Wrestling the Kayak

One of the reasons I moved to the Flathead Valley was the abundance of natural beauty. I wanted a lower-stress life with a greater connection to nature.

I enjoy several outdoor activities but consider myself “intermediate” at pretty much all of them. I don’t do any physical activities to the extreme. Broken bones and painful injuries are just not on my to-do list. I hike, walk, bike, cross country ski, kayak and do yoga.

In the summer, I tend to get on my bike much more than I kayak. Why? Loading that darn piece of plastic on top of a small SUV is not as easy as it looks! Okay, I’m pretty fit, but really, it is just heavy enough, and awkward enough, to make the job difficult.

First, there are the racks. You really have to crank them down on the cross bars. I have a little stool that I stand on to aid in the process, and no, I’m not short; I’m 5′ 7″.

The next step is foisting the kayak up at just the right angle so that it sits correctly in the racks. I learned this by trial and error. My sister and I had a nightmare two-hour drive last summer because I stupidly insisted on bringing the kayak along for our girls’ getaway. That thing was slipping and sliding all over the place while we were driving down I-90.  Anyway, I finally figured out that it’s best if the kayak actually touches the rack (duh) before you tie it down.

Then you have to loop the straps correctly to make adequate contact with both the kayak and the rack. (I know, I know—duh again!) This involves tossing the strap up and around. I’m actually getting pretty good at this. Cinch it down nice and tight, but not too tight.

Finally, you run a rope from the front of the kayak to the front of the car, somewhere. This is your backup plan if the kayak starts slipping.

And don’t forget to pack the oar, life jacket, sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, ID…you know. Really, the oar is the most important. I may have forgotten that once. Oh ya, that was tonight. Luckily, I didn’t have far to turn around, living close to nature and all.

If that doesn’t sound like enough fun, you get to unload the kayak and launch it when you arrive. Then, the best part is after kayaking, you get to load it again.  But this time, your arms are tired from paddling, and that oversized, overweight piece of plastic is wet, adding just a little more of a challenge to the process!

But really, I did have a lovely night kayaking the river. Time for sleep.


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