My first time… Kayaking!

Photo and posted by Karen Sze

Thanks to a group coupon deal online, I had the chance to enjoy 2 hours of guided kayaking fun on the Humber River, minutes away from downtown Toronto, with an ex-co-worker of mine. The sun was shining with a nice cool breeze in a part of the city I rarely ventured to – it was a perfect way to end the day.

Kayaks were originally developed by the Eskimos for travel and to go hunting. These days there’s a plethora of kayaks with various modifications to the original design to suit various activities. Traditionally kayaks were made from animal skins stretched over a wooden or whalebone framework. Modern kayaks are typically made from synthetic material; fibreglass, inflatable rubberized fabric, roto-moulded polyethylene resins, carbon fiber, etc. Some of the most common types of kayaks are touring, sea, surf, sit-on-top, racing, twin hull and outrigger. Each is designed specifically to their application and water condition.

Blue skies, beautiful sunshine, fun times - Kayaking on Humber River

Blue skies, beautiful sunshine, fun times – Kayaking on Humber River

On this fine day in August, we each chose our own colourful, single cockpit recreational kayak, donned on a life vest [Safety first!] and picked out a paddle. A quick demonstrationwas provided on how to use the double-ended paddle to manoeuvre ourselves while in the water. Recreational kayaks are a type of touring kayaks that’s best suited for lakes and rivers with little or no waves. Theyare designed with a wider hull but in turn will not track (maintain a straight line) as well as longer, narrower designs [this proofsto be my challenge of the day]!

Time to explore

Time to explore…

Looks can be deceiving - Who would've thought these are invasive species

Looks can be deceiving – Who would’ve thought these are invasive species.

Once I stopped judging myself on how I was struggling with my beginner paddling skills, I got to enjoy how serene this experience could be and IS!! I’m still in Toronto, yet nothing else around me indicated otherwise. I could’ve taken a flight to some foreign country with rainforest and untouched nature – if I was brought here in blindfolds. Everyone else that’s in a kayak, canoe, motorboat had a smile on their face, all their troubles and frowns simply faded away.
As we start paddling downstream towards Lake Ontario, I was surprised by the amount of wildlife that calls the Humber “home”. Our guides pointed out several invasive species of wildlife and plants that are changing the local ecosystem; including the pretty purple topped grass.
There was cause for excitement for the handful of “birders” in the group as we came across 2 Blue Herons in a well-choreographed dance in the sky. We also spotted some White Egrets standing along the shoreline, patiently waiting to catch their dinner.

Stunning White Egret on a fishing trip of his own at Humber River, Toronto, Canada

Stunning White Egret on a fishing trip of his own.

As usual I fell behind in the pack as I was occupied with taking photographs and just “enjoying the moment”. I did have a couple of run-ins with the shoreline though as I was paddling a bit too close to shore and unintentionally ended up plowing on land. Somehow when I’m trying something new, laughter (at my own expense) is never too far away!

End of day realizations, if a spraydeck or “skirt” is available (even for additional cost) – get it if you want to stay dry! Or be comfortable with getting wet (potentially from top down) – which I did, good thing I wasn’t wearing white! Choose the longest paddles available – due to the added length you will have more leverage and propulsion.

Life lesson of the day: You will never know how it feels until you try it for yourself.

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