In an effort to help more people learn about, and experience, the wonders of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge (KNWR), the Refuge recently sponsored a Canoe Safety Day for anyone wanting to discover or sharpen their canoeing skills. There are over 100 miles of canoe trails within the KNWR, linking some 70-wilderness lakes.
"It's not commonly known, the system is probably much more famous outside of Alaska and across the world," said author and guide Daniel Quick, who kicked off Canoe Safety Day with a morning talk about his experiences. "In my six years as guide, I never took anyone from the local area or Alaska, but always people from outside.
There is only two wilderness canoe areas in the country that have been set aside by Congress. One is the boundary waters of northern Minnesota, and one is the Kenai Canoe Trails, so we have a national treasure in our back yard and that offers almost any level of canoeing you want to take on, and not many people realize that," added Quick.
His popular book, " Kenai Canoe Trails," has almost sold out of its first printing and has been circulated among wilderness enthusiasts around the world.
Dan Quick, author of Kenai Canoe Trails, and his wife Zelma, autograph copies of the popular book at KNWR Canoe Safety Days.
During his talk, Quick underscored safety and good equipment as the foundation for an enjoyable experience on the trails. "I have found that it is far better to bite the bullet and get a fine light craft for a couple thousand dollars that you can pass on to your grandchildren with very little maintenance, than to invest in a cheap heavier style canoe for a couple hundred. It's a lot of money in some regards, but I always ask people what their snowmobile cost or what does an outboard motor cost. I suggest that people borrow a canoe and experiment with lakes near by and if they feel they like it and want to get into this tremendous system, I highly recommend getting into quality equipment," said Quick.
Following Quick's presentation, participants had the opportunity to try out a canoe on Headquarters Lake at the KNWR visitor's center. A canoe demonstration sponsored by Mad River Canoes and Wilderness Way was offered to anyone interested in trying out the experience of canoeing in a safe and gentle setting. The Canoe Safety Day came about in an effort to spread the word about canoeing in the Refuge, according to Park Ranger Candace Ward, "We were very pleased with the turn out. Its important people have the opportunity to learn about outdoor opportunities within the Refuge. We want to help people use it in a way they feel safe and confident," said Ward.
Details on all the KNWR activities are available year round at the Visitors Headquarters, on Ski Hill Rd, in Soldotna, during regular hours.
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