Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Beautiful Day

Rolling through the village of Abercrombie, my new (to me) Seaward Chilco strapped securely into the J-cradles, I remarked to myself “It’s a beautiful day!” And it was. Blue skies, sunshine, temperature around –5c, perfect for a New Year’s paddle on Pictou Harbour just a few minutes away. I reached for the radio button, clicking it on to catch the opening strains of “Beautiful Day” by U-2. Even more perfect!

Five of us set out through the shore slush from the tiny beach beside one of our favourite pubs, which was unfortunately closed for the holiday. The harbour proper was ice-free with only a few slush pans, which were easy enough to power through. The forecast winds were totally absent, and the usually volatile harbour mouth was dead calm as we eased out past the beautiful sand beaches on both sides. A slight swell picked up as we passed the old tumbledown sanatorium perched on the knife-edge of an eroding cliff. That place always gives me the shivers, considering all the human suffering that must have been concentrated in this one desolate location.

From the san, we hopped from point to point, stopping at each one to make sure everyone was willing to continue on. We in fact ventured further than planned, all the way to Pictou Lodge some 8.5 kilometers from our put in. There the lazy swells were pitching into beautifully surfable rollers, and Matt & Jamie were each able to catch a nice ride. Wayne, Lynda-Marie and I had paddled to where we thought the waves might break, with no such luck.

We sat in the sun, drifting as a group, each one silent and lost in reverie as we took in the cobalt sky, glassy swells and stunning view. Pictou Island, 10 kilometers distant, hovered tantalizingly on the horizon, beckoning. Not today, sorry.

The return trip was just as beautiful, with grey seals shadowing us and eagles watching closely from their treetop shore perches. The lowering sun glinted madly off the calm water, bathing us in an otherworldly light. The Pictou waterfront stood out brightly against a snowy backdrop, and we paddled past the ship Hector at her icy berth, her rigging badly snarled from the recent lightning strike that had rudely truncated her mainmast.

Quickly loading our kayaks and rapidly freezing gear, we sought out a small café offering warmth, food and beer. A leisurely supper spent laughing and discussing all things kayak provided the perfect ending for this beautiful day. Or so I thought. On the way back home through Abercrombie, I reached again for the radio, only to hear U-2’s “Beautiful Day” one more time. Even more perfect.

Many thanks to Lynda-Marie for the pics!

Happy New Year everyone,


Blogger Unknown said...

Yes a very beautiful day to go kayaking. But have you tried stand up paddleboarding. Its the coolest sport in Canada during summer.
Paddleboards in Alberta

7:43 p.m.  

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