Monday, April 25, 2011
Nate was up for a paddle yesterday. I hadn't been out since we'd returned from Florida, and honestly, my excitement level was not that great. We'd been in warm weather and water long enough to get used to it, and it seemed like a lot of work to get out in a kayak here. I've been glad to be back in Stonington... sort-of. Okay, I'm lying. We returned home to a pile of bills, we've had some nasty weather, and I've been working to pay for that gas we burned to go south. The Opera House has even been closed for renovations. If you ask people around here how their winter was, they tend to just break down in tears.
But as I got my gear ready, I felt that familiar anticipation. A thick fog hung over the harbor, and as we launched, it began to thin enough to reveal the dark shapes of the nearest islands. We went in and out of rolling fog, out to Steves, and on past Wreck, where just enough swell was coming in to make it interesting among the rocks. It was low tide, and at Round Island we found a series of granite slots where the swells grew into small waves.
I've paddled past this spot so many times, I told Nate, but never quite like this.
"How's that go?" he said. "You can't step into the same river twice?"
True, and it is true of the ocean as well. But I was starting to re-appreciate why I love paddling here so much. It can be drastically different each time. There is always more to discover.
The fog banks lingered in the distance as we followed the shore of McGlathery Island on to Gooseberry. A couple of miles away, Fog Island stood out clear and inviting in the sunshine, so we headed for it. The marine forecast had called for 4-6- foot seas, which unsurprisingly, we didn't encounter in the archipelago, but out beyond Fog, the swell came in bigger, straight from the south. The sunshine went away.
After lunch, we made our way back: Popplestone Ledge, Southern Mark Island, Enchanted Island, Phoebe Island. It seemed we found a different feature at each spot, like challenges in a miniature golf course... except these usually involved steep dumping waves and solid granite. As usual, Nate pushed harder than I did and got his share of rolling and bracing practice. The seals watched from a distance. It started to rain.
Contrast is everything. And here, it often seems like we can get a lot of it in one trip. Fog, rocks and waves, sunshine, rain... the infinite variables that make every paddling excursion unique: I'm missing the sub-tropics a little less than I was two days ago.