Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hidden Creek Masonboro

Paddled the Masonboro end of Hidden Creek with Aimee today, and it turned into something of an adventure. The Geezer also led one of his Cape Fear Paddler's Association trips (Alligator Creek) today, but Aimee hadn't paddled in a couple of weeks so we opted for a more private excursion. Wind was fairly stiff out of the S when we started, but we made our way into the marsh where I knew we'd be a little more protected from it. I hadn't really planned on going all the way through (tide was already falling), but there seemed to be plenty of water so we pushed through to the ICW. It was fun to find my way, as I've only been through there once before, and that was almost a year ago. Once we got to the ICW we chose to go back through the marsh toward Masonboro rather than a boring ICW trip back to Shinn's. I made a lucky first guess at which creek to take and we were crossing the channel to lunch on the island in no time.

During our 30 minute lunch break the wind picked up. It had been 10-15 with higher gusts, but I think by the return trip it was sustained 20 mph., which has a weather station posted about 50 yards from where we launched and maybe 2 miles from our lunch stop, has the max gust at 32 mph. All was fine while we were south of the inlet, because current and wind were both with us. The inlet was interesting, as it usually is with all that water converging and going different directions, but we crossed without any real problems. Bank's Channel, on the other hand, was pretty intense due to opposing the opposing current and strong wind. I'd say it was the biggest chop I've seen in that channel, with 2' and 3' waves and plenty of whitecaps. Aimee was outside her comfort zone and pretty frustrated (luckily, with the wind and herself and not with me), but she did really well and we both pulled up onto the beach dry and warm.

Post-trip ruminations: I've gotten to where I feel pretty comfortable in shitty conditions like that. Particularly because we were only 50' from land and houses and people and help if we needed it. But I've also got to remember that I've a longer, faster boat, a lighter paddle, a skirt and paddling jacket, and who knows how many hours of being out on the water. I can't project my comfort level onto Aimee, who did really well despite her frustration. Still, I've got to view these sorts of experiences as growing pains. If we only paddled in warm, calm conditions we wouldn't get to go out much and we wouldn't be very good kayakers. As paddlers, as people entering the great outdoors, as (dare I say it) watermen, we must be able to deal with changing conditions. A calm day can turn into a bloody nightmare, and we must be able to handle that or we will reap the consequences when, not if, we are caught out there in poor circumstances. Today was a learning experience, but learning and experiencing are why we're out there. Sometimes it'll be easy and beautiful, but sometimes it's going to be hard. We just have to remember that it being hard doesn't make it any less beautiful.

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