Geocaching By Kayak….It’s Harder Than What You Would Think

While geocaching one day last Spring we noticed that the area we were geocaching in had a few water geocaches. Which we decided to try and find this past weekend in our kayaks.

We arrived at our destination and prepared to paddle our way around the area.

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Our first cache was easily located. We knew the name of the cache was related to the eagle nest located in this area, so we headed that direction first.

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It took very little searching to locate this one. However, the next one we searched for quite sometime. And eventually gave up this search since maneuvering a kayak under trees is not our favorite place to be. There are a lot of spider webs under fallen tree branches. EWWWWW!

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Our next few were apparently located somewhere under the bridge. Which we thought would be an easy find also….however, there are even more spider webs and spiders for that matter, under bridges.

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So after very little discussion on whether or not we should continue searching, we gave up and just enjoyed the area we were in for what it was. We paddled the shoreline,

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took a break and had a picnic lunch,

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and enjoyed the time we spent together.

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We added one found cache to our list of successful finds and called it a day after about three hours of paddling.

 

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Taking It Easy….But Still Having Fun

Ahhhh, what a weekend we had.

After suffering for almost the entire week from paddling Lake Michigan the weekend before, I had decided going into this past weekend that I was going to take it easy. I was determined not to touch a paddle of any kind. My water toy this weekend would be a blow up inner tube. That left my husband with a hard choice….his kayak or my stand up paddle board. Both of which would be fun where we were headed but after taking a look at the wind direction/speed he ended up taking his kayak. And in the end it was a good choice. IMG_4400

We arrived at a friends cabin mid morning to find small whitecaps on the lake…..which means FUNNNNN in the life of a whitewater kayaker. My hubby ended up paddling his way in the waves to the beach located at the other end of the lake while I gladly boarded the pontoon and made my way to the beach this way. When we arrived I boarded my tube and relaxed until the chills set in.

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Thankfully the beach was nice and calm and we all had a great time soaking up some sunshine. IMG_4387

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After some time at the beach, I talked my friend into having her husband pull us both back to the cabin in our tubes. Neither of us had ever tubed before but there is a first time for everything…right? Granted, we did go very slowly because remember, I was taking it easy and hoping to end this weekend with NO PAIN! Which I am happy to say, I did accomplish.

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After our little water adventure back to the cabin, we all changed into dry, warm clothes and prepared dinner over an open campfire.

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What a blessing it is to have such wonderful friends that love to have fun in the sun. I can’t wait to do it again…..and maybe, just maybe I will be ready to go a bit faster in a tube behind the boat by that time.

 

 

Kayak Trailer Construction

This week we have made some real progress on the construction of turning our utility trailer into a kayak carrying trailer. By “we” I mean my husband has made progress.

Ever since we started paddling, we have always just lined them up side by side and wiggled and jiggled them until all vessels were in a happy place for travel.

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And every time we buy a new kayak with a bit different shape or size, its gets a bit more complicated to find a happy spot that they can all be carried safely.

Now of course, we have seen kayak carriers on trailers for many years but time was always a factor. Let’s face it, summers are short and who wants to work on the weekends when you could be paddling. Well, we have now come to a point where we had no other option since our son bought a very long kayak and this has thrown our whole trailer situation into a tail spin.

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Thankfully, my husband is an engineer by profession and can literally come up with a plan for almost anything. And he is a pack rat (which I consider his second profession) which actually turns out to be a bonus in this situation. He has had pipes laying around in our garage rafters for years with no good reason until now. They are what he is using for the frame work that the kayaks will be braced on for travel.

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Evey night this week he has spent time drilling, measuring and making progress.

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All that is left to do is add are few more bolts, cover a few more pipes with pool noodles for protection, and a test drive to a body of water somewhere. Now, whether that will be this weekend or not….we shall see.

 

 

 

Kayaking With A Newbie- A Guide’s Checklist

It’s almost time to start thinking about dusting off our kayaks and going for a paddle. I thought I would give you all some good information we have learned over the years about taking a newbie kayaking with you. I remember clearly all my fears as a newbie and think this could benefit many others.

I will never forget the first time my husband begged me to try kayaking with a friend of his. I was not willing and said I never would be. So he took our son and the three of them went. Our son tipped over the first paddle stroke he took and they arrived home raving about the experience. I just shook my head in mom fashion and said I was glad they had a good time. End of discussion!

However, that was not the end of my husband trying to get me to go. It’s all I heard about, everyday, for days on end. Then one night he arrived home from work and waited patiently for my last child to be picked up and my work day to be over. He told me to go change, and get in the truck, we were going kayaking with his friend and he was not taking no for an answer. I spoke my mind, said I was not going and that was that. Well, about 20 minutes later I found myself in the truck, not speaking to my husband and very unhappy. I finally just gave in, because I figured it would just be easier. I assumed I would hate it and I would never have to hear about it again. Little did I know how wrong I was.

We bought our first two recreational kayaks that next weekend. One more a few weeks after that. One year after having those, we bought our first two whitewater kayaks and a year after that I purchased my whitewater kayak. Which left us with two recreational kayaks for friends to join us. And we sold the third recreational kayak to my brother.

