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  Eccentric? Paddling in the rain.
  Posted by: booztalkin on Jan-16-14 12:07 PM (EST)

Musings from last night's paddle:

Just how eccentric are you? Yes, you. You're abnormal, you know? What percentage of the population paddles? It's not normal.

Despite that, I view myself as just a normal old guy. Yet during the afternoon rain storm I was the only guy on the block jumping into the back of the truck and wriggling into a drysuit. And launching my canoe into Annapolisí Spa Creek at 4:30 on a 41-degree, rainy, early-dusking afternoon. Where were all the other normal people?

I normally abhor Spa Creek. Upstream from the Eastport bridge it is wall-to-wall marinas and boat slips. In the summer, it teams with boat traffic and wreaks of spilled fuel and exhaust fumes. But late on a chill and rainy January afternoon, the only other thing moving on the water, besides me, was a raft of ducks.

For a stormy day, the wind was barely stirring, so it was actually kind of nice. The rain made a racket on the water.

My gear worked about perfect. Not a drop got inside my Kokotat drysuit. Coated, breathable, broad brimmed hat from EMS kicked ass. The water rolled off. The NRS gloves kept my hands comfortable, but I didnít like the feel of the paddle rotating while wearing the glove and they were a royal PIA to put on and take off. Regardless, I was warm and dry and had a lovely evening paddle.

I didnít go far, but played like I was freestyling around pilings and docks. I must have been a strange sight to anybody that happened to notice a red canoe out on the water. But it was the kind of night when people just keep their heads down, so I doubt anybody noticed my eccentricness.

Iíd never been so far up Spa Creek. That has to be the most intensively developed creek-front in Annapolis.

There was plenty of light. Somewhere above the clouds, there was a full moon, but I couldnít detect it. There are lots of lights in Annapolis, and when the clouds hang low overhead, they reflect the light and it never gets truly dark on the water.

I estimate two out of five dwellings on the water do not have full time residents at this time of year. One vacant house had a bubbler boiling the water in an empty slip at the back of the lot--the mega-rich, part-time occupant forgot to turn it off before leaving town. That's normal.


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Messages in this Topic


  wouldn't call you eccentric...
  Posted by: OptiMystic on Jan-16-14 12:37 PM (EST)
unless you crafted some well written prose about the experience and posted it on the internet... ;^>
  When we were up in Alaska
  Posted by: jackL on Jan-16-14 12:48 PM (EST)
we paddled almost every day in rain and loved every minute of it. Our dry suits kept us nice and warm.
Differenet story down hers in the Florida Keys.
Right now it is too chilly to paddle here at 79 degrees and high winds, so we are hanging out and will paddle tomorrow.

Jack L
  Posted by: PJC on Jan-16-14 1:10 PM (EST)
I never thought of paddling in the rain as eccentric. Its just something that happens to paddlers sometimes. Its nice if one is prepared for it as you were, very wisely given the season.
But I have to admit that as I get older(?), maybe wiser(?), maybe wimpier(?), whatever the heck, I don't know... but I'm now catching myself thinking it eccentric to set out in the rain but not to get caught in it.
Illogical, I know. Not sure what the difference really is between unloading and setting out with a dismal forecast under a threatening sky, knowing I'll get nailed by and by, and doing the same in an actual downpour. But somehow nowadays one seems eccentric to me and the other not. Has anyone else here noticed that in themselves?

As for being ignored by passersby... well, they probably have other things on their minds and don't want to get involved in even considering the odd distractions that lurk on the edge of their vision. What good could come of it?
Such reactions kind of remind me of the kind of reaction illustrated by a book cover that caught my eye while browsing a bookstore recently.

Not recommending the book, mind you, (haven't read it and probably won't) but the cover art brings a smile. Bet you feel like that mouse.
  I share your disease.....
  Posted by: chodups on Jan-16-14 1:12 PM (EST)
  that was pretty cool
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Jan-16-14 2:16 PM (EST)
I confess I must be eccentric also. Because it's magic getting out in the rain, and because all the similar random thoughts passing through my head when paddling.

You have to be really stressed or really focused to actually think of nothing.
  Something most would consider dump
  Posted by: castoff on Jan-16-14 2:40 PM (EST)
But not me. Canoed the Enoree on a day caling for rain about a month ago. It was a great day paddling even when it was raining. I do not let the forecast deter me unless lightning or exreme winds are expected.

