I love getting up early. I’m not so fond of extracting myself from warm covers on a chilly morning, but once I’m up, out of bed, dressed, and moving, I thoroughly enjoy the sunrise hours. Especially those that are spent outside, in the woods or on the water.
6am today meant up and at ’em, loading boats, meeting a fellow paddler, and sipping coffee while driving upstream along the Juniata River to launch below the Petersburg Dam for a short, hour-and-a-half-long float.
A layer of mist hung over the water as the three canoes quietly glided over the calm river. The sun just rising over the mountain, beginning to grace us with promising rays of another beautiful day ahead.
It was my first time in this boat, the Wenonah Vagabond. Canoeing is not my forte, especially solo canoeing, as I started paddling as a kayaker and am generally better with two blades than one. But I’ve been wanting to become a better canoeist, and the only way to get better is to just do it. I was surprised at how easily the boat moved along, tracking well yet still retaining maneuverability as I picked my way through rocks and the few riffles we encountered.
Some of my previous experiences in solo canoes had been a little more frustrating, starting out in whitewater boats that were hard for me to keep going in a straight line, and couldn’t quite figure out how to maneuver when doing anything other than pointing the bow downstream in a swift current. But whether it was this boat, my increased strength in the few years that have passed since my last solo canoe experience, my recent adoption of stand-up paddle boarding, or all of the above, I was thrilled at how easy it was this time.
The trip went quickly, and soon we were entering back into town just as I was beginning to feel a bit toasty in my long sleeves in the quickly-warming air. I stopped briefly to surf for a minute on a tiny wave near the take-out before pulling up under the bridge and carrying the canoes a couple hundred feet back to the shop. It was a good morning on the water, all before 9am, and all before work.