c/o Gary Mechanic
27947 N. Ash
Wauconda, IL 60084
Why a bear box and why so far from Chicago?
The Apostle Islands in Lake Superior are one of the premier sea kayaking destinations in the Midwest. They are heavily used by Chicago area kayakers.
The Apostle Islands are also the home of a population of bears. Stockton Island may have the highest concentration of black bears anywhere in the United States. Bears are good swimmers and access all of the islands.
Bears and kayakers have difficulty co-existing without bear boxes where food and other tasty treats can be stored securely. (See a hilarious and spot on discussion of the problem and the need for bear boxes on all the Apostle Islands here.
The National Park Service has had to bar access to some islands without bear boxes because of bear/human conflicts. These closures force more people on fewer islands, increasing the potential for human/bear conflicts on those islands. It is a vicious cycle that can be broken if there are bear boxes on each of the islands.
The bear box project is being coordinated with the National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation and the National Park Service.
On Sunday I ventured outdoors for my first paddle of 2008. (The UIC pool sessions don't count, although they are extremely helpful and fun.) I put in at Clark Park, paddled north, and returned, just like I've done many times before.
My first paddles of the year, however, always seem special and tend to follow a familiar pattern. I get a little nervous at the thought of putting in the open water once again, even if it is only a measly little river. Maybe when I lose that touch of fear I'll be in trouble, for then I will be more inclined to ignore the safety protocols.
As in past years, while loading my kayak on my car I learn to my dismay that my kayak has gained at least 10 pounds over the winter. Once I get on the water, I find out that winter seems to have transformed the river into a thick syrup that makes paddling much tougher than it was in the fall.
For the duration of my first paddle of the year I tend to have an extended existential conversation. Why am I slogging away at a sport in which I will never excel? Am I being a bad dad by spending so much time paddling or am I setting a good example by diligently pursuing what I like? Do I want to make the physical and mental commitment again this year to get into good enough paddling shape for extended paddles and open water crossings?
My existential agitator never stops hurling questions and doubts, but somehow the paddling takes over. The paddle starts to feel good in my hands. All of a sudden a rhythm develops and the boat seems to pick up speed. Torso rotation. Flex those hips. Feel the rough spots on the hands welcome the abrasion. Transfer the working muscles from shoulders and chest to the gut and back. Yes.
Then a huge icicle the size of a person that is hanging out of a pipe into the river catches my eye. From a distance and in the low angle of the sunlight it looked like one of those Virgin Mary statutes. I paddle over and whack it. The icicle starts to swing and then it crashes into the river. I get splashed and probably come into far more contact with this water than the health authorities would advise. Nonetheless, it was very satisfying to calve a Chicago-style iceberg and send it down the river.
I turn around and paddle back so I can reach the put-in by dark. The chill seems to leap out from under the bridges and the river banks as the sun sets. The existential agitator starts up again. Why didn't you learn how to tie knots over the winter like you promised? How dare you give up your Prijon Kodiak, the boat that has carried you safely and well for years, for one of those pretentious Explorers? Shouldn't you be at home drafting CASKA's statement for the Pollution Control Board in support of cleaning up the Chicago River rather than wasting your time paddling in this sh--?
I land and struggle up the icy slope with my kayak, cursing the Chicago River mud now smeared on my boat and gear. Three hours before melt water was running down this slope into the river. Now, that melt water has frozen, forcing me to walk slowly and with extreme care with a 60 pound boat on my shoulder and a bag full of gear on one arm.
Once back at the car I get the kayak on the rack and secured before my hands go numb. I do some stretches and look back at the river and the trees in the last light of the day. There is not a soul around. The granulated snow crunches under my feet. It is strangely quiet and I can hear the wind.
The scene and the simple animal pleasure from paddling and stretching quiets the existential agitator just long enough to me to decide-yes, it is worth the effort for another year of paddling.
"But think of the extra carbon you will be emitting driving to and from the launch sites," the existential agitator starts up again. Dang.
Lattof Y is hosting another series of beginner kayak lessons. The next 7-lesson series begins next Tuesday, March 4th and ends April 15th. Most attendees come a few minutes early to register on the night the sessions begin.
