We have been trying out our new inflatable tandem kayaks over the last month or so. Feeling the summer closing in on us we thought we would try the ultimate: kayak camping. My hubby chose a great boat-in camp site and made the reservations for Lake Sonoma. To reach our campsite would be a few hours drive, then another hour or so by kayak, but the lake was stocked and there seemed to be plenty to do. We made the decision to leave on a friday morning, giving us all day to get there and set up camp. We’d spend two days hiking and exploring the nooks and crannies of the lake by kayak , try out some fishing, (and for the occasion, Jeff even purchased a lightweight hammock) and possibly lounging around.
All plans were solidified shortly before he pulled a muscle in his back. For several days he slept with the heating pad, tried ice, but by the night before we had concluded we’d have to skip this trip. Then Friday morning, feeling well-rested for the first time in several days, he thought he felt up to going for it. Now packing for camping is one thing… packing for a boat-in campsite (for the first time!) is quite another. You really need to think hard about the items you bring, its weight and bulk. We brought a small cooler, but knew we would not be able to restock with ice later, so most food had to be nonperishable. Luckily we were able to drop the kids off on a playdate in the morning and then hustled like crazy to get items packed up in waterproof bags and labeled. Getting on the road past noon then put us in some serious Friday traffic which delayed things even more. Also, the late afternoon can bring windy weather, which made the first part of the paddle in a little rougher than anticipated. As you can see from the top picture we at least hit the timing well with a full moon, since we arrived at our campsite after dusk.
Jeff had kept an eye on the weather reports, and all signs for that area looked great. The elevation was very low, so it wasn’t getting too cold there yet. What we hadn’t counted on was the wind. Turns out that late afternoon wind just didn’t quit. We tried doing a little hiking, but my youngest (age 2 1/2) had very little interest in walking uphill. He wanted to be in the tent, then he wanted to be out of the tent, and in again… each time requiring removing of or putting on his shoes so that our sleeping bags didn’t get covered in dirt. We tried fishing, but the fish didn’t think much of the wind either and retreated for deeper water. As Saturday afternoon rolled around, all of us were tentbound as the wind kicked dust up into our tent that I had previously been so protective of. Our five year old was fine playing some go fish with the deck of cards that Jeff was smart enough to include. Little Josh, though, who doesn’t recognize numbers well, wanted to throw our card pile around instead, upsetting his brother greatly.
Jeff and I did a quick calculation: how many hours might we have to stay here until bedtime, and how many hours might it take to pack things up and paddle on home. We had met some friendly campers nearby who camp at Lake Sonoma regularly. They reported that this wind was quite unusual, but was predicted to stay throughout the weekend. So… upon realizing we were not having much fun at the moment, we opted to repack everything and try to get back as quickly as possible. If it had just been our five year old, I think we could have entertained ourselves with stories and card games. But my little one would neither nap nor be as accommodating with just hanging out. I knew he wasn’t too fond of the bumpy boat ride either. As luck would have it, he ended up falling asleep even while sitting up in the boat soon after we started out on the water. I know the time is coming soon that he will outgrow his naps, but I have to hand it to him, when he crashes he can sleep through anything. So for at least 45 minutes and through the choppiest part of the ride, Josh slept without moving at all.
We arrived home a bit after 9pm, making this intense first-time-boating-in camp experience less than 24 hours long altogether. Disappointing, true, but actually I don’t regret it. I did take home a few lessons which I will be writing up shortly. One big one, though, is that the trip wasn’t any less fun overall even though it got cut short. As Kenny Rogers says, “know when to hold’em and know when to fold’em.” It was a lot of work, but will be an adventure we will remember for a long time to come.