The W Word

Posted by Courtney Blackmer-Raynolds on 25th Oct 2017

On the last day of our first leg, dry oatmeal blew from my breakfast bowl before I could add boiling water. My long johns, drying on a nearby bush, threatened to take flight. The lake churned as the clouds exchanged our balmy sunshine for a hearty cold front. The dreaded “W Word,” so called by many a superstitious paddler, was upon us in full 45 mph force: Wind.

Not deterred by the ominous whitecaps, we packed our crafts, donned our finest gore-tex and took to the waters. Heads bowed, we planted careful paddle strokes to maintain balance and minimize water intake. Looking up from my task, I discovered that Taylor was not with Micah and me, but paddling parallel to us on the opposite side of the lake. A wide, choppy channel between the two parties, we decided against making the risky crossing to unite our team, besides, Micah’s heavily-loaded boat was collecting the contents of surrounding waves and he soon found himself sitting thigh-deep in water. By the time we had drained his boat, Taylor was out of sight. Paddling on, we eventually spotted someone perched on the opposite bank. Hoping that it was Taylor, we angled our kayaks into the wind and began to paddle across the turbulent channel.

Micah and I plowed through the choppy waters with determination. Struggling to keep my angle, I deactivated my rudder in a sacrifice of stability for maneuverability. Luckily this worked. Finally we reached our destination to find Taylor waiting, soggy from having tasted his own waves, but unscathed. Grateful to be reunited, we savored a can of sardines (our sustenance of choice) and dried ourselves out on the warm sandstone. We hunkered down there for much of the afternoon, patiently waiting for the winds to calm. I relished this peaceful interlude and took the opportunity to break in my new watercolor set. Sheltered by generous sandstone, I painted the view from our wind refuge.