg. This is because I lingered in front of Harbor Springs too long to make some adjustments to my cockpit coaming. This lack of movement caused my GPS to shut down, and I failed to notice. The roundtrip was about 8.2 miles in length and took about 3.5 hours.

Some of the notable points during this journey:

    Petoskey State Park to Harbor Springs, MI:

  • The initial northward leg wasn’t too tough
  • However, I did forget to don my paddle leash from the outset, d’oh!
  • Turning west I faced a breeze of about 5-10 kts. This would eventually strengthen to 15-20 kts as I reached Harbor Springs.
  • The Cooper did very well paddling into swells and waves I made at about 3 feet. The skin-on-frame design slithers over the waves easily.
  • Two waves in rapid succession were a challenge, but this would be true regardless of kayak type. The Cooper did fine when the second wave broke over the bow deck.
  • Thank goodness I was able to hop out near the public boat launch in Harbor Springs and resecure my cockpit coaming.
  • The return leg would prove much more interesting.
  • On the return leg the wind and waves originated from the SW
  • Again the Cooper did well in 15-20 kt winds and 3-4 foot swells.
  • The key to not capsizing in such conditions is rolling your hips into the oncoming swell. The lower center of gravity provided by the original seat is also of great help providing stability in these conditions.
  • Another simple, yet key modification, of the original Cooper seat is the addition of a Seal Line Discovery Kayak Seat Cushion. Let about 1/2 the air out and you have a massive improvement in seating comfort!
  • The leecocking of the Cooper did get a bit annoying. I really need to install my rudder one of these days.
  • If I had a track of the return leg it would show I cut across the “corner” present in the outgoing leg. I did this to shorten the period of time I was getting pounded by waves
  • Upon arriving at Petoskey I had to turn the Cooper so the bow was pointing W/SW, into the waves. Trying to ride the waves into the beach is a recipe for disaster.
  • I timed my exit from the boat almost perfectly, but the bottom was a foot deeper than I thought! Fortunately, I was able to get my other leg out of the boat and get away with a little hopping around using my paddle and the kayak for support.
  • After that I got washed up on the beach and I stowed my kayak near a Hobie Cat. The next morning I would find the cockpit full of wind-blown sand. ALWAYS turn your boat over if you’re going to leave it assembled overnight!
  • I celebrated my expedition with a delicious 1/2 lb. perch dinner straight from the Great Lakes and prepared by my friends at Scalawags. I washed this awesome grub down with a couple bottles of Bell’s Pale Ale.
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Paddlefest Day 3: Another Post Why the Folbot Cooper is Insanely Great!

I didn’t stay out too late on Friday, May 16th because I knew that I had a huge day of paddling ahead of me on Saturday, May 17th. I’ve already posted my planned route for the Fulton Chain Lakes, but in this recap I will post the route I actually paddled. Here it is:

fulton_chain.png

This route took me from the beginning of First Lake in Old Forge all the way up to Third Lake, about two-thirds of the way to Inlet, NY. The total distance for this paddle was just under 10 miles, and the total time on water was 3.5 hours.

Some high and lowlights of this outing:

  • Once again, I can’t stress how awesome the FoxWorx Vixen feels in the hand! No blisters and only modest chapping!
  • The Folbot Cooper is an incredible boat! I was easily able to cruise at 3.5 to 4 mph for the bulk of my 3.5 hour journey
  • The river to First Lake is pretty calm and sheltered, but there are some random rocks sitting in the channel.
  • Crossing the open waters of First Lake to the northern channel by DeCamps Island was pretty uneventful except for the jet skier that fired up when I was halfway there.
  • Second Lake is nice, much less built up than First Lake. I was able to get some very nice shots of Bald and Sugarloaf Mountains immediately to the north.
  • I made it into and around the southern end of Third Lake. There is some pretty troubling treefall in this area. Folding kayakers need to be really careful in this spot.
  • I thought about going farther up Third Lake, but some weather was rolling in so I thought I’d head back
  • I had to deal with some pretty nasty winds during my paddle from DeCamps Island and past Dog Island. Made pretty good headway in the Cooper though.
  • Dog Island is more like a sandpile rising from the depths.
  • More wind picked up as I paddled north and turned west to head back to Old Forge.
  • Made it back to Old Forge just before the rain!

Overall the Cooper handled superbly during this outing. Almost 10 miles in 3.5 hours and the boat tracked true the whole time. I have to say that the improved fit of my new PFD and better hand feel of the Fox Worx paddle also contributed to the pleasurability of this outing.

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Paddlefest Day 2: Friday PM

So after the high end boat demo Friday morning at the 2008 Adirondack Paddlefest I decided to wander around the vendor area and see what was on offer.

I wasn’t specifically looking for stuff to buy, but I wound up making some key upgrades to my kayaking gear.

The first item of interest to me was a shorter, more comfortable PFD. I own an NRS Groove, and it has some shortcomings with regard to me and my boat.

The first issue I have with the Groove is how small it runs. I own a Large/XL Groove and I really, really have to let the straps out. If I don’t I feel like my chest is being crushed! Not a fun way to spend a long paddle.

In addition to being cramped on the inside the Groove is bulky in the chest area. I feel like I already have plenty of chest development, and I don’t need more bulk in that area. The Groove adds so much bulk that it nearly interferes with my paddle stroke. Again, not fun on a long paddle.

Finally, the Groove is a fairly lengthy PFD. This means that it extends to the small of my back. This is a problem because my kayak has a high rear deck and seat, and the PFDs extra bulk forces me into a somewhat cramped seating position. Again, not conducive to comfort on a long paddle!

