Become the kayak king of Olathe.
The state of Kansas may not be a hotbed for extreme sports, but groups such as the Kansas Whitewater Association do their best to elevate Kansans' adrenaline. It ain't easy, trying to keep up with those wild river escapades people get to have out in the Rockies, but there are two spots of whitewater in the Kansas River near Kansas City, and Clinton Lake has a sweet freestyle hole near Lawrence. During winter months, though, the KWA heads indoors to kayak at the Olathe Family YMCA pool (21400 West 153rd Street). The association offers kayaking lessons for paddlers of all skill levels from 8 to 9:30 p.m. every Wednesday through March. Sessions cost $7; gear rental costs $3. To reserve equipment, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 913-393-9622. -- Sarah Smarsh
The Kansas Sierra Club likes Licking.
Don't let the environmental activism fool you. The Sierra Club's true mission is to come up with really painful things to do, like sleeping outside in early January. This weekend the organization's Kansas chapter heads to Missouri for a little winter backpacking in the Mark Twain National Forest. Undeterred by temperatures that play a large role in natural selection, the group hikes through the Paddy Creek Wilderness near the town of Licking in northwestern Texas County. The 7,020-acre expanse, once a target of the logging industry and homesteaders, is made of steep cliffs, rock outcrops and creeks. Within the forest, stalwart Sierra Clubbers will cross paths with white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, squirrels and rabbits, all of which somehow survive winter nights without Coleman tents and thermal fleece. For more information, call Bob Wilshire at 913-384-6645. -- Smarsh