Paddling, Paddling and More Paddling
We arrived at the lake late Saturday night after our younger son competed in the Philadelphia Youth Regatta obtaining second place in one race and, well, let’s just say not quite as good in another. On Monday, we woke to a gray and chilly morning. There were many odds and ends we needed to tend to, as we hadn’t made it to the cabin since the Christmas holidays. By noon, the gray chill had burned off and I seized an opportunity to take the kayak out for a quiet paddle toward the north end of the lake. I never tire of the view of mountains rising in shades of gray and green or of the seaplane flying toward me to land at the public beach. The next day it seemed that everyone wanted to kayak so we paddled across the lake – one of us in our kayak, three in the canoe, to rent a second kayak and a SUP. We returned to the camp each manning our own vessel and I learned that I don’t love paddling a canoe by myself. I’ve never mastered the J-stroke and so I find myself paddling one side and then the other in an attempt to travel in a straight line. Needless to say, I was the last to arrive at the dock. Excited by our new fleet, the boys headed back out in kayaks and Tom on the SUP. Not interested in the paddling the unwieldy canoe again, I plopped into the lake on one of our big inner tubes. I floated for a bit like that, but I’m not so good at floating and doing nothing else, so I started paddling with my hands. I wondered vaguely if I looked strange paddling an inner tube with my hands, but I didn’t care all that much. I found that when you’re traveling that slowly, you see everything. The seaweed growing from four feet below surface, the rocks sitting beneath the bottom of my tube and the silver-gray root fingers of old trees sawed off at the top. I managed to get myself around the bend before I saw Tom returning on the SUP. He offered to switch vessels with me, but that seemed more trouble than it was worth so I continued my paddling, now following him back to the dock. The boys arrived shortly thereafter and we rewarded our efforts with a big lunch and chilling on the dock. On Tuesday, I woke early, ate a good breakfast and took the SUP out for a spin. I’d been dying to buy of those for our lake house and I was eager to check it out. I admit that when I first stood on the SUP with my long paddle, I was tempted to belt out Italian opera, viewing myself like a Venetian gondolier. After I pulled away, though, I found what everyone has said about stand-up paddling to be true: it’s peaceful and a good core workout. It’s so peaceful and simple that it feels primitive. I loved it. Unfortunately, before I was halfway to my goal destination, a little brown house in the cove north of us, I experienced a twinge in my back and had to return. I continue to be resistant to the fact that I am at the age where twinges limit our efforts. I’m a stubborn girl, what can I say? Not long after we returned, the boys trooped down to the dock and Zach urged us out for a family paddle. This time, I was in a kayak and Tom and Mitch took the canoe. I helped Zach unmoor his kayak, urging Tom and Mitch to go ahead since canoes are obviously much slower than kayaks. By the time I paddled out from the dock, my neighbors were warning that I had little chance of catching them. Much to my chagrin, they were right. Maybe canoes are slower than kayaks, but when you have two strong rowers in said canoe, the odds shift a bit. Eventually, we all met up and crossed the lake to experience a different set of scenery. By the time we returned, against the wind, my shoulders were screaming for a break. Now it’s Wednesday and I feel well-rested and the heat is expected to rise. I wonder: what vessel will call out for paddling today?