We woke up Saturday morning ready to get some sun, bring home some fish and take up a new hobby. We got the truck loaded up and thankfully we’ve made that a pretty easy thing now thanks to our Trello list. If you don’t use Trello, I highly recommend it. I use it in blogging, I use it with my VA and we use it to keep track of lists as a family.
Anyway, we headed out to Pinewood Reservoir. This is a place we’ve fished at before but this trip was a little different. I assumed the water would be warm enough for my first ever experience paddleboarding. So we load up the paddleboard and my life jacket (wearing a life jacket is a state law in Colorado) and we headed up to the lake for a day of fishing, a picnic lunch and some time on the water.
Here’s a google maps image of this lake located about 25 minutes outside of the town of Loveland Colorado. The elevation here is higher than in Loveland. Loveland sits at 4,982 feet and Pinewood Reservoir sits at 6,580 feet which makes the water much colder than the lakes in town.
When we get to the lake, we unload and use a wagon to take our things to fisherman’s cove. It’s a little cove all the way on the other side of the lake where the fish bite more than any other place here. However I wasn’t about to haul my board all the way over there, so Scott drops my board off at the shore. Jaydon follows me down the hill so he can take my sandals for me when I get on the board. He waits patiently for me to get started, then grabs my sandals and walks back up the hill to catch up with Scott and Braidy who have already started walking toward the dam so they can cross over to Fisherman’s Cove.
I’m on the board and paddle all the way over to the cove with zero issues! I’m feeling elated and proud of myself. The water is like glass. There are no waves and with my first time on the board, I kept the same footing the entire way there. It was beautiful, I had confidence and it felt great to get all the way across with no issues.
The boys make it across the lake before I do. When I get there, I easily get my paddle board to shore but did notice how cold the water felt. Just a few minutes with my feet in the water and it felt like pins and needles shooting through my feet. I question if I should wait till later in the day to paddleboard again and just focus on fishing with the boys. We set up camp for the day which just included a few camping chairs and our picnic blanket under a tree that gave us just enough shade to not feel too hot.
Scott spends a lot of time baiting hooks and getting the poles ready, while I lather everyone up with sunscreen. Sometimes he’s baiting hooks more often than actually fishing since the boys always need help with their poles. It can be a frustrating experience for him. Plus the boys don’t like touching their bait. Heck, I don’t really want to touch worm guts either, but I bring little gloves this time to help Scott so he doesn’t have to do it so much and can actually enjoy fishing a little.
The boys move up the shoreline in the cove a little more and I sit on the picnic blanket taking in some sun and my morning coffee. I can see in the distance other paddleboarders getting out on the water and some kayakers too.
So let me tell you a little bit about my paddleboard. I am not a tall person. I am about 4’11”. I usually round up to 5 feet when people ask. So when we were looking at paddleboards, I decided that the junior paddleboard would be the easiest for me to carry and maneuver in the water.
This is it:
So as I’m sitting there taking in the breeze that is coming off the lake and I see the boys totally immersed in fishing, I think I’m going to get out on that paddleboard again.
I put my life jacket back on, and maneuver the board toward the water, but I’m having trouble with it on rocks this time. I’m trying to dislodge it while standing on it. It doesn’t seem to be budging this time, so I readjust it and hop back on it. I get halfway across the coved part of the lake (not too far) but it’s still about 20 to 30 feet offshore and I decide I’m going to readjust my footing a little. I lift my right foot just a little, the board tips and I fall off!
I plunge into the lake! The iciness of the water feels like pins and needles. THIS WATER IS COLD! I panic, all I can think of is I need out of this water! So I swim frantically to shore. After just a few seconds my body feels like it’s shutting down from the cold. As I’m swimming I look to see other fishermen staring jaws dropped at my struggle. My husband doesn’t see me. How can he not see me?! It’s starting to take a lot of effort to move my arms though. I’m making my way to shore still holding on to my paddle. When I finally reach shore I realize what I’ve done.
I’ve left my paddleboard in the middle of the lake in the cove.
I feel like a complete idiot, especially with the stares of other fishermen on the shorelines. Embarrassment hangs over me as I look out at my board too far away to swim back out to get. I walk up and get my towel and wrap it around me and sit in the sun to warm myself while I contemplate what I’m going to do about my board. I’m alive, I didn’t hit my head on a rock and die…so I’m grateful.
I sit there on the picnic blanket with the towel around me watching currents and I see that there is a current going into the cove, logs are drifting inward. If my board keeps moving toward the current it will catch it and go farther into the cove and possibly wash up on shore on the other side. I decide to walk over to the other side of the cove. It’s about a ten-minute walk, so I put my regular shoes on and have Jaydon follow me so he can take my shoes again if I have to get in the water to go after my board.
As we get over to the other side the board has made its way back closer to the side I was already on! So we walk back around.
Its playing games with me.
Just as I get back to the other side it moves in a sort of whirlpool and catches the current going out. I can’t get it.
I sit there wondering what the heck I’m going to do. Will I need to swim out to get it in the icy water?
