Wednesday morning we set out for a leisurely paddle across the lake. The weather was lovely
As we prepared for lunch, we noticed a few rain clouds moving in. It started to drizzle, then came down in earnest. We rigged a tarp up over our picnic table to keep the food & supplies dry and retreated into our tents to wait out the rain. I lay in the tent, waiting for Matt, who had stayed outside with the crazy notion of taking a quick shower. Suddenly…
WHOMP! A huge gust of wind flattened our lightweight backpacking tent and threatened to lift it away. I shrieked and threw myself to the floor, hoping to pin down the flapping sides. “Come out!” yelled Matt, “I need help!” “Are you nuts?!?” I screeched back, but he held down the tent and I managed to writhe out of the nylon cocoon. All the stakes had come out of the soft sand, and the rainfly was basically acting as a giant sail for the tent, a kite on two flimsy aluminum sticks.
In the lashing rain, we scrambled for rocks with which to weigh down the stakes. With numb fingers, we unraveled the rain fly tie downs and secured them to nearby roots and branches. When we finished, the wind had somewhat subsided. Shivering and soaked, we looked at each other and burst out laughing. “Still up for a shower?” I asked. We stripped off our wet clothing and changed into swimsuits, grabbed some soap and plunged into the lake. The 65 degree water felt like a lukewarm bath in the still-violent storm.
Then the wind and rain were gone, as quickly as they came. Our day’s adventure was at an end and we retreated, exhausted, to the tent.
The next day dawned clear and the lake as smooth as glass. What could go wrong? We charted a course across the lake that would take us to a tributary spilling into the lake, then upstream, against the current, to a series of rapids marked on the map. The reasoning was that we would be able to portage around the rapids, then ride the current back to the lake.
Though initially I had grave reservations about this plan, the stream turned out to be lazy and slow, and the portages around the rapids clearly marked. After a few hours, we decided to turn back and head back to our campsite for dinner. That was when we saw the clouds rolling in. We began to paddle furiously, but once the storm hit there was nothing we could do. No amount of paddling could move our canoes against the wind and lashing rain. “We’re going to capsize!” cried Matt. “No way,” I gritted my teeth, “my camera’s in my pocket!” Never bet against an asian hell-bent on saving her camera.
Riding the waves laterally toward shore, we searched frantically for a place to pull up. Jeff and Allison followed closely behind. It was nearly impossible – the shore was covered with overhanging bushes with nary a place to squeeze in between, and the storm was pushing us toward them at an alarming rate. At the last minute we spotted some large rocks and were able to maneuver between them. Matt splashed off and grabbed the front of the canoe, and I scrambled out as quickly as I could to make room for our friends. We hauled the canoe up onto the rocks and stood, shivering, in the storm. For a fleeting second, I wondered if we would be stuck on those rocks overnight – an unhappy prospect!
Upon further inspection, we should possibly have seen this coming. Here’s another shot from moments before the storm of the blue sky and calm lake:
Now see that on the right of the photo… does that look like an approaching storm cloud to you!? (Look closely and you can see Jeff & Allison’s canoe in the distance). I’m no meteorologist, but I’d call that a cumulonimbus cloud…
Long story short, we ended up finally making it back across the lake, after a few more unplanned stops and detours.
When we arrived, with aching arms, Jeff & Allison collapsed in their tent. Matt & I huddled under an improvised rain shelter, utterly failed to start a fire, and began systematically eating all the food we had left on the campsite. We’d periodically pass bowls of food to Jeff & Allison in their tent. Before long, we’d consumed a package of freeze dried chicken & dumplings, freeze dried raspberry chocolate dessert, a box of Velveeta shells & cheese, a can of spaghetti-o’s, and handfuls of dried fruit and trail mix. Nothing works up an appetite like the possibility of being unceremoniously dumped into a freezing lake during a storm!