Paddling: Mixing it up with some lake paddling

Columnist Dave Lind's family goes north to a cabin to spend a week on the lake, but that doesn't mean they don't enjoy paddling. Here, Craig Lind, Celia Lind, Beckett Lind, Kayla Harreld, Julie Harreld and Lisa Lind get out on the water.

I awoke as sunlight streamed through the trees and into the cabin window. I got up and slipped out quietly, as no one else was up yet, walked barefoot through the grass that was wet with dew and slipped my kayak into the picture perfect calm lake water. My goal was to get a closeup picture of some birds, especially of a loon.

I headed for a small island about a half-mile from shore where the day before I had seen eagles, egrets, herons and other birds I couldn't identify, but I didn't have my camera.

I slowly paddled through the lily pads scanning the shoreline and trees for wildlife. I spotted an eagle high in a tree but it blended in with the thick foliage, so the pictures were not that great.

I continued paddling along the lake shoreline heading for an inlet to another small lake. I spotted three loons ahead of me. I pointed the bow of the kayak toward them and paddled very slowly, keeping the paddle blades low trying to avoid spooking them.

Just as I was about 30 feet away and getting the camera out of my vest pocket, a boat came roaring toward me and the loons, and of course the loons dove underwater.


As the boat passed I waited, scanning the surface for the loons. Suddenly two loons surfaced just a couple of feet on one side of the bow and the third loon came up on the other side. They took one look at me before diving under water again. Not a chance of a good picture.

I had read that loons can stay underwater over 15 minutes so I stayed put. After five minutes they surfaced a hundred yards away. Sorry, no loon closeup pictures.

Every July our extended family heads up north to the cabin to spend a week on the lake. For me, it's a nice change from the river paddling each week. All the family, with the grandkids, enjoy the time together, taking in as much water sports activity as possible.

I took three kayaks and two stand-up paddleboards on the van while others brought a ski/fishing boat for tubing and fishing, a Blue Lagoon for total relaxation between the boat docks, as well as a canoe and pontoon boat. Strangely, nobody used the pontoon boat.

The lake is small with a 3-mile long shoreline. Most mornings I — and whoever wanted to get up early — would paddle the kayaks around the shoreline of the lake as fast as we could, great exercise to start the day!

Then after breakfast its back on the water with the stand-up paddleboards before the smaller grandkids grabbed them as well as the kayaks.

Then we take turns tubing behind the boat or fishing. Mix in some sun tanning on the Blue Lagoon, walks along the narrow road winding through the pine tree forest, making s'mores by the campfire on the beach, or just goofing around.

I was a fun time, but now it's back to the streams of southeastern Minnesota.

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