There’s no reason to be up the creek without a paddling partner or paddling instruction this season.
Canoeing and kayaking clinics, courses and group activities are being offered by several organizations in the Inland Northwest.
The season’s first paddling fairs, which enable people from novices to experts to see and paddle different models of boats and gear, are starting next weekend.
Full Spectrum Tours of Sandpoint will sponsor its annual Paddlefest on Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille at the Sandpoint City Beach. The event features recreational, touring, sit-on-top and pedal kayaks.
The area’s largest assortment of new canoes and kayaks from various manufacturers, plus paddles and lifejackets, will be available to demo in the Spokane area at the June 19 Paddle Fair, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Liberty Lake County Park. The event, sponsored by Mountain Gear will be held the day before the annual Spokane River Canoe Classic fun race.
Top sources for guided or group trips in the Spokane and North Idaho areas include:
•Spokane Parks and Recreation Department has weekly group trips, with rentals available if needed, for canoeists or flatwater kayakers. Trips range from destinations such as the Little Spokane River and area lakes to multi-day sea kayaking adventures in the San Juan Islands.
The department staff has special canoe and kayak camping classes, and trips specifically for women, youths or families.
•Full Spectrum Tours based in Sandpoint has a full range lake kayaking trips, rentals and instruction on waters such as Lake Pend Oreille and Priest Lake, plus other offerings ranging from fun in the sun for teenagers to full-moon tours.
•Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club offers boating clinics plus groups trips and monthly programs.
•Rangers from the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area lead several fun paddling adventures during summer. High on the list is the Aug. 14-15 overnight canoe trip with a campsite picked for watching the Perseid meteor showers.
Several classes offered this year are geared to honing skills that can take you through the rapids and flatwater of inland streams and lakes as well as saltwater paddling routes.
The Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club is the local paddler’s constant connection to the region’s lakes and rivers. In addition to a year-round group trip schedule, the club also offers several summer courses for canoe and kayak. Class size is limited and pre-registration is required:
•The SCKC Introduction to Solo River Kayaking, which is a prerequisite for the moving water kayak clinic, is scheduled for June 6 at Medical Lake. Cost: $25 per boat.
•The SCKC Moving Water Kayak clinic for river kayaks, June 12-13 on the Spokane River. Cost: $65.
•The SCKC Flatwater Canoe Clinic, a prerequisite for the moving water course, June 12 at Medical Lake. Cost: $25 per boat.
•The SCKC Moving Water Canoe Clinic is more involved, with two classroom sessions July 7-8 followed by two days of instruction on the Spokane River, July 17-18. Cost $65 per boat. This highly respected annual course recognizes there’s no half-day shortcut to learning river-running canoe skills.
The Spokane Parks and recreation Department continues to expand its paddling program. New this year is a class emphasizing camping.
•A five-session Parks and Rec canoe camping class has two mid-week evening classroom sessions and one two-night guided trip on July 16-18. Pre-register by June 21. Cost: $124.
Quicker paddling tune-ups can be found in several clinics already on the season schedule:
•Free kayak touring clinic, May 31, 6:30-7:30 p.m., at Mountain Gear.
•Lake Roosevelt Recreation Area Paddle Days, July 17, Columbia River south of Kettle.