Yep! It’s snowing and I’m kayaking!
I am just now starting to warm up enough to show you some pics of what we did a couple Saturdays ago (January 19th to be exact). R. Darling and I went with the local chapter of WAKE on an eagle watching trip down the Skagit River. To be completely honest, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to paddling my sea kayak down a frosty river. But in some ways I am still a newlywed, and I just can’t help myself from being game for most of the things that R. Darling cooks up even though I quite often end up cold, wet, muddy, or all of the above. But (almost) always with a smile! I’m just not ready to quit perpetuating the myth that I’m a good sport ;)
After R. Darling packed up our gear that morning, we piled into the truck and headed for Marblemount (I’ll skip the specifics here; if you’re even vaguely interested, you can find them on R. Darling’s bloggy). A light sleet hit our windshield on the way out of town issuing an ominous you-will-freeze-your-ass-off-today sort of warning in my head. Driving further southeast we were greeted with a countryside growing more steadily white as each mile drifted away. By the time we reached the meeting point and started the complicated shuttle of cars from put-in to take-out it had begun to snow lightly, then ever increasingly, making me nervous for my fingers and toes (I rather wanted to keep them!). While waiting for the rest of the group to reappear after the final shuttle, I snapped a few photos for posterity while trying to keep my rapidly numbing appendages warmed up as much as possible.
It was peaceful at first, being on the river with the snow falling on us. I had never thought of using a sea kayak on a river before, but the Skagit is a wide, deep river with very gentle rapids (at least where we paddled) well suited to coasting along in a sea kayak. We did hit a few rough-ish sort of rapids that scared me a bit as I was already feeling worried that I wouldn’t be accomplished enough to hang with this crowd, but I managed them o.k. There was one unfortunate gal who didn’t navigate them quite as successfully and, poor thing, went for a swim twice in the frigid waters wearing only a wet suit. I was cold enough as it was without having been dunked and I felt awfully sorry for her but selfishly glad it wasn’t me.
R. Darling enjoying himself immensely
About 6 miles into the trip, or maybe an hour and a half on the water, the novelty of the falling snow and peacefulness of coasting along on the river lost a bit of its charm. My fingers and toes, though bundled tightly against the weather, began to complain about the punishing temperature. And we were only halfway there. R. Darling and I both agreed that this was a fun trip – once – and that we didn’t really need to experience it again any time soon. In all, I counted about 50 eagles (occasionally losing count when thinking about how damn cold I was) and it was thoroughly amazing to see the sheer numbers of them feeding, nesting, and perching near the banks of the river. They are truly breathtaking to see up close. Majestic, regal, every word you’ve ever heard to describe them is absolutely true. And, I’ll add, they’re downright huge. Unfortunately, most of the pictures that day turned out dark and blurry due to the weather conditions, but we did get a few decent ones.
This juvenile seemed completely unruffled as we drifted slowly past him only feet away
So, despite the fact that I’m in no hurry to rush back out into the frigid weather in my kayak, a cozy house, a warm husband, and lots of hot tea have conspired to give our little trip a more rosy glow than I perhaps felt that day. I’d say it was a great adventure after all and I’m glad I was game enough to go!
I may look like I’m smiling but my face is actually frozen that way!