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July 2022

A Little Paddle: Nathan's 2022 Summer Plans

Written by: Nathan Slater from @alittlepaddle

As a Sea Kayak Guides’ Alliance of BC (SKGABC) certified L3 Guide, my preparation for our 2023 expedition looks a little different than Sanesh’s. I am already certified to lead commercial sea kayak trips in class 3 waters (class 4 waters are the most technical in the province). I also already have my Restricted Operator Certificate (marine radio), Wilderness First Responder (90 hr first aid), Mental Health First Aid (20 hrs), and a level 3 kayak skills certificate through Paddle Canada. This more-than covers the basic requirements that Sanesh and I set for this trip, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be slacking over the next couple months. Here’s what I have been up to/will be up to:

  • Until the end of April I continued to work as a maintenance technician at Middle Beach Lodge in Tofino. I spent every spare moment out surfing in the waves and got to use some of those days to surf my Mega Proton surf kayak and my Seaward Legend sea kayak once in a dry suit. I tried really hard to use my surfing wetsuit for kayak surfing, but it's so bulky in the torso that I kept getting sea sick…

My winter home in Tofino

  • In May and June, I took a field school in Haida Gwaii through the Haida Gwaii Institute (HGI). This course did, among other things, immerse me in Haida culture and give me a deeper understanding of the flora and fauna of the central/north coast of BC. I'm particularly excited to use the Plant I.D. skills I learned here to enrich my paddling over the coming years.

  • In July and August, I’ll be leading sea kayak expeditions in Gwaii Haanas National Park with Green Coast Kayaking (sorry, they’re already fully booked…). I’ll be spending roughly 45 days paddling in the park in a mix of class 2 and class 3 waters. I’ll likely spend an additional 15-20 days leading shorter trips in Skidegate Inlet and running the rental shop in town. This will be my first season working with GC and I’m stoked to meet my co-guides Bryce, Linnea, Mike, and Kelly.

  • In September, October, and November, I’ll be heading to Coast Salish Territory to work in Vancouver and Victoria. I’ll be leading 5 outdoor education trips over that time for Saint Georges School, Saint Michaels University School, and for Sea Kayak Instruction and Leadership School. These trips will be a mix of sea kayak, canoe, and hiking trips, so I’ll get to practice my skills in a bunch of disciplines. I’ll also be running a few outdoor ed camps over this time as well and taking my Paddle Canada Level 1 Instructor course in early October to improve my paddling instruction technique.
  • In mid-November, my partner Sarah and I are planning to travel to South America for a bit (hopefully to celebrate COVID-19 being handled at the global level) so this is where my concrete paddling plans end. We’re looking to be back in Coast Salish Territory sometime in late January so I can spend the remaining two-and-a-half months preparing for the expedition.

Sanesh and plan to get out on the water at least once in the summer/fall season for a short trip and again in the late winter/early spring for several training paddles and at least one other overnight trip.

Beyond expedition training, I hope this summer plan also gives a sense of what a typical guiding season is like for a relatively seasoned (8 yrs) professional is like. This year I’m looking at roughly 90 days of guiding expeditions plus 2 bits of professional development. It’s an incredibly busy way to spend a spring/summer/fall, but it’s also super rewarding. In a more normal year I would spend late April, May, and June leading outdoor ed trips and starting the guiding season, but I really couldn’t pass-up the opportunity to take this course through the HGI!

If you’d like to know more about how my guiding season typically looks, or if you have any questions about anything really, let us know by leaving a comment! We’d love to hear from you.

More About Nathan

Nathan hails from North Vancouver. In his youth, he was convinced he wanted to be a chef and finished culinary school in 2014 before realizing that the restaurant industry wasn’t for him. Nathan then completed a Certificate of Wilderness Leadership from Capilano University in 2015 and has been working as an outdoor educator ever since.

His main area of work so far has been in delivering ecology, culture, leadership, and environmental stewardship focussed expeditions for youth.

Since becoming an L3 sea kayak guide in 2019, he has been looking for new ways to challenge himself and so has begun teaching Kayak skills and working in more remote environments.

As if kayaking wasn’t enough, he is also in he final semester of an environmental planning degree at Dalhousie University with certificates of indigenous studies and geographic information science to boot! When he’s not working, Nathan is an avid road cyclist, canoeist, backcountry skier, and an amateur film photographer.

He is spending this winter working on his surfing skills in Tofino while doing lodge maintenance on the side. Nathan is getting spending as much time in the water as possible in preparation for a summer of guiding in Gwaii Haanas National Park!