Ambassador Update - Paul's Chain Lakes Excursion

Hey there paddlers.

   I am going to reflect on my first solo paddle of the season back on May 5th and a subsequent paddle on Chain Lakes. It was my first solo paddle in a long time. I do prefer to paddle with company, but once in a while it's good for the soul to just go out and paddle on your own. It can be a very humbling experience to be out alone in nature. Also, I love the stillness.  No talking, no noise from the regular hustle and bustle of urban areas. Just natural sounds.  It's amazing how small one feels compared to all that's out there.  The Chain Lakes is one of my favourite paddles.
   The lake is narrow, about 500 m at its widest and about 10 km long. It's a fairly safe lake to paddle with Hwy 40 paralleling the east side of the lake. If you do get into trouble, there is an easy way out. You do have to cross some farmland and make peace with the cows.
   One of the other reasons I like it, is that there are no issues with large powerboats, as there are on some other lakes. The max speed limit on the lake is 12 km/h. It is mostly just fisherman and they prefer the peaceful surroundings too. Water temp on this day was between 6 C- 9C.

   One of the curious things about the lake is, if there is any wind going the length of the lake, it seems like you're always paddling against it. You launch on the south side of the lake, going north to the north dam. The wind in the morning always seems to be coming from the North. Usually it’s not that strong. You might think this will be a bonus on your way back, because you'll have help, but oh no. You stop for lunch at the north end. Wind stops and it's nice and calm which is also a bonus. The minute you get back in your kayak, the wind shifts and is now coming at you from the south. You are once again forced to paddle against it. Bummer. Of course it's even stronger than it was in the morning. I think the lake does that on purpose. The lake is nice though if the wind is blowing from the east or west as you can just go along the upwind bank and be spared the waves or gusts.

   On this morning, as I headed north, there were dozens of deer on the west bank trying to catch the early morning warmth of the rising sun.
                   

   Chain Lakes also has a large number of predatory birds such as ospreys, hawks and eagles. I have seen both Golden and Bald eagles in one day.

   Then there are the water birds such as geese, ducks, loons, cormorants and pelicans. A camera is a must here.

   On this day in May, I did encounter a lot of ice as the wind was blowing it to the south. It didn't look too thick, so I though I could paddle through it. It was packed thicker than I thought and I had to go around it. As the wind blew the ice, it sounded like hundreds of chimes chiming. It was quite enchanting. By the end of day, all of the ice had melted.

   I paddled to the north end, had lunch, and saw some thunder clouds forming to the southeast. Time to go back. As the storm was coming near, I was debating whether to wait it out or paddle back. It wasn't moving too fast, so I decided to paddle. All was going well when all of a sudden I got a wake up call. Loud thunder bangs. Uh Oh.

                

   I decided to paddle faster and stick close to the east bank of the lake, hoping  the hills would offer me a bit of protection, even though there are not too many trees. I got about half way back to my launch site with no problems, paddling like mad to beat it. My Dagger kayak kept saying "Paddle faster! I hear the banjos!" So I did. Can't argue with your kayak. The storm seems to have stopped moving so I felt relieved. BANG, followed by another loud bang, and another coming from behind me. Another storm snuck up behind me as I was concentrating on the first one. I didn't see any lightning, so I thought the lightning must just be staying in the thunder heads. I picked up the pace again and made it back safely. That storm behind me also moved away. I was lucky this time. I will usually hit the shore and keep low in those conditions, but here, there is not much protection. Despite all of this chaos, over all, I had a great 22km paddle.

   I went out again on Chain Lakes on July 7th. What a difference a couple of months make. The earlier paddle was just at the end of winter and all of the surrounding land was still brown and seemed lifeless. Now everything is green and full of life.

   I will be visiting this lake again in the near future and I can't wait for another adventure with my Dagger Stratos.

By

Paul Kolman