One of my three flatmates is Elaine. She is older then the rest of us, in her 40's, but it doesn't really seem like it. She is a very young 45, I think she is much younger than my mom was when I was a teenager. I may or may not have mentioned it before, but one of my goals this summer was to learn to kayak and get some practice at it. Well, it turn out that in her home state of Maine, Elaine is a Ocean Kayak Guide during most summers.
The other day I was lucky enough to go out kayaking with her. Seven miles north of where we live is Jenny Lake. That is one of the main lakes in the park, and where my other two flatmates work. Just North of Jenny are String and then Leigh Lakes. Since Elaine is a ranger here, she has been trying to get to know the park, and I believe she was planning to include information on kayaking these two lakes in one of her future ranger programs. She decided to go check them out one evening and invited me along.
We parked at the South end of String Lake and dumped her kayak in the water. While she kayaked North up the lake, I hiked along the shore on a foot path. When we reached the top, we had the option of portaging to Leigh Lake or turning the kayak back. Since it was getting late, probably about 8:30, we decided to just walk over to Leigh Lake, she wanted to fish a few minutes, but not bother to explore via kayak.
Of course, right when I was taking off my shoes and socks to wade around in Leigh, she caught her fishing hook on a rock. I offered to wade over and free it after she was unsuccessful in doing it herself. It was farther out than I expected. When I couldn't roll my pants up any more I went back to shore and swapped them for a pair of shorts. Turns out my legs are just too short, and ended up saving the hook, but thoroughly soaking my underwear.
What an uncomfortable feeling. So upon returning to shore I retreated to the woods to swap my shorts and undies for my dry pants, and we headed back to the kayak.
For the return trip Elaine walked to shoreline trail, and I got to kayak! She gave me a basic 2 minute instruction and sent me on my way. Actually, the 2 minutes might have been too long. I've canoed many times, its basically the same thing, just with a different type of paddle.
The water was very clear. This meant that you could see the boulders and logs sunken underwater very well. This creeped me out. I was startled every time I came upon a submerged boulder. I do much better when I cannot see underwater. I guess it'll just take some more kayaking to get used to the fact that the rocks are not going to jump out and eat me.
There were a couple paddle boarders out there on the lake. I had never seen or heard of this before. The first one I saw I just figured they were being resourceful, and a surf board happened to be what they owned, so they were making it work on the lake. After I saw a few more I asked Elaine what the deal was with all the people paddling around on surf boards. She told me about stand up paddleboards or SUPs. They are apparently the new cool thing, and if you live near water and haven't paddled around on one yet, you’ll find yourself on one soon.
I have shared with many people, but I don't think I've mentioned it online, my long term goal is to kayak from Lake Erie to The Gulf of Mexico. I plan to complete this within 5 years, hopefully next summer though! This is the reason that I wanted to start kayaking this summer, and it is looking like I might be getting lots of practice this winter too.