sup board
SUPing on the shores of Canmore Kananaskis.

Standing Up to the Canmore Kananaskis Weather

Dispatch by Lena Desmond

Photos by Sergio David Spadavecchia

“You should have been here last week. It was a blue bird every day.”

“Wow, you guys really missed out. We haven’t had three days socked in since the floods.”

“You think this is beautiful, you should see the mountains in the sun.”

Our response?

“Yeah, yeah… We know… We’ve heard… That’s what they all say.”

Maybe it’s our nature, or maybe it’s Canmore rubbing off on us, but we weren’t going to let a little rain make us sit still.

When we emerged this morning, again we were greeted by a thick duvet of cloud; but then, sure enough, the Three Sisters, Canmore’s most iconic peaks, looked down coyly on us for an instant before being swept up by another clouded veil.

Everyone here, it seems, runs by the same adage: “You can let the weather run you, or you can run despite the weather.” Rain pattered down harder than it has the last couple of days, but the residents of Canmore soldiered on regardless—and so did we.

It was put perfectly over dinner with our new friend Cara Brock, a Canmore resident, climber, skier and all-around outdoor athlete: “Sometimes you always wish for a rainy day so you can take a day off and rest. I mean, rest is an important part of any training. And so many people in Canmore are in intense training mode most of the time. There’s so much to do here…”

Maybe it’s our nature, or maybe it’s Canmore rubbing off on us, but we weren’t going to let a little rain make us sit still.

Brandon Olsthoorn, a young entrepreneur and owner of Bow Valley SUP, asked us if we’d like to go for a stand-up paddle around the Spray Lakes in Kananakis Country. Of course, we obliged.

SUP board
SUPing in the Bow River Valley.

It was my first time SUPing. I’d first seen someone on a SUP board back in 2011 on Easter Island. I marvelled at that distant silhouette, breaching so gracefully over big waves in a wetsuit. I never thought I’d find myself on a SUP board; in fact, I didn’t think I’d see that strange sport ever again.

And now here we are, in the golden age of SUP. SUP became prolific not just in adventure towns such as Canmore, but city centres and cottage countries alike. It’s a workout, it’s peaceful and it’s a whole new way to play on water. Those are just a few reasons why Brandon took his passion for the sport to a new level by opening his own outfit.

“Try not to fall in,” said Delano, my adventure partner, as we approached the launch point. “But, like, you’re good. Just… you know… in case you do. Just, get back on your board as soon as you can. It’s like eight-minutes-to-hypothermia cold.”

“I’ll be fine,” I said, looking out the car window at the cold water as thousands of rain drops broke the mirror of the surrounding mountains. Another weather system had dropped in. As we layered up, I made sure to leave one mid layer behind… you know, just in case.

As I moved toward the mountains, I realized they weren't a mirage—they were real. The mountains appeared. I didn’t even notice the rain had stopped.

From the beach, Brandon and Delano launched confidently. My first few steps into the water weren’t too bad. My toes didn’t freeze—in my mind, that was success. I went to my knees on the tipsy board, as Brandon suggested, just to feel it out. I looked up and saw the two of them skirting brazenly forward, unfazed by the rain or the risk of falling in. Hell, I’m not going to look like a gumby, I thought. So, one foot then the other, I rose up.

Look forward. I remembered Del’s advice, adjusted my paddle and took off. Soon I forgot the cold rain in favour of the sound of paddle breaking water, and my cold toes were forgotten to the rain drops cracking the water and the smooth, silky glide of the paddle board as I directed it forward. The chagrin that I couldn’t see the grand totality of the mountains was replaced by a fascination with what appeared under the water’s surface: ghostly tree branches that extended like old knobby fingers reaching for the surface. As I moved toward the mountains, I realized they weren't a mirage—they were real. The mountains appeared. I didn’t even notice the rain had stopped.

We’ve been lucky to see the village of Canmore and Kananaskis Country in all its forms. Through sun, rain, fog and clouds, with all the things to do here, there’s no rest for lovers of the outdoors. We all agree: we’ll sleep when we’re dead. For now, we just want more. 

If you want to follow our expedition live using #opxCanmore, check us out on social media:


Want to read more? Check out our full expedition to Canmore Kananaskis: 

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