Friday, March 26, 2010

First Paddle of 2010

Looking back last year, my first paddle in 2009 was on March 7. Unexpectedly early due to a warm spell with rain that opened up the Credit River. Well this March was even warmer with better weather! You bet I was thinking about paddling. Unfortunately bad timing lead to missing the first opportunity to paddle the Credit on the same calender day (Mar 7) when it broke free of ice. Since then I still haven't been able to get out on the river, but,....I did go for a paddle.

The following weekend, I went to spend some time with my girlfriend in Huntsville. Leaving Toronto meant losing another opportunity to paddle the Credit, but the trade off was,....uh,..yeah!, well worth it! (shhh!, she might read this post) Driving up, I hoped an opportunity to paddle would show up somehow, but seeing all the frozen lakes was disheartening. Well as I pulled into the driveway in the fading light, I could definitively make out the shimmering glow of open water from the lake in the distance. There was hope.

Lake Vernon in Huntsville was surprisingly open. Which meant
we couldn't pass up the opportunity to paddle!

In the morning, one of the first things I did was look out onto the lake. Despite most of it being encased in ice, I was thrilled to find a large open section in the middle. Thoughts of paddling danced round my head. Of course the biggest problem was getting to the open water from the ice surrounding it. The next couple days I waited patiently as the combination of rain and hot temperatures continued to open up the lake until there was less than 10 ft of ice from shore to get to open water. Relaying my intentions to Lisa, we both agreed it was time to get out for the year's inaugural paddle.

We were all smiles as we were prepared to go for our
first paddle of the year!

So on Monday Mar 15, I happily portaged (How often does that happen? Tell Bill Mason that.) the canoe to the lake shore. Even more surprising, the bit of shoreline ice we thought we had to contend with had melted or shifted so we didn't have to deal with it at all. The gods were paving the way! Then exactly at 14:30, we slid the Nova Craft Prospector into the chilly but open waters of Lake Vernon. Maybe it was the combination of being with Lisa and the warm sunny day, but pushing off into the lake and paddling was totally gratifying. How else can you describe the exhilarating feeling of paddling when all those synapses fire away in your hands, arms, shoulder and back exciting the pleasure senses in your brains? You just can't! You just have to experience it yourself.

Yeah, the whole lake didn't thaw out as you can see.
This is Hunter's Bay on the east side of Hwy 11.

But look! Lisa found another route to paddle! I would call this
an 'inlake' river! These openings were caused
from snowmobiles tracks.

It was the perfect day for paddling as the weather was unseasonably warm. As much as it probably isn't a good thing, especially when Environment Canada says its been the warmest and driest winter, Lisa and I couldn't help enjoy the moment. I've never paddled so early in the season on a lake this far north! So I missed paddling the Credit this weekend, well I certainly didn't have any regrets now. Can you tell? Now to start thinking (or at least planning) about a trip soon! 2010, here I come!

I think its a safe bet to say we were very happy paddlers.
It simply couldn't have been a better day!

Happy soon-to-be paddling! (of course if you haven't already gone!)
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