Why serious kayakers should keep a journal

November 3, 2015

It's in a river's fluid nature to change. That's why it's smart to keep track of river runs, their seasonal flow and conditions, as well as your own fitness and reflections as a serious kayaker.

Why serious kayakers should keep a journal

Why keep a kayaking journal?

First, keep a trip log or journal for sheer entertainment - a record of epic good times on the river as a serious kayaker.

You can also keep a log to trigger memories, not just of the fun, but of the challenges, the frustrations, the not-so-great incidents, and how you met those challenges with varying degrees of success.

You can also keep a journal so that you have a record of water features, obstacles, flow rates, and other river data to call upon for future trip planning.

What to record in a kayaking journal

Record both logistical and personal information, such as any goals you had for the kayaking excursions you write about.

Note the date and time of day, the section of river paddled, the weather, estimated flow rate, conditions at put-in and take-out, and notes about wildlife encountered, including insects and fish.

Note your own energy level, who's with you and who you meet on the river, gear you're glad you had and gear you wish you had.

Also mention water features, such as waves, holes, strainers, drops, and portages.

What were the rapids like, and if you carried your boat around anything, what was the portage like?

How did you feel while paddling?

Make notes about the area around the river run. Along with details about plants, animals, and the lay of the land, your notes on the surrounding area could also include your observations of what the community closest to the river is like.

How to keep a kayaking journal

You can record your journal in whatever way is most comfortable to you. You should also journal in a way that will be easy to look back through if you plan to use your journal as a reference in the future.

So you could journal in a waterproof notebook, a sketchpad, a hardcover field notebook, a diary, a scrapbook, or on scratch paper you bind together yourself.

And you could record entries using ink, pencil or keyboard.

Complement your notes with sketches, photos, maps and found objects.

In case you take your journal on or near water and it isn't waterproof, keep it in a small drybag or mapcase with a pen.

Off the river, you might also consider online journal apps such as Penzu or Evernote.

In the end, keep your kayaking journal however you want to keep it, with as many or as few details as you choose.

What guides your choice should be the reason for your journal in the first place — is it a personal record, something you want to share with friends and family, or is it something you might want to publish in the future?

Whatever your reason for keeping a kayaking journal, doing so can create a useful reference resource that's personalized to your interests and where you kayak the most.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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