6:00: Doors Open
Free Paddling.net Calendar for the first 40 people!
6:15: GKC Paddling Instruction
Learn about what Geneva Kayak’s Instructional Courses have to offer for all levels of paddler, from the absolute beginner to the advanced paddler! We’ll focus on instruction for the recreational paddler, intent sea paddler and our new whitewater program.
6:30: Illinois Paddling Clubs Presentation
Come see where to paddle and who with in 2008! CASKA, IPC and more!
7:00: Geneva Kayak Adventure Paddling 2008 Slideshow
Magnificent pictures from the ’08 Baja Paddling Adventure and a look at our upcoming trips to Cumberland Island, Greece, Alaska, Door County, the Apostle Islands and Wales. Pictures and movies will be followed by a time for questions and answers.
7:30: Featured Presentation
Sam Crowley's Solo Circumnavigation of Ireland
This year we have the privilege of having one of our friends, Sam Crowley, giving a presentation on his three month long solo circumnavigation of Ireland! Sam's expedition covered approximately 1200 miles through currents, rough seas and high winds. Sam's presentation will highlight his paddling, experiences with the local culture, and visits to historical sites through wonderful photography and a relaxed style of presentation. Arrive early to be sure to get your seat, this one will be standing room only!
8:30: Raffle Prizes Drawn!*
Grand Prize - 1 Free Apostle Island Inn-Based Trip
Grand Prize - 1 Free WCK Symposium Registration
Raffle Prize - Werner Tybee Straight Shaft Paddle
Raffle Prize - Kokatat MsFit Tour PFD
Raffle Prize - Gordon Brown's - "Sea Kayak" book
8:45: All about the Symposium
Learn all about the courses, coaches, and fun social events going on at this year’s symposium.
* Must be present to enter and claim prizes
Enjoy sandwiches, hor’doeuvres, desserts, coffee and punch on us while you listen to speakers, check out the new boats and gear and interact with other paddlers!
All Kayaks, Canoes and Equipment are on sale during the month of March! Our sale prices on boats already meet pricing at impersonal expos like Canoecopia.
Customer Appreciation Night attendees will also receive a voucher for an extra discount during the month of March. Sale prices are extended to special orders, so if we don't have it, we’ll get it for you at our best prices of the season!
Check out the new boats from Valley, Sea Kayaking UK (including the new plastic Romany), Impex, and P&H (including the hottest boat on the market – the Cetus).
All marked down!
Light Touring & Recreational Kayaks
The best selling Wilderness Systems Tsunami series, Kestrel and the new Venture Easky 13 - all in stock and priced to sell!
We stock whitewater boats from Dagger and Wave Sport, and we special order from Pyranha.
We stock a range of canoes from Wenonah.
Performance, recreational and whitewater paddles are all in stock from Werner and Lendal.
We have what you need to get on the water! Sprayskirts, roof racks, books, videos, carts, safety equipment and more!
Note from CASKA: As a CASKA sponsor, Geneva Kayak offers current members 5% off kayaks and 10% off accessories when applicable. Ask about your discount while shopping!
The CASKA-sponsored CPR/First Aid training session on Saturday was a success. Robert Coleman, Steven Gross, Denise Poloyac, Jim Des Jardins, Ken Braband, Liz Wissner, Henry Nepomuceno, Sharon Broutzas, Tim Philosophos, Tom Heineman, Haris Subacus and I went through the eight hour course. As a result, we are all a bit better equipped to deal with medical emergencies. We also realize that there is much more to learn and practice before we are truly capable of dealing with such emergencies in a wilderness setting, where medical assistance may be hours or days away.
CASKA board member Tim Philosophos organized the training session with the help of CASKA webmaster Emily Kornak. Thanks to them both. CASKA chipped in about $150 to help subsidize the tuition.
We met at the comfortable Red Cross facility in the West Side Medical District. We got acquainted with each other and met the practice dummies with whom we would be sharing plenty of intimate moments in the hours ahead.
