1 January 2014
2014 is the fourth year running that Ellen and I will try to get to our goal of 30 paddling trips and 3 new rivers before the year is up. We did pretty well in 2013 with 27 trips (as close as we’ve ever gotten to our goal) and arguably 3 new waterways:
- we paddled the St. Joseph River, Ellen’s home river, for the first time (this is a new river, free and clear)
- we paddled around Pine Island, that being the first time we dipped our paddles in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico (this one’s not a river, but still)
- and we paddled the south branch of the Kalamazoo River (we had paddled on the main branch before, but never on the south branch)
I really think I could get a lawyer to argue that this means we clear our “3 new” goal, but all the same, in 2014, I’d like to get it more cleanly, not relying on branches and salt water.
We did undeniably have an eventful paddling year; by mid-June we dubbed 2013 The Year of the Portage. Wow, did we portage this year. Thanks to some early storms, to our choice of rivers without liveries, and to the fact that we occasionally went looking for trouble, we portaged and portaged and portaged. 2013 was the year we carried, pushed, or pulled our boats through or around some serious river blockages.
We also dealt with a far more emotional portage this year when our cat Sweet Pea died. This incredibly handsome guy lived to be probably 17 or 18 years old (alas, we didn’t have him as a kitten, so we don’t know how old he was, really) and, as this picture makes clear, he knew how to catch a sunbeam and truly lived the dream. He was a keen and talented bird watcher, a mantle he seems to have passed to Ellen. He had a master’s degree in Getting in the Way, and habitually he flung himself down into the pose you see him striking in the photo to the left here in front of the door as we carried in our boats and gear after a paddle. We miss the little man; unloading after a paddle may be easier now, but it’s way less fun, and way less puffy.
2014 is starting off cold here in our corner of Michigan–today, it’s already snowed 3 inches and the high today is 17 degrees. I’m hoping for an early spring, a season with clear rivers, and–again!–30 trips, 3 new rivers!