Kaelen -- 20 Questions with AQ Outdoors

Kaelen -- 20 Questions with AQ Outdoors

AQ Staff
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For a lot of us, the water and the outdoors is a sanctuary. It is a place to reconnect with ourselves, family and friends. It brings us peace and a wholesome view on life. Thus making the paddling and outdoor community some of the nicest people we have ever met, and is a huge reason we love it so much (other than just having an uncontrollable love for paddling).

Part of this wholesome community is paddler and AQ staffer Kaelen. Growing up in a kayak/ canoe, Kaelen developed a love and respect for the outdoors that is to be admired. Kaelen is a huge supporter in the paddling community, spending her spare time giving back to youth paddling communities and sharing the love for the sport. Without further adieu, please check out AQ’s 20 Questions with Kaelen! 

kaelen sea kayak

1. What is your name and what do you paddle?

Kaelen here! I prefer sea kayaking and canoe tripping but I'll try anything as an excuse to spend time outside.

2. Where did you grow up?

Born in Vancouver and raised in the Calgary area.

3. How long have you been paddling for and how did you get started?

I've been involved with Scouts Canada as long as I can remember. Calgary actually has a sea scouting group that I'm still a part of. It seems a bit silly having a sea-based group in a land-locked province but they put me in a canoe at the age of 8 and I haven't looked back since.

4. What is one thing paddling has brought into your life that you would say has changed for the better?

There are so many things that I would say I'm grateful for, thanks to paddling. It has given me the opportunity to challenge myself, grow in a leadership role, connect with like-minded people and travel globally. 

5. From your perspective, has spending time outdoors and on the river helped you manage your daily challenges in life and why?

I would say knowing that I have the outdoors as a sanctuary to fall back on is definitely a driving factor for me to get through the week. Nature is healing and I still have so much to learn from her. Spending time outside the city always helps me reset from any building stress in a way I can't attribute to any other hobbies. 

kaelen touring kayak

6. If you could paddle only one boat or board for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I was recently able to get my hands on a Dagger Stratos 12.5L that I'm looking forward to growing with. It's comfortable for me, but just versatile enough that it keeps me on my toes and I can take it almost anywhere that I would want to paddle. 

7. What is the longest commute you have ever made for a paddling trip?

I worked as a sea kayaking guide in New Zealand for a period and one of the regular routes we would take into work was a 40 minute drive, to an hour long ferry ride, to one of the sketchiest 45 minute cliff-side bus rides I could dream up. Of course the longest part was transferring gear between transports. This was to access Doubtful Sound and it was definitely worth waking up early for. Thank goodness the kayaks were stored onsite!

8. Where is your favorite place to paddle? Or one that isn't top secret?

Almost every year I'll take a weekend in September and canoe the Red Deer river from Tolman bridge to Dinosaur Provincial park. It's a really nostalgic trip for me but I would recommend bringing a gallon of bug spray if you try it. 

9. How do you continue to push yourself on the water?

Other than the previously mentioned Red Deer trip and some family time on the Bow river or Glenmore reservoir, I try to paddle a different body of water every time I break out my pfd. I love getting to explore different areas and Western Canada so many to offer that I haven't yet seen.

10. What's the longest paddling journey you have done to date?

Okay, technically not paddling but the longest amount of time I've spent on the water involved a 2 week sailing trip up the West coast from Nanaimo up through Desolation Sound to Campbell river and back.

11. What is your craziest on water experience or thing you have seen while paddling?

Other than wildlife encounters, this past year I was able to participate in a private guided tour around the coast of one of the Azores Islands and we actually ended up in a rescue situation for our guide. I obviously can't speak for the guide and it was otherwise a good outing but pretty confusing at the time. 

12. Do you train during the off season or participate in any winter sports?

I'm a bit ashamed to say I don't like to hit the ski hill in the winter or do pool training, but I do love cross country skiing, indoor climbing, and winter camping. 

kaelen climbing

13. What and where is your dream paddling trip?

I would love to work toward paddling around the Northern coast of Canada. In the meantime, I know some groups who are doing the Salmon river, the Broken Islands and the Bowron lakes circuit this summer and I'm extremely jealous of them all.

14. Do you or are you involved in and community programs on or off the water?

Scouting takes up a lot of my volunteer hours. I'm happy to help give back to the youth and expose them to different adventures and opportunities as those same experiences really helped shape who I am today.

15. What is the best advice you would give someone who wants to get into paddling?

Prepare to get wet! There is nothing wrong with being a fair-weather paddler but don't expect to get into a boat with jeans on and come out dry.

16. If you could paddle with anyone in the world, past or present, who would it be? 

I think canoeing with Bill Mason would be an eye opening experience. He really took to it as a lifestyle, rather than a hobby and I aspire to be that spiritually connected with the natural world around me.

17. Is there anything you would change about the sport

I appreciate that there has been a lot of growth and innovation with the gear which has made it more accessible for an increasing number of people. My issue is with safety concerns for those people who don't take moving or still water conditions as a serious risk. 

18. Over the past few years how have you seen the rivers or lakes change, and what are you doing to try and protect it from an environmental standpoint?

There are still noticeably impacted areas from the Bow river flooding here in 2013. While I personally can't do much about that, I do take a garbage bag with me every time I head outside the city so I can collect any potential garbage and hopefully have a positive impact on the wildlife in that area. 

19. Could you describe the feeling you get when you are on the water?

It's one of the few times that my mind really slows down and I can just listen and take in the scenery. 

20. If you could describe the paddling community in a single word, what would that word be?

Determined. 

kaelen paddle

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