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Part 4 in the series, “What a summer it’s been.”

When Bill Lozano invited us to coach at the Hudson River Kayak Weekend, we jumped at the chance to return to upstate New York, a place that holds special paddling memories for us. Sharon spent many summers camping in the Adirondacks with her family; when our kids were little, we returned several times with their grandparents. We’d drive to Saranac Lake, load everything into a couple of canoes, paddle out to Hocum Island, pitch out tents, and then spend days swimming, filtering water, foraging for mushrooms, reading books, chopping wood and talking around the fire.

The upper reaches of the Hudson are more like the Adirondacks than they are like the portion of the river that defines the western side of Manhattan. The river — which is actually a tidal estuary, which means it ebbs and floods for more than 150 miles north of New York City — is wide and the shoreline is green. A train runs alongside the river. What a spectacular ride that would be! It reminded us of the trains wealthy New York City residents were able to take to the Adirondacks in the 1900s; though the Amtraks of today are far more affordable, they still provide access to the retreat upstate New York has always provided from hustle and bustle of downstate.

There was no shortage of smiles and laughter during the skills weekend.

There was no shortage of smiles and laughter during the skills weekend.

The weekend itself featured sessions in kayaks and canoes as well as SUPs. There were instructional courses, assessments and journeys. And on Saturday evening, there was a dinner for everyone, where people shared stories of their day. Bill and Janice Lozano create one of the most inclusive atmospheres we’re experienced anywhere; no matter their role and no matter their paddling experience, everyone is comfortable and welcome.

We love small symposia. They offer opportunities for people who might otherwise feel overlooked or underprepared to find a place in the paddling community. The Hudson River Kayak Weekend accomplishes this admirably, and we look forward to returning again.

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