However we did get caught in a lightning storm in the coastal marsh last spring paddling out to Cape Romain to camp. It was about 5 hours to high tide so we were below the spartina and mud flats. We pulled into a narrow marsh creek just big enough for our kayaks to fit side by side. The neat thing was that the deluge running out the marsh came down the creek like a mini flashflood we were well anchored but gained about one foot of water level before the storm moved on. There was no where to take out in the marsh.
  oops I ment dumb not dump
  Posted by: castoff on Jan-16-14 2:42 PM (EST)
  Not eccentric, its called "fishing"
  Posted by: taj on Jan-16-14 3:28 PM (EST)
It was a rainy week all over Colorado last September when the Denver and Foothills areas got 16" of rain in a matter of a few days. I was on the western slope fishing between (and during) storms. I was at the lake, and darn it, I was going to fish. I didn't mind covering up for the sprinkles. When it downpoured enough to make fly casting difficult I had to canoe to shore. I dumped an inch or two of water out of the boat and pulled it (on cart) back to camp. Another pair of campers told me that they were concerned and just about to go looking for me when they saw the dripping fisherman returning.
  Those trips are easier to remember
  Posted by: Guideboatguy on Jan-16-14 3:51 PM (EST)
My memory of all the more typical trips is never as clear as that of the ones where the weather did something "special", and that includes outdoor activities other than paddling. I've always enjoyed being outside in various types of extreme weather, as long as my clothing was appropriate, and in some cases, as long as I had the option of deciding how long to stay out. I wouldn't expect that even most other people who enjoy such things enjoy it in the same way as I, which of course is okay. To me, there's something about the mood that goes along with the kinds of weather that would be uncomfortable or even treacherous outside the boundaries of the particular situation.

As for heavy rain, I like how it sort of isolates you. When I can't see far and I can't "hear far", I tend to focus on a much smaller portion of "my world" at that moment, maybe even just being amazed at how the water's surface is "ripped apart" and showing different textures resulting from the rain at different locations (for example, subtle differences in current result in a patchwork pattern that's sort of an "oil-slick" effect). And it's a snug feeling realizing that only the clothes on your back are keeping you from being miserable or worse.

One time that happened was years ago on a late fall solo trip on the Kickapoo River. I ran into about half an hour of torrential rain with very frequent lightning strikes on the higher ground above the river valley. It was exhilarating to be surrounded by the constant hissing roar of heavy rain hitting the water and the tree leaves all around, and to be practically buffeted by the thunderclaps of nearby lightning strikes (the closer strikes, and many were close, had an almost shockwave-like effect rather than being a simple bang or boom) yet be perfectly safe (safe enough anyway) on that skinny little river in the bottom of the valley. That's a more dramatic example, but but yeah, if enjoying such things makes one eccentric, count me in.
  water's surface is "ripped apart"
  Posted by: taj on Jan-16-14 4:38 PM (EST)
Speaking of memories, at another lake on another afternoon... I was hiking, not paddling when I watched black clouds devouring the peaks to the northwest of the lake. This storm was coming fast and I was 1/2 a mile from the nearest man-made shelter. I started back to the lake campground like a man on a mission and dashed the last couple hunderd yards to the lake office as drops the size of shot glasses splattered on my shoulders. I shut the office door behind me and looked out the glass at the lake to see hail the size of baseballs pelting the NW end. The line of hail progressed across the lake until the whole thing was "ripped apart" and looked like a pot boiling on the stove. After the storm I walked through the shredded forest to camp. There I found that the hail had ripped 13 holes in the canvas awning of my tent trailer and dented the tops of all the vehicles in camp that weren't behind the tree drip lines. Perhaps hiking in the rain now requires a hard hat!
  I am not normal.
  Posted by: scottb on Jan-16-14 4:27 PM (EST)
Thankfully, I am not alone. Reading your trip report makes me think I have been wasting too much time doing "normal" stuff lately. You have inspired me to get my freak on.
  When time is precious
  Posted by: Andy_Szymczak on Jan-16-14 4:59 PM (EST)
I'd paddle in a snow storm.
  Posted by: svenkalmar on Jan-16-14 5:14 PM (EST)
normal is overrated..i like to use a stormcag on top of the dry suit in
cold rain snow and wind...
  I love padling in the rain - above 60
  Posted by: string on Jan-16-14 6:22 PM (EST)
deg F.
  I'd rather...........
  Posted by: on Jan-17-14 9:21 AM (EST)
I'd much rather paddle in snow than in the rain.
Not a big fan of rain; especially if there is any lightning ivolved.
The absolute worse is paddling in freezing rain.
Been there, done that, and don't EVER want to do that again.

Sitting under a large rainfly, in comfy chair, with coffee in hand, watching the river go downstream is not that bad. Especially if you have good company, picked a scenic location, and have a shot or 2 of Amaretto to blend with the coffee.
A soft rain at night,tapping on the rainfly,while snug in your sleeping bag, is not bad at all.

Backpacking in rain is just a pain in the rear as far as I'm concerned; hate that with a passion.

  it's funny
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Jan-17-14 9:47 AM (EST)
When I've gone on trips, I want to paddle during the crappy days and hike during the nice days.
  off season paddling
  Posted by: ppine on Jan-17-14 3:00 PM (EST)
In many ways paddling in a time other than summer is preferable. You can have the place to yourself.

In many places paddling in the rain is the norm or you don't paddle. Alaska and Washington come to mind. That's what cockpits are for.
  Love paddling in the rain and not having
  Posted by: shirlann on Jan-20-14 10:59 PM (EST)
to smell the gas fumes from motorized boats.
Thanks for the memories.


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