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  winter paddling habits
  Posted by: tdaniel on Oct-23-12 9:51 PM (EST)

I used to just stop paddling from November to March. The last few years I started trying to get out at least a couple of days each month. I pick my days according to the weather. I stay away from the high volume rivers (like the New) and more difficult runs and like to paddle small creeks. I carry a sleeping bag in my hatch for rewarming after a swim. Usually I wear a semi-dry suit, with fleece pajamas. I like to keep my hands warm. Sometimes I'll wear both Pogies and neoprene gloves. Very important to get all the wrinkles out of the sprayskirt on your stomache and back so water doesn't puddle up on you. I wear wool socks over my drysuit feet and put on booties. An old rug or mat is helpful for changing, standing on, so I don't mess up the dry suit feet. I always wear a beanie to prevent ice cream headaches if I should flip but that sometimes causes me to overheat. It takes forever to get dressed and undressed (I'm fatter, and slower in the winter) but it feels great to get out and now I actually look forward to winter paddling. In the winter all my paddling trips become short day trips but that's what I do most of the time, anyhow. The biggest problem I have is finding like minded folks to paddle with. Most of the whitewater crowd that paddle in the winter like harder runs. I definately step it down a notch. I've experienced a cold water swim on the New River 20 years ago and learned to respect how quickly cold water zaps you. I can't imagine doing that again- older, fatter but wiser.

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