Last night was an unusual Saturday night for me.
My friend Charles, a fellow member of the Wilderness Network of Georgia, a hiking/camping group for gay men, alerted me yesterday afternoon to the fact that there was a last-minute open slot for a WNG kayaking trip to a not-too-distant state park, the point of the trip being to enjoy from a bunch of rented kayaks a few hours of the annual Perseid meteor shower.
Hard Labor Creek is one of Georgia’s largest reclaimed wilderness areas in the state, and its lake is perfectly suited for kayaks.
Because it had been many years since I’d bothered to stay up late enough to look for meteors, and because the park is located less than two hours from the city, I decided to join Charles and the others. I carpooled with several WNGers, and about two dozen of us rendezvoused for a pre-kayaking supper at a restaurant in the nearest town, Rutledge, Georgia.
The photo at the top of this post (grabbed from the Internet) shows the sort of panorama that, under ideal conditions, one might be expected to see. That is hardly the sight that we kayakers beheld last night, however.
In fact, we didn’t see any meteors last night, and though the park ranger guiding our little convoy of kayakers claimed we could faintly see the Milky Way, I think he was mistaking it for a mere passing cloud.
Still, the experience of being out in a boat on the water at night was worth the trouble and the disappointment of seeing zero meteors. The lake water was unexpectedly warm, there were no bugs to speak of (though one of my fellow kayakers reported later that he was briefly set upon at one point by a few bats); before the clouds rolled in after we’d been out on the lake for about a half-hour, we could see plenty of constellations and a planet or two.
One of the oddest parts of this already-unusual-for-me expedition was the fact that a group of horror movie groupies happened to choose last night to rent one of the park’s large campgrounds on the far side of the lake for some sort of Friday the 13th re-enactment. According to the park ranger’s explanation, one can apparently gather ones friends and relatives and, for $100 each, a company of actors and technicians will try to convince the assembled-around-a-campfire throng that they are being attacked by murderers wielding chain-saws. (One of the kayakers remarked that the amplified sounds of the alleged chain-saws sounded more to him like the sounds of a dozen weed-eaters: “The Georgia Weed-Eater Massacre!”)
The glare and the smoke pouring forth from the clearing of the rented campground, together with the electrically-amplified sound-effects and the frenzied screams of the assembled groupies didn’t make for a peaceful idyll out on the lake for us hapless kayakers. Nevertheless, it was wonderful to be out on a lake in the (almost) dark. The tiny glow-light bracelets on each paddler’s wrist and the tiny lights at the tips of all the kayaks was pretty magical, and compensated somewhat for the not-so-distant roar of what sounded like an orgy of human sacrifice or some hapless village being ruthlessly pillaged by marauding Orcs.
So, reader, I am glad I went kayaking last night. This was only the second time I had ever been in a kayak, and gliding along on the lake reminded me of the first time – maybe eight years ago or so ago? – when my friend Terry and I did a road trip through much of Oregon. During the trip, we stopped near Sisters to visit my brother Mike and his wife Inice, and during the visit Mike took Terry and me out for an afternoon of kayaking on a nearby lake.
This second outting with a kayak has decidedly convinced me that I really enjoy it, and I look forward to finding further opportunities to spend time in one.