Friday, November 30, 2007

Local Lakes

A friend was out on a local flight yesterday, I handed him my camera and asked him to take a couple pictures of some local lakes for an ice check. The third and fourth are of Medicine Lake, bottom is of Bush Lake out near Bloomington. Bush is a great lake for an afternoon of rolling practice ... sandy bottom, and real clean water. All of the smaller lakes are froze over, the larger ones, like Medicine are close behind. Winter storm is forecast for the weekend so, time to get the skis waxed and ready.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


The first time I really understood the meaning of “solo” was the fall of 1991 at an airport in Omaha Nebraska. My flight instructor asked me for my logbook and wrote the line “ok for solo flight”, then signed his name. He was confident I could do what was necessary to take off, fly the plane, and bring it back to the ground safely. He had gone over everything with me, time and time again … what to do if the engine quit, what to do if I get lost, what to do if the radios quit working, what to do if I found myself inside a cloud. The most important thing of course was to continue to “fly the plane”. I did many solo flights after that first day. When I finally did get my pilots license, the meaning of solo flight was still the same. I was responsible for the outcome … no one else could come to my aid and fly the plane for me. I used to fly aerobatics solo … spins, loops, rolls, all the fun stuff. And I am far from an adrenaline junkie; I did it after hours of training, and only did the maneuvers I was signed off to do solo. We often hear of unfortunate outcomes to solo travelers, were these people really prepared for what they intended to do? I believe Andrew McCauley was prepared as anyone could have been. Aron Ralston, an experienced climber, went rock climbing alone … he lived through a harrowing experience being trapped by a boulder for 5 days. The stories are endless, but so are the truly unique experiences that can only be felt solo. I am planning on doing some solo paddles next summer, more than likely to the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior. Take a couple long weekends, spend some quiet time on the water, and take in the solitude. I’ve had more training than most paddlers, and my navigation skills are pretty good. So why does it feel like I’m planning something reckless?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Birthday Paddle

Sunday morning I did the bike ride through Baker Park to check on the Lake ... sure enough, the lake was open. The wind was blowing pretty good, so I figured any ice around the island would surely be broken up, and not a problem. John called me around noon for a lake update, I gave him the lets go, and we were on the lake by 2pm.
Lots of ice along the shoreline, but Independence is roughly 850 acres, so we had plenty of lake to play on. When we tried to get around the islands we did find the path blocked with ice. We also ran across 3 pelicans who, like us, were looking to get out of the wind for a bit. They didn't like the fact we were there so off they went to find another sheltered area. When we paddled around the island we saw maybe 30 ducks sitting along the shoreline, John says "what kind of ducks are those?" I couldn't give an answer, they just didn't look right. When we got closer we discovered they were plastic ducks. Along with two hunters sitting in the reeds.
We even got in some cold water rescue practice .. John has been using his new wing paddle, and I think they are a little unforgiving when used for bracing. Although I did get some time with Alex's wing paddle, and learned some basics, I've yet to spend some real quality time with a wing paddle. So I am not the go-to person for wing paddle instruction. Anyway, sure enough, John is a little ahead of me, and I see the boat go over ... is he going to try and roll up?!? No ... I am thinking, that the water is pretty cold, and he might like some help getting back into his boat. An uneventful T rescue, and a short search for the offending wing paddle, and we are on our way back to the beach.
Really a nice way to spend a 52nd birthday.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Frozen Lakes

Well, the plan was to get some paddling in this weekend. Last weekend there was some discussion about a "full moon" paddle for this weekend, but had a hard time getting takers. Then John and I decided to make some plans for Sunday on Lake Independence ... So far today, every lake I have driven past is frozen over. Looks like its either a river paddle, or wait for the upcoming pool sessions. I'll make a drive past Independence this evening, but it's not looking good.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


If you hang out at the airport long enough, every now and again something interesting will stop by ... a Chinook CH-47 was out doing maneuvers yesterday.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Gales of November

Wednesday was a day to take a half day off work, and do the third annual "Gales of November" paddle. This year we had some real wind, waves, and cold to deal with .. along with the occasional snow showers. Chris, Courtney, Steve, Colleen, Dave, Jill, and I launched from Cooks Bay on Lake Minnetonka, and paddled out to Goose Island hopefully to meet up with Duane, who had planned on getting out early and getting a fire going. Well we ran a bit behind and missed Duane, but a quick phone call, and since he still had his paddling gear on, me made the half mile paddle out from his home on the bay. A glass of wine, some cheese, some of Dave's venison sausage, and a piece of pumpkin pie. We managed a bit of night navigation for a return to Cook Bay through Black Lake, and Seton Channel. A stop at the Narrows Saloon in Spring Park finished of a great afternoon. Looking forward to the 4th Annual!

Monday, November 12, 2007

"As If"

What a day on Minnetonka, 63F in November! ISK had paddling day planned for "as if" we were planning an all day trip on Lake Superior. This would give people an opportunity to gain some experience in leadership, and navigation roles, for a day on Lake Superior. A good deal of emphasis was put into hypothermia awareness ... heck, the water was 41 degrees, and the air temp a balmy 63F. A perfect recipe for trouble on the lake. We had a great turn out, 17 people in all. Breaking up into three groups, and all taking different routes from Cooks Bay in the city of Mound, to Goose, and Spray Island for a quick break, then onto Big Island for lunch. Planned talks on hypothermia, proper gear, and clothing for the trip. Then those who had taken navigation, and group leading roles, switched. Then the paddle back to Cooks Bay. We returned a bit before sunset, loaded up, and stopped for a pizza, and a cold one at a local tavern. Its good to see clubs offering the training that the paddling community really needs. We hear all to often about the "kayaker" that succumbs to hypothermia after tipping over in one of the local lakes, and wasn't dressed properly, was alone and couldn't get back in their boat. Its a story we need to change, and it can start with experiences like this last Sundays trip on Lake Minnetonka.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cold Rolls

A weekend at camp with Dave and friends will always be one to remember. Friday afternoon found Dave, Chris, Tom, and I, en route with a stop at the "Angry Minnow" in Hayward to pick up a growler. Then off to camp O. I was up for the annual fishing opener this spring, and noticed the almost total lack of fishing equipment that was brought along by the participants, and was not surprised to find a similar lack of hunting equipment brought along this fall for the Annual Grouse Kill. We had the foresight to bring along one guitar, and 4 kayaks, to keep ourselves out of mischief for the weekend. Some rolling in Lake O was the plan for Saturday. An interesting phenomena where the lake water, although very clean, is dark enough that when upside down in the kayak, is as black as midnight. Its as though you roll into a black cloud. After the rolling session we hit the sauna for some much needed heat. Saturday night there were a fair number of adult beverages served, along with a fantastic dinner. The cooking here is outstanding! Then music until the wee hours. The boys put on a good show, they even allowed me to sit in on a few songs.
After Sunday breakfast, we headed home, with a planned stop to do some paddling through the Bark Bay Slough, then to Bark Bay on Lake Superior. We all did a few rolls ... If your on Lake Superior in November ... it just must be done. The picture was just after loading up in Bark Bay. Credits to Dave for the pictures, I managed to leave my camera back at home this weekend.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Gone Paddling

Gone for the weekend for some paddling, and maybe some grouse hunting ... should be a great weekend either way!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Plowing Snow

It shouldn't be long and I'll be out late nights plowing snow. I've just enough to keep me busy for about 5 or 6 hours after a good snowfall. Here's hoping we get plenty of snow this season ... if I can't be paddling, I'd just as soon be skiing.