Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Yoke

The soft rumble in the distance was unmistakable.
As the faintest stirrings of a newborn swiftly rouse one from the most exhausted maternal slumber, so, too, is this unsettled sky with its barely audible vibrations, to one on the water, piercing.

The joy of watching lizards darting over sun-warmed stone, heron nests filled to bursting with young chicks, and the colorful course of a spring-fed creek, had brought us effortlessly to this point, tracing the wilderness shoreline of Cave Run Lake since dawn, paddling Red Canoe. Now situated four miles’ distance from camp and with an electrical storm on the horizon, watching the speed with which clouds poured into and filled a sweeping, blue sky over the 8,000-acre lake, I was glad for our discussions of the previous night.
We would be weathering the storm here, and, from the mounting sound and darkening sky, it would be soon.

The lake had emptied itself quickly.
And without a radio to consult as to what we might be expecting to encounter on the heels of the tumbling clouds, the hasty evacuation of every motorized watercraft hinted of its severity. To this eerie vacancy, the absence of overhead blue soon was reflected in an unwelcoming cold, gray cast, spread across the water’s surface. The growing white-capped waves, to Red Canoe, unkind.
And as we paddled, life-jackets zipped to our chins and cinched just a little tighter than was normally comfortable, I was glad to have a target in mind, a plan for safe weathering.
Beyond the steep walls and deep basin of the lake proper, at the furthest reach of a narrow finger feeding it, we stepped out into the shallows and onto a woodsy shore, broad and flat, and densely treed. Where, above the sharp rise of slopes to either side, the rumbles grew louder, and clouds hurried past the silhouetted forms on the ridge.

Unloading our packs, we eased Red Canoe out of the water and tipped her to rest several feet from the water’s edge, upside down, and wedged between 2 small trees. Inverted as she was and tipped low to face into the storm, her body a shield against it, the seats became shelves to stash our gear, the yoke, our rod to hold fast within.
And, as a great wind roared overhead and brought the storm to settle onto the belly of the lake, with harsh drops that pelted the tip of our bare toes, we crawled inside her small chamber, grabbed the yoke and pulled Red Canoe down around ourselves.
With nothing but her shelter,
was every thing of need.

The lake disappeared behind cloud and lightning.

We stayed under Red Canoe for 2 hours in a thunderstorm with strong winds, lightning and heavy rain on Cave Run Lake in Kentucky on June 24, 2009.
Now safely home and stowed in the garage, you can see the yoke (far right, with notch) and seats we sheltered beneath.

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Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

That must have been frightening! I've seen storms blow up across lakes and it can develop so quickly.

RuneE said...

I admit that I had to Google yoke.it made a highly original Y and a good story too.

photowannabe said...

Brilliant story-telling and an interesting way to talk about a yolk. I learned something new today. (:0)

Michelle Johnson said...

I'm sure you guys were a bit unsettled with that bad storm but I'm pleased you made it back home safely.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I am glad to hear that you two are home safe and sound. It is good to be prepared in these situations. SCARY and tiring no doubt.

Reader Wil said...

What a frightening experience! I can imagine what you had to endure because you describe it so well! Very great choice for Y!

Heather said...

Nina, your words are as powerful as the storm which drove you to seek shelter. Now you have another reason to love Red Canoe - she (it is a she, right?) kept you safe and dry during the storm. Kudos to you for having a plan, and for sharing this wonderful story.

jay - said...

Great story to go with the yoke picture! I didn't know boats had then inside, but I guess if you need to carry the boat, they're useful things!

So, boats make good shelters? Well, they are waterproof!

Granny Smith said...

I am in awe of your power of description. I felt that I was experiencing the darkening skies, the sense of dread,the hasty preparation of Red Canoe to enable you to weather the storm. I'm glad that you are safely home.

Grace and Bradley said...

It is a gripping story and make us looking at the picture of your canoe with more appreciation.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Wow. It's good to be at the mercy of the elements now and then, to be reminded how very small we are. I'm glad you're safe. Lovely storytelling. And I understand why there are no photos to go with it this time!

Rose said...

You are a brave soul--this must have been a frightening experience! I had no idea there was a yoke in a canoe; a creative Y. Thanks for sharing and for creating such a powerful image of this experience.

Kelly said...

Wow! How exciting!! Although terrifying, what a fantastic experience. Nothing like a little electricity to add a little zing! :-)

Roger Owen Green said...

Huge lightning storm 5 pm yesterday (Albany, NY time). Not the weather for a bike ride!

Can't help but think of the Scripture about the yoke being easy, the burden light.


nina at Nature Remains. said...

Heather--Yes, Red Canoe is a "she," which to some might seem corny--but given we trust our lives to her each time we go out upon the water, and must care for her well-being in order for her to serve ours, her elevation to the status of one deserving of a name seemed fitting.
The "plan" I've alluded to was more than what we normally understood to be the "rain plan," because evacuating the lake was very difficult, given the steep stone sides and great distances between access areas. We chose the lowlands at the end of the skinny fingers because they allowed us to carry the Red Canoe out of the water for a shelter, and because the terrain provided its own shelter between the ridges.

Jay--Yes, inverted boats make great shelters, and in this case, kept us low to the ground and safe in an electrical storm.

Julie--No kidding!! This storm rolled across the midwest, and from what we heard after the fact, left outages and hugely swollen creeks in its path. Had we been at home, we would have chosen another day for the trip, but when you're camping--you work with what you have!
The camera that usually travels in front of my feet as we paddle, in its own tight bag, sat, safe and sound over my head, while the storm raged all around. I so wanted to get a picture down the lake, of the white cloud engulfing us all, but didn't dare let go of the canoe--the wind was fierce and it was all we could do to hold it over ourselves! Awesome experience, really!

Ginnymo said...

I'm sure glad you had your canoe for safety. It must have been a little scary but awesome also to be out there like that in a storm. I love thunder storms.

Q said...

Dear Nina,
Red Canoe is a life saver! I know how quickly a storm can bubble up here on the plains. So glad you are safe.
I am shivering.....wow!
Red Canoe is a wonderful boat and so happy you had a plan!
Holding onto her Yoke was perfect....

NCmountainwoman said...

Interesting albeit a bit frightening story. Two hours is a long time to seek shelter under the canoe. What an adventure!

Tumblewords: said...

An adventure, for sure! Glad you are safe, sound and snug.

Anonymous said...

rocking yoke...
The best place for the best ENTERTAINMENT