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The Sacred Headwaters

By wade Davis

Greystone Books 2011.Price: $50

Wade Davis is a Canadian author living in BC with one of the great job Residence at the National Geographic Society.

He has been described as "a rare combination of scientist, scholar, poet and passionate defender of all of life's diversity." And he canoes! But this book is not about paddling it is about a very special wilderness area in British Columbia.

The gorgeously photographed book is part of a project to save a sacred headwaters in northern BC where the Stikine, Skeena and Nass rivers are formed. The culprit Red Chris Mines which hope to open a 28-year copper mine in 2014 on the doorstep of the area 50 miles south of Dease Lake. The emphasis of this book are the stunning photographs mainly by Carr Clifton. And they are also an example of the new and very high end photo editing techniques that have been developed recently which allow the full range of exposure and colour to be revealed. It is a sophisticated method not easily done but the results are spectacular. Davis tells the story of the Tahltan natives who inhabit the area and their understand- able fight to keep this incredible area as they have known it for millennia. It is also a labour of love for the well-traveled Davis as he lives in a cabin at the edge of the area. A beautiful area with a murky future as construction is scheduled to begin in the Spring of 2012.

How to J-Stroke

Our straight-forward and no nonsense guide to this essential canoe stroke...

The J-stroke is one of those strokes that will be taught early on in your development as a canoe paddler, and stay with you all the way to when you're sauntering off on multidays down the Nahanni Riven it's a key fundamental stroke that will soon evolve to become the bread and butter of your forward paddling. The J-stroke provides a great platform for you to move on to more advanced strokes such as the Canadian stroke and sideslip manoeuvres. It allows you to develop important skills for further down the line such as trim, body rotation and balance; these are all key skills that we need to exercise for the J-stroke along with other open boat strokes and skills.

What We Use a J-stroke For

A J-stroke is a forward paddle stroke, which allows for subtle correction for turning the canoe. It is used for cruising or just generally moving around It can be used in combination with other strokes to get the boat tuning, like a sweep stroke would be used It is in effect your bread and butter forward packing stroke. The name J-stroke comes from the shape it creates.

Fundamentals Edging and Trimming up!

One of the aspects that make the open canoe such as varied craft is its ability to handle different environments, from rivers to lakes and kxhs. the open canoe can handle it all. By making small changes to our trim we can realty optimise our paddling. First off we want to get comfortable with moving around the boat. Balance is an important part to becoming a skilful open canoeist Being comfortable with a range of sitting and kneeling conditions can be a real value. On a journey you will want to chop and change to give your knees a rest,

so practicing in different positions is important. The best position for control over the edge is both knees over to one side. The closer the knees are together the more edge and the wobblier you may become. However you can flatten your edge out by moving your knee that is further away from the paddle towards the centre of the boat making a more stable platform. With the extra edge comes easier and smoother tracking allowing for less correction on the j-stroke. which means less work, brilliant! The plus to this position is it gives you a lot of control, and can add stability if you feel a wobble very quickly. Once we are on our knees we can begin practicing the J-stroke. For the sake of simplicity let's say we are doing the stroke on the left hand-side. Imagine the bow of your boat is 12 o'clock, your stern 6 o'clock etc. Rotate your knees to 11 o'clock, or better 10 o'clock. This will add extra rotation to your stroke allowing you to engage more muscle groups, as opposed to powering through the arms.

Here is a snippet of a coaching article - Britain's Canoeing and Kayaking magazine, allowing the reader to learn expert techniques. For the full article download the April 2012 issue in the App Store.