Elevenmile Reservoir -October 8th, 2012

Monday, October 8th is Columbus Day in the USA. Some celebrate it, while many do not. Either way, for the first time in more than 27 years I had the day off as a fixed holiday. It turns out that my new employer has a significant workforce in Canada, and October 8th in Canada this year was Thanksgiving Day.
Last spring I bought a dry top and some dry pants from NRS in an effort to extend the paddling season here in Colorado, and the Columbus Day holiday provided me an opportunity to put them to use at Eleven-Mile Reservoir, Colorado. The weather was nice when I got there but as the day progressed it got more and more windy. When I took out at about 4PM the winds were a constant 15mph gusting to over 20mph. That may not seem like a lot, but on inland lakes it makes the water quite choppy with whitecaps all around.
Being a less celebrated holiday, there were very few people at the reservoir. As I carried my Chesapeake Light Craft CH17LT stitch-and-glue kayak to the reservoir I counted only one powered boat, one kayak, and three people fishing from the shore. There were almost no clouds in the sky it was about 60 degrees with a light breeze . . . . a perfect October day. I paddled for a while and thought to myself, “Man, am I out of shape”. But thankfully, after about 20 minutes I felt less tired and even a bit stronger. Eventually, I caught up to a guy in a Hobie Mirage Drive kayak. What a contrast. Here’s a guy in sandals, tee-shirt, plastic boat, and pedaling (Mirage drive), and then there’s me in a dry top, dry pants, spray deck, double paddle and a wooden boat. We had a nice chat mentioning he had never been to Eleven-Mile before even though he’s lived in Colorado for 27 years. Admittedly, more than half of the reservoir has a pretty barren shoreline, though the section along the north east shore has several nice coves and even a walk-in/boat-in only campground. I’ve camped there several times in the past 5 years as the campsites are nestled among trees and large boulders. We parted after paddling to the buoys intended to keep people away from the dam. I later stopped in Freshwater cove and ate lunch, basking in the now hot sun.
After lunch, I got back in the boat and noticed that the wind had picked up significantly. Though most people seem to shy away from being on the lake when it’s windy, I was looking forward to it and even hoped for it. The prevailing wind comes out of the west and because I paddled east on my way out I intentionally made a lot of work for me on the return trip. I turned on the GoPro camera mounted to the deck to film the boat crashing through the waves. The included photos are captured still shots from the recordings. I paddled past the takeout and then turned back with the wind at my back surfing my way to shore.
Intense, exhausting and a great way to spend this October day.