Biding time over the winter

For those who have already (or will) hung up their paddles and put your boats in storage for the season, how do you bide your time over the winter? Are most of you into other winter activities/sports that keep you busy? Or do you sit around on your computers jealously watching paddling videos posted online?

Unfortunately, due to the early arrival of freezing weather in my locale, most of the local waterways are already icing over. I’ve had to call it quits for the season. Last Sunday morning was my final paddle for the year. Unless there is some sudden, miraculous warm-up, I’m resigned to waiting for the annual thaw come spring.

So, now I’m looking for ideas on how to placate my paddling obsession during the long, cold winter months. I’m afeared that if this winter lasts too long, and I find some other non-paddling “hobby” to occupy myself in the meantime, I may lose my yearning for the water. Which is something I don’t want to happen as I have so fallen in love with being on the water out in nature. Unfortunately, this is a possibility and an all-too-common symptom of my OHD (Obsessive Hobby Disorder). I need to find a way to keep my interest piqued and focused on paddling over the winter so that I am raring to go come the spring thaw.

So, what does everyone else do over the winter? Obviously, this question does not apply to those lucky bastards who have the good fortune and climate to continue paddling all year round!

I think you need to…

– Last Updated: Nov-28-14 10:32 AM EST –

get out and paddle on New Year's Day.

Looks like a good event. Another great video from Morrall River Films.

Pool and more
Pool practice, concentrating on capsize, re-entries, edging, bracing, and whatever else I can figure out to do in a swimming pool.

Our small town has a sports facility with an ice rink, walking/jogging track, and indoor pool. Indoor heated kayak storage adjacent to the pool is $20 from November-April. My kayaks are wintering there, which makes it really convenient as there’s generally three two-hour sessions each weekend.

XX-skiing around the local forests plus my regular work-out schedule. The latter will be easier to stick with this winter, now that I’ve started paddling and have set some goals.

Twenty-three days until the Winter Solstice. Let the light return!

Pool for paddling, snowshoes for air
You are in the Chicago area, yes? I have to think there are pool sessions somewhere within reach of you. And you probably could even use them to try out other boats - the outfits sponsoring them often have boats you can rent at the pool. It is a far nicer thing to learn wet skills in a heated pool than in chilly spring water.

As to the rest, snowshoes are a good way to get oiut and low-tech. Or cross country skis, but they can be pricier. Given where you live, you have plenty of snow for either. I would be surprised if you couldn’t find some outdoor group that went out and played in snow over the winter.

Fortunate to Live in the Ozarks
It may get cold, but the springs keep the rivers running year round. The crowds are gone, eagles, otters, wild horses, and other critters are more numerous than people. Winter is a magical time to be on the water around here.

Depends on your “base” interests

– Last Updated: Nov-28-14 1:05 PM EST –

Speaking only for myself (since the gist of your question is "what do you folks do"), I've always loved being outside and observing and learning about nature. For me, paddling came about as an extension of the water travels I'd already been doing in other kinds of boats. I do a lot of hiking in winter, and often like it most when there's enough snow for walking with snowshoes. In your case, it seems that you are progressing in the opposite direction and it may be paddling itself that has sparked an interest in being outdoors. If so, I'd suggest hiking, and maybe finding topics to read about as they become apparent to you (animal tracks and behavior, geology or maybe the ecology of various landforms, identification of birds, trees, etc.).

As far as snowshoeing goes around here (in my case, that's southern Wisconsin), most people are content to walk trails in a golf course or city park, even if the snow depth doesn't justify their use. In short, they use snowshoes just for the sake of using them. I look for more out-of-the-way places than such trails, and don't use them just for the sake of walking in them, so I'll go hiking without them if that makes more sense (and in this area, during most winters anyway, it usually does). Away from the lake, the Chicago area gets even less snow than we do, but maybe you can find hiking places within the lake-effect snow area and make use of snowshoes. We've been lucky the last few winters as far as snow depth goes. I hope this winter follows the trend.

Very little snow depth is needed for cross-country skiing. Cross country skiing is more about the skiing than being out in nature since you need trails, but there are a few places around that have trails through woods, etc. (mostly state and county parks, and local parks). I myself gave up cross-country skiing ages ago because they can't take me any of the places where I was already hiking, and also because the specialized boots won't keep my feet warm for longer than it takes just to get a bit of exercise (that's not true for everyone, but I need warm boots, not "athletic shoes" in winter). I did enjoy it years ago just for the exercise, but I got bored with that. If you are looking for exercise more than nature observing, cross-country skiing can't be beat (but it would be a new expense).

You might already be looking for stuff to read about paddling. Maybe search for some adventure-type reading, or how-to stuff regarding camping on paddle trips, etc.

Drive south to open water.
Plan some long weekends when you can get to swamps or quiet water that seldom freezes over. Southern Illinois, southern MO, western KY and TN. Learn how to use the NOAA weather predictions, and have alternate plans if the weather betrays you. See if you can hook up with local clubs that paddle such waters in the winter. Take a look at reservoirs in those areas that aren’t populated by motorcraft in cold weather.

