09 August, 2005

like a duck to water

A buddy of mine called me Sunday afternoon.

"Do you want to go to the lake with me? I'm going to do some fishing...and some kayaking."

Sure, I thought. Why not? I'm just lying here, stupid with heat, sweltering in town with exhaustion from my adventures earlier in the weekend.

So up we go to
Gross Reservoir, a pristine lake surrounded by forested mountains. The place is stunning. Like all Colorado water, it's cold and clear. This lake happens to be quite deep, and my buddy cautioned me about this fear-inducing characteristic.

We fished from the bank for a bit, then my buddy took off in the kayak for some better fishing opportunities. He'd offered to have me go first, but I said that I wanted to watch him first to see how it's done.

Then it was my turn. He'd prepared me for getting wet by saying that his kayak was built for whitewater, so it feels quite unstable. He told me how to bail out in the event of my capsizing - you pull the blue handle on the spray skirt, then wiggle your hips backwards. Rolling is a skill to be learned later.

The neoprene spray skirt goes on first, then the life jacket. He recommended that I put my sunglasses in the life jacket pocket until I got the hang of balancing in the boat. I considered leaving my hat behind, but decided that the high altitude sun was too much for me.

My buddy held the boat while I wiggled in and attached the spray skirt. I was so excited - kayaking has been a dream of mine for years and years, ever since I was a child learning to canoe and sail.

Suddenly, it was time. I wriggled free of the rocky shore and was afloat. My buddy was right - this craft did feel a bit wiggly. So I sat still, leaning forward a bit for balance, with the paddle balanced across the bow of the boat.

Presently, I steadied myself and began to paddle. Tentatively, at first, but with growing vigor. I stayed near the shore, and near my buddy, in case something went wrong. After a few moments, though, I felt that I was fine, so I took off for the next cove.

As I paddled along, I felt that for once I was totally in my element.

It was so beautiful, and so silent. I glided along, playing with paddling techniques and checking out the scenery from my duck's eye waterlevel view. I could see many, many photo ops in the making.

The only time I felt any concern was when the wind picked up. It created a strong SW current, and I had to fight to stay near the shore. I was worried that if I didn't point my bow into the current, I'd be knocked over.

Luckily, though, I had no trouble and stayed safely afloat until I returned to our fishing spot.

Then I discovered the true draw of the kayak, at least for my fishing-obsessed friend: freeing rock-snagged lures.

The technique is to hold the reel while floating free in the kayak. Then reel in, allowing yourself to be drawn toward the lure. When the boat is floating directly over the snag, it pops loose.

Oh yes. Kayaking is grand. I am beginning to shop for my own boat now, and my buddy has offered to loan me his next weekend.

Gross Reservoir is huge, with plenty of little nooks to explore, and it also has some whitewater.

Just another reason why the west is the best.


Tom Stormcrowe said...

Hello, Corvo! Thanks for the visit to my blog! You commented in an extremely nice manner and I'd like to invite you back anytime! I'm planning a trip to Creede, CO next summer to mountainbike the Continental Divide trail! Who knows, maybe we'll run into each other! I too want to travel, and haver done a signifigant amount as I used to drive a truck around North America! Actually the only place I haven't been is St John Island in Canada! Spent a lot of time in Colorado on the western slope around Grand Junction and a lot of time around Moab, UT myself(Now there's a climbers mecca!) See ya again soon I hope!

Corvo said...

You are welcome and thanks for the invite! Sounds like a great biking trip you have planned. I am actually planning to hike some of the trail next summer, so who knows!

It could be difficult, though - you may have shrunk to invisibility by then!