In my last post I remarked that one of the positives from 2020 was the tremendous growth in outdoor activities, including SUP! While I think it's fair to say we had all hoped that vaccine distribution would be further along by now, it is looking like we may need endure this for at least part of one more summer. Luckily stand up paddle boarding is an excellent way to be physically distant, but socially together! So without further ado, here is what is planned for 2021:
Last year was the first full season that I had rentals available, and the demand was tremendous. With a goal of helping as many people get on the water as possible, I had to say no to far too many people. This year, I'm doubling the rental fleet and adding a second brand: Kootenay Pdl, based out of Calgary. Between Kootenay and Red, I expect to have a board to meet every paddler's needs.
New Board Demos
Looking to buy a board this year? I expect to get my new SUP lineup in by March/April. Please get in touch if you're interested in a board from Red or Kootenay's lineup, and I'll let you know if I'm getting stock. My inventory will be locked down until the end of the season by mid-June. If you want to test paddle a new board for possible purchase, I recommend doing it early, just in case there's a repeat of the 2020 global supply issues.
New Rental Rates
I've physically relocated to Stony Plain, but don't worry I still deliver to Edmonton and surrounding area. The increased driving requirement has led me to revisit my rental rates. The good news is that they are simpler now: $30 per day or $150 per week. This makes two days a little cheaper and three days a little more expensive, but overall it's a wash. The only catch is that there will be a minimum rental of 2 days or 2 boards. This effectively sets the minimum cost at $60, which allows me to cover the increased cost of commuting. These details will be updated on the rental page before the start of the season.
In 2020 I limited lessons to an on-request basis to avoid mixing different groups of people together and increasing Covid-19 transmission risk. This will still be available, but I plan to offer advertised lesson dates as well. We will always operate within the provincial health guidance of the time and maintain physical distancing on and off the water. As I mentioned at the start, SUP is an excellent activity to remain physically distant, yet socially together. A year of operation for other SUP schools has convinced me that this can be done safely. More details will be posted on the lessons page prior to the start of the season.
Additionally, I have a personal goal of obtaining my River I SUP Skills Instructor certification this year. Wish me luck!
Do you want to paddle, but have no one to go with, or no idea where to go? I created this group especially for you. Meetup is website aimed at creating communities of like minded individuals to do activities together. I've created a group for SUP in Edmonton called YEG Adventure SUP. Most events will be free, although I do have a long term goal of adding some paid, guided tours (need a partner interested in helping!). I invite everyone to join and share what your 2021 paddling goals are. If you want to organize your own SUP events on there, let me know as well. The more available events the better. Join here, and be sure to share with your friends. I look forward to seeing where this platform can take us!
2020 has been a year that started with the threat of nuclear war and went downhill from there. Despite this, there has been one consistent bright spot that I will fondly remember for years to come. 2020 was the year everyone went outside. 2020 was the year that we stayed home; but found nature just outside our doorstep. 2020 was the year that more people than ever wanted to try SUP! Everyone who I've interacted with this summer has made 2020 just a little bit better, a little bit brighter, and I want to sincerely thank all of you for that. I hope we can carry this momentum forward to 2021 and beyond. Long after we leave the negatives of 2020 behind.
Hand pumps are a great way to warm up before paddling, but sometimes you just want to save your energy for the water. This is where electric pumps come into play.
Many of the lakes around Edmonton are shallow and laden with nutrients. These factors combine to make some paddle destinations less desirable later in the season due to the build-up of algae and weeds. June is a great time for exploring these spots as we can experience hot weather and cool water with fewer weeds. Here are my picks for June:
Nestled between Edmonton and St. Albert is a birder's paradise and a fantastic place to go for a paddle when water levels are high and weed growth is low. Big Lake is the primary feature of Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park, and is recognized as a "globally significant Important Bird Area". Make sure your sound is on before you play this video for a taste of what you can expect when visiting this bird sanctuary. Big Lake is a shallow, double-lobed lake with a narrow channel connecting the two halves, and can easily be a 15km+ round trip.
Big Lake is best accessed from the Sturgeon River at Riel Recreation Park in St. Albert as the parking lot at Lois Hole Park is well set back from the water.
June 26 note: Alberta Health has issued a Blue-green algae advisory for Islet Lake. I recommend paddling elsewhere for the remainder of 2020 (or until the advisory is lifted). It is still a great place to visit.
I recommended Hermitage Park as a picnic and paddle location for May, but for June I recommend travelling a little further from the city. Islet Lake is about 45 minutes east of Edmonton and home to 10's of km of trails, nice wooded day-use picnic areas, basic facilities and a small lake with a large central island. It's a great place to spend the day with a little bit of everything for everyone. Bring bug spray.
Access to Islet Lake is available via the Islet Lake Staging Area.
Located in Elk Island National Park (park fee required) is a beautiful lake dotted with islands. Bison sightings are almost guaranteed (most likely on the drive to the lake). The day-use area has ample parking, a large beach, well maintained facilities with flush toilets and an outdoor shower. Canoe, kayak, and SUP rentals are available on the lake from Haskin Canoe (obviously I'd prefer you rent from me). Camping is also available.
Access to Astotin Lake is available from the Elk Island National park turn-off on Yellowhead Trail. Note that the access road is a popular cycling destination and bison are present. Drive carefully.
Note: As of June 30, river levels are high/potentially unsafe. This run is not recommended at the current levels.
If you like your paddles to be a little more adrenaline filled, and have the necessary equipment and training, the Pembina River might be for you! We may not have extreme whitewater nearby, but this class I-II whitewater is only an hour from Edmonton and a better fit for the intermediate paddler anyway. The Pembina is best known as a river for tubing, but it's absolutely more fun to run on a SUP.
The start point is Pembina River Tubing (paid parking) and finishes at the Pembina River Provincial Park day use area. Be sure to check river levels before leaving. This is best run during "normal" levels, and can be dangerous at higher flows. I'm always looking for paddle partners to do trips like these as they are not something to be run solo. If you think this might be in your future, let me know!
North Saskatchewan River - This could be an entry every month. The river valley looks fantastic during the height of summer. It will be featured in July.
Sturgeon River - Featured in my May post and good as long as water levels are high. Same start point as Big Lake.
Hubbles Lake/Allan Beach - A fantastic lake with private beach access just west of Stony Plain.
Any large lake of your choice - There are plenty of lakes that I simply can't cover in this blog. Popular lakes include Lake Wabamun, Lac Ste. Anne, Pigeon Lake, Gull Lake, etc. Be sure check the weather, stay close to shore, and avoid lakes or sections of lakes that develop blue-green algae. The latest advisories can be found here.
Sorry for the delay on posting the June list and my July list will be up in very short order. Feel free to include your own paddle suggestions in the comments below, tag @chadhasapaddle on Instagram or email your favourite spots to email@example.com
Filming your adventure is an excellent way to share it with friends and family, and get more people stoked on SUP. Read on to find out why I don't leave home without a 360 camera:
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Chad writes about Edmonton, SUP, travel and his van. We participate in affiliate programs, and can earn a commission on qualifying products linked in the blog.