Sunday, August 12, 2007

Living here in Nelson and working 19 km’s east on Kootenay Lake I occasionally paddle to work. I leave at first light about 5.30AM and usually the lake is like a mirror. Osprey and eagles over-fly fishing for breakfast. I have seen deer, bears, moose, otters and beavers on the shoreline. Last Friday I paddled with new Nelson resident Steven Kauf formerly of Colorado. An accomplished whitewater paddler Steven is new to flat water paddling. Our morning commute took a couple of hours with generally sunny skies with a few walking rain showers sweeping over the mountain peaks above. Nelson is situated in the south eastern corner of BC. Surrounded by the Selkirk, Purcells and the Monashee mountain ranges, it is a mecca for the adventurous. This year I have paddled with former members of the French and Czech national teams as well as an 8 time medalist at the world masters games at our Wednesday night races. Nelson sits on the western end of the west arm of Kootenay Lake. Generally benign it’s not often we get the chance to capture a run.
That morning Steven and I had made a leisurely commute to work. Over the day the weather worsened. Severe lightning storms swept over the office. Lightning striking the ground meters from the building which seemed to affect the computers and made it impossible to work. Both of us being good employees we waited for ½ an hour secretly hoping the IT guy would fail in his effort fix the network failure. Failure for the network meant an early exit for most of the staff. Skies had cleared but a stiff wind blew down the valley from east to wind. We carried the boats down to the lakeshore and launched into a growing chop on the lake. Steven paddled the XT and I was on my Millenium. Normally this paddle home takes me about 1.75 hours but I had a feeling that I would be a bit faster today. The first couple of km’s featured an unruly cross chop to nine mile narrows. As we approached the narrows the sand bar at the entrance and the following current pitched the swells up to a meter in height. We got some short runs in and a taste of what was upcoming. By the ½ way point the swells had grown to 1.5 meters and were directly behind us. I knew Steven was behind me because I could hear him gleefully yelling. I was mentally sick by this time all I cared about was finding another wave to surf on. What an addictive feeling.

Its 19 km’s from work to home but I bet I paddled 25km’s with all the zig-zagging. I could barely carry the boat 200 meters to the house. We were fully ½ an hour faster than usual. Later, sitting at the kitchen table regaling my wife with stories about our epic paddle with a hot cup of tea warming our bellies it struck me that occasionally we have these experiences that mix an odd blend of emotion and athleticism that just make you feel good about yourself.
Steven is now actively looking for a surf ski to buy.


Anonymous Jordan said...

That's crazy!

2:09 PM  

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