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Are you thinking back on those warm summer days with a sense of nostalgia? Life was so easy and careless. All you had to remember were your pfd/skirt/helmet/paddle. Now add to the list drysuit, mittens/pogies, skull cap, and beaucoup layers. It’s a lot just to get out and paddle. Add to this maybe poor road conditions, ice shelves on the river banks and cold hands. We all know it takes a lot more effort to get after it in the winter, but it’s always worth it, right?

​Personally, I love going kayaking in the winter. Sure, it’s cold and maybe not as fun (by a small fraction) as it is in the summer. But I’m still on the water, doing that thing I’m so passionate about, and to me that makes all the hassle of added layers and logistics worth it. Add snow on the trees and pretty icicles and I’ll be there…smiling ear to ear.

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​I know this isn’t the case for everyone though and I think there are still great options for keeping your kayaking skills up to snuff when the weather turns cold and the days get dark. One great option may be just plain conditioning; taking the time to strengthen the muscles we use during kayaking season so we feel strong and ready when the weather starts to warm again.

Sure, you’re not in your kayak, taking strokes but working on your conditioning can be really rewarding when you feel that extra strength while hiking a tough portage or powering across strong current. This could be by working out at home, in a gym or on the water (staying dry). I think flatwater paddling to work on strokes and conditioning is also a great option if you don’t want to get out in the white stuff and get all wet. A dry hair day on a lake or flat river can still provide a great workout, and is more fun than you may think.

I’m also a huge fan of working on skills in the pool. The pool is great! I hear often that people don’t want to go to the pool because they already know how to roll. But the pool has so much more to offer. I’d suggest getting in the smallest boat you have (playboat, slicey boat, spud boat) and working on edging, driving your stern/bow into the water, back deck rolls, offside rolls, hand rolls. There’s always something to work on in the pool. Best part, no ice cream headache! Second best part: when spring rolls around you’ll have a new trick to show all your friends.

Whatever route you take to be ready for the 2021 kayaking season, make it fun. There’s nothing like coming into a new season feeling excited and ready to get after it.