Thankfully, my newfound pal Erica did an excellent job fitting me for my new PFD! She sized me up and immediately knew that the Astral V-Eight would suit my needs.

The Astral V-Eight is a much better fit. I wear a Small/Medium, which is my usual clothing size, and I don’t feel as though my ribs are being crushed. It also doesn’t add bulk to my chest, and this means less interference and a more comfortable paddle stroke for me.

The Astral V-Eight is also much, much shorter so it doesn’t interfere with the rear deck or seat back of my kayak. The V-Eight also has a nice ventilating mesh that covers my lower back and keeps me much, much cooler and more comfortable when I am on a long paddle.

The other key item I picked up that afternoon was a new paddle in a shorter 220 cm length. This paddle was a FoxWorx Vixen handmade in Bainbridge, NY by the Fox family!

The FoxWorx Vixen is a hybrid design that takes advantage of different material types for different portions of the paddle. The blades are fiberglass, so the swing inertia is kept low. The shaft is epoxy-coated basswood cedar, and it feels incredible in the hand! The shaft is also bent to ease the load on the paddler’s wrists. The ferrule is aluminum and allows the user to feather the blades right or left 60 degrees.

My particular paddle has a laminate layer that consists of a fabric print. The print is of Chinese dragons surrounded by red flames. The red flames match the hull color of my boat, and in Chinese mythology the dragon is considered a harbinger of good fortune and wisdom. This is a picture of my paddle’s blade:

Vixen_Blade.jpg

After all the boat and equipment demos I was pretty pooped. I crashed at my hotel for a bit, then I headed back out to Slickers for a late snack of excellent buffalo wings. Thanks to Tracy for getting my order in, even if it took !@$%@#$% forever to leave the kitchen.

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Paddlefest Day 2: Friday AM High-End Boat Demo

On the morning of Friday, May 16th at Adirondack Paddlefest the kayak company reps in attendance offered a high-end boat demo from 9 AM until noon. I scarfed down my excellent complementary continental breakfast from Riley’s Place at the Water’s Edge Inn and headed down to the Old Forge public beach around 10 AM.

I spent about 2 hours paddling some excellent composite boats made by Current Designs and Boréal Design.

I paddled three Current Designs touring kayaks, the Caribou, the Cypress, and the Solstice GTS.

All three of these boats were excellent in different respects. The Solstice GTS was 17’7″ and had a North American style hull design. The Cypress was a British style hull and measured about 16’9″. The Caribou was a Greenland style hull and measured 17’8″. The Caribou was probably the most efficient of the three boats, and it sliced through the water with ease. The Cypress was slightly less efficient that this, and the Solstice GTS was a little less efficient than the Cypress. The Solstice was probably the most stable of the three boats.

I really have to rave about the design of the Current Designs rudder footpegs in the Solstice GTS. Kudos to whoever came up with the idea to make the footpegs tilt to control the rudder. The major reason I tend to shy away from rudders in general is because I’m a huge fan of solid footpegs to maximize my power transfer to the boat. However, rudders are indispensable when facing strong currents and winds. Current Designs’ footpegs give you the best of both worlds with very little compromise! I also like the extra-wide rudder retaining jaw because I am one of those people who can never seem to get their rudder dead center before retracting it.

The Boréal Design boats that I paddled were also excellent. The first Boréal boat that I paddled was the Fjord. The Fjord is a good solid boat that would suit anyone trying to elevate their paddling skills or looking to go on a short overnight or weekend expedition.

The second Boréal boat I paddled was the Ellesmere. You can tell an incredible amount of work has been put into this hull design because it slices through the water in a truly supernatural manner. The secondary stability of this boat is also superb, and it definitely reminded me that I need to be integrating far more balance and core work into my fitness routines!!!

That’s about all for now. Time to go look at the retail area and play with my brand new Sigma wide-angle lens! Some lunch would also be excellent about now!

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Paddlefest: Day 1

I took May 15th and 16th off from work in anticipation of getting into Old Forge, NY early for the 2008 Adirondack Paddlefest.

I got a somewhat late start out of Rochester. I didn’t get on the road till about 5 PM, mainly because I wanted to workout and I am fairly lazy about packing. Haha. Thankfully rush hour to the east was manageable, and I was able to make good time blitzing down the NYS Thruway from Rochester to Utica. I rolled into Old Forge and arrived at The Waters Edge Inn around 8 PM.

So far my extremely nice room has been well worth it! Here is the view from my balcony:

old_forge_view.jpg

I managed to score an excellent burger for a late dinner down the street at Slicker’s Tavern. Nice place, excellent service. I will probably manage to make my way back there at least once more before Paddlefest is over.

Slicker’s was full of factory reps and the owner of Mountainman Outdoors who pulls this whole show together. I managed to make contact with the gents from Boreal Design and a few others. Should be a good start to the weekend!!!

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Paddlefest: Fulton Chain Lake Route I

Hello all! I know it’s been too long since my last posting, but I have returned with yet another planned outing for this fine year of 2008.

A few prior posts have described my plans to attend the annual Adirondack Paddlefest from May 15th to the 18th in Old Forge, NY. Tonight I pulled out my topo maps and decided to begin planning my routes for the portions of Paddlefest when I would be pursuing my own explorations.

My first planned route is an exploration of the first Fulton Chain Lake, shown in the plot below:

fulton_rte1.png

This route is a little over 5 miles long all said and done. It should be a nice, calm exploration on entirely flatwater.

That’s all for now, I know I’ve been away far too long, but grad school is finally over so I should be able to post more frequently in the future!

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