Or, you could wait for Global Warming, when winters in Chicago will become quite tolerable.

Most years
Most years I complain, eat too much, sleep too much and don’t work on the many projects I should be completing. I love being outside and walking in the first couple snows of the year is novel but it soon grows old. I love being outside but not so much in the winter when it’s cold, windy, dark, and slippery. Usually sometime in January, when I can’t take it anymore, I head to SE Arizona for warmer weather and hiking in the mountains.

This year I hope to stay busy building canoes. One down and one design in the works, hopefully to be started next week. Would like to get at least two more built by spring.


Cheer up
We all did our time !

Some day you’ll be old and gray and out of the work force and can grab your kayaks, canoe, mountain bikes, yak packing gear and snorkeling gear and become a snow bird.

Just finished shoveling snow this morning and the “Bride” and I are off to the Florida Keys next week for four months.

Jack L

Waiting is the hard part.

– Last Updated: Nov-28-14 3:52 PM EST –

With my new-found passion for paddling and my renewed passion for the great outdoors (camped a LOT when I was a kid), I am finding that the worst part is having all the will, desire, youth (what little is left), and strength for outdoor adventuring but not having the time to do as much of it as I would like. Work life and parenting gobble up time at an alarming rate.

I'm hoping that once the kids have grown a bit more, I will have been successful at piquing their interest in paddling and camping and other outdoor adventures (gotta work on my wife, too). Maybe then I will be able to enjoy DAYS out in nature WITH my family rather than trying to find ways to steal a couple HOURS away FROM my family as I have to do now. It would certainly lead to a lot less guilt on my part and a lot more fun with the family.

What I do?

– Last Updated: Nov-28-14 3:49 PM EST –

First of all, I haven't "hung up my paddle" for the year. If the weather takes a turn for the better, I will go paddling. Ideally, the daytime temp would be about 50 degrees.0pportunities don't often occur, but I've gotten lucky before in December, January & Febuary.

I do some motorcycling in Winter if roads are clear, and temp gets up to 50. Temp supposed to top out about 60 tomorrow; I'm planning on a motorcycle ride.

When weather is nasty I go to the gym, or to archery range with my longbow. Or I go to my loafer's shed & do a wood "destruction" project.
Or I do some reading; I average 4 books a month.
Sometimes I sit & think; sometimes I just sit.
Or nap.

I love retirement; I do very little I don't want to do. Works great for me. I have an authority problem; don't like to be told what to do, where, or when.
"Resist much, obey little" is a quote I like a lot these days.


Who in taar-natoon…
needs melted water?


Fat Bike
and may try ice skating and XC skiing. It is a bit of a drive and days are short but can still get in some good paddling year round in Alaska

Ride My Bike
I used to do the pool thing and go practice bracing and rolling but the hassle/benefit ratio is no good now. Mostly I ride my bike on the weekends. On weekdays and bad-weather weekends I jog up and down a hill in a local park and try to identify birds as I do it. The park thing helps keep my weight down and spirits up.

After you have a solid roll…
hassle/benefit ratio is different for a newbie. Or for someone who has to recapture skills after a time not being so good at it.

lots of good suggestions already-
something I would add: swimming at the pool. Its a basic skill that will enhance your comfort on the water and improve your fitness level. The best paddlers I know still practice “rolling” in a pool and they are very focused in their approach and always looking to up their game. Me, I’m more of a slacker, I enjoy the paddling in nature but the practice, not so much. Its much easier for me to get motivated to paddle than attend roll sessions but as a paddler I’m better served by the practice. Your goal should be to get totally “comfortable” in and on the water so you can paddle with confidence and try new things. Someday I’ll get there.

I guess I’m one of those
I’ve never considered myself a bas****, but I do paddle year round. Naturally the conditions aren’t always as ideal as spring, summer and fall, but it’s still good to get out on the nice days.

We used to go to Arizona for the winter, but it’s much more practical to just stay home and take advantage of the “global warming.”

lots of stuff
I live in a similar climate zone (Pittsburgh) and find plenty to do. Once the snow begins, I cross country ski – can even do so in our city parks if we have a few inches. I’ve belonged to a good health club for 30 years and regularly swim and work out on the treadmill, ergo rowers and static weight machines to keep my endurance and core strength up. Besides keeping me conditioned for warm weather sports, regular exercise a few times a week staves off winter blues.

If you really get an unbearable craving for paddling, you can often find very cheap direct flights to Florida from Pittsburgh (even more from Chicago, being a hub). Head for Everglades City and rent a cabin at Glades Haven – they are right on a canal that leads into the ocean and coastal inlets or up into the Everglades and they have a large livery of nice rental kayaks (WS Tsunamis and Werner paddles) and canoes.

When I was learning to brace and roll the winter pool thing was well worth the hassle. Very beneficial.

you too can paddle year-round