Meet Astrid Vanderlee of PaddleAway.Today of Cochrane-Ghost lake, AB, Canada
Hi Astrid, could you tell us a little more about yourself ?
As most of us paddle boarders I'm a ‘water’ person. I grew up close to the coast and am always drawn to the water whether it is an ocean or a lake. After a snowboard accident I had to have surgery followed by a long recovery time. In order to get my strength back I had to start exercising again.
Being the water nut I am it was only logical that I looked into water sports. I'd never tried paddle boarding before but the more I read about it the more I knew this was the sport for me. After an introduction lesson I bought my first board and there was no stopping me anymore. Paddle boarding became and is an important part of my life. I became a WPA Level II paddle board instructor and opened a paddle board school named PaddleAway.today.
I, and the PaddleAway.today team, promote the sport and encourage people of any age to live a healthier lifestyle through paddle boarding.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience with paddleboarding
Born in the Netherlands where there's no shortage of water and wind, I started windsurfing at a young age until my family and I emigrated to Canada. Being landlocked here paddle boarding has replaced the windsurfing for the last 6+ years.
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Location Overview - Tell us about your water environment
The lake we're based at is called Ghost Lake which lies in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains 35 min. west of Calgary. It is fed by the river coming from the mountains and it has this gorgeous turquoise color and is very clean. The lake is 13.5 km long and you can spend a full day or more exploring it in all directions. It a four season location for recreation and sport activities from boating, wind surfing and paddle boarding to ice-fishing, ice sailing and skating. Standing on the north side of the lake looking west you'll see the Rocky Mountains as the back drop. Depending on the time of day it looks like a painting. There are not a lot of lakes like this in Alberta and we're proud to not only have this as our 'office' and 'playground' but also to call it 'home'.
What services do you offer, do you have a signature paddle tour or activity?
We offer Lessons, rentals, sunrise/sunset tours, race training, and paddle games.
Besides a very affordable introduction lesson which includes all equipment, we are the only paddle board school in the area specialized in lessons for 55+ and we are a certified SUPkids school offering kids summer camps.
Can you tell us some interesting notes about the area?
Paddling to the north side of the lake feels like paddling in the midst of the Rocky Mountains. Don't be surprised when you do see deer, coyotes or bald eagles passing by. Appr. 5 km. from the lake is a Wolf Dog Sanctuary located. Only appr. 60 km. to the west lies Canmore and a bit further in the middle of the Rocky Mountains you'll find Banff, a well-known tourist spot. There are several beautiful mountain lakes close to Banff that are well worth a visit. I can highly recommend to rent a paddle board and paddle lakes like Two-Jack Lake and Johnson Lake to name a few. Upper and Lower Kananaskis is some paddle spot closer to Ghost Lake you don't want to miss either. Lots of wildlife everywhere and you might even spot a bear...
Are you seasonal or do you operate year round?
Since this is Alberta we are dependent on the weather and when the lake is open and liquid again. In general we aim to start in June until end September.
Tell us about your favorite local food and why you love it
We're only 10 min. away from Cochrane, a town that has grown a lot but still kept its country-feel. There is shopping, supermarkets and there are nice restaurants and cafés to try out. Oh and it has the best ice cream shop in Alberta! 😉
Where would you recommend travelers stay nearby?
Right on the lake is Cottage Club located, a recreational community where there are several cottages for rent. You will be able to find them on AirBnB, on any of the other familiar vacation rental websites or just ask us. Cochrane, only 10 min. to the east, has several hotels/motels and 10 min. NW of the lake is The Crossing located, a Retreat Centre. Some other options would be Calgary, Canmore and Banff.
Are there any additional activities nearby that you recommend?
You don't have to be bored with all the activities that can be done close to Ghost Lake: • hiking • biking • horse back riding • boating • fishing • paddle boarding • kayaking • canoeing • shopping • exploring • amusement park • swimming • dining • movie theatre • museums... I'm sure I did forget several but there is something to do for everyone.
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