Monday, March 29, 2010
March on Gitchee Gumee
I had mentioned a plan to get on the water in the last post but it failed miserably. GalwayGuy and I wound up visiting the new Twin's ballpark, an impressive facility. We peons were allowed to watch the Gopher baseball game and visit the areas we would likely never see again like the suites and the Metropolitan Club. The food and beer array was fabulous, with no 'Dome Dogs' or 32 oz Bud Lites in sight. A new plan began to ferment at the ballpark however, and GG called the VOR (home on injured reserve) for a Mass schedule and I dropped him off at Holy Cross and headed to Grumpy's Meditation Center to wait for him and reflect on possible Sunday options. I ran into RonO and we started talking to some folks at the table behind us. It was a very productive conversation. We managed to start the process to book the St Mary's balalaika orchestra at Grumpy's again, sold my NCAA Frozen Four tickets, and had a nice talk with a fellow born and raised in Cornucopia,WI.
Cornucopia. The fermenting plan instantly coalesced. Hit the SKOAC annual party, don't let Brock feed us any shots, and get up early and head for Cornie and the Meyers Beach sea caves. A quick call/email to Bayfield recruited a famous kayak shop owner and we met in the Meyers Beach parking lot at high noon on Sunday. ChrisG chose a Romany Surf from his stable, in addition to choosing paddling over sheet rock taping, and GG and I had the Capella and Q boat respectively. Skinny sticks all around. We managed to remember all the gear needed to paddle the damn things and after a couple false starts, launched in the surf for GG and my first paddle on the big lake in March. We found ice in the sea caves but not nearly as much as I had expected. The sky was as clear as a bell, with sunny skies and brisk temps, which meant that 'dressing for immersion' was exactly the same as dressing for the air temp. We were all much more comfortable than on those 75F air/42F water days. The stiff north wind dropped and veered east in the middle of the paddle. As we played in the sea caves we were looking at Eagle Island about three miles dead north in the lake. A ten second conversation convinced us we needed to go there, especially since GG and I had not added it to our lifetime island list. The island is closed from 15 May to 15 September as its used as a rookery for various water birds. I've been downwind from such islands in the summer months and, trust me, you don't want to go there during the nesting season. On the way back the swells got lazy and the water looked like liquid mercury with multiple colors flashing as the swells passed under our hulls. I can't imagine a more perfect inaugural paddle on the big lake. I number of times we just stopped, looked around, and didn't say a word.
When we got back to the beach GG and I pulled the tuliqs out of the day hatch for some March rolling. ChrisG had already earned his ice cream headache in Little Sand Bay last Tuesday so he passed. My brain survived a traditional sweep, an 'other side' sweep, and an angel roll before succumbing. GG's brain pan made it for five before freezing, including a sweet stick roll to end things. Neither of us missed being chlorinated over the winter, although mid summer rolling form is still a ways off. We had stimulated the Cornie economy on the way up with pasties from Ehlers Store and stimulated again on the way back with $2 Summit EPA taps at Fish Lipps. ChrisG set off on the 15 minute drive home and GG and I did the three hour hump home. Was it worth the drive? You damned right it was. Wind, waves, good company and a lake that showed us her absolutely best side was the perfect start to the Lake Superior paddling season.