Cooling Off Naturally: Kayaking
July – August 2017
BY KIPPY SPILKER
By far, my favorite way to cool off naturally in Nevada is kayaking. One might say choosing to kayak in a state with so much desert is an odd choice, but there may be more places to paddle than you realize in the Silver State, especially with all the precipitation we’ve had this past winter and spring. My husband and I even paddled the Black Rock Desert this past spring.
Living in Carson City, our obvious and most convenient choices are Washoe Lake (when it’s there) and Lake Tahoe. In 2014, we finished building 18-foot wooden boats in our garage, and the day after we finished them, they were tested on Tahoe.
You might notice an odd box in front of the cockpit; that’s my husband’s custom design for a pelican case that holds our camera gear as we’re both photographers and love capturing the beauty we experience out on the water.
In actuality, we paddle Tahoe more in winter than summer, specifically for the quiet and solitude. But it’s difficult to resist that gorgeous body of water on a hot summer day. So, to find that solitude in the summer we often get started very early. In fact, for one of our favorite trips, we were up at 2 a.m. so we could launch from Camp Richardson by 4 a.m., and be at Emerald Bay and Fannette Island by sunrise.
Looking for more ways to cool off naturally? Check out Cooling Off Naturally: Waterfalls
There is a lot of wildlife to enjoy when you’re kayaking Tahoe. We’ve seen eagles, hawks, osprey, mergansers, coots, all sorts of ducks, deer, rabbits, and even crawdads.
Tahoe’s a wonderful place to find a secluded section of beach by kayak, pull over for lunch and enjoy a nice swim. I have to admit, I’ve also been known, when close to shore and in safe conditions, to just flip the boat over and dump myself into the water on a hot day—talk about refreshing! Some people find Tahoe’s water a bit chilly, but I grew up swimming in Lake Superior, so to me Lake Tahoe is the perfect cooling off spot in the hot Nevada summer.
CHECK OUT MORE PHOTOS OF KAYAKING ON LAKE TAHOE HERE.
A LITTLE FURTHER SOUTH
A few weeks ago, we took a trip to Boulder City, to kayak the Black Canyon Water Trail. We spent three days on the water, paddled about 27 miles and, on the day we came off the water, it was 106 degrees. I was most grateful for my Hydro Flask, which kept my drinking water cool, my 70 SPF sunscreen, various caves found along the way, and that seriously cold water. There is a $250 fine for anyone paddling without a personal flotation device (PFD), as the water temps were only around 50 degrees.
We acquired a permit, months in advance, to launch right below the Hoover Dam. This was my first time seeing the dam; I couldn’t imagine it got much better than this.
It did, however, get much, much better! The clarity and color of the water rivals that of Tahoe.
We found a fantastic camping spot, which we kept as our base for the two nights we spent under the stars. All paddlers are advised to tie up their vessels at every stop, because the water level can rise and fall up to 6 feet in a very short amount of time. It’s wise to heed the warnings, because there were several times we would have lost our boats, even though we had them well-beached.
We also tied our water jugs out the entire time, letting the 50º water keep our drinking water cool for us. Early morning starts on this trip allowed us brief moments of relief in the last bits of shade before the sun found its way over the steep canyon walls. After that, I relied on caves—many of which dripped cool water—and hatfulls of cold water to keep me cool during the day.
Like Tahoe, there is plenty of wildlife to be found on this paddle; lizards, ducks, golden-eared grebes, swallows, vultures, eagles, osprey, crows and, of course, our majestic state animal, the bighorn sheep. I even picked up the state insect-the vivid dancer damselfly-as a hitchhiker during part of the paddle.
It was so hot, you could see many panting birds, including a group of rough-winged swallows and even the eagles.
North or south, the cool water is there for people and for animals to enjoy and spend time “chilling out.” I encourage anyone interested, even if you have to rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard, to get out and safely enjoy the experience. Please remember that nature can be deadly; always wear a PFD and observe all rules of safety, including avoiding fast-moving rivers or being on the water during storms or days when there are small craft advisories. Have fun, and be sure to share your own “cooling off naturally in Nevada” photos with us!