March 16, 2008 Loch Lomond

The announcement
This Sunday is a FOMFOK triathlon—kayaking, hiking and picnicking, in any combination. We leave here at 9 or a bit later to rendezvous at about 10 at Loch Lomond. We expect that by 10:30 or a bit later, we’ll be ready to shove off the kayaks. We may dawdle a bit to make sure Alice gets her chance for the full experience by unloading the boats and rigging them up. Those wanting a water adventure but not the kayak kind can rent boats, either row boats or paddle boats, if I recall correctly. Any one who uses our boats must help unload and load them.

While the kayakers kayak, the hikers will hike. All will get together again for a picnic around 1 or 1:30. Bring food for yourself, or, better yet, plan on a pot luck picnic. Here’s a chance to break out Aunt Tilly’s possum and peach gumbo recipe, or Granddad’s Road Kill Cordon Blue with mouse fritters almondine. If I’m really ambitious, I might bring along my mother’s (Smoke ’em and burn ’em Lil) secret potato salad. It’s the best potato salad there ever was. We will probably bring a cooler with ice to chill the champagne and soda we’ll bring. We should have some extra space in it, but probably not much. We may also be bringing Kathy’s mom, or at least her niece who will give lessons on the finer points of kayaking, for those who want to learn.

The hike
Kayaking at Loch Lomond was kayaking a frozen lake in a gale. What a hoot. After Alice made some great deviled eggs and potato salad, we cancelled the picnic and decided we’d go out to eat after the kayaking instead. We arrived a bit after 10 and had to stop at the ranger station to have the boats inspected. They are inspecting all boats now, looking for foreign critters, like mussels. They want boats to be “clean and dry”. We had to unlash one of the kayaks so they could check the interior of the hatches.

With Alice and Donna’s help, we unloaded quickly. Everyone else had the good sense to wear a wet suit. Me, I just put on a felt jacket and waterproof pants. The water temperature must have been all of 45 degrees. If I fell in, death was a definite possibility. I know, I’m making it sound like so much fun. And it was. Eventually.

There was probably a good 25 to 35 mile per hour head wind wind on the way out. It seems like we’re always trying to paddle into the wind. When we start back, the wind usually changes so that we’re heading into it again. There was enough chop that I was worried a couple of times about overturning. After only a few minutes in the cold temperature and stiff wind, I needed to put on my gloves. I tried to keep near the shoreline; it is usually more interesting, tricky kayaking there, the wind and waves are usually less, but there are also lots of fisherman along the beginning of the trip, all of them casting near where we were paddling.

By the time we reached the far end of the lake, the winds weren’t reaching us and the surface was nearly glassy smooth. Then began the best part of the trip. We kayaked up two feeder streams to the lake. The view was just incredible. Really incredible. The fallen trees, cliff faces, fern grottos, geese and soft waterfalls was simply the best of what you’d like to see on a hike. We plan on coming back here really soon and taking it all in again, lingering even more in these stream ways.

Coming back, we soon left the sheltered end of the lake and we were out in the gale again. For once, the winds had not changed and we had good help paddling back, if you didn’t mind the stiff chop and having to fight to keep heading towards the dock.

Then we hied to the Cowboy Diner in Felton for buffalo burgers, tomato bisque, cowboy sushi, and other creative dishes. The food took over a half hour to arrive, but the food was pretty good and the company was impeccable.

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