Finding peace on water

Resources for area kayaking and canoeing

Story by Amanda Stevenson-Holmes // Photography by Angela Jackson and submitted

Growing up in Michigan with many rivers and lakes, Kimberly Reynolds has fun memories of canoeing and kayaking throughout her youth, and she always loved being near the water. However, her husband, Andy, did not grow up canoeing or kayaking, but eventually, they made their way to central Indiana with an old canoe that Andy originally bought to use on fishing trips.
“We’d take it out, and he’d fish while I read a book or just relaxed,” Reynolds said. “After a couple of years, we wanted more independence when we were out on the water, so we bought our kayaks.”
They still have the same kayaks they bought in 2012, and have each found
their independence while being together on the water.
“He can go find a great fishing hole while I can find a shady spot to read or hop out and swim if I want to,” Reynolds said. “We both get the most enjoyment out of being on the water and can meet up quickly if we get too far apart.”

A northern waterway resource
Situated in Noblesville and opening in April for the season, White River Canoe Co. management personnel say they can help anyone find their peace and independence, their party crowd, or their workout on the water. They offer canoe, kayak and tubing trips on the West Fork of the White River, northeast of Indianapolis. Their Forest Park trip is great for beginners, lasting only 90 minutes and less than a mile in length.
“This is a great section of the river for beginners and young paddlers to learn,” said Brian Cooley, CEO and founder of Outdoor Excursions Inc., the parent company of White River Canoe Co. “We also like it for a good workout because the current is normally slow and allows you to paddle back up stream for an extra lap or two without committing to the longer six-mile trip.”
The White River Canoe Co. also offers longer half-day and full-day kayaking and canoeing trips with all the needed equipment at various pricing for individuals, families and groups. To get a jumpstart on warmer weather, gift cards are available on the company’s website, as well.
“There’s nothing like getting out on the river under your own power,” Cooley said. “The wildlife views are amazing, and there’s a peace about it.”

What to consider
For physical considerations, those who canoe and kayak need enough strength to be able to get in and out of the craft while it’s in the water or on the shoreline. They also need to be able to paddle.
“Every new kayaker or canoer has to get used to and figure out how to manage the feeling that you’re going to tip over,” Reynolds explained. “The kayak is probably going to feel a little tippy, and that’s okay. It takes time to get used to that feeling and figure out the limits of the boat.”
Key equipment includes:
» Canoe or kayak (approximately $300).
» Paddle(s) (approximately $40 each).
» Life jacket, per person (low end, $10).
» Waterproof bag or box to carry essentials like phone and keys.
» Sunscreen and hat for protection against the sun.
Reynolds also recommends a paddle keeper, a little strap that holds her paddle to the side of her boat when she’s not using it. “It’s absolutely invaluable when getting in or out of the boat or if I just want to float. I will never lose my paddle,” she said.
Canoeing and kayaking are activities for all ages, especially if the younger participants are with another person and not having to paddle themselves. Although, it’s important to know that some companies and trips organizers may have age restrictions.
When thinking about how expensive canoeing and kayaking are compared to other activities, Cooley compares it to golf, a concert, or a trip to King’s Island.
“For about $30 a day, you can make a real family event out of it, and you can set how much time you want to spend,” he said. “You can make the fun last all day or not.”

Furry friends welcome
Canoeing and kayaking can also make for a great activity to share with your dog.
“When we first tried taking Ivy out on the water, it was definitely an experiment, and from that experience, I would say to start in shallow water,” Reynolds said.
“We had some spills, and it was good to be in the shallows so there was nothing to worry about.”
In the end, one of Reynolds’ dogs, Ivy, loved going out and sitting on the front of Andy’s sturdier, heavier kayak with a higher weight limit. In fact, Ivy reportedly resembles a professional while wearing her own life jacket.
“While many dogs know how to swim and even love it, the life jacket gives you something to grab onto to pull them back in the boat if they fall out and provides peace of mind that they’ll be okay if anything happens,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds’ other two dogs have never seemed to enjoy kayaking quite as much as Ivy, so they’re allowed to stay at home. “It’s just proof that every dog has a personality of its own, and they may love it or hate it,” Reynolds added.

A southern waterway option
For a waterway option farther south, Blue’s Canoe Livery is an outdoor recreation center located in Edinburgh. It opens for the season May 1. Blue’s Canoe provides canoe and kayak trips on the Driftwood River, which flows through southcentral Indiana. While paddle sports are the main activity there, camping is also offered.
Their most popular river trips flow through a secluded state wildlife preserve, and a part of Camp Atterbury wilderness area. That section of river is alive with deer, beaver, great blue heron, osprey,
wild turkey and what is described as “excellent” smallmouth bass fishing. Occasional mild rapids exist along the route for added excitement.
According to Blue’s Canoe website, the facility has an abundance of canoes and kayaks and is capable of handling several large groups. Families are welcome, but children must be four or older.
Blue’s Canoe rental fees are $32 for one person in a solo kayak, $55 for two people in a tandem kayak and $55 for two people in a canoe.
When headed north or south, White River Canoe Co. and Blue’s Canoe can be nearby canoeing and kayaking resources for getting started, equipment rentals and guided waterway trips.

Paddleboard back to fitness

Canoeing and kayaking have numerous physical and psychological benefits. However, some paddlers may prefer to test their water-navigation skills while on a paddleboard.
“Many of the physical and mental benefits of paddleboarding are very similar to kayaking and canoeing,” said Erica Weddle, owner of Simply Fitness in Nashville. “We spend a lot of time inside on devices, and there’s a lot to be said for getting outside, taking breaks and being with nature.”
However, Weddle, who helps people with personal training, yoga and paddleboarding through her business, said the possibility of standing on a paddleboard has the potential to provide additional benefits that can’t be achieved in a canoe or kayak.
“You have the option to also sit or kneel on a paddleboard and still reap the benefits of some physical movement. But once you decide to stand, if you can, it’s easier than you think, and your whole body is engaged, including your toes, feet and ankles. That’s the beginning of a whole kinetic connection through your body,” she said. “If you’re standing, it’s like cross training because you’re using every body part to keep yourself upright and mobile.”
Through Simply Fitness, Weddle offers a Paddleboard 101 session for novice paddleboarders.
“We do a 10-minute land lesson, and we talk about the board and motions. We even talk about what to do if someone falls off,” she said. “I’ve never had anyone who hasn’t been able to get back on the board, if they’ve fallen off.”
When Paddleboard 101 participants have completed their land lesson, they spend approximately 45 minutes on the water with the option to sit, kneel or stand on their board.
“With paddleboarding, you can make the experience as slow and calming as you want,” Weddle said. “We also practice yoga on the boards. That’s a whole other realm of peacefulness.”
To learn more about paddleboat lessons and Simply Fitness, visit: