A Night at the Museum

There is something magical about a night paddle. The water is calm, the sky is alive and every sound pops with a little more weight than the last. If you time it right, you can really see nature come alive. We got lucky!

Large lake paddling is often accompanied by stress and uncertainty. You never know what the wind is planning and it is important to react quickly. Opportunities to sit back and soak it in are few and far between.

Cedar Lake was our first of these experiences. We were quickly reminded of the potential power that the water can carry. Our first crossing had us tightening our lifejackets a little more snug than we would have hoped for. We learned our lesson and sat back waiting for the wind to die down. Then we kept waiting.

We prepared ourselves for a night paddle thinking that the waters would calm in the evening. They didn’t. We decided to set our alarms for an early wake up thinking that things would die down before the sun came up. Nope. We waited out the day alternating through our crew sleeping and watching the water. We were well rested, anxious and ready to paddle for as long as the water would let us.

Four PM came and we saw our chance. We were packed up and fed with the boat loaded. By five we hit the water with no cut-off time in site. The waves continued to settle and we continued to stroke. The sun went down behind us leaving a trail of pinky goodness at our backs. Before the light faded it began to reappear on the other side of the sky as the sun prepared for another day of work in Northern Manitoba. The northern lights said hello as we passed through Easterville and a couple of shooting stars later it was already 3 AM.

Looking behind at the distance we had covered, we could hardly tell where the water ended and the sky began. It was a blue so blue it made other blues look green. We talked movies, debated ideal pizza toppings, listened to music, sat, paddled and pondered. As we cooked our breakfast around six in the morning we could feel the end of the lake within our reach. Our arms were burning, but we sucked back our classic gorp and peanut butter combo, team stretched, ran around, splashed some water on our faces and trucked on through the final bay.

Over 85 kilometers later we camped around the corner from the lake’s end at the Grand Rapids dam. It was 11 am and we had the remainder of the day to rest, recoup and think about our night at the museum.