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Kayaking down a lazy creek

Sometimes I ache to get back on the water, but when all the small creatures that prefer the dark and the dank crawled out of the kayaks and into the sun, the last thing I wanted was to slide into their home.
The kayaks, stored out of doors all winter, were now teeming with life. Dennis Mann sent a gout of water inside one hull and then the other, and soon cockroaches were sunning themselves, spiders were plopping into the grass and a mouse shivered as it wriggled its way into the weeds.
When asked which I preferred, I said, ‘The one that I’ll be alone in,’ but I doubt that was true of either.
Kayaks are a tight fit for anyone, and when I slid down into that darkness, I tried not to think about what might be cuddled up next to my legs. I was hoping to learn a thing or two about kayaks, and this I can now say with authority: store them indoors. After we pushed off into Indian Creek Thursday afternoon near the Harrison County Fairgrounds, stowaways crawled to the back of my mind. The awkward balancing act of first-time kayaking rolled to the front.
There are different body styles, some less stable than others, and each offering different advantages. These rocked quite a bit and just by pulling my knees up close to me, which had to be done one leg at a time because of the snugness, I could feel the stability come all apart. Of course, that’s not the way one sits in a kayak.
But there’s a lot of good to be said for kayaking on a narrow, winding Harrison County creek. For instance, kayaks have an extremely shallow draft ‘ they’ll float and maneuver in just a few inches of water ‘ a must for gliding along the surface of Indian Creek.
And they’ve got strong hydrodynamics, which means they row pretty fast and can be paddled against the current relatively well, in case someone wanted to try going upstream for a change.
Some instruction Chris Timberlake gave me about kayaking came in handy, but not exactly in the way he had intended.
‘Do you know how to pick out your lanes?’ he had said earlier that day in the office, referring to the advance picking of a route through rapids that kayakers undertake when whitewater comes into view.
I didn’t. Neither did he.
Wednesday’s brief torrential rainfall didn’t do much to raise the level of the creek though it flooded Capitol Avenue in Corydon for a half hour or so. But while there was no need to pick out lanes through the whitewater of Indian Creek, it was necessary to pick a path through the vegetation that grows in the creek bed. And when we didn’t, Dennis Mann and I used our knuckles to scoot the kayaks along like malformed crabs.
There are kayakers who come to the creek after sustained heavy rains to spontaneously take a ride during which I would surely capsize. Sometimes law enforcement tries to chase them down and make them exit the water for their own good. When I look at pictures of whitewater rafting in West Virginia, California or Colorado and think of the Indian Creek doing its best impressions of mountainous whitewater-rafting adventures, I feel sorry that both we and our water are so tame.
Dennis Mann said Lewis and Clark would’ve loved to have had some of these, as we floated toward Hayswood Nature Reserve in a red and a green kayak. He mentioned what an adventure it must’ve been for them everywhere they went, not knowing what they might find up around the bend. I’m sure he was right.