Do you picture yourself as a sing-songy paddler, making your way down a pristine river with cute forest critters cheering your progress? Sorry to burst the bubble, but canoeing is not all butterflies and babbling brooks. But with a little preparation and some know-how you will have a safe and enjoyable trip every time.
Here are eight tips for a happy canoe trip.
Know Your Location
When picking a river, make sure to research length, terrain and weather. Some runs are narrow and shallow and some are engulfed in trees, canopies, fallen logs and bushes that you need to carefully navigate around. If it rains? Expect rising waters with fast currents that can be dangerous if you aren’t ready for it. Talk to other paddlers, state park officials for info.
Take distance and time into account, because every run is different and it’s a good idea to pace yourself physically. Popular runs are peppered with outfitters that provide maps and information on approximately how long each run lasts. Some will have a shuttle service that scoops up paddlers at a point along the river while some rivers loop around.
It depends on the environment and what’s comfortable for you. In Florida, it’s hot, sticky and you can bet on some rain, so I always opt for a good ol’ bathing suit, especially since I plan on going for a little swim at some point. Lightweight clothing is quite nice, and things can get chilly with rain, so rain jackets are nifty, along with flip-flops or waterproof shoes. And don’t you dare forget that sun protection — stash a hat, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen.
Banish the Bugs
Damn those bugs. Get tangled in an overhanging bush and BAM, spiders galore. Mosquitos, no-see-ems, horseflies…oh those horse flies…don’t even get me started. Bring some kind of bug repellent to keep bites at bay and for those spiders…all I can say is avoid bushes at all costs.
Keep it Dry
I’ve lost a camera, IPod and two IPhones from canoe trips. Learn from my foolish mistakes and invest in some waterproof compartments, bags or phone cases.
Hydrate Yo Body
Stock that aqua, open your mouth and chug. You’re going to be burning energy and if you’re planning on doing some drinking, the warm sun and the constricted vessels will lead to dehydration fast so fill a Camelbak and don’t drink the river water.
There are some people in the world who are able to time their bowel movements down to the minute. Great. Do that before you head out — not an hour after you’re on the water. If you’re stuck on the water, park up on a shore and dig a cathole 200 feet away. I mean — you’re going to want to stay out of sight, right?
Grab Those Life Jackets
Don’t overlook this one. Make sure there is a jacket for each person in the canoe. They also make pretty comfy seat cushions.
Rest Up and Have a Blast!
It’s gonna be a long day on the river so get your beauty sleep and scarf down a hearty meal. And smile- you’re about to enjoy a kickass day of paddling on a gorgeous river…“just around the river bend!”