On the water
May 7, 2013 8 Comments
I love being near, on, or in, water and many of my childhood summer events took place near lakes or pools. I was always early for swimming lessons and chose to handle the oars for rowing events on small inland lakes.
During nine of the years we lived in New Jersey, it was across the street from the swimming beach on Lake Lackawanna and we had a variety of water toys, including a 16′ power boat for skiing and tubing. This stayed with the house when we moved to Oregon. With larger lakes and rivers in the Pacific NW, we got a 26′ cabin cruiser for water adventures. This was great for seven years but the girls got older, and gas prices started to rise, so we said good-bye to the marina environment. Anyhow, by then I’d discovered kayaks.
We had walked from our daughter’s downtown apartment to watch the 4th of July fireworks from one of the bridges over the Willamette River. Everyone else was watching the sky but I was mesmerized by these banana-shaped-one-man-canoes-and-a-single-paddle floating on the water for the firework show. From then on, no other watercraft had much appeal for me.
I signed Ed and I up for a paddling class. He was not thrilled but changed his mind halfway through the three-hour class. (By then I was already being recruited as a future instructor.) Paddling a kayak is more about balance in the seat and foot pressure on the pedals than rowing, in calm water. Rough water is a different experience and it’s in my future plans.
Those first few years, Ed and I loaded the kayaks onto the truck and explored a variety of inland lakes and rivers. We even paddled some coves on the Pacific but once Ed saw a whale surface and realized the marine life was larger than him, and his craft, his salt water days were done. (I never saw him paddle so fast for shore before or since!)
The past few years the kayaks have stayed home on this lake, as two daughters weddings and grandson activities have been enough of an adventure. There’s paddling events as Pine Hollow is a locally known camping and fishing resort. When we are there, I’m usually on the water before ten in the morning and will paddle the perimeter in about an hour, or crisscross the lake. I may spend more hours on, or in, the water but that early paddle is my morning exercise/meditation.
A 12′ wilderness kayak is a bit bulky for me so, until I get other sizes and shapes to play with, I like to practice different strokes and maneuvering techniques. Sometimes I just float in the shade and admire the view.
The lake shore changes with the seasons as this is a reservoir of snow melt from the Cascades and the top fifteen feet of surface water are used for irrigation on surrounding farms. By the 4th of July, there are wide beaches all around the water. Marshes and small streams appear before they become shallow enough to cross without getting your feet wet. The surface water is warm and cold pockets are rare.
Mt. Jefferson, about 50 miles to the south, is only visible from the lake in the early spring when the water is at the highest level. That’s why I took my camera on board, to get that rare shot of Mt. Jeff.
You may think this lake doesn’t fulfill my desire for rough water, but it does. The lake is open for power boats from the end of May and through the beginning of September. During those months, half of the lake is a churning swirl of waves on the weekends. Other times, like this past Sunday, the winds are strong enough to kick up small white caps across the center of the lake.
And that’s why Ed headed for shore, so I could brave the waves and have spray splashing over the bow for a while. This isn’t white water rapids but you need to be alert and one-with-your-craft-and-paddle to avoid getting too wet. The weather was very warm and the sun strong, but the winds were 20 knots with higher gusts and the spray was icy cold. I may have laughed my way across the lake, but it was really nice to reach shore.
And sometimes I wonder, was I a Naiad in another life or a turtle?