I just got back from an all day Introduction to Kayaking course at Lake Sammamish State Park. What a day! I really enjoyed it and highly recommend the instructor – George Gronseth owns the Kayak Academy and is a nationally known kayaking expert. People come from far and wide to learn his advanced techniques so it is lucky that he is local.
The coolest part was wearing a dry suit! It’s the most amazing thing to walk into the cold October waters of Lake Sammamish and to feel the water’s temperature and pressure on your suit but remain dry. It’s the oddest sensation! I loved just walking into the water without a second thought. The suit is much more like a space suit than a wet suit. Not that I’ve been in many space suits 😉
We practiced wet exits, where you capsize and have to get out of the kayak when it’s upside down which was hard for some people. I got water up my nose the last time I did it but other than that it felt natural and was actually kind of fun. We also practiced a lot of paddling strokes and techniques for getting in the kayak when it’s in the water which can be tough since it is so tippy.
Unfortunately there were hydro races going on at the same park we were using – it was very noisy at times which made everyone remark on how much we appreciated the serenity of kayaking. The only other bad part for me was that I got sea sick for the last hour and was pretty miserable. I think being in the dry suit added to it because I was feeling hot and clammy. Once we started moving more consistently (we were practing a lot of strokes and turns at the time) I got better, however even as I write this over an hour after getting out of the boat I can still feel the waves!
The weather was very Seattle – thunderstorms with sun breaks. Another benefit of the dry suit; it didn’t matter if it was pouring rain or not – the only thing that got wet was your face and hands and the water felt warm. Toward the end of the class we spotted some lightening and even though it was pretty far away we had to paddle back close to the shore. When I was driving home a lightening bolt hit very close to my car (thunder came one second later so it was very close!) and I thought of SB, my friend who still suffers the effects of being struck years ago, and tried to get home as soon as I could.
Tomorrow we are going on an excursion to the San Juans. George teaches many classes which often include excursions – he has an advanced class/excursion to Southern Alaska for 10 days which sounds like an amazing experience. I have a ways to go before I get there, but it is definitely a goal. If I can get this sea sickness thing licked! We’ll see how it goes tomorrow. (Supplemental: I woke up dizzy and with a plugged ear so I didn’t go 😦 I hope to go again in the Spring).
The class I took is not listed on this site – I took it through Discover U. It’s a shorter (and cheaper) introduction. If you are serious about wanting to learn kayaking, I’d skip it and go straight to George’s three day intensive introduction but if you are not sure if you’ll like it then I’d recommend taking this shorter intro course. And actually I’d recommend just having a friend take you out on Lake Union first so you can see what it’s like so you can be motivated to learn more about it. I’m not sure I’d want to plunge right in to learning wet exits without knowing that the end result was going to be enjoyable.
If anyone out there kayaks and wants to chat about it or go sometime, let me know.