Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Personal Record One Hundred Paddling Days

I took part in the Sacramento Paddle Pusher's attempt to break the largest free-floating raft of canoes and kayaks on a single body of water this past weekend.  The world's record set August 31, 2013, in Michigan's Sutton Bay is a staggering 2,099 boats. Our local organizers were optimistic for a good turnout.  However, they were pretty sure from the start they wouldn't be breaking any world's record. It really wasn't the point of the event anyway. As stated in the Meet Up invite... It's something us local paddlers can do, look back one and say I was a part of the biggest group of paddlers out on Lake Natoma. It's all about having fun.
So when 47 of us paddled out under the Folsom Avenue Bridge for a group picture, it didn't matter that we were 2,953 paddlers short of the world record. We were making a vivid lasting memory of kayaking together. A personal account to say hey, I did it.
Personal records are like that too. Just the day before,  I had set another PR for myself by reaching 100 days of kayaking. There is something very special going over the century mark in all facets of sports from rushing yardage to one hundred victories. The triple-digit number is a mark of achievement.
I did it before in 2012. Winter came to end suddenly that year and I was kayaking on the Otter Tail River in March. I cruised to the most I ever paddle in a year with 117 days. It is still my personal record. If the Red River hadn't a frozen over before Thanksgiving,  I might have added a day to two.  Our personal records are like that. They drive us for more.
In a recent Rapid magazine profile, pro-kayaker Dane Jackson called his 270 days on the water in 2013, a slow year, disappointed by not reaching 300.  For those us like me and Jackson, we always long for just one more day on the water. A record to nobody but to ourselves.
In California now, my PR has taken on a Roger Maris like asterisk, by reaching 100 days in the middle of August instead of mid-September. This time around I didn't have to struggle with frozen and flooding Minnesota rivers and lakes. I got started January 1st, a full two and half months advantage over that 2012 season.  I took full advantage of pleasant weather and my proximity to Lake Natoma and lower American River to aid in my quest for getting to 100. It just seems unfair getting in a kayak day, while hearing that the rest of the country is enduring the polar vortex.
Still, a season is a season. I looked out over Folsom Lake on my hundredth day and paddled toward the foothills. I was a notable day for me and needed a memorable trip. I paddled up the south arm of the lake till I could go no further.  Where the South Fork flows into the lake, I watched the water rushing over the rocks wishing I could go a little farther. Still looking for more. I will just have to save that adventure for another paddling day.