Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Tempest Returns

The wind was pushing hard from the south as it was two days ago. It’s difficult to believe the wind can be so changeable in that it is firing along one day, only to stop the next and pick up where it left off the day following.

The morning was a struggle to make any ground. I thought that paddling speeds in the two mile per hour range were a thing of the Red River and in our past. Sadly not.

Paddling was like some sick, twisted tear duct exam. I haven’t cried in a bit but if there was any doubt as to whether my tear ducts were operating properly, the wind in my face confirmed that should I find the need to weep I would fully be able to do so.

Kobie threw out the idea that similar to the Bois de Sioux River where we couldn’t paddle we walked, so it might work in this case as we could barely paddle into the wind. As there was water to paddle though I wanted to stick it out, no matter how miserable it was. The only problem is that Kobie’s flight is drawing ever nearer as we poke along, not making the miles we hope to. There was just no place to hide and no way out other than getting off the river.

At least the day was warmer than last few, making it barely tolerable. As I was thinking it couldn’t get any worse, it did. Sand was blowing across the water having been pulled from sandbars along the banks. As if that was reason enough not to paddle too closely to the shore, on two separate occasions a series of waves came in and washed me into the shore. Of course once I was stuck on the sand yet more waves came crashing over the top my kayak.

In the morning every mile was hard earned. We decided to forego stopping for lunch in an effort to make up some of the miles we hadn’t managed to paddle in the morning. It was sweet relief when the river direction changed and we had a respite from the wind.

Our speed picked up to the six and seven mile per hour range, allowing us to paddle at the upper end of the bell curve. Our speed would again be reduced though in an area where there were sandbars along the river pushing us further out from the trees and thusly removing our hiding place from the wind.

The sun remained behind cloud cover, but the light that was shining through looked almost fluorescent. I was really looking forward to getting to the end of the day as I was absolutely shot. My shoulders ache and my fingers hurt more each day. On top of that, the small rash I had on my legs a few days ago spread significantly and to the point where it should probably receive proper medical attention.

Even finding a good campsite was an effort. Our first location appeared to have all the things we might look for in a campsite, but it was impossible to exit our kayaks without getting swamped by waves. We paddled around the bend and I was elated when we found a campsite that had easy egress from the river, some shelter, a level place to pitch our tents and ample firewood.

It was a warm night with a great harvest moon and didn’t require fire for warmth other than to dry our gear. I succeeded in burning a hole in my very last pair of shorts. It was just one of those days. I was able to check the symptoms of my rash on the internet (fun that we can do that in the woods), and it could well be Poison Ivy. At least I hope it is Poison Ivy as it is a well known thing with a 100% cure rate. Not that I have the flesh eating virus.

Checking our stats, by the end of the day we covered 13 fewer miles than the day previous paddling a half hour longer. More of the same is expected tomorrow, only with stronger winds and a chance of rain. Nice.

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