15 degrees Fahrenheit when I checked the weather online yesterday morning. Frost on the red boat’s deck. I debated whether to skip church, and paddle today, instead, but ultimately solved the problem by getting a later start. By the time I got to the put in at Hurricane Creek Branch on Tims Ford Lake, the temperature’d risen to about 31.5 degrees by the 850’s in-dash digital thermometer. Only one other vehicle at the boat ramp. Maybe on the water by 10:00 am. NOAA predicted a gentle breeze from the south at 5 mph, but I felt no wind as I pulled on my Bombergear Radiator drysuit for the first time since March or April. A couple of months ago, I finally sent it off to the good folks at Amigo’s for professional repair, although that Kirch’s Kwik Patch was still holding up pretty well.
Water didn’t seem too cold as I waded to get into my boat. No camera because the beloved Caution-Lady required it last week to photograph a classroom project, and she’d left the Pentax at school. Paddled in a southerly direction with significant left-shoulder pain, and adjusted the stroke as I went to minimize same. I’d forgotten the inflatable blue Klepper seatback I normally use as lumbar support, so had to take responsibility for keeping my own spine straight for proper torso-rotation. I did okay with that, too. Not much back pain by the end of the day. Had some left leg numbness and pain that resolved with position changes and exaggerated leg use while underway.
I turned left into Turkey Creek Branch, realizing as I did so that the features I was expecting to find there are located in the vicinity of Lost Creek Branch. I paddled as far back into Turkey Creek Branch as the winter pool water level permitted. I came to a place where the water was so clear and lightly blue-tinted it appeared much shallower than it really was. The kayak’s keel passed over four or five tires, miscellaneous junk, fishing lures, hundreds of little two-inch fish swimming together in swirling patterns like those made by water-weeds in current, until I came to place where the sandy soft bottom barred further progress. Ahead and to my right I could hear the stream’s gurgling as it flowed around and over dry sticks of the water plants that flourish in the summer months when the water’s level is higher, and the water itself warmer.
On my way back out toward Hurrican Creek Branch, I came to a backwater on my left in which I saw more of the straw-colored plant stalks like a field of dry grass. On these Tennessee lakes I have frequently seen in the warmer months something like soap-foam that gets pushed by the wind up against anything relatively stationary in the water, or along the shoreline. Looked like a lot of foam up against those water twigs. I paddled in for a closer look at the gray hulk of a wrecked speedboat. I’d seen it before the last time I was up this branch, only at that time, the water was much lower, and I couldn’t get near it. As I approached I became aware as my bow broke through it a layer of clear, thin ice in place of the water’s usual liquid surface. It cracked, and I was able to paddle through, close to and past the wreck. Somebody’d removed the steering wheel, the outboard motor, the seats, but had left the boat’s in-dash AM radio. All covered in gray mud, I didn’t imagine the radio could be made to work again, but wondered why the fiberglass hull had been left. Maybe holed-through? Dunno. Didn’t get out to check. Water over the wide transom in the hull was completely iced over, too. Up close, what had looked like foam was ice all around where the dry sticks poked up from the water. Before paddling backwards out again, I gave the ice ahead of me sound whack with the paddle, and it reluctantly broke, but no point in going any farther that direction.
I paddled on out to the main branch. A little farther down on my left is a boat ramp I’ve never been able to find from the road, and a little beyond that I stopped and ate all of my lunch. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten everything in my lunch bag at one sitting while paddling. I have always left something over for the paddle back. I guess I was thinking I could get something at Holiday Landing restaurant if I needed it.
Around Awalt Bridge I paddled, then back into the branch where Holiday Landing is located. Some very large, rectangular houseboats in there. Bigger than buses they appeared from the cockpit of my kayak. The restaurant was closed, all its outside seating stacked up on tables. I paddled around the floating docks, looking at the boats in their slips, then back out again to the main channel.
By this time I was tired, and stopped to empty a bottle of something called Vitamin Water (I got a case of the stuff pretty cheaply back in the Spring, and it tastes like melted popsicles), took a swig of Gatorade, and paddled ploddingly back to the boat ramp. Maybe the slope of the ramp, but I had a hard time lifting the boat up to get it on the racks. I’ve worked out a sort of time-and-motion routine to efficiently lash secure the boat on the racks, then to release the straps and tie-downs to get it off the racks again.
Using the distance tool at Dunigan’s Tennessee Landforms site later on, I found that I’d only made about 12.5 miles, roundtrip.
On the way home, I stopped at my mom’s house and observed the work the city is doing to prevent further erosion along the creek bed that bounds the backyard at her house. Very workmanlike.
Mom last week knit Seventy-Six a winter cap with ear-flaps and toggle-fastener, and yesterday she had finished his matching mittens. Funny mittens for infants have no thumbs, like socks for tiny hands.
Then home, a much-needed hot shower, and the joys of family life that far surpass (edited) those of the life aquatic.