Joel Schilling was our very capable instructor. He is an "aquatics guy" who trains divers. He has paddled canoes but has no kayaking experience. After spending the day with us he was asking for names of kayaking instructors so he could take the plunge. I'm not sure if after listening to our stories he relished the idea of kayaking or the prospect of a new and different set of victims and emergency situations on which he could practice his well-honed emergency medical skills!
During the day we focused on a wide range of CPR and first aid techniques. We each resuscitated our dummies many times, learned how to treat conditions such as shock, burns, and broken bones, and even got to apply a defibrillator. I won't try to summarize the medical content of the training--you should take the course, but here are some things of more general application that I learned that may be helpful.
Good Samaritan Laws: Good Samaritan laws in all 50 states protect you from liability if you intervene to assist someone in distress so long as you:
-- Get the consent of the party in distress. (Consent is implied if the person is unconscious.)
-- Act in good faith and not be intentionally negligent or reckless.
-- Act within the scope of your training (e.g., don't try open heart surgery based on one day of Red Cross training).
-- Don't abandon the person in distress after you start to give care.
Emergency Action Steps: The Red Cross recommends the following protocol when coming on an accident:
CHECK. Check the scene to see if it is safe, determine what happened, assess how many people are involved, and identify people who might assist you. Then, check the condition of the injured person/people.
CALL. We learned that after an initial scene assessment, which may take only a few seconds, it is vital to call 911 for help. This step can be delegated, but if you delegate the task make sure it has been done.
CARE. After checking the scene and calling for help begin to administer care to the injured person/people.
One exception to this protocol is when you encounter a drowning victim. Administer two minutes of care (CPR) before calling 911.
Cold Water. Joel said that the basic rule of thumb is that 50 percent of the people not dressed for immersion will die after being in 50 degree water for 50 minutes. That is a cold, hard fact that should be foremost in our minds when we see people venturing out on Lake Michigan and other area waters in the spring and fall who are lightly dressed because of warm air temperatures even though the water temperature is in the 50s or lower.
Leadership. What impressed me from watching the training videos is the need for someone to take charge when dealing with a medical emergency. Medical emergencies are not the time for equivocation or decision by committee. A primary responder must take charge of providing the emergency care and efficiently delegating tasks to others who are capable of helping. ("Sarah, call 911 and tell them our location and that we have a victim of a lightning strike. Bob get the first aid kit from the car. Sam, get a sleeping bag so we can wrap the victim. Now!")
Communications. The course underscored the importance of being able to summon emergency help quickly and effectively. Whether paddling along the Chicago lakefront or in a wilderness area carry and keep in good condition cell phones, radios and other communications devices. These devices do no good stored in your front hatch when you are on the water--keep them accessible at all times.
More photos from this event here.
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This course whetted my appetite for more intensive wilderness first aid training. The Northwest Passage offers a variety of wilderness first aid courses:
The Chicago Red Cross also offers specialized courses dealing with wilderness first aid issues, which you can access through its homepage:
CASKA will poll the participants in the training session for ideas on how to improve the course for next year. Stay tuned.
From the SPOT website:
With the SPOT Satellite Messenger, you and your loved ones have peace of mind knowing help is always within reach. SPOT is the only device of its kind, using the GPS satellite network to acquire its coordinates, and then sending its location – with a link to Google Maps™ – and a pre-programmed message via a commercial satellite network. And unlike Personal Locator Beacons, SPOT does more than just call for help. Tracking your progress, checking in with loved ones, and non-emergency assistance are also available, all at the push of a button. And because it uses 100% satellite technology, SPOT works around the world – even where cell phones don't."
Due to feedback that the February dates do not work for a lot of people, We have re-scheduled the Zambezi Challenge to July 18-31, 2009. The original email on the program follows:
For many years, I have led field study courses through. I have visited over fifty countries on these expeditions. I have led eight field studies in Southern and Eastern Africa. Some of you have participated and some of you have seen my video presentations (I will be presenting again at Canoecopia March 8th and 9th).
