On the Platte Again, with the Salmon

After the northern lights adventure on Tuesday night (okay, early Wednesday morning), we decided a post-work kayaking excursion was in order. I had less than four hours of sleep the night before, and Tony didn’t sleep much more, but we looked at the forecast, and Wednesday was our best bet for an enjoyable trip in the foreseeable future.

I grabbed a maple cinnamon latte (the details are important here – you should request one of these from your favorite coffee shop!) so that I’d have the requisite caffeine to keep me awake on the ride home. Except for my once or twice a week lattes and the very occasional soda, I don’t have caffeine anymore and my body doesn’t react great to it. Shakes and high temperature, and all that…but it does keep me awake, so I imbibed.

We didn’t get the boats in the water until 5:30 or so, giving us just under two hours until sunset…for a trip that usually takes just over that time. Plus we were alone, so we’d have to make the trek back to our origin to get the car. No big deal: paddle faster 😉

Normally during the fall salmon run, the river is loaded with fishermen angling for one of the monster fish that are fighting upstream. By the time we got to the fish weir, which is piled with fish – and then normally just downstream with fishermen – we had only seen one other person on the water. There was a gentleman raking debris from the underwater gates at the weir (it must be operated by the DNR and not the NPS) who kindly warned me to take care: he had seen salmon accost a lady just the other day, and she left with a bloody (broken perhaps) nose. Duly noted.

As we continued our journey, a few flocks of mallards winged upstream overhead, and a heron retreated downstream, eventually giving over to the woods for escape. Finally, we caught up with a few fisherfolks (there were ladies, too!), but nothing like the weekend hordes we often encounter on this trip. We navigated around a guy wrestling a coho, and then hastened on.

Abruptly, we arrived at the El Dorado landing, an access point about a mile before the planned end of our trip. However, thanks to lingering at the fish weir, and not actually paddling faster, the sun rapidly approached the horizon. We dropped the kayaks off to the side of the landing, and began our two-mile walk back to the car.

About halfway there, I glanced over my shoulder, noting the salmon-colored clouds. I grabbed the key from Tony and jogged the rest of the way to the car. He didn’t want to load the boats in the dark, but I’m more practical: if we didn’t hurry, I might miss a pretty sunset.

sunset over the Platte

Crisis averted. One last stop for photos, and then we recommenced the voyage, this time to rectify the now obvious lack of food in our tummies. All in all, the trip was hectic, but it was still a perfect way to unwind and soak up some fall beauty. Ahhhhh!

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