The Inland Paddler: Paddling Through the Pandemic

It’s Day 136 of my Pandemic spring and summer…and I can report that in some ways, getting out to do a paddle workout it getting easier.

I have chosen to be extremely conservative during this time.  I absolutely do not want to get sick, and I do not want to be an asymptomatic carrier who spreads Covid to others.  That means I am not willing to take a lot of risks that I know others are taking.

Thanks to gentle nudging from concerned friends and daily accountability texts from John, I am getting out to the lake now more than I had been for my Paddle Monster workouts.  At first, I will be honest, getting on the water was not doing the trick it usually does.  Normally, a good, hard session is an instant (ish) attitude adjustment.  It can make anything go away or at least make me feel able to handle it. A stress buster.

Covid-19 however has infected even that – so it seemed at first.  Trying to pick the best times of day and the best places to paddle so as to avoid people only added to the stress.  That anxiety was present when I arrived at the boat ramp.  It disappeared for most of my workout but then reared it’s ugly head when it was time to get off the water and load up.

A sunrise session is great at the beginning – when I am the only one around – but an hour to two later, when I can see the full parking lot, it comes back.   It’s especially bad on the weekends, but weekdays aren’t carefree, either.  Seems like more people are using the recreational facilities around here more than usual.  People don’t seem to socially distance, mask wearing is non-existent. All this on top of the usual and expected disregard for water safety.

Having to think about and negotiate the added complications of the logistics for just going for a paddle workout — well, it was just easier to stay home.  Land paddle instead.  And that was fine for a while but the summer heat is now here and water is where I want to be.

Just not with all the people.

I actually have been longing for winter. – which NEVER happens in July – just so I do not have to think about all the things I have to think about now when I want to dip the blade in the water.  When, hopefully, water activities will be less attractive to the general population.

Now for the good news….as I have done more and more paddle workouts, I am slowly becoming more…adjusted….to the new logistics of paddling. I am learning that launching at a place with multiple options for getting in and out really helps me feel safer.  Going early is always best.  Maybe I wait to paddle in until other users disperse a bit.  Maybe I hang out in the car to let crowds move out before I load or unload.

The more I go, the easier it is to relax a bit.  It’s a new routine.

And I am starting to reap the benefits of that good, hard, strong workout back.  The satisfaction of working hard. Of feeling the burn. And I am enjoying being out in nature again.  Just this week I saw fledgling osprey and I discovered a new nest I hadn’t noticed. I snuck up behind a fishing boat going just the right speed and surfed its wake for a bit. That really made me happy.

Slowly but surely, I am finding the new normal. Just like we all are in just about every facet of our lives, not just paddling.

And it’s so good to be back on the water.