I haven't been to Big Creek Lake in 11 months, so today I cinched the kayak to the top of the truck and went down to the end of Howell's Ferry Road. When you're too cheap to invest in a rack for the top of your beater pickup, you have to be creative when you strap a kayak to the top of it. It took a few tries to come up with an arrangement that provided a secure tie-down without bending the hull of the boat or denting the roof. Resting the kayak on the aft edge of the truck's roofline bottom-up works. The foam block on the roof rests right over the watertight bulkhead behind the kayak's seat, so the keel won't be squashed by the tiedown straps. The forward bulkhead rests on a foam block on the truck's tailgate, and is held down by a strap hooked to the rear bumper. This provides a rock-solid tiedown with minimal strain that stays put even on the interstate at 80 mph.
Today's trip was a hard paddle to the north end of the lake. The last time I took this route was February 2007. Since the water levels are back up again, I was able to go all the way up past Highway 98 and then a further mile north into Big Creek itself, past a rail bridge that hasn't been accessible by water for several years. This is also the longest trip I've taken in months, clocking in at 12.3 miles. For the immediate future there's going to be a greater emphasis on distance in my paddle trips. There's a method to the madness, a 27-mile method: I'm conspring with my friend Dan to take a day and paddle a marathon distance. Conveniently, paddling the Tensaw River from the Lower Bryant Landing to the Mobile Bay Causeway covers 27 miles.
Hopefully we'll make this run in the late winter or early spring, but before I reach that point I need to engage in some more conditioning. I covered 12 miles today without much trouble, and I intend to add two miles to every successive paddle trip from here on out.