April 28, 2008

Back to Nature

After spending a few months in limbo about whether or not to continue to sell jewelry online, I have decided not to decide. My plan is to enjoy the summer without the commitment to making and promoting my jewelry. I will re-evaluate after Labor day.

So in leu of that time constraint, I have decided to do something that will enhance both my health and well being. Several years ago I was big into whitewter kayaking. I miss it and long for the days on the rapids, but realize I am not in the kind of physical conditioning that it takes to be safe on the rivers that I would want to descend. But that doesn't mean I can't kayak at all !

I sold one of my " high end " guitars that I wasn't playing much and that afforded me the cash to go in search of a nice touring kayak. I live on the beautiful Lake Champlain, often considered America's 6 th " Great Lake ".

I was a bit shy about looking for a boat .... wondering if I would be taken seriously, due to being 100 lbs heavier than when I was an active boater. I dreaded meeting up with a 20 something paddler who would take one look at me and try to sell me a flat bottomed " fisherman's boat with a barcolounger for a seat and a beer holder :P But I was quite fortunate to find the owners of the Kayak Shack, a couple in their late 30's who were not only professional but just plain NICE.

I didn't end up with a floating tank ! I ended up buying a 17 foot sleek boating machine ! The perfect boat to get me out there paddling and back into shape !

New Touring kayak on my car

I smile to myself every time a man asks me if I want help getting the boat up on the car. It must be some sight to see a 5'3" overweight chick heft this boat over her head and up onto a car that is taller than her *smiles* But that is part of the " workout " .... it would be like asking a girl at the gym if she needs help lifting the dumbells O_0

So I have been out boating several times already and I was ready to up the ante. I challenged myself to a long paddle - circumnavagate Valcour Island. My plan wasn't to simply paddle around the island, but to explore every bay and inlet getting to know the entire shoreline ... no short cuts !

Valcour Island is the forth largest Island on Lake Champlain at about 2 miles long and 1 mile wide. It is almost 1000 acres and has over 7 miles of paths traversing it's perimeter. It is conveniently located just a few miles south of my house.

I set out to make the trek on Sunday, April 27 th . In the early part of the day, the wind was Southerly at about 15 MPH. I chose to paddle around the southern part of the Island first and get the hardest part over with, as the shore would be unprotected from the waves there.

Just crossing over to the Lighthouse was a bit hairy. As I paddled up the shore, I saw a man paddling for all he was worth and met up with him when he came toward shore.

I said, " Beautiful day we're having ! "

He said, " You think so ... I'm terrified ! "

He was in a beautiful wooden Kayak.

I said, " Well, just stay close enough to shore so you can swim in before hypothermia gets you ! " He said " that's why I have this dry suit on ! "

We wished each other luck and I headed for the unprotected south shore of the island, wondering if maybe I should turn back .....

I met 3 - 4 Ft waves on the southern shore !!

I considered turning back, but pressed on, remembering that it wouldn't be the waves that would flip me, but how I reacted to them. I calmed down and just relaxed and rode the biggest ones ... and once through those, I found protection on the western side of the Island .

I didn't just paddle " around " the island, I explored every bay on both sides. So it was the absolute longest trek around the island that you can do ! I'm not sure of the distance ... but I would guess between 5 and 8 miles ??!

By the time I made it to the northern shore, the wind had calmed down to about 6 MPH. I had mild waves heading back to the New York mainland. It took me 5 hours all told, with one 45 min. break to stretch my legs and take photos.


I have photos on my flicker where I stopped to have lunch.

Solo Valcour Trip - View of Crab Island



aweso said...

love the pics! and i'm so proud of you. thanks for inspiring me to get out there..

Little Lovables said...

Wow, what a great adventure, and wonderful motivation! I need some of that to rub off on me!

sherry said...

I so enjoyed reading this story, and your kayak is both beautiful and inspiring.

I love to canoe. We live near the pine barrens filled with cedar water and when you get off the beaten path you can paddle in the cranberry bogs.

msbelle said...

Wow! How terrific! It made me just smile to hear that story.

I've always wanted to learn to kayak. I've only canoed and love it. But I'm not much for rapids. Give me calm water any day due to a bad back and a bum knee. Just don't think the stress would do me much good. I haven't been in a canoe in at least 6 years (since Kevin was born). This made me want to go!!