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69RoadRunner

Northern Tier Training in DC Area

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We're in Northern, VA and I was wondering if anyone had good experiences with canoe outfitters in the region we could use for Northern Tier training.

I've found some for on the rivers in the area.  There are also some where you can just paddle around like Burke Lake, which isn't much of a lake.

Thanks!

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Training is a very good idea. We had one adult who seem to always have an excuse for not making practice, and he regretted it the whole trip. He expressed once at the evening meal how he couldn't wait to reach portage to rest is aching paddling muscles only to hate the work of portage itself. It was a cycle that made him dread getting up every morning. But I always felt sorry the most for his son who had to defend his dads constant whining. 

Looking back, I believe learning and practicing to load and unload a canoe at portages is the most important skills for first time Northern Tier crews. Yes, practicing strokes is good too, but when you have 6 or 8 canoes waiting at a portage entry for YOU to load or unload your canoe, you start to respect your ability to unload heavy packs and  lift a canoe over your head while standing on slippery uneven rocks. It's a team sprint and the better each member understand their role when the canoe comes to a stop, the faster the crew gets on the water or portage trail and out of the way of the other crews.

I remember our crew of 4 canoes holding at a small portage entry in the water for over an hour waiting for two crews of girls scouts (8 canoes) to unload their canoes. Some on the portage entries only allow one canoe at a time. Not blaming the girls at all, it was just bad luck that two crews reached the single canoe entry at the same time. But, it does emphasis the importance of skills for getting in and out in a timely manner. 

If every member of the crew can learn and practice the technique of lifting gear out of the canoe and lifting canoe out of the water over their head, they will be way ahead of the learning curve. As much as inexperienced crews anticipate padding that first lake, it's the first portage that exposes their hard skills. 

Second on my list of skills is using the map and compass. All islands and hills look a like from the middle of lakes.

 

Barry

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Call the directors of your council camps. Some of them will make their canoes available to you if your troop camps there. A few of them might have NT experience, and can help with training.

Local canoeing clubs might help as well.

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3 hours ago, 69RoadRunner said:

We're in Northern, VA and I was wondering if anyone had good experiences with canoe outfitters in the region we could use for Northern Tier training.

I've found some for on the rivers in the area.  There are also some where you can just paddle around like Burke Lake, which isn't much of a lake.

Thanks!

Suggest giving Blue Ridge Mountain Council (Roanoke, Va.) a call, ask for their Reservation Program Director.....she might be willing to release the canoes you need, but no promises here since I'm not aware of any current fees.  If that should occur,  Foster Falls is fairly close, and a run to Allisona  on the New would be a good start....

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2 hours ago, le Voyageur said:

Suggest giving Blue Ridge Mountain Council (Roanoke, Va.) a call, ask for their Reservation Program Director.....she might be willing to release the canoes you need, but no promises here since I'm not aware of any current fees.  If that should occur,  Foster Falls is fairly close, and a run to Allisona  on the New would be a good start....

We've gone to Camp Ottari every year I've been with the troop and are doing Powhattan next summer, so we're familiar with the BRMC. 

It's about a 5 hour drive for us.  I was hoping to find something a bit closer, but I've been looking at Claytor Lake.  We had scouts go there for summer camp with BRMC several years ago.  I had to work hard to keep a straight face when we had scouts get the motorboating merit badge.

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I've also switched my gym cardio from the stair stepper (Philmont last summer) to the rowing machine.  I've been taking my son to do that, too, along with the personal fitness merit badge stuff.

The rowing machine isn't a perfect match for the canoe stroke, but it helps.  We also do shoulder press, chest press and leg exercises on top of the merit badge requirements.

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2 hours ago, 69RoadRunner said:

We've gone to Camp Ottari every year I've been with the troop and are doing Powhattan next summer, so we're familiar with the BRMC. 

It's about a 5 hour drive for us.  I was hoping to find something a bit closer, but I've been looking at Claytor Lake.  We had scouts go there for summer camp with BRMC several years ago.  I had to work hard to keep a straight face when we had scouts get the motorboating merit badge.

I would just call district first, and then council to ask for contacts with a lot of Northern Tier experience. Then go from there. We did all our training with someone that has 30 years of Northern Tier experience and some of that wasn't even near the water, like how to pack a canoe correctly or how to lift a canoe over your head. You might learn of more contacts who have access to canoes from the first contacts. 

1 hour ago, 69RoadRunner said:

I've also switched my gym cardio from the stair stepper (Philmont last summer) to the rowing machine.  I've been taking my son to do that, too, along with the personal fitness merit badge stuff.

The rowing machine isn't a perfect match for the canoe stroke, but it helps.  We also do shoulder press, chest press and leg exercises on top of the merit badge requirements.

All that is good, but unlike rivers with a current, wind is the big driver of fatigue on large lakes. I don't understand the science, but it doesn't matter what direction your paddling, you always have a headwind. What should take one hour to cross on a calm day could take two or even three hours in a head wind. Unlike hiking, if you stop to take a break, you loose ground, so stopping isn't really an option. The exercises with the most benefit is moderate exercise for at least 20 minutes or more.  Even a 3 mile fast walk 3 times a week that gets the heart rate up would be fine. Or interval training (HIIT). Interval training can be done with any exercise, but lets use walking as an example; warm up for 5 minutes with moderate walk, then a very fast walk for 1 minute with a moderate rest walk for 2 minutes. Do that five times and you will feel the burn. 

I suggest something like that because most scouts don't go to gyms to get in better shape. Truth is most youth are in pretty good shape, it's the adults who need to get in shape. But, if you ask the scouts to do a couple of 3 miles runs a week, they don 't seem to mind.

As for carrying gear, smaller scouts carried smaller loads, while the larger scouts carried heavy backs and canoes. The advantage of portaging is that you can, and will, go back for second loads. Hopefully you don't need to go back for the 3rd.

Barry

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2 hours ago, Eagledad said:

All that is good, but unlike rivers with a current, wind is the big driver of fatigue on large lakes. I don't understand the science, but it doesn't matter what direction your paddling, you always have a headwind. What should take one hour to cross on a calm day could take two or even three hours in a head wind. Unlike hiking, if you stop to take a break, you loose ground, so stopping isn't really an option. The exercises with the most benefit is moderate exercise for at least 20 minutes or more.  Even a 3 mile fast walk 3 times a week that gets the heart rate up would be fine. Or interval training (HIIT). Interval training can be done with any exercise, but lets use walking as an example; warm up for 5 minutes with moderate walk, then a very fast walk for 1 minute with a moderate rest walk for 2 minutes. Do that five times and you will feel the burn. 

I suggest something like that because most scouts don't go to gyms to get in better shape. Truth is most youth are in pretty good shape, it's the adults who need to get in shape. But, if you ask the scouts to do a couple of 3 miles runs a week, they don 't seem to mind.

As for carrying gear, smaller scouts carried smaller loads, while the larger scouts carried heavy backs and canoes. The advantage of portaging is that you can, and will, go back for second loads. Hopefully you don't need to go back for the 3rd.

Barry

I do 20 minutes on the rowing machine, but also mix in a mile swim and will go back to the stair stepper, too.  I do weights and functional exercises.  I typically get there 3 times per week.

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