“Maybe we should have stayed home,” I thought as I paddled into the gusty wind, waves occasionally splashing over the front of my kayak and into my face.
It was a sunny Saturday and I had looked forward to kayaking all week. I’d been monitoring the wind speeds since I’d awoken, worried about driving 45 minutes to Lake Koshkonong and finding conditions unfavorable. I’d invited a friend to meet me at the lake, so wanted it to be worth the drive. The winds were forecast at 9-14 mph—definitely doable, although I hoped it would stay closer to 9 mph!
The beginning of the trip along the southeast shore of the lake from the boat launch on Vinne Ha Ha Road was quiet and paddling felt good. So far, so good. I even shed my long-sleeve shirt, despite the cool temperature.
But that all changed as we paddled into Heights Bay. Where did this wind come from?! The waves slapped against our kayaks as we moved across the water. This was not the relaxing ride I had envisioned! It was approaching lunch time, but there was nowhere to safely pull ashore and too wavy to float while eating. We paddled on, hoping to find calmer waters around the next bend.
We moved into Lautz Bay, and finding a reprieve from the wind, we pulled ashore for a stretch break and some lunch. The sun continued to shine brightly, but without the physical exertion of paddling, I quickly cooled down and slipped back into my warmer shirt.
Lake Koshkonong is a large lake (10,500 acres according to Wikipedia). Two hours had passed, and we were only a small way around the lake. While it was tempting to continue to explore, we needed to return to our launch point, and in the daunting winds, we thought it might take longer to get back.
Once in our kayaks post lunch, we decided instead of skirting the shoreline through the turbulent bay, we’d aim straight for the opposite shore. As we started off, we talked and laughed. A passing boater offered us a beer. I declined, joking that I’d rather he pull us back to shore! “Yes, the winds sure picked up,” he commented.
Soon our conversation quieted as we focused on the water and the rhythmic movement of our paddles, our eyes glued to our destination.
“Maybe we should have stayed home,” I thought again as a big wave rocked my kayak and water sprinkled my sunglasses. We paddled on, the opposite shore getting closer. We were making progress.
Finally, it was calm enough to comfortably float. I checked the time. Almost 90 minutes had passed since we’d left our lunch spot. We rested and chatted, not ready yet to pull ashore, then laughed when we realized our kayaks had drifted a few houses down from where we’d stopped.
As I loaded the kayaks, I felt tired but exhilarated as I often do after a good trip. Maybe we should have stayed home, but I’m glad we didn’t. As author H. Jackson Brown once wrote, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”
Sage advice. Go forth, and make memories!