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Kayakers already planning for next year


High spirits and obliging weather made for a successful second-annual kayakers’ symposium here last weekend.

So successful, in fact, that organizers Eric and Caren Fagerdahl, who own Rainy Lake Boatworks, already are planning for next summer.

“We’re thinking of paddling to Crow Rock next time,” Eric Fagerdahl said. “Lots of people have indicated they want to come back next year.”

The 29 kayakers--ranging from seasoned veterans to eager beginners--took to the waters of Rainy Lake early Saturday morning for a day-long workshop led by Erika Fagerdahl and visiting instructor Darrell Makin.

Christian Hollomon, owner of Wildwasser Outfitters in Thunder Bay, also was on hand to give a free demonstration of German-made Prijon kayaks on Sand Bay.

Makin made a splash with the many stunts he taught the group, including “rafting.” This consists of a group of kayakers joining together by holding onto the ends of each other’s paddles, creating a surface for one adventurous volunteer to run across.

Timea Fleury--an intermediate level kayaker--was brave enough to try the trick several times. By Sunday, she had mastered it.

“It’s fun doing different things you’ve never tried before, to test yourself,” she said afterwards. “This is the most fun I’ve ever had kayaking.”

Then on Sunday, the group embarked from Windy Point for a paddle to the Rainy Lake “mermaid,” which took about an hour and a half. They later visited Dale and Phyllis Callaghan, who own a cabin near Mermaid Rock.

Here, the group enjoyed cookies and lemonade while Callaghan, a member of the Rainy Lake Conservancy, spoke about the importance of conservation on Rainy Lake.

Then they listened to the “true” story behind the mermaid narrated by Kurt Lysne, a cousin of the man who is said to have built the sculpture.

An afternoon paddle to Goose Island was cancelled when the group noticed dark storm clouds on the horizon, but Eric Fagerdahl doesn’t think anyone was too disappointed about having to get off the water a little early.

“I don’t think there’s anyone that left [Sunday] that didn’t have a good time,” he said. “Safety is always our number-one priority.”

The Fagerdahls also remarked they were pleased with the number of kayakers who came out this year, and probably won’t make the symposium much bigger next summer.

“We may keep it around this size because it means we can do it from the house,” said Caren Fagerdahl.

Still, Eric Fagerdahl noted some changes will be made to the event next year.

“We’re thinking of splitting the beginners from the intermediates next time,” he said. “We want to avoid tiring people out who are new to the sport.”

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