Paddling 1:32:00  5.2 mi (17:41 / mi)
Jess and I hauled the tandem kayak out for the first paddle of the year today. 39 degrees and overcast, with rain and snow coming in by 2PM. We had to detour around the remaining fingers of ice on the pond to get out to the main channel. Water temp couldn't be much more than 33, as I quickly confirmed when we started portaging around beaver blockages, and hauling the kayak up and over the road to bypass the new box culvert. They ignored my feedback during the public comment period, and actually made it harder to portage around when they reconstructed it last year. Thanks!
Attempted the easy portage around the big beaver dam, but the upstream impoundment was solid ice on that side, so Jess stayed ashore and I re-launched and dragged the boat right up the dam, using her leash for assistance. Canoodled about in the tussocks and marsh, and landed at Apple Point at 11:30, just in time for it to start raining. With a full drysuit and lots of heavy insulation, the rain wasn't an issue, but my toes were still a bit chilly from traipsing in and out of icy water.
Decided to run the nearly 2-foot drop off of the beaver dam, rather than portage it. Had to drop the paddle and use both hands to pull on the cattails and beaver sticks to get us over the edge, which meant I didn't have any way to brace as we careened and splashed down on the outflow side. We ALMOST bit it hard. Maybe it was a lucky hip snap, or just the boat doing what boats are designed to do, but we were rolling to the left and at the last second we were back upright. Jess got lots of treats for surviving the ride, and at that point I realized my phone was just tucked into my PFD pocket, and not actually clipped in. Would have been an unfortunate swim.
We tried running the box culvert, but there's no way up and over the concrete lip that sets the pond height of the upper basin. Back over the road we went. Ran the beaver stick impoundment right below, which is going to keep me from packrafting there this season. Finished up along the far shoreline, with some shore leave for Jess.
Lots of bird activity: red-winged blackbirds in the cattails, herons starting to rebuild their rookery, swans and geese already claiming nests. Wood ducks, goldeneyes, mallards on the wing. A nice day to be on the water.