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Novices introduced to kayaking

For the first installment of a three-week teaching cycle, Up North Adventures conducted a four-hour introductory class for beginning kayakers Monday…

For the first installment of a three-week teaching cycle, Up North Adventures conducted a four-hour introductory class for beginning kayakers Monday at Chadburn Lake.

“Some of our intro-to-kayak students are people who kayaked before,” said Kalin Pallett, the general manager of the Up North Adventures store, who conducted the class with colleague Tyler Coghill.

“But (they) just want some tips and tricks to brush up on their skills to make sure they’re not picking up any bad habits.”

The first class of the cycle starts with “chalk talk” that outlines proper attire and tools such as paddles, life jackets and spray-skirts, which tightly covers the opening that the kayaker sits in, keeping them dry.

The course then moves onto the anatomy of kayaks, giving the students a better understanding of the vessels themselves.

“We’ve been offering lessons for quite a few years,” said Pallett. “This is my fifth year giving lessons with Up North Adventures and I’ve been teaching sea kayaking for 10 years now.”

Of course, no course on kayaking would be complete without some actual paddling. Therefore, the instructors take the students out in kayaks that are provided by Up North Adventures.

“We start with the forward stroke and the proper technique employed for that,” said Pallett. “It’s probably the most important stroke only because that’s the one used the most.”

From there the students learn a variety of other necessary techniques such as the reverse stroke, stopping, turning, moving side-ways or “lateral displacement.”

“I enjoyed it thoroughly,” said Michelle Wagner, one of the dozen participants who  signed up for the $55 class.

“I’d kayaked before, maybe a half dozen times or so. So what I wanted was more the technique. If I’m going to do something I want to know how to do it properly, learn the techniques.

“It was very good, it was really thorough. Now it’s just a matter of going out and practising,” added Wagner.

Next week Up North Adventures is conducting the second part of the cycle, an introductory class on self-rescue techniques at the same location.

“Bracing, low bracing and high bracing and how to stop yourself from flipping,” said Pallett, outlining some of the components of next week’s class.

“Bracing is a stroke in the horizontal position and is used to stop yourself if you’re going to capsize.

“One of the best ways to rescue yourself is to not have to rescue yourself,” added Pallet. However, the self-rescue class will also cover what to do if you find yourself in the water.

“You’re going to get wet that night,” he admitted. “But we bring wetsuits.”

For those interested in taking the class, information can be found at or by calling the store at 667-7035.

“For us it’s all about active living. There’s so many lakes and rivers in the Yukon, it’s so easy to kayak — long days in the summer, there’s no reason to not get out and enjoy this beautiful scenery,” said Pallet.

“And the cool thing about kayaking is that you can do everything from mild to wild; you can go crashing down the Teslin River or you can come out for a calm evening at Chadburn Lake.”