After a couple of false starts a half dozen of us managed to hit the water last night for a nice leisurely paddle and a bit of fresh water rolling. The air temp was in the high 40's F but the water temp was likely in the high 30's F. The ice that remained had blown to the south shore of the lake which made the lake like a giant cocktail in which the ice had not quite melted. We were all rusty, although it didn't take long for folks to get back in the paddling groove. It felt good to have the trusty Greenland stick in my hands and the waves lapping at the sides of the Q boat. GalwayGuy was particularly in need of a paddling fix since he had been at school in St Louis, an area devoid of lakes close by, plus its tough to store a 17' boat in a dorm room. He figured his previous time on the water was last August and said he wasn't sure if he would paddle at all, that maybe spending two hours rolling might be what he really needed.
We did, of course, have to do a few rolls. Both of us were wearing Bughead tuliqs, which kept our core nice and warm. 3 mil neoprene is no match for 39F water when it comes to keeping the brain pan warm and functioning though. The cold on my exposed face didn't bother me a bit, after all the water was 50F warmer than some of the stuff I had been skiing in last winter. After a couple rolls I could feel the blood vessels in my head begin to contract and constrict like a giant rubber band around my skull. GG must have had a tougher head than I since he kept working through his repitoire of rolls, cold water be damned. I didn't see him miss one. I managed to miss my first reverse sweep of the year by forgetting to drive my knee up when I came around but corrected the flaw and hit the next one. After about an hour I was ready for an illegal parking lot beer. The Minneapolis Park Board, which a significant number of people want abolished, pretty much makes everything illegal including talk of their abolishment. GG was not done though, and wanted a few quick stick rolls in the Q boat, a 'cheater boat' in his mind. I went the beer route and it capped off a pretty good night on the water.
My next paddle opportunity will likely be Easter Sunday as I'm off to Washington DC in a few minutes for the NCAA Frozen Four hockey tournament. The improbable Bemidji Beavers are in the tourney as a huge underdog and major Cinderalla team. They managed to beat Notre Dame to get there, a school whose yearly athletic budget ($60 million) is 5 times the total endowment of Bemidji State. I have a very nice 'Beaver hockey' T shirt which was sent to me by the MayorOfTurtleRiver and Nipper, residents of that fine area. I'll be wearing it at 5pm in the Verizon Center, assuming NW Air gets me there within 5 or 6 hours of when they say I'm supposed to arrive.
The northern paddle season is officialy open! Now if RonO can find some open water on the south shore of Gitchee Gumee this weekend we are home free.