The Red Deer River, Alberta

The last week of July found us at a dude ranch right beside the Red Deer River for Alberta’s first Paddling Symposium. Hoskins Canoe hosted this 10 day event which had local instructors as well as a crew from the east: Dave Humphries, Paul Mason, Andrew, and yours truly. The Symposium comprised 5-day and 2-day Novice to Advanced technique courses for both tandem and solo.

The instructors never having been on the Red Deer were taken down by local advanced paddler, Ryan on an epic run on the Sunday covering the equivalent of 3 day trips. By the end of the day we realized a few things: first there are NO eddies big enough to stage practice drills on the river (well no, there were perhaps 3), second, this river is continuous as in, you swim, you better have good self rescue, and finally there are NO (I mean zero) flat water areas to fine tune paddle strokes. No lakes either. After some prodding, we found out that a local kayak club was using the fire water reserve pool in back of the town Home Hardware to play water polo. Yep. You got it. That was our flatwater area! It was great to teach the 2X4 as a technique to carve in and out of river features.

I had the opportunity to do a woman’s only course that was very successful. The course not only looked at honing skills, but also using the river to one’s advantage by focusing on efficiency. We also dealt with real vs. perceived risks and how to manage that mindset. Mornings would start with focusing on a mix of yoga style stretches and meditation. Near the end we had a few of the boys join in on the stretches as well!

Andrew and Paul taught an advanced skills course in their usual style of precision and playboating in the same course. Paul drew a collage that showed some interesting events that happened during the week. Evenings had us viewing the day’s videos and Paddle Pointers technical video clips.

A big thank-you to Hoskins Canoe and the crew for making this an amazing trip that I will not soon forget!

Check out this link for photos and video on the event!