First Kayaking of 2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I finally got around to taking the kayak out for its inaugural voyage this afternoon, and it was a perfect day for it.

Click image to uncrop and embiggen.

The weather was great and I've been looking forward to getting on the water since last summer (shortly before I broke my foot and ruined all hope of an enjoyable autumn) so I once again strapped the kayak to the top of my Jeep and drove over to Cedar Lake.

I'm still dialing-in the best tie-down technique. This time, a right rope at each of the bow and stern served to keep the boat in place while a third ratchet strap around the middle served as a safety. In this day of ratchet straps I'm not sure why I'm bothering with ropes, larks heads and knots. Sure, it's more manly, but it always consumes more time I could be paddling.

For this year's maiden voyage I decided to return to Cedar Lake's west beach because I knew I could launch there without any trouble. Since it was a Tuesday afternoon, I just parked right across the street, hauled the kayak off the top of the Jeep and walked it across the road and down to the water's edge. Fortunately, I remember how to embark without tipping myself over. Although it took a couple minutes to get the proper paddling cadence down. I'm sure my wake's path looked a little silly snaking widely left to right as I kept veering out-of-true. Once I made it to the middle of lake my strokes were more even and regulated.

One of m favorite parts is the channel that connects Cedar Lake to Lake of the Isles, so that's where I headed first. Last time I went down this way I didn't want to go all the way to Lake of the Isles and so turned around before exiting the channel. Not this time! I found myself in Lake of the Isles (which contains precisely two islands - if there were one fewer it would probably be called "Lake of the Isle", if there were two fewer I guess it would just be called "Lake") and decided to circumnavigate both islands (in a figure eight pattern). I saw numerous turtles. Brave turtles, because almost none of them jumped off their logs as I paddled by.

I didn't want to wear myself out too much on my first outing, so instead of heading towards Lake Calhoun I circled back and took the channel back to Cedar Lake. When I started out the temperature was a bit over 20C which, as it turns out, is a little warm. At this point some clouds has obscured the sun and the temperature dropped to an almost perfect level. I decided, then, not to return to the landing point but to paddle under the creepy culvert to tiny Brownie Lake. There I saw more turtles, and maybe a small flock of bats. It was a bit early for bats to be out, I thought, but they sure behaved like bats.

After exploring Brownie Lake I headed back to the landing. According to this distance calculator I paddled a total of 7 clicks (kilometers; almost four and a half miles). It sure didn't seem that far. I could have kept going for quite some time (especially if I had bothered to bring any sort of food) so that's good to know. Perhaps I should get a GPS app for my phone to track my exact distance.

Landing, carry the kayak back across the street to my car, loading it on top and tying it down were all straight-forward (even though it was now rush hour and there were many cars on the road). I should have stayed on the water an extra hour to avoid that annoying commute back home in all that traffic.

I'm not sure where my next excursion will be, but it won't be soon enough.



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