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For clothes I wear Patagonia long underwear beneath a pair of water resistant paddling pants. For upper body I wear a layered combination of synthetic turtleneck, pullover or whatever the day calls for, and a balaclava.
For boots I like the NFS neopreneís that come up to the knees. The biggest problem is keeping my hands warm. Iím 68 and I donít have the best circulation to my hands. I have the expensive neoprene gloves but they donít seem to do the job. What works best for me is a pair of light weight Patagonia glove liners, inside a pair of regular brown cotton work gloves and then a pair of black rubber chemical gloves that come up to my elbows. I buy the chemical gloves at the hardware store for about $3.00. This combination keeps my hands reasonably warm.
Although I have several kayaks, for winter kayaking I use an old 14 foot poly Aquaterra. It has a 25 inch beam so there isnít much chance of tipping and of course I wear a spray skirt. Also, the Aquaterra cuts right through thin layers of ice.
Even though itís cold when I first start paddling, after about ten minutes Iíll feel very comfortable. With the spray skirt on, my lower body will stay warm. The upper body movement of paddling will keep my upper body warm.
After settling myself in and putting the thermos of coffee on the deck, Iím off. There is a channel that leads to Lake Monroe, although from October to April this section of Lake Monroe is closed as a nesting area. But, after paddling the channel I can turn east and head up Salt Creek. In this area Salt Creek is like a river with almost a non-existent current. Also, it is protected by high hills from the west winds which add to my comfort.
If the temperature would, say get up to 40 degrees, the warmer air and the colder water creates a moving fog that can be quite ethereal.
I usually paddle alone although once in awhile Iíll go with another kayaker. There are not many people who want to kayak when itís cold.
If you ever wanted your own private waterway, this is the season; itís unlikely that I will see anyone. For winter kayaking, Iíll paddle three or four hours, two hours out and two hours back to the landing. Load the kayak on the truck and head for home. Time for a big country breakfast and then a well deserved winterís nap.
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