This morning, Doug, Mike and I agreed to meet at BayCreek for a paddle. I’d scouted it out on Thursday when it was about 42 degrees out, and it was remarkably free of ice. But as I got in the car to go, I noticed that the temperature this morning was only 25 degrees. Not quite as pleasant. I won’t be paddling without pogies today.
I arrived at the parking lot to see that Mike was already there, but he’d gotten his car stuck in the snow. I helped push him out, which is not exactly the sort of warm up I wanted. Doug arrived almost as soon as we’d gotten Mike out, and we didn’t waste any time getting ready. As I’ve done so many times before, I realized that I’d left my GPS on the table where I was getting ready. Oh well.
The creek had a bit more ice around the edges, and the water was cold and dense. The shallowness of the water and the swiftness of the flow meant that we didn’t make very good speed, and we had to constantly hunt from side to side to find water deep enough to paddle in, even if it meant being in the main brunt of the current. Often we ended up in single file because it the only deep water was too narrow for side by side paddling.
After 15 or 20 minutes, I was finally warmed up enough to take off my paddling jacket. There was a very narrow fast bit just downstream from where the weir used to be, and Doug and Mike waited for me just above that. As we warmed up, we started really enjoying it. I have to say, in spite of the ice forming on my jacket, in my beard, and on the top of the boat, I was warmer paddling this morning than I am sitting in my office right now.
In spite of the cold, we saw geese, ducks, swans and one kingfisher. We also saw lots of people walking their dogs in Ellison dog park. A few of the people looked at us like we were crazy. They were probably right.
By the time we were ready to turn around, I was dragging behind the other two guys a bit. After we turned around, I enjoyed the feeling of actually making some headway so much that I went out hard and lead them through a line that went from deep fast part to deep fast part. I think I managed to keep the lead for about half a mile before first Mike and then Doug pulled past me.
After we “finished”, we decided to paddle out into the bay to look around. We could see some motorcycles running around a pylon course on part of the ice, and the ubiquitous ice fishermen, and there were were out nearly half a mile from shore. We hit ice a few dozen feet short of where the time trial turn-around was, so I said “to hell with it” and paddled out into the ice. My Looksha does an ok job of breaking thin ice, but when I went to turn I got about 90 degrees around before I hit thicker ice that I couldn’t break through easily and turn at the same time. That’s when it hit me how silly this little stunt was. I had to paddle backwards a bit, breaking ice with my paddle for every stroke, and then once I got into thinner ice, turn for home and paddle back, still breaking ice. Not the smartest thing I ever did, but not dangerous. At the worst, I would have had to paddle backwards around the curve that I’d already cut in the ice, and I didn’t have to do that.
It was a great day out, and I’m hoping there will be more thaw days.