Sunday, November 28, 2010

In search of surf

   As winter approaches, we get more Canadian air in Chicago. When the winds are out of the northeast, Chicago gets the big waves; when they're out of the northwest, Lower Michigan gets pounded. And in either case, some of them bend south toward Indiana.
   Friday's Force 7 winds subsided considerably overnight. By Saturday morning, Indiana was the beneficiary of lovely, well-formed waves. Even though the air temperature was around freezing and the water temperature was in the mid-40s, the combination of sunshine and light winds made for perfect paddling conditions near Portage, a nice midway point for paddlers from Illinois and Michigan.
Keith Wikle, representing Michigan, dons his neoprene, dreaming of the Santa Cruz Surf Kayak Festival.

Hauling the boats down the hill.
      There were icicles on the railings along the pier, but as long as we kept moving, we stayed pretty warm.

Warming up before heading out onto the lake.
    After about two hours, everybody was ready for some hot tea and dry clothes. We loaded our boats and gear, emptied our thermoses, and drove off to the east and the west, grateful for another good day on the water.
The parking lot, post-paddling.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A little night paddle

     Lately, a variety of things (school, work, family, events) has forced us to do most of our paddling in the late afternoons and evenings. With the recent time change, that means it's hard to get on the water before dark.

Lights, camera, paddle!
     Last night, the sun set shortly after 4:30. By the time we finished loading our boats, it was completely dark. We were the only boats in the harbor.

Paddling out of the harbor.
     We were also the only boats on the lake, aside from the freighters making their way up and down the shipping channel many miles away. Familiar as we are with this area, it felt different in the dark. It was quiet, peaceful and solitary.

Paddling among the pilings half a mile off shore.
     It felt creepy at first and a little confusing. Our sense of distance was altered, and our sense of hearing was especially acute. But it was also absolutely lovely.

Nearer to shore, the city's street lights cast an eerie glow.
     Three hours of after-work paddling felt like a mini-vacation. We landed, loaded up and drove away in the dark, and hung up our gear to dry by moonlight.

Good night, moon.