The unknown number, annual Easter paddle, yet again provided determined souls a means to defy winters frigid hold on waterless ways, and express our collective desire; extending our open arms toward spring. Vehicles adorned with fifteen small craft, made the Irving Big Stop parking lot look like a paddlers' convention had arrived. The participants were Hal and Ruth Bent, Bernie and Wendy Levy, Erin Levy, Ryan and Darren Gray, Bruce Duffy, Craig and Gayle Reiner, Angus and Nancy Schurmann, Will and Keith Vickery, Gordon and Nancy Warnica, Kevin Wentzell, Randy Murphy, Don Small, Art Dukeshire, Bruce Murphy, Sean Tobin, David MacRae and Ian Blair with his navigator dog Frosty , pointing the way.
After a "Big Stop" style cholesterol breakfast, (cholesterol - believed to be an important element in the fueling of paddling muscles) annual renewal of friendships and new introductions, the tribe made their way to the rivers edge and prepared our beloved crafts. It looked like a small craft shopping spree as everyone milled about in bright coloured technical clothing checking out the various shapes of beauty. After a quick announcement, a train of vehicles made their way to the various takeout points with the drivers returning, crammed into a couple of cars, in time for a group picture. All except one lone tourist who returned to the pack, just in time to put in with the rest of us. The entrance at Enfield was without any embarrassing incidents … that means boring for those waiting to see someone fall in. The group soon spread out into their own little parts of the river, with those out of shape folk taking full advantage of the rivers quick flow.
The first takeout point at Elmsdale saw the group haul out for the annual checkout of who has the best beverages and munchies. Then the Easter Bunny, who has been known to leave treats hidden among the rocks, left a bag of treats to be distributed to all. (The traditional hiding places were all under water this year.) It would seem that the fun, food and conversation totally eclipsed the fact we had just ate a huge breakfast, and now we were eating again. Sounds like a well-planned event to me! Alas two couples had to depart and leave the rest of us to carry on the adventure and enjoy ourselves.
We were not on the water long when the Lantz bridge was upon us and just about everyone in the group was ready to head home. (Perhaps they were hungry) Actually this has been the traditional take out over the years and makes a good morning activity, end by noon.
As those leaving worked out the shuttling logistics, a few hardy souls started out on the third leg of the paddle. The wind could not make up its mind, after cooling us off, slowing us down and making us work harder, it would come up from behind and push us along to make amends. A beaver here, a muskrat there, ducks pointing the way and finally a young eagle giving us approval added an extra layer of icing to the cake. (Thinking of food again) With fewer people on this leg you actually had times when it felt like you were the only one on the river … peace and tranquility …cool! As we approached the final take out, the Milford bridge, my attention was taken by a consistently inconsistent new sound of nature, "hut" …"hut". It did not take long to find the source, off in the distance from hence we came, Bernie and Bruce.