By Doug Schnitzspahn
Now that the only people who insist that the world's ice isn't melting are politicians on oil-company payrolls, let's talk about what that means. Will we soon be paddling the streets of Manhattan like some kind of post-apocalyptic Venice? No. Not soon, anyway. Still, the Big Melt already is changing the places we paddle in profound ways, says polar explorer Eric Larsen, who made a 550-mile paddle and pull across open ocean and sea ice to reach the North Pole in 2006. A decade before, he could have skied the whole way. Ten years from now, it could be primarily a paddling trip. "The nature of sea ice has changed dramatically," Larsen says. "I’ve seen firsthand how the ice is thinner than in 2006. It is much more broken up than it used to be."
With droughts a flooding becoming the norm, we'll learn to paddle packrafts to navigate rivers at extreme low flows, and making the most of those short seasons.
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How Technology, demographics and shifting climate will change the way you paddle
As peak demand for permitted river trips continues to grow, more boaters will get wise to shoulder seasons.