I am planning on offering a different kind of African field study, oriented towards experienced travelers and paddlers (Many people are both). Restricting enrollment in this way eliminates the need to meet the needs of tourists who expect a sanitized travel experience. Experienced travelers expect some imperfection (inherent in African Travel) and enjoy the opportunity to meet a culture on it's own terms.
I am planning a fourteen day experience called the Zambezi Challenge, scheduled for July 18-31 2009. The itinerary is provided to us by Drifters, which is the best camping safari company in. (I have worked with them seven times before). We will fly into and out of in (if the problems in Zim. should get worse we will divert our activities to the Zambian side of the falls).
The Zambezi is one of the world's most significant rivers. We will concentrate on the area of the river above and below here.. There will be opportunity to either raft or kayak the rapids below the falls, which are considered to be the largest commercially rafted whitewater in the world, and while in Vic Falls, we will be able to choose among the many adventure activities available in this adventure capitol of Africa. Then we will spend two days on a game viewing safari in Chobe National Park in and end with a three day canoe/camping trip on the river in , which is one of the great wildernesses of the world. Since I have done all of these activities on previous trips, I have put together a video of much of what the challenge would consist. You can see the video
There will be a total of fourteen spaces available, and I want to see what level of interest there is in the paddling community. Spaces will be allocated on a first come first served basis by putting down a deposit though the field and Experiential Learning Office at COD. It is preferable that you have international travel experience, although if you have traveled, paddled, and camped a lot around the U.S, that will be sufficient. It is not necessary that you be a whitewater paddler, because many other options will be available, but it is necessary that you be comfortable in a boat and helpful to have some familiarity with a double bladed paddle.
There will be two one credit hour courses one in Canoeing and one in Expedition Behavior. We will have four class meetings two in early December and two in late January. The total cost for the program will be approximately $4300 (this does not include activities in Vic Falls and some meals). If we can get a lower airfare, we will refund the difference (for my last trip we refunded over $700). If you are not in the Chicago area, it will be possible to work out independent study arrangements.
If you have questions,please feel free to email me, or call Tom Lindblade
American Canoe Association- Instructor/ Trainer
Vice Chair, Illinois Paddling Council
Training Director, Prairie State Canoeists
Board Member: Association for Experiential Education,
The Chicago Shoreline Marathon Organization is pleased to announce our 2008 race date: Saturday, September 27th.
The 2nd annual race will follow the same course as last year. We are hoping this later race date will allow more competitors to compete in all three of the major open water races held in the U.S. this fall: The U.S. Surf Ski Championship, The Chicago Shoreline Marathon and The N.Y. Mayor's Cup.
New for 2008 will be a more thorough qualification process for competitors, early registration discounts and larger sponsor involvement. We will again be hosting Friday and Saturday night activities so plan to make it a weekend in Chicago. Stay tuned to the website – www.chicagoshorelinemarathon.com - for more info on registration, qualifying and event details. Please feel free to contact us at email@example.com with questions or if you're interested in helping with the planning
We look forward to seeing you all on the water in the coming months and especially in Chicago on September 27th.
The Chicago Shoreline Marathon Organization
Geneva Kayak will be hosting a Basic Coastal/Open Water Instructor Development Workshop (IDW) and Instructor Certification Evaluation (ICE) later this spring. This year, Steve Scherrer, an Instructor Trainer Educator from the Pacific Northwest will be coming in to run the workshop with us. In addition to being a Advanced Open Water ITE, Steve is also the designer of the Wilderness Systems Tempest and is the Chair of the ACA Coastal Kayak Committee. The dates for the IDW are May 2-4, and May 31-June 2 for the ICE.
The IDW is a 3-day comprehensive workshop for those interested in teaching or leading paddlers in coastal areas. Though this workshop is meant to prepare instructor candidates for the Instructor Certification Evaluation (which will be held later that month), it is also an excellent opportunity for intensive training for paddlers. For paddlers who have taken this IDW or a previous IDW elsewhere, the 3 day ICE will evaluate instructor candidates for the Basic or Open Water certifications.
For more information on the workshops, you can check out the event on Geneva Kayak's website. Please give them a call or e-mail for more information or to register.