Last week, after some very hot days on trail, I took advantage of an evening indoors at the Reel Paddling Film Festival.
The Film Festival was hosted by The Wild Center in collaboration with the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and Raquette River Outfitters in Tupper Lake. The festival screens paddling films, several of which are this year’s award winners in their respective categories.
The festival opener was a quick, stop-action piece called “The Barron Canyon,” made by a band of light-hearted campers who had a lot of fun one Halloween with their paddles, boats and a Nikon D60.
Next up was a visit to the kingdom of waterfalls — Iceland. This crew of paddlers travels the world in search of vertical rather than horizontal water flow. They take a lot of time to prepare their approach and memorize the timing of each movement, but you can feel your own adrenaline surge when you see them go over the 20-meter drop at Aldeyjarfoss.
The third film was a stunning film called “Chasing Water.” As all paddlers have, National Geographic photojournalist Pete McBride grew up wondering where the water in his backyard ends up. His award-winning documentary follows the Colorado River from its source to the Sea of Cortez. Passing mountain streams to the Grand Canyon and then the Hoover Dam, the audience follows the timeline of millions of years. Sadly, the current point in time marks the outlet of the river where there is depleted supply, fouled water and shorelines cracking from drought.
With a quiet style, Becky Mason’s film on advanced solo canoeing techniques gave everyone in the audience a “how’d she do that?” look. She gracefully showed how to maneuver a cedar-and-canvas rig with the finesse and precision that is associated with far more technically designed boats. A second how-to film produced by Reel Water Productions showed sea kayak rescues in dynamic water. The water conditions resembled Lake Champlain on a big day and the instructors emphasized aligning body, boat and blade for a simple, effective rescue.