Over 50: Young enough to learn kayaking | SierraSun.com

Over 50: Young enough to learn kayaking

Andrew Cristancho
Sierra Sun
Ryan Salm/Sierra SunMark Hadley of Alpine Meadows, David Hill and John Skipper of Truckee kayak on Donner Lake on Thursday during a Truckee Donner Recreation and Parks District seniors kayaking class.

As cotton-candy clouds swept across a blue alpine sky, 11 senior students spent Thursday afternoon at Donner Lake, learning the finer points of kayaking.

Instructor Pat Northrop, a Tahoe local since 1958, was teaching the “mature adult” kayak class for the Truckee Donner Recreation and Parks District.

Gesturing to the brightly colored kayaks lined up on Donner’s West End Beach, she praised the course for encouraging area residents to participate in local activities.

But the class was not all about learning to paddle a kayak, said Alpine Meadows resident Mark Hadley, 62.

“Getting out in the lake and seeing old friends and meeting some new ones,” is what attracts him, said a smiling Hadley.

Donner Lake resident Marilyn Crang, a native of England, called the class informative, saying she learned about different equipment available to kayakers.

The 20-year local said she loves physical activity and is an outdoor enthusiast, and sang the sport’s praises.

“So much exercise we get [at Tahoe] is lower body and [kayaking] is upper body,” she said. But she added: “I’m thinking about practicing rolling.”

Rolling is a method of bringing a kayak upright after capsizing. It can be fun but is challenging to master, as first-time kayaker David Hill, 65, found out.

“Yeah, I fell in; didn’t you see it?” Hill grinned. His shirt dripped water. “It was shocking and it was wet.”

Hill said even getting into a floating kayak was an acquired skill. The retiree said he plans to use his new expertise to explore and fish some of the alpine lakes in the area.

Truckee-Donner Recreation and Parks District will host another mature adult kayak clinic on Aug. 16. Registrants should call ahead to check on availability of equipment because of a limited number of kayaks.

Senior and Teen Coordinator Susan Duffy Smith organized the kayak class and other events that include exploratory trips to Thunderbird Lodge on the East Shore, Vikingsholm Mansion in Emerald Bay and the Sagehen Creek Field Research Station next to Highway 89.

The district’s Northrop is also pioneering a geocaching and orienteering class that involves a treasure hunt while learning to use a GPS.

To learn more about the district’s senior programs, visit http://www.tdrpd.com or call 582-7720.