Well, lesson learned: I should always stop and save my post every couple of paragraphs. I got halfway through this blog post last night and my internet connection timed out. That kinda drained my motivation for the night, so I'm back for round two this morning. If you're reading this, then you know that I succeeded.
I got to put in some serious paddling hours this weekend down at Brookville Lake near Brookville, Indiana. Two nights of camping and a collective 12 - 14 hours of paddling make me think the weekend was a success.
You wouldn't know that it is late June in Ohio according to the weather. Temperatures that barely hit 70 with rain and clouds do not qualify for summertime weather. Friday started out as a soggy, miserable mess of a day, so I took my time getting ready throughout the day and didn't leave home until mid-afternoon. Launching from the boat ramp near the dam, I circled into the wind to get a closer look at the dam and quickly proceeded to the western shore and calmer waters.
As I paddled the clouds threatened rain for awhile but gradually broke up until little peaks of sunshine came through. That warmed things up enough that I was thinking about testing the stability limits of my kayak and then going for a swim. After paddling for about 2 hours, I found the perfect camping spot and unloaded my deck gear to go back out and see just what it takes to flip my kayak. I'm happy to say that I can stand on one foot in the thing and still be dry. I think in almost any situation I will fall over before the thing flips, especially when loaded with gear (the kayak that is; I'm heavy enough without gear). So satisfied with the stability, I jumped overboard to see how easy it is to re-enter the kayak. I can say that it is easier to get back on this kayak than it is to get on a lazy river inner tube. I just pull myself on top, swing my legs over and turn over into my seat. I'm hoping that my waterproof camera is in for my next paddle so I can put up a video of this stuff.
After only one dunk, I was getting chilly with the water temps being almost warmer than the air. So I dried off and got ready for bed.
Open camping spot for the night
The spot I found for the night looked like something some boaters had visited frequently, an open area under the trees complete with a fire pit and a tree with initials all over.
I slept well Friday night, thanks in large part to my new hammock system from Eagle's Nest Outfitters. Unless I'm somewhere with a shortage of trees, I don't ever plan to go back to tent camping. A good hammock is just so much better than the ground.
E.N.O hammock system: rain fly, bug net and hammock all strung together!
I woke up around 6 to another deer unhappy with my choice of sleeping arrangements, but I forced myself to sleep for another 2 hours. Work was draining this week and I knew that I needed the sleep. So after a quick breakfast I got back on the water around 9 am. Saturday was a beautiful day with a few, high clouds and temps in the low 80s. Seeing how far I could push my kayak on Friday night gave me the confidence to give my butt a break every hour or two and paddle standing up for awhile. It's amazing how much more you can see when you stand up in a kayak. Throughout the morning and early afternoon, I saw more fish than I could have ever caught, many of them not even acknowledging my presence as I slipped right over top of them, even with my radio playing. (Oh yeh, I got an awesome shower radio that gives me some tunes while I paddle!)
An awesome day
By 1:30 I reached the headwaters area of the lake and began my way back down the lake on the eastern side at an easy pace. Around mid-afternoon I stopped under some open trees and took a quick siesta in my hammock. There was a lot of boat traffic on Saturday and every now and again I could hear people commenting on the hammock as they would float past. I think the hammock is a success.
Throughout the afternoon, I saw few camping spots that were off the lake and away from all the boat traffic, so I decided to put in another hour or two and camp in the same spot for a second night. After a quick swim at sunset, I was off to "lala" land.
Saturday yielded another great night of sleep, and apparently I was all caught up on sleep by 5:30 am, when I was suddenly wide awake. However, the scattered showers that had been forecast the night before had turned into an outright drenching by 3 am and lasted until at least 9. So I just sat in my hammock all morning, dozing and waiting for the rain to let up so I could make the short paddle back to the boat ramp. Pushing off around ten, I made it back to the ramp around noon and headed back home to Xenia.
Everything considered, it was a great weekend, and I figured out a lot about my endurance and gear. I'm rather happy with my endurance; I don't think that it will improve any more than it has until I actually start paddling every day. My gear needs a little bit more work, but only a little. I need several more dry bags for gear, as well as some odds and ends. Probably the most revealing thing was seeing how well my hammock system handled the rain; I stayed dry through six hours of continuous rain and figured out the best way to set it up. I'm all but ready to go, and I'm figuring that one extended training tour on the Ohio River will work out the last kinks in my gear. Next weekend is July 4 celebration, so I won't be in town, so probably no real paddling opportunities since I'm going to be spending time with family and friends. I did get my SPOT tracker working on this trip, so as soon as I figure out how to put the live link on the website, you can follow my progress in real time. Be sure to look out for my next post, as I really am hoping to have a lot more quality videos so that you can see exactly what I'm up to. As I end that last sentence with a preposition, (I'm looking right at you Mrs. Lauver) I think that this has rambled on far enough, so I'm done for tonight. Be sure to like the Facebook icon below to share this blog with your friends, and ask those same friends to make a donation to the World Vision clean water projects through this website.