Holly Orr, founder of Paddle With Style, is teaching me how to paddle a racing canoe. Pam LeBlanc photo

I headed back to Staples this afternoon, for another paddling lesson from paddling guru Holly Orr, owner of several records in the grueling Texas Water Safari race.

We had to stop and watch the sun set. Pam LeBlanc photo

I’m doing the 260-mile race next June, as part of a three-woman team alongside veteran paddlers Sheila Reiter and Heather Harrison.

They know what they’re doing; so far, I do not. But that’s changing. I’m taking a deep dive into canoeing, and you’re likely to spot me on Lady Bird Lake, the San Marcos River or the Colorado River downstream of Austin most any day of the week.

The cows wandered down at the bank for a stare down. Pam LeBlanc photo

Today Holly focused on a couple of issues I’m having – one, I’m not driving with enough power. I need to twist more, to engage my core muscles to move instead of relying on my arms. I also need to start my stroke a little farther forward than I’ve been doing.

Holly Orr paddles up the San Marcos River near Staples. Pam LeBlanc photo

I borrowed a solo boat for today’s lesson, and it probably doesn’t look like the canoe you just conjured up in your mind (unless you’re a paddle junkie.) It’s narrow and tippy, with a wider spot in the middle to accommodate a human butt. We’re talking about a canoe that you wear, versus one that you clamber around in like a Boy Scout.

Bonuses of today’s late afternoon lesson? Feeling a little more natural every time I’m on the water. A gorgeous sunset. A scamper up a muddy bank to check out a dilapidated old shack. Blue herons. Black cows. A beaver, dipping and diving under the water’s surface.

See you on the river.


About Pam

I’m Pam LeBlanc. Follow my blog to keep up with the best in outdoor travel and adventure. Thanks for visiting my site.

Where is Pam?

Click to open a larger map

Follow Pam