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Nathan’s Summer Plans

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’ll be up to:

  • On April 24th, I finished a six-month work contract as a maintenance technician at Middle Beach Lodge in the town of Tofino in Tla-o-qui-aht territory. I had been spending every spare moment out surfing in the waves. I received my custom drysuit from Orange Canoe a few weeks ago and spent as many days as possible in the last few weeks surfing my Mega Proton surf kayak and my Seaward Legend sea kayak. I tried really hard to use my surfing wetsuit for kayak surfing, but its so bulky in the torso that I keep getting sea sick…

The maintenance shop is under the big green roof. Can you spot our van and shed in the bottom corner – quite the commute to work!
  • In May and June, I’ll be taking a field school in Haida Gwaii through the Haida Gwaii Institute (HGI). This course will, 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’ll learn 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.

Kelly and I went on an evening paddle in the Tofino Harbour in early March to prep for her upcoming L3 exam
  • 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.

A glimpse of Sydney Island From last summer - clearly I need to work on getting myself in the frame…
  • 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. 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!


Nathan Slater

**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. Please consider subscribing to be notified about future posts.

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