So, yes, it’s almost two years since I made a paddling post and, sadly, almost one year since I took the kayak out at all.  A short trip last June with the kids was it.  And it really shocked me when I realized how long it’s been.

So today’s trip was more of a preliminary jaunt to see just how out of shape I am and how much work it’ll be to get back in paddling form.  With that in mind, I headed for Moss Park – it’s a pleasant, easy, lake paddle for me to get back into the swing of things.

Some things have changed at Moss Park since the last time I was there.  First, the entry fee has changed – it used to be $1 per person, now it’s $3 per car.  Second, they’ve paved some more of the roads and rebuilt the western boat ramps.

I don’t mind paying a couple dollars more to support the park, but I’m sad about the paving.  I liked the sound and feel of gravel under my tires and feet and the old wooden dock.  Now they have paved parking, two powerboat ramps and a new dock. There’s also a paved loading/unloading ramp near the kayak/canoe launch.


Unfortunately, they also paved a ramp, accessible only by sidewalk, for canoe/kayak launch.  I hate concrete ramps for kayak launching.  Who wants to drag their boat up a concrete ramp? Luckily there’s still some grass next to the concrete.

P5080116Unfortunately, as soon as I walked back from the parking lot, I found that this guy was pulling out and left his boat there while he went to get his car.

P5080118Which left very little space for me to launch. 

A very positive change at Moss Park, is that they’ve started handing out a new flyer to boaters with some basic rules and a map of the two lakes (Hart and Mary Jane).


This map includes depth lines. I think this is a great thing for them to do, because the Lake Mary Jane side is where most of the boaters and jet skiers go, but there’s a sandbar in the middle of the lake – depending on rainfall, it can be between 2’ and 2” deep, so notifying those new to the lakes is a pretty good idea.

So I got onto the water and started down the half-mile channel from the ramp to Lake Hart.

P5080119When I got to the end of the channel, I found that the wind was fully out of the West (I checked later and found it was a 13 mile an hour wind today), with a 1.5 mile fetch across the lake, there was a lively set of waves worked up.

P5080124My original plan had been to paddle the perimeter of the lake, but wind and waves changed that.  I love paddling in weather and surf, so I headed due West across the lake, right into the teeth of the wind.  I figured that would give me a really good idea of just how far I needed to go to get back into shape.

What surprised me was that I noticed after a time that I was halfway across the lake and hadn’t stopped paddling.  Now I’m usually a rather leisurely paddler – I stop frequently, have a drink, look around, rest.  To have gone over a mile (from the put-in to mid-lake) without stopping a couple times is unusual on even a calm day.  So I pushed on, determined now to make it all the way across without stopping.

It seems I’m in better shape than I expected – even though I’ve been largely sedentary for the last couple years.  Within the last month or two, I started doing a lot of work around the house – moving furniture for tile, putting up a fence, painting, etc – and also started ice skating more as the boy-child and I learn to play hockey.  So things aren’t as bad as I feared.

I made it to the far-side of the lake without stopping, except to take this picture, until my bow touched the reeds on the far shore.

P5080126It wasn’t entirely easy, my arms and shoulders were burning a little, but that has more to do with my paddling form sucking than anything else – I tend to use my arms more to paddle, instead of my torso.

From there, I decided to head South around the perimeter of the lake and take a moment to investigate a big, blue thing someone had on their lawn.  Turned out to be a huge waterslide.

P5080130Whatever happened to the simple Slip-n-Slide? This thing wouldn’t even fit in a normal sized yard.

P5080131A bit further South, away from the screaming children and the constant roar of blowers and the generator needed to keep this monstrosity inflated, I came across someone who’d set up an alligator feeding-station.

P5080132    P5080133

At least that’s the reason I can come up with for the free-running goats.

At the South end of Lake Hart is an irrigation dam and my favorite sign.

P5080137 P5080139 I’m still not sure why this sign says “DANGER” and not “Admission – $10”.

Past the dam I leave the lee of the far shore and pick up the wind again, paddling with a following sea, then turn north to get back to the channel, which lets me wallow along in a cross-sea.  Whee.

I decide to call it a day, not because I’m tired, but because my butt hurts.  The seat cushion on my yak blew off a while back and I haven’t replaced it yet.  But once I have that replaced, it seems I’m not as out of shape as I thought I was and I can start going on more interesting routes.

route(view this route in Google Earth)

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