Traverse City Record-Eagle

Body & Soul

June 8, 2013

Senior Focus: Kayaking for fun — and recreation

As the sun tops the horizon, imagine paddling along the shoreline on the quiet waters of one of the many lakes in the area, morning mist rising off the water, with the inspiration of an eagle soaring overhead or a loon diving for its food.

To make this connection with nature a possibility — and to begin your kayaking venture — Grand Traverse Senior Center Network presents Beginners Senior Kayak Day at 9 a.m. Monday, June 17, at the Traverse City location. It's a fun-filled day on the water with Michael Gray of Uncommon Adventures.

“We will do a class in the morning, teaching people how to get out in kayaks on the bay — right in front of the senior center — paddling forward, backward and stopping, boat maneuvering skills,” Gray said. “Also, we will teach stability strokes, so they can avoid capsizing. After lunch we will move the kayaks up to Boardman Lake and come down the Boardman River, actually an easy portage around the dam, and then paddle from the river out into the bay and back to the senior center beach.”

Gray teaches paddle sports, but part of his job is guiding tours for those who want to use their new skills. Based in Beulah, he founded Uncommon Adventures in 1984, a couple of years after graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in environmental interpretation.

He has trips planned to Greenland and Iceland this year, plus tours on the Great Lakes. He feels the kayaking and fly fishing tours he guides is a way to share his enthusiasm for the outdoors with those who are too immersed in their everyday routine to enjoy the natural environment they are missing. From guided coastal sea kayaking excursions, to sea kayak instruction, to backcountry fly-fishing, he shares the natural beauty of Michigan, Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Greenland, New Zealand and just about anywhere you would want to go in the world.

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