She’s 78 Years Young & Loves Kayaking!

“You don’t have to be a little old lady sitting on the shore doing needlepoint!” That’s what Sea Eagle boater, Maggie Dickeson, says. Maggie knows of what she speaks: she’s an active hiker and boater in the East Kootenays, British Columbia, Canada. Maggie’s 78 years young.

An active lifestyle

The East Kootenays (pronounced KOOT-nees), in Canada, north of the U.S. Idaho – Montana border, are remote. A recent census pegged population at about 56,000 inhabitants in a region of about 27,600 square miles. That’s about two people per square mile.

And as you’d expect, those are some hardy folk. “The people who come here are outdoor types,” says Maggie. “It’s just part of the lifestyle up here.” And “up here” is really “out there.”  The nearest city is Calgary, Alberta, Canada. “It’s about 250 miles away,” says Maggie.

“Around here, everybody’s active,” she tells us. “This is outdoor country and the scenery is just fantastic. All my friends are outdoor people.” Nearby Mount Fisher tops out at about 10,000 feet. “We’ve all been up it,” Maggie says. “One friend of mine climbed it on his ninetieth birthday.”

Columbia River headwaters

And between the mountains are plenty of lakes and rivers, making the East Kootenays a boating paradise for outdoors people. “We’re a short distance from the headwaters of the Columbia River,” Maggie told us. “I’ve boated on it; it’s a large, calm lake.”

She’s always loved water

Against this backdrop of rugged outdoor adventure, Maggie doesn’t see herself as much of an adventurer. “When I look at Sea Eagle’s blog,” says Maggie in a charming Scottish accent, “there are so many people doing fantastic things, I don’t know why you’d want to post my story.” We politely disagree. Most of the 78-year olds we know are perfecting their needlepoint or puttering in the garden. But not Maggie and friends.

Growing up in Scotland, there was lots of sea around. “I always liked boating, swimming, and getting out on the water,” says Maggie. Her husband, Paul, built a canoe a few years ago. But when he tore a rotator cuff while skiing, “I was left high and dry,” says Maggie. That’s when friends recommended she get a Sea Eagle inflatable kayak.

“Never leave home without your Sea Eagle!”

“I love it,” she says, and has even christened her Sea Eagle “Erne,” the zoological name for the Sea Eagle — a bird of prey of the genus Haliaeetus.

“You can take the Sea Eagle anywhere.” And she does; she deflates it and throws it in her van. Maggie tried a plastic kayak first but, “It didn’t have stability,” she says. “You’d put your paddle in and it’d spin 360 degrees.”

We hope we’re as active, happy, and healthy at 78 as Canadian kayaker Maggie is!

“I like the Sea Eagle because you don’t have to sit in a little hole,” as you do in a hard-hulled kayak, says Maggie. And you don’t have to do an Eskimo roll. “Eskimo roll? Not interested, thank you. I stay afloat, I’m surprised at how floatable it is,” she says. “You sit high on the water. A kayak sits low in the water and I thought the Sea Eagle wouldn’t be stable, but it’s very stable.”

Maggie told us, “You may tell your public I’m 78 and I just love my Sea Eagle inflatable kayak. Never leave home without it!”

Kayaking in France

Jacques Saunier kayaks the great rivers of France in his Sea Eagle Explorer Kayak

If you’re a kayaker seeking travel, adventure, and a full dose of beautiful, bucolic scenery, go kayaking on the great rivers of France. There are plenty to choose from including the Loire River, the Garrone, Rhone, Dordogne, and more.

Kayaking and wilderness camping in France

We talked recently with a Frenchman who does in France what kayakers do on rivers all around the globe: pack their kayaks, point them downriver, and head out for a day – or many days – of boating, exploring, enjoyment, relaxation, and camping in beautiful natural settings.

Wilderness camping in the French countryside.

French kayaker, Jacques Saunier, caught the kayaking bug about fifteen years ago and has explored thousands of miles of rivers through France’s beautiful countryside ever since in a variety of hard-hull and inflatable kayaks.

Over time, as he gained kayaking experience, he came to the conclusion that he’d get maximum utility from a kayak that could handle everything from Class 1 to Class 4 rapids. His further requirements were that it be able to withstand close encounters with river rocks; that it be relatively fast in flat water; and that it be capable of handling 400 lbs. — Jacques and his gear.

Kayaks online

“While searching for kayaks online, I discovered Sea Eagle’s Explorer Kayaks,” says Jacques. “I say with confidence that the Sea Eagle fits my boating style perfectly.” What’s his style? Jacques kayaks France’s rivers and camps in the open countryside.

“With my 420X Explorer Kayak, I’ve traveled 500 miles in several trips on the Loire River; over 200 miles of the Dordogne twice; more than 93 miles of the Vezere River, and more.”

France’s great rivers

The Loire River, at 629 miles, is the longest in France. Along the Loire, boaters pass many vineyards and picturesque Renaissance chateaux. The weather in the Loire Valley is considered to be some of the finest weather in France.

The love of adventure kayaking is a universal language anywhere in the world.

The Dordogne River, in southwestern France, passes through an upper valley with a series of deep river gorges. Its lower region winds through a valley of fertile farmland, orchards, and pastures.

The Vezere River courses 131 miles through southwestern France. The Vezere Valley is well known as the site of prehistoric caves, many of which have cave paintings.

More photos of Jacques’ French kayaking adventure online

For many more photos of of Jacques’ kayaking adventures on some of the great rivers of France, visit his online posts on “Carnets d’Aventures,” a French adventurers’ forum. His online name is jak91. Click here to see photos of his trip down the Dordogne. Click here to see photos combining Jacques’ photos from his Loire and Dordogne trips.

Check your kayak as airline luggage

Flying to your next kayaking adventure? That’s where an inflatable kayak really has an obvious advantage over the hard-hull variety: IKs (inflatable kayaks) deflate and pack small enough to be checked as airline luggage. Inflatable kayaks like Jacques’s 14-foot Sea Eagle 420X Explorer Kayak weighs just 54 lbs. and pack in a carry-bag that’s 31” x 21” x 10”.

Jacques takes a break from kayaking and wilderness camping over lunch at a French cafe.

Our world’s a global community these days and kayaking adventure is a universal language. No matter which of the world’s great rivers you travel, you’re sure to meet other kayakers like Jacques and have adventures you’ll long remember.