It’s 100 days until I start my trip around Nova Scotia. Trip preparation is on my mind every single day. It’s something I balance with work, home, and life’s other demands.
Iain has been super supportive, suffering endless camp food experiments and trudging through fields and marshland helping me scout land routes. My friends have also been supportive, offering their encouragement, wisdom, and expertise.
Here is what I’ve been up to recently…
ROUTE – After studying the Chignecto Isthmus by Google Earth in pain-staking detail all winter, I did a scouting road trip in mid-April to check out my anticipated put-in spot. Much to my relief, right at the top of the Cumberland Basin, is a spot reasonably accessible by dirt road and with some solid ground on which to camp. I need to go back to check the height of the tide on a neap — the worst case scenario. It’s going to be a long, albeit relatively flat, walk across the isthmus. I expect it’s going to take two days to drag boats all the way across. I should make bumper stickers.
BOAT – I picked up my Taran 16 from the Rockpool factory when I was in Anglesey for some training in April. I’ve had one foggy training day on the water since I returned home and I was satisfied with the outcome. The boat is fast, and I clocked pretty good time, but I expect I can do better in good visibility.
BLADE – The Epic mid-sized wing paddle has powerful grip in the water but I found it fatiguing after a couple of hours. I was cautioned by far more experienced paddlers that a small-sized wing blade would be more appropriate for touring use. In my next training session I’ll use a Euro blade that I’m much more accustomed to and I plan to trial a few other blades as well.
FOOD – With an estimated 4000 kilocalorie metabolic demand per paddling day, food as fuel demands careful planning. After weighing the options with the costs, I decided to prepare and package all of my own food. By dehydrating good-quality ingredients, I can vacuum package meal rations with optimal macro nutrient balance and taste great. I’ve been running trials at home, preparing breakfast, lunch, and dinner in camp pots by the prescribed cooking protocol.
TRAINING – A couple of years ago, when I first started contemplating this trip, I embarked on a journey with a personal trainer and discovered that fitness, like kayaking, is fun to learn, challenging to master. After spending 2016 on a primarily strength-oriented training program, this year I shifted my focus to muscle endurance and recovery. Training sessions start with a pre-fatiguing routine followed by a series of 8×8 resistance training with short recovery periods. It’s hard work, a lot of volume, and tremendously satisfying.
Since getting out on the water this spring, I’ve felt the benefits of training all winter. There are the obvious, expected gains in mobility, strength, and endurance. Resistance training also contributes to maintaining good callouses so the hands stand up well to the paddle shaft and resist blistering.
WHAT’S KEEPING ME UP AT NIGHT?
Not much these days. With the high-level decisions about food behind me, now it’s a matter of planning and executing.
I have some anxiety about the suitability of the Fundy put-in spot at a neap tide but I have a plan to visit again in May to check out high tide so there’s not much sense in worrying at the moment.
Get food preparation into full swing. Ramp up on-water training for technique and endurance. Paddle/blade trials. Continued endurance training in the gym. Research Nova Scotia history and the environment.
That’s it for now. Time is really flying.
P.S. I had an engaging conversation in Dartmouth yesterday that may lead to another interesting aspect of my journey. More on this as things unfold.