History of Nakusp Paddling Club

-Susan Desandoli, May 2010

In the spring of 2007, a group of friends were taken aback when one of our number suggested we join a group of paddlers commemorating the 150th anniversary of David Thompson's voyage down the Columbia River by paddling from Revelstoke to Nakusp in a Voyageur canoe. When it was explained who David Thompson was (Canadian explorer,) what the group was doing (paddling down the Columbia River from Canal Flats to Castlegar) and what a Voyageur canoe was (a 26 foot long canoe,originally used by fur traders and explorers,) we hoped she was joking.

Imagine our surprise when we found ourselves in a borrowed voyageur canoe, first built for Expo 67 celebrations, learning to paddle as a team. Some of us were experienced paddlers. Others had never been in a canoe before and weren't sure we liked it. Most of us persevered, and by the time we met the other paddlers in Revelstoke we were almost able to keep up with them on the two day, four stage paddle from Revelstoke to Nakusp. Luckily there were more paddlers than seats in the canoe so we didn't all have to paddle the entire 90 kms. We made it to Nakusp with sunburned skin and aching muscles, and shortly after said a sad goodbye to our borrowed canoe.

In the winter of 2008, we were barely surprised when the same person who suggested the voyage suggested that we buy our own canoe. With generous support from community organizations, we were able to buy “The Dragonfly,” a lovely, featherlight (compared to the borrowed canoe) kevlar model.

We have taken the canoe out dozens of times on short weekday paddles and longer weekend paddles,and have paddled to Edgewood and on Whatshan Lake. This summer (2010) we are hoping to paddle from Edgewood to Castlegar, thus finishing, two years later, this end of the voyage we originally got organized for. After that, who knows? Maybe we'll do the Canal Flats to Revelstoke portion.

Over the years, we've increased our paddling abilities, but we all remember what it was like sitting in the canoe the first day, terrified we'd tip it over and not at all sure if we were ever all going to be
paddling in sync. Now that we think we have figured out this paddling thing enough to welcome new members into our group, we are anxious to make it as wonderful an experience for the new members as it has been for us.

There is nothing quite like sitting quietly in the canoe, our paddles at rest, with the sunlight glistening off the water, listening to the call of the loons and watching otters play in the water or bears foraging onshore.

And then we all start talking again, and the spell is broken.