Doing the 30km training run was our first chance to spent time in our race canoe. The course was from Whitehorse to Burma Road (close to the start of Lake Laberge). Importantly, we wanted to see if we could hit the times that we need to stay in the race. We must be paddling at 6 mph on the section before the lake and at least 3.1 mph over the lake.
It was our first time in the Clipper Jensen canoe. We wanted to play a little. We started off by travelling across the river without going downstream – balancing our power against the river. It paddled beautifully! Feeling confident with the boat we pointed the boat downstream and headed off.
The river started off fast – we went at 10 mph at one point but it soon slowed down. We reached a wide marsh section where the river had slowed with almost no flow, a bit worrying for the 6 mph average that we will need. We did take a minute to listen to the birds and animals – it’s not something we’ll have time for in the race.
We also had another few stops watch the plentiful bald eagles. We were lucky enough to come across 3 juveniles and parents with their latest kill. Dan spotted a beaver swimming up the edge of the river, happily minding his own business (the beaver, not Dan).
Though the wildlife fascinated us we had to focus on the training. We tested out the maps we will be using. They are nothing like an os map. Mike O’Rouke’s pictorial guide to the river is more of a story than a map. In conjunction with page-turn alerts set on the GPs it worked well at keeping us aware of where we were.
It’s made it obvious that the river is very low and very slow so it will be a struggle to hit the required timings. All of the feeder rivers are showing as extremely low on the government measuting site as well, so chances of going super fast after the lake are looking slim.
After paddling Dan researched how to deal with bears and we will be adopting the same approach that we use for swans on the Thames. Don’t get between them, talk to them and if they are attacking you fight back.