I'm scared of big lakes. Little lakes too. I've been blown even on the smallest lake to a far shore and unable to beat my way back against the wind.
I imagine the back country trippers who run the big Arctic rivers and cross the wide Arctic lakes can tell terrifying tales of waves that rise again and again to gunwale level and higher. At least these folk use spray skirts to keep from swamping on those long lake traverses.
But when the wind is quiet, a gentle summer breeze is sublime.
I recently visited a local pond that few have seen. I can tell you it lies in the Keswick region, more than that I cannot say. It's my buddy's fishing hole, so I'm sworn to secrecy.
It was a lovely late August day, pleasantly warm in the sun and cloud, with a light wind that kept everybody cool and happy all day long. The lake was small, maybe it took five minutes for the wind to gently guide us into the far corner of the lake.
I confess we were fishing, but I never caught any. My buddy Junkyard caught six, of which three were long enough to keep. The biggest was 12 inches.
I know some of you are against fishing, but that's not the point of this story. The point is that we enjoyed a blissful day on a pocket lake far from anybody else. No cars, no phones, no distractions.
Sometimes the wind can be one's undoing. Once upon a time, Matt (Hal) and I were shepherding newbies on the upper Penobscot. I remember we were camped on Lobster Lake, a huge sheet of water with several deep curved bays that give the lake its name.
One camper in our group went for a solo paddle, and got caught in the wind and blown to a far shore several bays over. I remember me, Matt and Carp surfing whitecaps down to the shore where he had washed up. It was a hairy paddle back to the campsite too, the safety of the shore never seemed so far away. We were glad to get out of that gale.
On our little Keswick country lake, it was a treat to be gently pushed by the breeze down to the far shore, where gnarly rootballs of giant tumbledowns littered the rocks. It only took ten minutes of gentle stroking to regain the head of the lake, then drift sweetly back down under the green slope of a local peak, casting to fish as we went. They jumped, but didn't bite.
I've written elsewhere that I don't like lake paddling, but I'm ready to change my tune now. A pleasant summer day with a sweet breeze can win anyone over. Junkyard is now talking about another hidden lake over a couple of hills. Let's go!
The Perfect Job for a Paddler ... maybe
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