Paddling up a storm

Jared Monkman/NNSL photo Myrtle Graham takes part in a group kayak trip on Canada Day.

Jared Monkman/NNSL photo
Myrtle Graham takes part in a group kayak trip on Canada Day.

Low water and smoke in the air won’t stop Hay River paddlers from pushing off, especially in celebration of Canada’s birthday.

“It’s good exercise. It’s so tranquil, it’s just great,” said Linda Gallagher. “It’s so quiet, not like like being a jet boat at all.”

Four ladies dropped their boats in Chamber Park on July 1, kayaks decked out in flags and balloons in honour of Canada Day. They would be joined by at least six more people along their way toward the lake, but said they always wished for more.

“That’s why we started the Facebook page,” said Shirley King. “We wanted to be able to let people know when others were going out and they could join without being directly told it was happening.”

In total, 11 showed up.

King said paddling is a great way to not only stay active and spend time with friends, but also a new way to see the river and the community.

“I have a friend who got (a kayak), and she had lived here her whole life, and said she had never seen the river like this,” said King, adding that unlike other boats, paddlers are close to the water, experiencing all of it.

There is no formal training required, but the kayakers wear safety gear and watch out for each other. King said what they do is not very dangerous.

This particular event was planned by Marilyn Marshall, but most outings are informal things. King said they go out pretty much whenever someone expresses an interest in doing so and don’t have a schedule.

“We just go out when someone feels like it,” she said. “We get out as often as we can.”

Marshall said she organized the event because she thought it would be nice to get out on the water for Canada Day. She said there used to be raft-races on the river to celebrate the holiday and that this was simply trying to carry on that tradition in some way.

“We planned to paddle to the wharf, but it wasn’t open so we stopped along the way and had lunch,” she told The Hub.

More than a peaceful way to pass an afternoon, Marshall said the greatest boon has been connecting with other paddlers.

“These are people I never would have hung out with before,” she said. “And now we’ve got our own little group. It’s really nice.”

–Sarah Ladik