Thursday, April 21, 2011

MISTRAL CANOE ON ABRAMS CREEK--4-21-11


The wind catches the mistral, pulls her away from shore and swings her around pointing her down stream.  I'm not worried at all because she's tied well.
I haven't been in a canoe in two months and I was determined to be in one today.  Today also heralds the first usage of the canoe trailer.  I removed the 2X12 bunks from the top of the truck cap and am committed to the trailer.  The hardest part of loading the canoe onto the trailer was getting it off the racks in the shed and onto the floor.  Once on the floor, I slid the canoe cart wheels onto the boat, grabbed the opposite end and wheeled the whole contraption out to the trailer. 
It was very easy to load from that point.  You will see the canoe wheels in action later on in this entry.
A quick check of the trailer lights and; oh no!  The right corner light was out.  I had just fixed the left light the previous week.  This thing is brand new.  It proves that the wiring harnesses are not checked wherever they're made.  One of those cheap wire connectors wasn't making contact then, and I'll bet the same problem is affecting this other light now.  Bingo!  It was a connector.  Problem fixed.  Notice that the nose of the canoe is well above the trailer ball clamp.  The new bunks I made are perfect.
Douglas and I were on our way to Abrams Creek.  The unload process was easy as pie.  My back suffered no ill affects during the entire load and unload process.  Note the canoe wheels attached to the canoe.  I simply wheeled the canoe straight down to the water.

Another plus to those wheels is that the canoe can be loaded at the truck and all the gear is transported to the water in one operation.  The same is true after returning to the shore.  Simply turn around and slide the wheels over the end of the canoe behind you and step out, lift the front and walk away.  The wheels stow away very nicely under the seat.  The short trail to the water was very steep and full of gullies and big rocks.  If these wheels worked here;  they would work anywhere.
Everything went smoothly.  The best part of it is I didn't have to use my lower back at any point in the operation.
I wanted to paddle up stream to where I knew otters lived.  It was very late in the morning and I doubted I would see any of the critters.  But, otters were the excuse to be on Abrams Creek today.
Douglas was very excited about getting out on the water and jumped right into the canoe where he was supposed to be.  He's a great canoe dog.
The wind picked up twenty minutes into the trip.  It really started to blow.  I'm glad I had eighty pound Douglas in the bow for ballast.  I expected the Mistral to give me serious problems but, she didn't kick up much of a fuss about the wind.
Occasionally a strong gust would smack into her bow and spin us sideways.  I think these gusts would spin any canoe sideways though.  I found that kneeling is the best way to confront the wind.  The paddle is applied more toward the center of the boat and I can extend it further rearward at the completion of the power stroke thereby extending the correction further and for a longer period of time.  It's a great way to paddle and I'm learning to prefer kneeling to sitting on the seat.  Occasionally a pry here and there was required to straighten the large boat but, other than that, the Mistral sliced up the channel nicely.
We rounded the bend in the channel to where we would tie off and rest.  The otters live directly across the stream from this bank.
It is difficult to ask an active dog to sit quietly, unmoving, while slowly paddling on the water in a canoe.  Douglas would sit for ten minutes and then stand for two minutes.  He would sit again and repeat this process constantly.  The Mistral is totally immune to his movements.  She's a big canoe at seventeen and a half feet.  The secondary stabilization is outstanding, as is primary.  I would definitely have attached the stabilizers to the Champlain had I selected that canoe today.  The Champlain is "big dog sensitive", so to speak.  She is an absolute pleasure to paddle though;  and she's super fast.  .
I was happy to reach this pull in as my low back ache was flaring up a bit.  I just completed a series of exercises on the shore line that I learned in therapy and I feel much better.  A gust of wind spun the Mistral around and pointed it down stream. There are some pretty hefty gusts out here today
This is a peaceful spot that offers the flavor of wilderness.
The rippled water lapping against the Mistral is a soothing sound.
It would be easy to be lulled into sleep here.  Unfortunately the wind is building, as usual on Abrams Creek, and brings with it the smell of rain.
Canadian Dwarf Cinquefoil
Douglas is waiting for me to make a move indicating a hike is about to take place.  He is looking at me with imploring eyes.  He is beautiful sitting beside the bright red Cardinal Flowers.
There will be no hike today.   He'll have to be satisfied with retrieving sticks that I throw in the water for him.  This is about as far as I care to paddle anyway.  The old back is letting me know it's getting tired.  It's going to take awhile to build the strength into the lower back again.
The golden dog of the lakes; what a handsome young fellow!
No otter in his right mind would show himself with the golden dog just across the channel
This spot is wonderful.  The view of the water is perfect and wild flowers abound.  I've been lying upon a light weight tarp so, I hope I have outwitted the chigger community.  Probably not though.
Too Far Away to Tell (:
Some of these flower shots were taken with the 500mm lens.  I never had to get to my feet.  Lazy, lazy!
Oxeye Daisey
Cardinal Flowers
Douglas has been waiting patiently to get going so, I guess we will pack up and move out.  His excitement is evident in the shots below:
A better friend;  there is none.
That's my boy.
Well;  looks like Douglas is stealing the show here.  This canoe ride is about all I'm good for just now.  Sciatica certainly drains one's energy.  It will take a while to build up to my previous back strength, if I ever can.  The rest of the paddle trip was uneventful.  The wind is driving fairly steady so, I'll paddle straight back to the truck and call it a day.  I feel good about the efforts involved in getting on the water with the canoe today.  Everything's going to be alright.