I left the house at 5am yesterday and returned home just before midnight, having paddled 140km from Hope to Burnaby without exiting my kayak. Our goal was to make it all the way to Vancouver, but what we thought would be a 120km paddle turned into more, and after 13 hours on the water we found ourselves navigating under bridges, past barges and avoiding tug boats pulling log booms in complete darkness.
The paddle was perfect training for the Yukon, and I have to say this morning I’m in surprisingly good shape. I ate a ton, kept myself well hydrated, and paddled at a steady pace, stopping to stretch, pee, apply sunscreen, and generally ‘faff’ quite frequently throughout the day.
I paddled alongside my friend Jason who is also going to tackle the Yukon, but he’s going to do it standing on a SUP (stand up paddle board), which makes what I’m doing look easy (except for the welts on my backside caused by my heavily protruding seat, which he won’t need to contend with).
We weren’t out to set any records; the exercise was purely to test our systems, get out on a river, and spend as much time as possible on the water. Even the preparation I did the night before was invaluable, and I can now say I’m relatively dialled in when it comes to my systems in the boat, provided the boat I’m actually paddling in the Yukon can store my gear the same way as my big steady plastic boat.
Here is a list of things I still have to figure out before the race:
- My nylon spray skirt with the convenient zipper eventually lets water through and may drive me crazy
- I need drip rings for my paddle to stop cold water running into the sleeves of my rain jacket and chilling me to the bone when the wind picks up
- I need to figure out a better way to mount my Go Pro, or find a new camera solution altogether
- I may need a new seat cushion option (although the seat of the Epic 18 may be more forgiving)
- I’m going to consider repositioning my urinal device from behind my seat to a more accessible location
- I could barely reach my thermos in my deck bag (and after 11 hours the soup was only just warm enough to drink)
- My rain hat performs terribly in the wind
- I may need thicker leggings (I’m using the ones I slept in on the PCT which have more holes than actual material left).
Things that are working:
- My Think Powerwing Paddle (I can’t sing its praises enough!)
- My inReach tracking device
- My system for water and electrolytes (1 x 4L dromedary bag of water, 1 x 4L dromedary bag of NUUN behind my seat)
- My deck bag (thanks to Martin a previous racer who’s lent it to me)
- My new Stearns PFD from Canadian Tire (it has all the pockets you could ever need)
- My female urinary device (best $5 I’ve ever spent)
- My Garmin 62S GPS – phenomenal (lasted 13 hours on rechargeable batteries)
- My OR sun gloves (except if it gets cold…. hmmmm)
- My food for the first 13 hours (half a packet of Fig Newtons, gummy worms, boiled mini potatoes, three soft boiled eggs, Boost nutritional drink with extra calories, two cliff bars, a few sips of soup, stick of cheese, half a squeeze tube of baby food).
I’ll post a full gear and food list once they’re complete, but for now, here’s a snapshot from the day (when the camera actually decided to work!)