Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kayaking 101

Today I went kayaking at Causey Reservoir with three friends of mine for the first time in my life. Boy, did we have an adventure.

The trip started out with renting the equipment at the Weber State Rec Center. Those people are so nice and accommodating! I'm very thankful they knew what they were doing because we sure didn't, and I appreciated their hospitality. The whole process of signing up and loading onto the car took at least an hour, but we made a short snack stop and were quickly on our way.

Driving out to Causey is a fun excursion, but being in the lake itself was beautiful. No motorboats are allowed so the water was perpetually calm and it felt like the whole place belonged to us since we only saw 3 or 4 other groups of people the whole time. I thought our day would be pretty chill, just floating along and chatting most of the time, but noooooo. We made some serious headway out on the branches of the lake. Let's just say we definitely paddled more than we sat around, and I'll be surprised if my arms aren't sore tomorrow.

Kayaking is the best activity for a fun afternoon because it combines three of the greatest things: physical exercise, natural beauty, and friendly companionship. I loved taking breaks and hooking up our four kayaks to pass popcorn back and forth, then foolishly trying to get the outsiders to paddle and propel us forward altogether (which does not work, by the way). I loved hearing Hannah scream and yell "F MY LIFE" multiple times in a row when she unexpectedly capsized after 5 minutes of being in the lake and not even going anywhere. I loved the feeling of competence and independence you get from being able to travel such distance just with your arms and legs and a piece of plastic to sit on. As Hillary said, we were really going back to our roots, since back in the days of Pocahontas that's truly how they got around. To the Indians it was nothing, but to us, it brings forth a sense of accomplishment.

The perfect way to top our day off was to take a dip in the refreshingly cool water, willingly, sans-life jacket. Personally, I prefer to always swim without those things because they just bog you down. I was lucky enough to learn from the others' early mistakes that it's quite easy to accidentally tip your kayak, so all day I had been carefully maintaining my balance, so it was nice to let go and give myself to the lake on MY time. The only drawback is it's kind of hard to get back onto your kayak, unless you have someone hold it on the other side so it doesn't roll.

We definitely had a few bumps along the way of our adventure, which I think just makes every experience better, but overall we had an amazing time. Here are just a few more of the things I learned from my first kayaking trip.

  • When traveling with two kayaks strapped to the top of your car, be VERY careful on tight turns so as to not knock them OFF. This was potentially a serious problem but thankfully the conditions of the situation were on our side so we were able to take care of it (only having to drive a quarter mile with Hillary hanging out the car door while holding onto them till we got to the parking lot).
  • Wearing rings while rowing for hours at a time tends to make blisters develop faster.
  • Do not put your phone or any electronic device in what looks like a waterproof storage section, even if you don't intend to roll your kayak or get it wet. Trust me, it still gets wet. And then it dies. And then you'll be pissed because you don't have a phone for a few days, which is something I could blog about all by itself. 
  • When you actually do let your kayak turn upside down, make sure all loose objects are secured, such as T-SHIRTS, so they don't mysteriously disappear in the water to never return again. Yeah. I lost my shirt today in the lake. Don't ask how it managed to sneak away without me noticing, because I couldn't tell you. 
  • As Derek had to learn the hard way, don't roll your kayak with sunglasses on. Sadly he lost the new ones that Hannah had just bought him for his birthday. :(
  • Flip flops are not ideal for lake activities. I've known this for a while from all our trips to Flaming Gorge, but I never learn. It just sucks trying to walk in them on a rocky beach while carrying a kayak uphill. Also, they easily come off in the water. This is obvious information, but I still feel the need to mention it.
  • Finally, be prepared to spend a lot of time loading and unloading when you actually pick up the kayaks, or you will be kicking yourself later for cutting short your actual fun time. Also, it's much easier to drive with one kayak on top of the car and one inside, if you manage to make it fit.

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