The chine log is facing west and all I really care about is leaving the east. My dripping right boot is the last thing in the canoe as we shove off.
We can’t see more than twenty feet in front of us and every deep dip of the paddle we gain on the combers but no more expanse to the view. He yells “were crazy”.
What sounded like manageable waves from shore, is now no joke. I dig hard into the water. I can feel his initial paddle stroke and try to match his timing.
Fog swirling, we paddle hard, wisps rise up, we dig the blades deep. It looks like were going nowhere, it feels weird and a twenty foot fog to paddle ratio isn’t soon to change based on this morning’s air temps, luckily we know where were going.
We’re going west; and since it’s the only direction today on this water we can go, we just blade after blade try to get to the point.
My shoulders burn, the sky does nothing in its foaming white and gray. Waves seem big, and then sometimes recede. We paddle. He grunts and shifts, I must sound about the same, but we paddle without daring to stop.
He yells switch. I switch, with no change in scenery, but my arms feel a smidgeon of relief.
When the wind finally starts to die down I know were close to the big point, I can’t see it, but paddling here year after year he feels like I do and he tells me without missing a paddle stroke “it shouldn’t be too much further and we will be in the lee water and can rest”. I yelled “what are you tired”? he said “ shut up and paddle”.
When the waves subsided a bit, without telling or asking him I quit paddling, and he yells “not yet, I want to be well inside the bay”, so I dig some more and oh how my arms feel like hot fire wood.
When he finally quits, I barely lift the beautiful woods seemingly weightless blade out of the water. My head is hanging on my chest, just to catch my breath.
Now he can’t read my mind. He won’t turn to see the same old guy he’s not watched paddle this lake for years, he knows what I look like, he won’t check on me, were way past those days, if I dropped dead, he’d about laugh at the splash and say, I went out happy.
But my chest is pounding and I can feel the heart beats of blood in my head. I could die of a heart attack right here and call it good, except he’d be so mad, I better live long enough, just to hold up my end of this trip.
When I look up he’s sucking fresh air pretty good too. He wipes his brow and resettles his cap. Then I think well maybe were both getting older. Maybe this is the last time we take on one of these treks.
Then he says out loud “are we nuts”. I said “I sure as heck hope so”. He started paddling, so I did too. The trout whisperer