Okay, I’m calling it. The paddling season is on. Sure, we’ve been out before this, even in January and Febuary, dodging ice floes, and then over spring break on the San Juan in Utah, but this, today, felt like the real start.
Marypat went for a ski this morning, and invited me along. I was nice about declining, but are you kidding? 65 degrees, the water coming up, bluebird spring day – you want to go ski?
She went, had fun, but I ran out to the lower Gallatin R. with a solo canoe and a bike, rode the shuttle between the Missouri Headwaters Park and Manhattan, MT, even had a bit of a tailwind, and was on the water before noon.
From there it was that sweet, rising current, some nice dancing down narrow side channels. It was kingfishers rattling over the water, geese calling, a fat marmot dodging into a burrow on the bank, all the mergansers and mallards and goldeneye paired up. It was new logs in the river, bald eagles in the cottonwoods, fresh buds on willows.
I stopped for lunch on a gravel bar, just me and the sliding river, and thought about how nice, and how rare, to be quiet – no cell phones, no earbuds, no conversation – only the wind gusting through the still bare branches across the way, and the river rippling past, and the ringing call of a flicker in the cottonwood grove.