Sunday, July 14, 2013


Yesterday, I had the day off and I decided I should actually leave and make the most of it. Which meant that shortly after breakfast, I loaded up my boat and headed to Sheridan Lake.

Poor Sophie. No matter how often I do this, it always looks silly...

I've talked about my kayaking adventures here and there, but I don't know if I've ever told you the story of this particular boat.

It's not long.

We had an outing with rented boats back in Wausau a few years ago. At that point, one of my coworkers owned a boat that he'd actually bought off another guy from Siemens; he hadn't had it long and he hadn't used it a lot yet.

A year later, he still hadn't used it much. He mentioned his willingness to sell it and I, having fallen in love with kayaking after a single outing, jumped at the chance. And so it was that I bought my boat for $75 and a growler of beer.

It was a steal.

Anyway, last year by this point, I was pretty much done kayaking for the summer. The lakes near Sioux Falls are small and get pretty gross by mid-July; around here, they're all manmade and on moderate to wet years have a pretty steady flow in and out. Which is lucky for me, since this was actually my (gasp!) first outing this summer.

Yesterday, I didn't get out as early as I would have liked, but when I did it was to beautiful weather and a perfectly calm lake. Just me and a bunch of fishermen enjoying the morning.

Part of my appreciation of Sheridan is the fact that it's an amoeba of a lake -- I can paddle 3-4 miles without ever having to get far from shore and without really realizing how much ground I'm covering. (Hiking around it is a different story.) This morning, I found myself working along a semi-familiar route, managing to stay between the shore and boat fishermen and taking in the views.

The pine beetles have done a number here in the last two years. Where I saw dots of rust my first times paddling this lake I now see entire hillsides dead. And, like Harney, I'm torn between sadness and acceptance. In a year or two, this could look pretty cool.

Right now ... it's a little sad.
Gorgeous day, though.

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