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I found winter kayaking healthy, beautiful and fun in many ways. I want to share why I find it inspiring and how to start. Maybe this winter is the moment as travelling to the sun is not as easy as usual.

Nature is beautiful in winter too. Being in your kayak gives you a new perspective. Maybe you can observe, besides snow, winter special lights, some wildlife around who left tracks in the snow? In Norway you are likely to meet a moose. Hedgehogs are hibernating but unfortunately their number decreased greatly as they die when crossing roads. The Norwegian national bird, Fossekall is also staying home for winter, it has the nickname “elvekong” which means King of the river.

A minor easy run in the summer will suddenly be interesting with winter. Dragging your kayak on the snow is light and easy. Maybe you can have some nice slide on the snow onto the river – be aware though if you gain much speed your back will suffer. Your strong desire not to be wet by ice cold water will make the all run exciting. It is a good training as you need to be fully focused to make everything smooth and clean on some whitewater that are normally not challenging for you. And finally that can be combined with a little fire lunch by the river on a sunny day.

If you feel like this is something you want to try here are some things to keep in mind.

The 1st rule is to be warm. Use wool underwear that keeps you warm even wet, and nowadays having a dry suit is not an extra luxury in winter. Use wool socks too and neoprene shoes as they will keep you warmer. You will need neoprene gloves too and may consider using some fat cream on your face and hands. Always have a thermos of hot liquid with you. Check the weather forecast. Wind and snowstorms are not the day you want to be out on the water. Keep in mind that humidity, wind, shadows in the valley and longer stay outside can make the cold more severe than a temperature that you are happy to deal with while being fully dry in the sun. Days are also shorter in winter and it is better to be sure you will be back inside before nightfall than relying on B-plan with a headlamp. Full moon kayaking is not the best idea.

Safety margin are even more important in the winter. Do something that you and everyone in the team are confident to master with 200 % control. Rolling or swimming are no options and help from the team can be very hard to perform and therefore should not be required in the winter.

To know the local conditions is essential. The best way is to scout beforehand, and ask local if possible. There should be no ice on the kayaking stretch including by put in and take out. You don’t want ice in the eddies, or ice creating undercuts in river sides, specially in turns. The stretch should be fully open without icedam across. You also want to know there are no ice upstream who could travel down the river with full power while you are out there. Here is an impressive example from the first flood in the spring carrying ice on Sona river, a local run in middle Norway. Hydropower can have the advantage to warm up the water temperature and force a continual flow that will insure you a decent kayaking playground winter through. Another very important thing is that walking on ice or in deep snow might be challenging or impossible. The all section must be chilled enough to be taken as a must run without need of portaging, getting out of the river through the woods, or need for any external help.

Hope this gives new ideas, thanks for reading!