Friday, November 14, 2008

Gales IV - Don't listen to the weather folk

The whining began, via emails, on Tuesday. "The weather looks really crappy", "80% chance of rain", "Its snowing in North Dakota and coming this way", "south winds, 10-20mph" etc, etc, etc. I had to remind people, not for the first time, that hitting a baseball and weather forecasting are the only two activities where you are considered a superstar if you succeed 30% of the time. Once again the weather folk were dead wrong as we launched from Bay Park on Lake Minnetonka. The three founding members, the BessemerConvivialist, BDahlieOfMahtomedi, and myself, along with 4 rookies including the VOR, paddled on the Twin Cites 'luxury lake' in calm water, dry skies, and monochrome gray November scenery.

This was not quite a wilderness paddle. Lake Minnetonka has some mansions that should be pictured in the dictionary next to the word 'ostentatious'. We particularly liked the one in the picture that had the scale model Statue of Liberty on the balcony. It was good to get on the water, felt really good to be playing hookey from work, and it was nice meeting folks I had not paddled with before. Its amazing how the common language of paddling can draw people from different backgrounds and life experiences and create an instant comfort level. Everyone had thrown some firewood into their hatches and we landed on Goose Island for the traditional happy hour picnic and campfire. As in past years, time flew by and we were loading the boats in the dark to head back to the launch site. About half of us had headlights but we kept a pretty tight formation on the way back, an unnecessary precaution because there was not another craft of any kind on the lake. We had to paddle through some channels and every dog within a quarter mile was howling as they heard our relatively loud crew paddle by. We hit The Narrows Bar for some adult beverages and food, and stayed long enough to catch the first set of the Lisa Wenger Band, a fine R&B band. Several paddlers that could not make the actual Gales paddle showed up for moral support, as did one of my partners in crime and his new bride.

It was a fine 'Gales' experience and an excellent cold weather paddle. We all have the gear, we live in the north country, and there is no reason not to extend the season until the lakes become too hard to paddle on. As you can see, some of us forgot our wine glass (venison beer stick, not a cigar in BD's left hand), and others had inadequate clothing for standing around sipping wine, but for the most part we were in good shape. As the BC pointed out,while wrapped in a tablecloth, its good to have a shakedown cruise like this so you can discover what you really need for a true cold weather trip, say on Gitchee Gumee. So get out and paddle in those pricey drysuits, don't forget your wine glass, and for god sakes take a look at the sky, sniff the air, and trust your own judgement on the weather. With a little intelligent observation you can be batting .400 before you know it

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