Paddling in the Fall

Getting out on the water. Living away from Harbor Springs for fifteen years did nothing to quell my desire for boating; the big lakes, inland lakes, rivers running or frozen – nothing beats getting out on the water. What a different view we get of our home town, our favorite getaway, our morning walking path!

Kayaking last week with a group from Kentucky on the Inland Waterway was telling. The colors sneaking out along the shore of Crooked Lake, the water warmer than the air and only one houseboat on the sandbar – fall was arriving. What a fall. The colors now, ten days later, are spectacular – changing daily and brightening up the morning drive to Luke’s 8AM school bell. The boat hoists at Irish Boat Shop and Walstrom’s Marina are busy and suddenly Little Traverse Bay is looking a little naked with more empty moorings than full.

I am headed out again in a couple of days to paddle with a small group just north of Cross Village on an inland lake and I am excited. Kayaking in the fall kind of feels like cross country skiing on a cold winter day, just after a snow fall. The air is a little breath-taking, the snow on the branches just gorgeous, and the hot cocoa waiting in the kitchen just right.

Back from waxing peotic, I have to say: Kayaking in the fall is so good. It can also be a little dicey, though, if you don’t think it through. The water might still be warm, but the autumn air usually is not. It is really important to dress for the water – if you fall in, will you be warm enough to get back in the boat or swim to shore? Synthetic long underwear and clothing are great, if not dedicated paddling gear like neoprene shirts and pants. Cotton: would you like to wrap up in a wet bath towel and walk around outside in October? Yeesh. Don’t forget to wear something on your feet – there are zebra mussels and glass everywhere, lurking. It is good practice, too, to let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back. Kayaking with a partner is the safest way to go, in any case.

Please let me know of your favorite fall kayaking trips and cold-weather paddling tips!

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One thought on “Paddling in the Fall”

  1. I have just started paddling again and love to go in the early morning after the kids and I bike to school. Paddle and PFD in my pack, I head to the water. Soon the sun will just be rising as I get on the water. The water is flat, the moorings empty – what a perfect way to start the day. I have not been in the inland waterways and can only imagine the beauty of the trees so close on both sides – like a tunnel of color.
    Tell me more!

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