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.
Now safely home and stowed in the garage, you can see the yoke (far right, with notch) and seats we sheltered beneath.