Kayaking before the snow

I’m part of a few Facebook kayaking groups, and through these groups, I’ve seen numerous photos of people out paddling all month long—and I’ve wanted to do the same! I finally got my chance this past Sunday, Nov. 22 when my calendar was open and the weather was cooperative.

While thick, gray clouds filled the sky, the temperature was 40 degrees and winds were light at about 5 mph. Greg and I had nothing else to do (due to non-socializing COVID-19 restrictions), so we decided to take out the kayaks—at least one more time before the snow falls—which really did happen yesterday (2-3 inches)!

We launched our two orange kayaks from Governor Nelson State Park and spent an hour and a half on the far west side of Lake Mendota. I bundled up in a winter coat, stocking cap and mittens. Stepping into my kayak, I slipped on the algae along the water’s edge. Feeling myself going down, I aimed my backside toward the kayak seat and fortunately landed inside the kayak rather than the icy water!

Paddling into the light breeze, my cheeks and fingertips (even in the gloves) felt a bit cold. But once we turned in the opposite direction, I felt comfortable, especially when the sun fought free of the clouds, which it tried repeatedly to do but never succeeded for long.

We saw two fishing boats and two other paddlers in the far distance. Our only other companions on this big, beautiful lake were hundreds of ducks and geese: flocks flying overhead, coming in for landings, taking off to alternate destinations or simply floating and paddling in their own boatless way.

Toward the end of our trip, I looked up into the trees along the shoreline and saw a bald eagle. You surely know my love of eagles by now—so understand this alone made the trip worthwhile.

This weekend was my first time ever kayaking in the month of November. Now if I can get out again in December, January and February, I’ll be able to call myself a year-round paddler! I believe December may be a possibility, but most likely, all the lakes by me will be covered in ice by the end of the year. And if they aren’t, I’m not sure I can layer on enough clothes to ever be warm enough to paddle in the peak of a Wisconsin winter!

Tuesday’s snowfall!
A bald eagle watches us from the trees along Lake Mendota.
The lake was quiet, except for ducks and geese.
The sun occasionally peeked through the clouds.

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