Monday, March 29, 2010

One of a Kind Paddle

This morning the Harbor in front of our house was glass. And we noticed, when we looked across toward the Lighthouse, it literally was glass. A thin layer of ice formed overnight.

Sunny and calm. Winds from the South when I was on the North side of a peninsula. A perfect day for a kayak paddle.

Dan, Rachel and I loaded up for an afternoon on the harbor, each in our own kayak. We almost felt like we should be more adventurous and go to Devil's Washtub or Horseshoe Harbor, but it was our first day out for the year, so we decided to tool around the Harbor. I am certain I will never have an experience like that again.

We set in by the Isle Royale Queen IV dock, and paddled East to the Lighthouse. Going across the open water between Porter's Island and the Lighthouse makes you feel like you're in open water, all right. But, I guess, you really are.

Safe and sound, we made it across, and down toward the East end of the Harbor we paddled. Never had I noticed the lay of the land under water as I did today. It seems like that North coast is really shallow most of the way across. Only toward the middle of the lateral line, does it drop down. Once I looked up after a few moments of that, I saw the most unusual thing of all.

Remember that glass on the water from earlier in the morning? Some of is was still there! I shouted to the others to come check it out. The first thing we noticed about it was the tinkling sound it made, as the broken edges rode the waves. Dan said, "It sounds like someone shaking a bag full of diamonds." I'll second that.

As we watched and listened in awe, Rachel came through full blast in her boat and rammed through the ice. "Woah!" she exclaimed. "It's a lot thicker in here than I thought!" I had to see for myself.

Have you ever kayaked or boated at all through the ice? It is surreal. The paddle has to bust through the ice before you can push it through the water. And the kayak sat pretty much on top of it! Turning around seemed to be an issue, so we slowly backed out. But once we got used to it, and realized we probably would never paddle on ice again, we plowed through it like it was our playground. Man, was that awesome!

We paddled here and there and past my house, where the water was so calm. So peaceful. I noticed, for a few minutes, that we were all just floating peacefully like the lake was. It must have been the right thing to do.

On the South shore, we saw all sorts of cool ice sculptures. This area doesn't get much sun yet. Let me tell you about the most amazing one we saw. It made a "roof" over two large rocks. Twenty feet separated these rocks, and that much ice roofed between them. It was like a cave with a sun roof! We couldn't help but see what it was like inside, so we each, one at a time, gingerly maneuvered our boats under as far as we could before freaking out that any moment that whole two-foot ice ceiling with hanging ice cycles could crash upon us. That was a unique perspective on life, all right. We wanted to see if it echoed, but didn't dare yell inside.

We then went around the East shore of Porter's Island where we paddled along the North shore of it. The only problem then was coming back through "The Gap" between Porter's and Hunter's Point. Thrusting our hips and pushing off with our paddles, we skidded across the shallow opening. We all took a different way, so I'm sure there was no easy one.

From there it was only a push back across the water to the dock, where we got to get out and s-t-r-e-t-c-h again. Ahhhh, what a lovely day for a paddle! Certainly one of a kind.

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