1. MAINTAIN YOUR GEAR
With winter storms howling outside, now is the time to do those big and little repairs you’ve been putting off. Fix dings from last summer’s rocky landings, re-waterproof your tent, replace broken buckles on packs, take apart and clean camping stoves. Regular maintenance will extend the lifespan of your gear and, most importantly, make it more reliable when it counts.
2. PLAN UPCOMING TRIPS
Take advantage of the winter downtime to research and plan upcoming trips. Whether you’re still in the dreaming stage or ready to book your float plane drop-off, thoughtful preparation will make or break a trip. For inspiration and numerous useful paddling reports, check out Canadian Canoe Routes at www.myccr.com.
Curl up in front of the fireplace with a steaming mug and delve into the pantheon of paddling books. Choose from epic adventures like Don Starkell’s Paddle to the Amazon to more recent works such as Jennifer Kingsley’s reflective Paddlenorth: Adventure, Resilience, and Renewal in the Arctic Wild or Roy MacGregor’s unique history Canoe Country: The Making of Canada.
4. MOVIE NIGHT
Take advantage of the short days and long nights with a paddling movie marathon. Whether you choose to go with a tried and true classic like Path of The Paddle or a more recent favourite like Finding Farley, paddling films will get you excited for adventures on the water. Discover many more at www.reelpaddlingfilmfestival.com.
5. TEST NEW MENU ITEMS
Tired of eating the old meals on camping trips? Winter can be a great time to test and refine new recipes, and if you take the time to dehydrate chilli, sauces and veggies, you’ll have even more of a head start on creating spectacular meals on your next trip.
6. SORT PHOTOS AND LOGS FROM LAST SEASON’S TRIPS
Unless you are a remarkably organized individual, chances are that your photos from last season(s) would benefit from some radical intervention. Mercilessly delete any mediocre, blurry or repetitive images until you have your album whittled down to a concise collection of shots you can be proud to show off (your friends will be grateful too!).
7. GET FIT
Stay in paddling shape by getting out on your cross-country skis, taking a yoga class and swimming laps at your local pool. Your body will thank you when you get back on the water for your first springtime sprint.
8. TAKE A COURSE
Brush up your toolkit of wilderness skills (or try something completely new) by signing up for a wilderness first aid course or life-saving certification. Photography, bird-watching, astronomy and painting all add a new element to tripping, while taking a boat building or paddle making course will leave you with a stunning work of art you can take on future adventures.
9. HANG OUT
Spend time with your paddling friends and plan future trips while telling tall tales. “Really, the bear was THIS big!”
If all else fails to beat the winter blues, travel to a warm sunny place where you can spend quality time on the water.
This article first appeared in the February issue of Paddling Magazine. To read the entire issue, click here.