We wasted no time learning the ropes of this sport. We took a rescue class in a pool setting during winter one year, we purchased all the proper gear and also made sure to read up on the rivers we wanted to kayak. We knew this would all be very important if we ever wanted to have friends join us. A great book we find very useful for our area is:

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Since then, we have taken friends and family along for some paddling fun. Many really have no idea what to expect and others are into trying everything the first time in a kayak. When you are the one guiding the trip of the day,  there are a few important rules you should follow. Like everything in life, their first time in a kayak can be whatever they wish it to be. It can be an adventure, a wild ride, a relaxing paddle, a way to connect to nature or quite the workout. However, it can also be a terrible, dangerous, miserable experience if they are not prepared for what could happen on a river in a kayak. That is where you, as the “guide” comes into play. A good guide can really make or break any trip. Here are some important pointers as a guide of a newbie:

#1 Check that everyone has the proper gear before leaving home. Examples:PFD, helmet, spare keys, water, sunscreen, portage shoes, snacks etc. Also, make sure their PFD fits them.

#2 Let someone (neighbor, friend, parent) know what river you are doing, from what point to what point and when you expect to return home. Just in case!

#3 Get the current weather forecast. If possible, try and take a newbie on a nice day. It’s not so cold and miserable when they decided to swim instead of paddle:)

#4 Give details of the river they will be paddling. Some of the most common questions for us when we are guiding a trip is: How do we portage? How many portages are there? Do I have to portage? Is there a place to change? What should I wear? (These last two are normally asked by females) Letting them know what to expect always seems to help.

#5 Stress proper hydration/nutrition throughout the day. Tell them to bring water and somehow secure it into their kayak. Remind them throughout the day to drink. You would be surprised how many people forget to drink. Also, ask them often how they feel. Would they like to stop for a snack? Are they comfortable?

#6 Assist them on paddle strokes and the feel of the kayak upon entering the water. Before you even start paddling, make sure they understand how to hold the paddle, what strokes do what, make sure their seat is adjusted correctly, and they are comfortable with their kayak. Making adjustments mid river is not always easy or possible for that matter.

#7Make sure you take them to a river you are familiar with. I cannot stress this enough!!! They are depending on you to know what is coming next. Especially with a river that has rapids. If they change their minds when they start to hear the rapid around the corner, you know where and how much time you have to get them out to portage before they are committed. Be a knowledgeable guide about the river you are on.

#8 Don’t push them too hard. Ask if they are tired and would like a break. Remember you paddle often, they do not. If they want to try something new, let them. On the other hand, if they need to think about it for awhile or watch someone else first, let them do so.

#9 Stress what to do in a roll over. This is usually the scariest thing for newbies, but let’s face it, it sometime happens. Tell them exactly what to do. Tell them in what position to float downriver, never to get between their overturned kayak and a rock and to swim to the rivers edge when possible. Explain to them how to wet exit their overturned kayak.  Remember it’s all about priorities. Rescue order should be people, boats, equipment.

#10 Bring First Aid. This is what dry bags are for. Accidents happen. You don’t need much, but when you need it, you will be glad you had it. We have used our first aid a couple times. From simple bandaids to gauze wrapped with duct tape. (Yes, duct tape! Holds great in water)

These are the basics for taking a newbie kayaking. Just keep in mind, a great guide can really make a great trip. If you want your family and friends to join you, show them you can be fun and knowledgeable all at the same time.

Safe and Happy Paddling Everyone!

 

 

A Father’s Day Paddle

There were no gifts exchanged in our home for Father’s Day. My husband’s wish for today was a great paddle down our favorite river, and he received just that.

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Father and son side by side on the surf.

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Mother nature cooperated perfectly, blessing us with beautiful blue skies all day.

We even had the pleasure of introducing my husband’s work partner to the river we wanted to a week ago, but had to go else where because of high water levels. This is always exciting for us. Either they love it and try everything or they hate it and never return. He was very willing to try just about everything. From sliding down the big rock using my kayak,because it was just safer than his for this stunt.

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To getting his first surfing lesson. Instructions coming from our son, and the rescue boat being my husband. (I was just the picture person)

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Then it was boogie board time. This was the first time this year in the water playing. Temps had finally warmed up to tolerable,and it was terrific.

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We ended the day with a smiling kayaker, which for us means success.

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Then it was time for our tailgate Father’s Day dinner and the very tired drive home.

Hope you all had a great Father’s Day!

A Mansion and a Roaring River

Last night my husband said we were going for a drive. Our weekend plans involved going to our favorite river to do some paddling. We also have plans to have one rookie along with us this weekend. Since we have had rain here for the past three days straight, he thought it would be a good idea to check out the condition of the river.

Well, today he will be informing his buddy we are planning a different river. When we arrived we could here the roar from the parking lot above the hill, which normally means it is flowing at a pretty good pace. To put this into perspective for you all, this rock ledge you see covered with water is normally where we can beach up to 6 kayaks easily and still have room to walk around them on dry rock. It is totally submerged as of right now.

