Fort Wayne Kayaking: Marsh Lake 4.30.19

Keith killed our “kayaker’s luck”, but the evening wasn’t a total waste.  Six intrepid paddlers showed up to battle the wind, waves, rain, Grizzly bears, or whatever else nature threw at us.  Thankfully the Grizzly’s never showed, but we did start with a light sprinkle and 45 or so degree weather.  No big deal; we’re tough, and we had rain gear.  Some guys even had old, grey beards to remove all doubt that they were tough, weathered paddlers.  And so we headed out.  Winds coming across Marsh Lake kicked up some decent wave action, and water levels were higher than any of the old timers could remember. Of course, that might be just because they were old timers and memory isn’t their strong suite.  A bit of rumble in the back ground, increasing rain, and the waves led the less experienced paddlers to start singing something about the Edmund Fitzgerald, but we pressed on. 

High levels made the trail through the lily pads a breeze, but coming to the end of our first tunnel led to a fascinating discovery: fast water and differential water levels, mixed with a liberal sprinkling of rocks, created a small rapids section, followed by a second rapids at the end of the second tunnel.  I was leading up to the start of the first rapids, at which point it seemed the wisest course was to let a few of the other guys go through first to see if the water levels were “rudder friendly”..  Seeing that Mike made it through without dragging his rudder, I followed and suffered no loss.

Having survived the “Tunnels of Doom”, we headed out onto Little Otter Lake..  It was smooth sailing at that point, but now the rain was picking up..  Keith and Dan were nowhere in sight; we thought maybe they deigned to enter the Tunnels of Doom and had turned back.  Seized with great concern, a couple of our paddlers opted to turn back at that point, but Mike and I were determined to at least make it to the headwaters of Snow Lake.  Pressing into Big Otter Lake, Mike and I came up a sight that caused a sudden realignment of our priorities: lightning!  Concluding that discretion is the better part of valor, it seemed like a prudent time to retrace our steps (paddles?) and join in the search for Keith and Dan, who now happened to be leisurely working their way into Little Otter Lake.  It turns out they opted for the scenic route around Marsh Lake, obviously forgetting the first rule of kayaking is to forget the scenery and get to your destination ahead of everyone else.  Or maybe that’s just me…

Returning to the Tunnels of Doom added significantly to the character of our expedition.  All paddlers successfully  crossed the rushing waters at the entrance of the I-69 tunnel, transiting the tunnel no worse for the wear, but things got interesting at the tunnel under the access road, where the rushing waters were larger, and more likely to rise up and smite thee.  And smote they did, taking out Steve (the other one…) as he attempted a crossing without the secret password.  Running headlong into the waters, he found his boat shoved sideways, then rolled, giving him prime opportunity to sample the delights of the clear and refreshing passage waters.  Mike, Dan, and I were able to charge the waters in a sprint, dig deep, and pull through into the tunnel.  Keith and another paddler got some assistance getting through the rapids by Steve, now that he was on solid, if soggy, ground.  After passing through the tunnel, Dan crossed the road to head back and help Steve either carry his boat across the road or get through the tunnel.  I followed a short time later, but by the time I got there Steve was already into the tunnel and Dan was just hanging out, marking the region…

The rest of the return trip was without incident, other than the pounding of heavy rain.  Rain or not, cookies were provided by Keith, courtesy of Louise.  (Thank you, Louise!).  And a great time was had by all!

To join the group in NE Indiana on Tuesday nights, search “KayakFW” in Yahoo Groups.

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