Last week, prior to the Newfound-Owatonna Christmas Party in Concord, MA, I got to head up to camp for a couple days. I do this most every year at this time so I can drop a few things off, pick a few things up, check in with Dan (our Maintenance Director), and take a look around camp to see how things are doing - at least these are the reasons I use to justify to Jessica being away an extra day for this trip.
What I really look forward to about this part of the trip is the opportunity to take a few hours and enjoy camp in it's beautiful, quiet winter state. This year the ice was just beginning to form on the lake but only in a few areas, so I decided to take out a kayak and paddle around. I dawned my drysuit, grabbed a spray skirt and a life jacket from storage under the Newfound dining room, and slid a kayak over the snow from the canoe shed down to the beach.
It is truly a unique experience being the only boat out on Long Lake. It was so still, so quiet, and so beautiful. They lower the lake during the winter to protect the shorelines and the permanent docks from the ice, so sitting in my kayak shampoo rock was almost taller than me. I paddled towards Harrison for a bit, looking at all the snow-covered houses on the lake, and then I turned and paddled around Hairbrush Island.
I thought I would paddle to Cherry Island, but as I got to the back side of Hairbrush I realized that the ice had started to form all over the water off the Newfound beach and back into Cape Monday cove. It was so thin that I could break through it, so I paddled a while watching the shock waves of the breaking ice move out ahead of me. After a while, I realized I was running low on time and needed to get back. When I turned around the path I had cut had widened as the ice had drifted apart. I was able to paddle easily through the new channel and back to the canoe beach.
Before I got out and put everything away I had to do a roll. So I set up, prepared myself for the cold water and over I went. With my heavy clothing on under my drysuit my first attempt didn't succeed. I got part way up. As I took a breath and fell back over I said to myself, "Get ready for the cold!" My second attempt worked, I came up cleanly with a big smile on my face and then I got out and put everything away.
I wouldn't be a sea kayaker today if it wasn't for camp, and getting my first winter roll in Long Lake was another check off my bucket list. And I got it in just in time! Dan texted me a couple days ago and said they've already started ice fishing. Maybe I'll have to try that next time.
Reid Charlston, Owatonna Director