There is one thing we northerners have over those of you who live in more southern climates; for a portion of the year we can walk on the same water that we paddle in the more moderate months. This weekend we will be skiing over exactly the same water we paddle at the annual Book Across the Bay 10k ski race. This is an event to benefit the libraries in the area and has grown into both a nice ski race and an even better party.
Its not too early to plug the Inland Sea Kayak Symposium, an event held in Washburn,WI every other year. The BATB ends next door to the beach that's used for most of the instruction for that event. I'm sure a number of people that paddle the ISKS will be skiing this one. I've noticed that certain sports seem to complement one another. Before the very boring practice of focusing on one sport came into vogue, most hockey players were baseball players in the summer and also played golf. The hand/eye coordination and upper body training translated well between the three activities. Now coaches seem to want their players to focus on their sport year round. Regular hockey season, spring league, summer camp, and then fall league before the regular season begins again is a common practice. It's also a great way to burn out a kid on the sport. Our high school basketball coach explained that basketball was to be our only focus in the winter and that peripheral activities like deer hunting and skiing were not allowed. This insured that one 6'4" basketball lover would not be playing any high school ball. I skied, hunted, and we won the city church league basketball championship with my derelict buddies, all of whom were hunters, skiers, and more than decent basketball players. Frankly, while not actually bored with or sick of kayaking when November rolls around, I simply enjoy other activities more. The ice cream headache that accompanies rolling in 35F water and my known anti-chlorite sentiments make it a fairly easy choice in this climate. Plus I really, really like a freezer full of venison over the winter. The fitness level, emphasis on good technique, and the upper body development needed makes kayaking and cross county skiing natural cross training partners.
This weekend will be the beginning of the end of the ski season and the beginning of the mental switch to paddling. Silbs shoving off into Lake Michigan through the ice, JB and others down in Tybee, and Canoecopia a few short weeks away has my brain churning with possibilities for the new season. I've already responded to Gail's email to help instruct at the ISKS Symposium in June and have struck my head on the NDK Explorer that hangs in my garage at least two dozen times in the past month. We will enjoy the hell out of 'the Book' this weekend, probably eat too much chili, listen to too much music, and drink too much beer at the party tent at the finish line, but as I ski the last 3k along the Washburn shore I'll be thinking about dipping my paddle in the very same water in a short couple of months.