Monday, March 2, 2015

Girl's Canoe Day, Lake Barkley, Kentucky

Me and my bestie Nikki
 Girl's Canoe Day

I had told my girlfriend, Nikki, how relaxing and enjoyable I found canoeing. Being an outdoor loving lady also she wanted to go and have a girl's day. We planned for a month for her to meet me near my home early one morning so we could go paddling in a bay on Lake Barkley
I made sure Nikki brought everything needed for an enjoyable outing, sandals that can get wet and be comfortable as well as a light jacket for the early morning chill. 

Canoe locked and loaded
I was a bit nervous about taking the husbands truck with the canoe loaded onto the bed extender but then I remembered I could handle such things, that I wasn't a puss, and got my confidence back. Off I went to meet Nikki and get Girl's Canoe Day underway! 

We launched the canoe in one of my favorite bays and began paddling along the shore. The day was beautiful, full sun, only a few cotton ball type clouds, and a slight chill hung in the early Fall air. We soon warmed up enough to remove our jackets and bask in the warmth of the day.

Beautiful day to be on the water!
Enjoying the day

Paddling around the bay for a bit we decided to pull up on shore, stretch our legs, and get off our bottoms for a minute. I love my Sarnac XL but Old Town needs to add more padding on the molded seats. After only an hour or so your but starts to get a bit restless and yes, sore. We found a good spot to pull up, or at least we thought it was a good spot. The bank was gently sloped down to the waters edge but it was muddy and not sandy or rocky like a lot of places. No big deal, we stood on the bank talking girl talk and had a couple deer run up on us before changing directions once they noticed our presence, and ran off over the ridge behind us. 
Once we were stretched and rehydrated we began maneuvering the canoe along the bank to get back in and relaunch. My feet became stuck deep in the mud and I had to pull up quite hard to free them. I pulled my left foot up hard and with a loud sucking sound it came free, as I tried the same with my right I felt my sandal begin to tear. They weren't expensive and were a pair I had for years so no big deal, right? Wrong, the fabric and padded insert that was sewn to the bottom sole of the shoe had come completely apart and ripped near the top. 

Casualty of Girl's Canoe Day
We managed to get the canoe situated, got ourselves back in, and out on the water again. I didn't let the sandal set back bother me, we were out on the water in a canoe, who needs shoes anyway? I'm a Southern Country Girl and avid outdoors woman, I've gone barefoot plenty. We continued on, exploring the back of the bay, a small bridge, and feeder creek. 

Bridge at back of bay at feeder creek
 and Nikki hamming it up
We had paddled the entire bay in just a few hours and were not ready to call it a day yet, so we pulled up on the bank to load back up and head over to another nearby bay. Now is when a good sandal would be useful, I slid my torn sandal back on to portage the canoe back to the truck, but found it flopping this way and that. There was no way to step or walk and keep the darned thing from doing what it wanted. It ended up folded under my foot when carrying the canoe or the sole flopped off to the side of my foot, providing no protection from the ground. 

Finally it popped in my head, I have my husband's truck with toolbox! Surely I could find something to rig my sandal to last the rest of the trip, so I began digging, looking for duct tape, wire, string, twine or anything. Unless I planned to use a ratchet strap, there was nothing of use. I found a small bungee cord type fastening cable, the kind with a hook at each end, lying in the bed of the truck. I took this and looped it around my foot in the sandal and hooked each end together. It worked for one trip to load gear and the fastener cord broke, it was rotted. I finished loading the gear barefooted which might be easy as a kid once you do it for awhile but as an adult who must wear sensible shoes to work every day you become very tender footed, but I sucked it up and got it done.

Gear and canoe loaded we headed down the back roads of Land Between the Lakes to the next bay I notice the canoe bouncing quite a bit and decide to stop the truck to investigate. I hop out, bare feet and all, to find one of the ratchet straps had slipped off the bumper. I secured it again and we were back underway.

Accessing the next bay was a little tricky, the road becomes severely rutted and mostly made of packed dirt just past a small cemetery and requires some skill to navigate. I had forgotten the road condition and became nervous driving my husband's truck down it. Once past a certain point though there is no turning back, literally. The road is narrow, the tree branches occasionally brushing the side of the truck, and there's no where to pull in to turn a truck around, let alone a full sized one with a 14ft canoe hanging out the back. Onward I went, dodging the deep ruts I could only assume a monster truck had made during a monsoon, and managed to make it to the end where it opened up to the forest and shoreline. 

Before we began unloading again I scrambled to find a replacement repair for my sandal, searching now in the cab of the truck, under the back bench seat I found a fish stringer. I know what your thinking and yes I did. Leaving about two inches free on the end of the stringer I wrapped it around my sandal to secure the flopping, flapping thing to my foot. Once wrapped I threaded the sharp pointed metal end through the metal loop on the other end, several times and began to unload the canoe. When returning for the life jackets it came undone so I took the metal spike end and weaved it through the openings in the top of the sandal. I now officially had a lethal weapon on my foot and it was reminiscent of something from the Flintstones. It worked though and allowed us to finish unloading without further issues.

A better place to pull up on shore
Nikki and I launched the canoe again and set about to paddling the shoreline of the bay. We zig-zagged back and forth in the bay, paddling from one side to the other and into smaller inlets searching and exploring the feeder creeks. Finally we had covered the second bay, it was late afternoon now and we were ready to call it a day. We loaded up the canoe and gear with my stone age looking sandal repair holding and made it back to Nikki's SUV without drama. 

Despite the little set back we had an awesome Girl's Canoe Day and can't wait to do it again this Spring. Nikki enjoyed it so much she is now looking for her own canoe or kayak. I'm glad I'm not a drama queen and don't let something small such as the ruined sandal spoil the day. I already purchased new water shoes last year on clearance at Dick's and can't wait to try them out! 

Happy Paddling and Hiking!

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