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Thu, Sept. 19

Kayaking gives outdoorsman freedom to be one with nature

Dave Harner of Chino Valley has done many things in his life.

Photo courtesy Dave Harner

Dave Harner enjoys his time kayaking and being in the great outdoors.

He stays busy and active in his work and recreational activities, even through health difficulties.

He originally attended Alexian Brothers Hospital in Chicago and got a nursing degree, hoping from there to go on and become an anesthetist. Unfortunately in 1956 just when he was to start training, Harner found out he had a tumor on his spine.

"After my surgery, I had some paralysis, and didn't know if I was going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life, so I decided to get my teaching degree, as I knew I could teach school from a wheelchair if necessary," he said.

For the next eight years he supported his wife and five children by teaching high-school English. Over the years he was a Director of Education, owned a business, and is now a real estate agent.

In 1980 doctors discovered that Harner had colon cancer. After major exploratory surgery, and no chemotherapy, he is one of the lucky ones who has had a total recovery from this terrible disease.

Harner and wife Carol moved to this area in 1987.

About five years ago he joined the Prescott Paddle America Club.

"An old friend got me interested in paddling, and I really liked canoes until I got into my first kayak," Harner said.

Besides enjoying the great outdoors, Harners club does a lot of good for the community.

"Our club goes to a different lake each month. We have adopted Goldwater Lake this summer so while we're enjoying the water, we're also cleaning the lake," he adds.

Harner explains that kayaking is a gentle sport.

"This is something an older person can do. Even if they can't run, jog or walk, they can paddle. I'm living proof that you can still paddle a kayak at age 70," he said with a grin.

Kayaking is also a great family sport.

"My 7-year-old grandson can even kayak; he's like a water bug," he said proudly.

Harner so enjoys kayaking that he now teaches beginning kayaking in Prescott year round whenever he can schedule the time. "

All it takes to do recreational kayaking is coordination. (Of course, a kayaker should know how to swim.) The emphasis is on style and grace, instead of power, like the "whitewater kayakers do," he confirms.

The club also goes on trips to the Colorado and San Juan rivers, in addition to other lakes and streams in the area.

Because of spinal problems from years ago, Harner said, "Hiking is pretty much an impossibility for me because I am slowing losing the function in my left foot, but I feel I can kayak till I drop," he smiles. "When I'm kayaking, I can be out on a lake with nature and forget the office. It's so quiet and peaceful; it gives you a real sense of freedom."

(Contact Diane DeHamer at ddehamer@prescottaz.com.)

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