Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Northland water temperatures

Last Friday the trio of RonO, TheManFromSnowyLegs, and I did some paddling at the mainland sea caves in the Apostles. It was sunny with a north wind, light swell, and perfect for wearing a tuliq. This meant some rolling, of course, and we remarked that the water was fairly warm for Halloween day on Lake Superior, warm enough that gloves weren't really needed with a nice warm, wooden Greenland stick. This was not the case on Lake O'Brien when we arrived at CampO after a grueling trip across the top of Wisconsin.

The first thing we noticed when we pulled into the camp was that the KingOfIronwoodIsland had his bright yellow CD Storm on the roof of his VW. This could mean one of three things: he wanted to get one last paddle in before sticking the boat up in the rafters; he needed an excuse to avoid roofing for the better part of the day; or he finally was prepared for some rolling instruction. Some probing questions over beers did not reveal the Kings true intentions, although the MFSL offered his opinion that it was a bit cold for rolling instruction. The next morning we hit the water to see just how cold Lake O'Brien really was.

Since we had completed our assigned roofing task of picking pieces of the old roof off the ground and throwing it in the dumpster, our trio headed for the kayaks. When we paddled down past the cabin, the King quickly said, "Wait up, I'll grab my boat". I noticed right away that there was a critical safety violation on the job site; there was more than one Croatian on the roof. Four Croatian brothers, two of which are partners in the ownership of the camp, can't agree on what to eat for dinner, much less roof line angles, fascia style, shingles v steel roofs, etc.; hence the One Croatian rule. The King saw the kayak run as a good chance to flee the jobsite in the midst of an obscenity laden brotherly debate on whether or not to rip out a section of the roof and start over. After witnessing one of these 'discussions', a visitor remarked on how the dissolution and collapse of Yugoslavia now made complete sense to him. We were quickly joined on the lake and paddled around the outside of the beautiful, near wilderness lake. Otters, diver ducks, and ring of mature cedar trees, browsed up as high as a deer could reach, made for a great little day paddle. On the way back, near the middle of the lake, it was time to see if the King did indeed have rolling on his mind.

RonO and I pulled up the hoods on our tuliqs and over we went. When I came up I couldn't feel my face. Suddenly the ice on the south end of the swamp made sense; this lake was going to be frozen in less than a week. I stifled the normal, "Oh Christ, thats cold!" and made some benign comment, hoping to lure the King into giving it a try. Ron however, came up with the "Oh Christ, thats cold!" when he broke the surface. The ManFromSnowyLegs, rolling with a drysuit and neoprene skull cap, rolled twice, muttered a couple obscenities, and headed for the hot lakeside sauna. His Majesty had seen enough. "Think I'll stay dry and warm today" was the comment as he headed toward shore. I told him he could use Ron's tuliq and my boat but he wasn't buying it for a minute. If only we could have faked it better we might have lured him into the water but its tough to stay nonchalant when you have an ice cream headache and your face is blue. Bottom line is that a huge body of water like Superior stays a lot warmer a lot longer while the small ones tend to heat up and cool down much more rapidly. I guess thats intuitive info but its the first time I've experienced it real time. The King will have to wait until next year to nail that sweep roll.

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