The Inland Paddler: Turning Forward the Time

Inland paddler DST

Listen closely. Maybe cock you ear a bit toward the east. Hear it?

That noise you hear, ever so faintly, is the sound of at least one very happy paddler in at least one state that observes the confounding practice of moving the clock hands or the digital dials backwards or forwards each year doing a Happy Dance.

Inland paddler DST

Earlier this week, I randomly came to be reminded that Eastern Standard Time will die its very timely death again this Sunday and Daylight SUP’ing Time…er…Savings TIme will commence for the year 2016.

Cue the Hallelujah Chorus, the Angel Choir on High and Pharrell’s Happy all at the same time!

Nothing says Spring more than springing forward.

Unless it’s the chorus of Spring Peepers I have been hearing in the evening on our dog walks.

The Inland Paddler DST

Or the plucking call of the Banjo frogs who live in the little water feature in my back yard. One of them serenaded me to sleep last night along with the basso profundo tones of a barking tree frog. First tiny frog concert of 2016.

And, if you have been paying attention, you have noticed how subtly the days are getting just a little bit longer as the calendar moves forward out of the depth of hell which is winter and into the new light of this glorious time of promise we call Spring.

It means so many things are indeed right around the corner like:

  • The start of the paddle race season, which for many us begins with the Carolina Cup in Wrightsville Beach. I can’t wait to see people I haven’t paddled with or talked story with since October!
  • Races like Key West, Olukai and the Paddle Imua on Maui.
  • Chattajack registration!! May 1st, y’all!
  • Warm evening paddles on beautiful waterways everywhere!

Of course here in North Carolina it also means the onslaught of the particulate matter we call pollen will soon begin, if it hasn’t already, but that is a small price to pay for warmer and longer days that will lead eventually to warmer water.

And oh how I am so ready for warmer water! At our coast, the temperature which dipped down into the low 50’s this year is already creeping up. The report I saw last night said 60.

The Inland Paddler DST

Again, cue the Hallelujah Chorus.

Two hours inland we are not that lucky. This last week of high 70- low 80 degree temperatures was enough to push the Bradford pears into blossom but we only got about a two degree spike in the water temp on Lake Jordan. For the next few weeks, it will be a real trick trying to dress appropriately for the cold water, which is still dangerous, but not burn up. Dry suits are not going to cut it, but neither are boardshorts and a light top. Especially since this is the time when in North Carolina we have extremely high winds. In fact, this is the time when we can have our most dangerous forest fire weather, as the winds get high, and most of our vegetation is still dry and not leafed out.

So, you might find yourself unexpectedly knocked around in high winds and taking a swim.

Yet, the temptation to eschew the booties, luxuriate in the boardies, and go shirtless or wear a bikini stop will be strong. In fact, just this week, on the first really warm day we’ve had, I ran into a relatively new paddler on a particular local lake who was definitely dressed for the air temp. He was also without a pfd. Soon, I suspect there will be a story in the local news about some boater on one of our lakes who died just yards away from shore because he or she didn’t have a pfd and didn’t realize the cold water is still debilitating, even when it’s 82 degrees out, and sunny.

But on Sunday morning, we will be getting a gift.

The gift of extended days– of more time to paddle after work, of more daylight to go for a bike ride, a trail run or to play in the street with our kids..whatever. It is a gift with multiple benefits. A gift that is well-deserved after the months of ice and snow and drysuit gaskets that fail and stinky rubbery foot prisons. A gift that will make the inevitable final round of cold and ice and maybe snow easier to take.

Do not squander this gift. Do not complain that in springing forward you are losing a precious hour of sleep time. Look at what you are getting!!! Rejoice!!! And besides, if it really does work that way, which I don’t believe it does, you’ll get that stupid hour back in eight months. Right after Chattajack.

For now, though, arise! Pick up your paddles, go forth and play!!


Inland paddler DST