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This is normally the part of the river where, when we arrive with our kayaks, there are hundreds of people swimming in the little lagoons and in the river flow. Tonight that would not have been possible, they would have been swept down river very quickly and painfully.

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So, as I was sitting on the rocks where we usually have a snack mid river, wearing what I never thought I would ever be wearing at this location, my hiking boots, instead of water shoes, I told my husband he better start thinking of a new plan for the weekend.

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He sadly agreed. This is our favorite river, it is so fun normally, but not a great spot to take someone that has never been in current with a kayak. So, next we ventured back in the car and drove a little further up to an area where we have only seen from the other side of the river bank. Today we ventured in from the road and got to take a sneak peak of the mansion that has been abandoned for many years. If you recall, I gave you a sneak peak from the hill top on our first kayaking trip of the season. Well, here are some very close peaks.

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(Sorry about the umbrella strap in the pic, it was raining again!!!)

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Now for the inside.

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I can only imagine this in fairy tail books. The back balcony on the second level over looks the rivers edge and a beautiful(but dangerous) waterfall.

The water fall behind the building that normally we portage at least half of it anyhow, was really quite unhappy also. My husband tried to do a little fishing here, but no luck catching anything big. Although, when I fish, it is not about big, it’s about catching anything. So, he did catch something, but nothing to brag about.

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On the way home, we stopped in a small town and had some dinner. Very cute decor, huge menu, and friendly people. My husband had a great burger and a huge pile of fries.I had an egg and potato scramble dish with cheese on the top.This was also very tasty, although, I expected real cheese on the top and instead it was some sort of cheese sauce, which I tried to remove as much as possible. Being from WI, I was shocked a farm community restaurant would not use real cheese. I would recommend this restaurant again. Although, plan to have left overs, because the portions were very large. Prices were also very reasonable. We’ll be back:)

It was a great week night road trip. We hope to do one of these every week to somewhere. As for the weekend plans, we are going to see what happens. We will be padding somewhere, it’s just a matter of where at this point.

Happy Weekend Everyone!

First big kayak trip of the year…

We all woke up quite excited to be loading up all our gear to leave for a day on the river. Yes, it was quite chilly but nothing was going to dampen our excitement. Everyone arrived, some new to kayaking and some that have joined us in the past. Upon arriving, I was quite shocked to see the start of the river had no rocks above water.

We had checked the river flow gauge before leaving, and it read about double what we normally run it in the middle of summer. No big deal really, just not what we are normally used to seeing.

We started out slow, because we had one newbie along for this journey. Although, I must admit, he did really well for his first time, and wanted to try everything, which is normally not the case. When we arrived at a big rock structure that my son and husband love to climb to the top with their kayaks and slide down into the river, we asked who was all going to try this. All but myself and one other person decided this looked like fun. So up they all went and came splashing down with smiles across their faces!!!

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The next rapid on this river is known as “double drop” because there are two rapids back to back. This is usually the rapid we spend the most time at when the water is warmer. We love to boogie board and surf these two rapids. Today however, the boogie board was left home due to the cold water, and I did not feel like getting too wet, being I was already shivering and had a lot of the river to go yet. So, my dear husband said he would assist me in getting out to portage and he would just ride my kayak through. No problem, all I asked of him was to try and keep my seat dry!!!!!. If you knew my husband, he enjoys being upright as much as he enjoys being under his kayak, so I knew the chances of my seat being returned dry were slim, but I had to make the request anyhow. Sure enough, he decided to try and surf this rapid with my kayak and with the water being much higher than normal, it did not treat him kindly. He ended up getting turned around and then stuck in a sucker hole that would just not release him.

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Resulting in a flip, a water exit and needless to say, my kayak being returned with a VERY WET seat.

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We then switched back to our own boats, and then it was my son’s turn to surf “double drop.” He did much better and did not get stuck in the same hole as dad did, so he did not have to go swimming at all.

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Our next rapid on this river has beautiful scenery. You are looking from above a high rock cliff with this old broken down building in the distance. It’s quite fun to imagine what they did in such a huge mansion of this size.

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This is the biggest rapid on the river, and is quite mean and furious if you do not have the proper experience to kayak something of this size. We do not do this. My husband tried once, it did not end well, and he promised me I would never have to watch that again. Now some of us do just the bottom half and some portage the entire thing. It is a great resting spot about half way to the ending and a perfect place to have a snack and reapply sunscreen.

All in all we had a great day, the sun was shining and everyone left happy and very tired. We arrived at the end take out and everyone got changed in the little hut they have at this particular take out just for kayakers.

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This is the one thing that is sometimes a challenge because some take outs are on the edge of highways, and you sometimes have to drive home wet, or just be creative. We have a great plan when all else fails, but here we never have to go that route.

After changing we all eat, because you can not imagine how hungry a day on the river makes you. Our dining table is the tailgate of our truck. And you gotta love the Christmas plates I grabbed, I figured it was appropriate, because I knew the water was going to be cold:)

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It was a fun day, with a fun group of people.

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QUESTION: Would you ever try this if you had the chance?