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Celebrate Paddling: packed schedule, new race

Canoes make their way through Fish Creek Ponds during last year’s Adirondack Canoe Classic. Local paddling-related businesses have a full slate of paddling events set for Celebrate Paddling month. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

SARANAC LAKE — The fourth annual Celebrate Paddling month will begin on Saturday as organizers release an almost daily schedule of canoe, kayak, stand-up paddleboard and guideboat-related events.

The events are coordinated by the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, MAC’s Canoe Livery, Adirondack Lakes and Trails, and St. Regis Canoe Outfitters. Events are open to the public and include off-water activities such as a trivia night, historic lectures and presentations on paddling trips outside of the Adirondacks.

“It brings primarily awareness about paddling (and) paddling opportunities,” Keith Braun of MAC’s in Lake Clear said. “I think all the outfitters have done a really good job of providing programming that would be suitable for novice or beginner paddlers all the way up to expert.

“In our world, if we’re not spending a lot of time promoting the sport, it’s not going to be good for any of our businesses down the road. So we kind of need to put our heads together and do a good job of promoting the sport, and there will be plenty of opportunity for us to all get plenty of business after that.”

This year, Celebrate Paddling has also expanded west to Tupper Lake, with a Raquette River cleanup sponsored by Raquette River Outfitters.

The village of Saranac Lake has hung Celebrate Paddling banners downtown to usher in June’s slate of paddling-related events. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

Some of the other notable events scheduled include a full moon paddle on June 17, a solstice paddle on the 21st and the culmination of events with back-to-back races on the final weekend of the month.

The Tupper Lake 8-Miler will be on Saturday, June 29, followed the next day by the inaugural Celebrate Paddling Invitational on Lake Flower.

“There will be 1-mile, 3-mile and 10-mile courses for all human-powered craft and individual abilities,” the Celebrate Paddling website says. “There will be youth and novice events, several Voyageur canoe challenges on a 1-mile course. We will have the Voyageur canoe, you bring or join a team! Canoe, kayak, guideboat, SUP races on a 10-mile course out to Oseetah Lake. No carries. The course will include two 1,000-meter timed sprints for special prizes — a race within a race. There will be boat demos a used boat sales area and several vendors.”

The annual cleanup of the Saranac River is slated for Sunday, June 23.

“I just think it promotes stewardship; it promotes a healthy environment,” said Nick Brainard, a manager at St. Regis Canoe Outfitters.

Brainard called the river cleanup his baby.

“We have the resources to bring it together,” he said. “It’s gotten better. We’ve expanded it, but it also depends on the water levels. The first year we got a ton of stuff, so we shouldn’t feel discouraged that we’re pulling less out, because that means we’re making an impact.”

“The idea is to give paddlers a lot of opportunities,” said Mike Lynch of the NFCT. “Whether you’re a racer, a novice or an expert, there’s something for you to do during this month.

“I just like the overall concept. It’s always enjoyable for me to go downtown and listen to these talks about people’s adventures. It’s inspiring; it makes you want to go out and do one of these adventures yourself.”

For the full lineup of events, go to www.celebratepaddlingadk.com.

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