Far far away I spot kayakers on the shore getting their boats ready. This would be about two football field lengths away….maybe more. I decide I will walk around the lake over to them and ask them for help.
I start walking over the dam and see a different set of kayakers coming up the part of the lake I couldn’t’ see from the cove. I stop and watch them to see what direction they plan on going. It looks like they are turning to enter the cove so I run back to where I was so that I could be closer and yell at them to push my board to shore. They spot the board and I actually hear one of the kayakers say, “Someone lost their board” They start moving toward it and I start waving at them from shore. They see me and push my board toward me. I get out in the water again to make sure I grab hold of that board and it doesn’t get away and that icy feeling hits me all over again but I got the board to shore.
For a while at least…
After I get my board back I run up to tell my husband that it’s finally back on land. He had been wrapped up in fishing up shore with Braidy. I left out the part above where he finally caught on to what had happened because he saw my board floating out there without me on it. Anyway, my board was safe on shore. I was drying off. I sat down in one of the chairs to warm up and drink the rest of my coffee. Thank God for those kind kayakers!
I sat there though with my confidence in paddle boarding shaken.
I decided I was going to fish the rest of the day and help the boys catch fish and just relax under that tree. Braidy ends up catching fish up shore with his dad that we bring back to our little camp. We had it strung up on a line, but it got loose. Scott comes back from up shore and hangs out with us a bit before going to his truck for something and within that time frame, Braidy catches yet another fish. It’s too small so we have to put it back, We almost went home with nothing, but then Scott caught a fish right before we were ready to pack up and leave.
I realized then, that I would have to paddle board back across the lake. It started to terrify me. I have no strap for it, so I can’t carry it. Scott would have to carry it and it’s really far to walk with a heavy board like that and hardly any good way to grip it. I have to face my fear.
I start trying to prep my mind for this. I mean I got across the whole lake fearlessly without falling…why am I so afraid? I’m afraid because the water is fifty-something degrees! I don’t want to fall in again.
But I try…
Scott helps me get the board out on the lake. I hope on and start to freak out. There are waves making the board more unstable than it was when I paddled over the first time so I’m starting to panic already. The water coming up into the cove is pushing my board backward and I can’t seem to paddle fast enough to make my board move in the right direction. I’m afraid I will fall in again and I want to cry. I get out of the current a bit and see that I’m now moving forward but things are happening on shore with the boys and Scott is upset and if I look over at them I’m going to lose my balance so I try to stay focused, but the panic won’t leave me. I decide I don’t care how heavy this thing is I’m not paddling it back across the lake, I get it back to shore again and Scott is trying to get all the things up a hill with the wagon and the boys and he’s still quite frustrated at something that happened. He sees that I’m back on shore and yells to me asking what I’m doing. I yell to him that I’m afraid. He yells back, “paddle on your knees!” I contemplate that for a bit and decide I’ll try to stay as close to shore as I can while paddling on my knees but at least I’m heading in the direction I should be.
By the time I reach the middle of the lake, my ankles and toes are going numb from the position I’m in but I don’t dare move a limb. To keep up with the waves pushing me around too much, I’m paddling once on one side and twice on the other. I do this all the way there while I wonder if I’d be able to make it swimming if I fell in again. Could I get myself back up on the board? I start to panic and decide to just focus on the shoreline. It inches forward ever so slowly and at times if feels like my paddling isn’t getting me anywhere. I wonder if I’ll ever make it. It seems so far away. I kind of go on autopilot counting my strokes and focusing on the shoreline.
I’m able to look up at the top of the dam to see that Scott and the boys are keeping pace with me making sure I’m okay.
Finally, the shore seems close enough and I realize I’m getting out of this alive because I can definitely swim the distance now. I get to shore and try to get off the board but my feet are asleep and I can’t move them! My feet and legs are so tingly just moving a toe sends pain up my legs. I take a minute to catch my breath and thank God that I’m on land again.
I still have no handle on getting the board all the way up a hill to where we parked, so of course, Scott has to come down and get it for me. At this point I’m thinking, geez I take the board out once and now my paddle boarding days are over.
Scott says, no way…I won’t let you quit. But I say, “um I’m terrified to ever do that again!”
After analyzing all that went wrong mostly on my part, I realize I need more accessories to my paddleboard. First I need a carrying strap so I can carry it myself to shore. Second I need an ankle leash that I can attach to the board so that if I fall off, the board is coming with me if I swim to shore. I also need a coast guard whistle because that’s what the park rangers told me I needed when they stopped by our camp and told me how cold the water was. I also need water shoes because those rocks near the shores are sharp and pokey and can really cut up your feet. Water shoes will help with that. And last but not least, I need stabilizers for that board! It is so wobbly that I don’t think I’ll enjoy riding it again unless I have a little more stability. All this I can buy on Amazon before my next trip out!
I also should probably paddleboard in warmer waters so that if I fall in, it’s not a terrifying experience. I’ve learned a lot of lessons on this first trip out with my board and I know that if I just get the right accessories for it and do it in appropriate water temperatures it won’t be as scary as it was that day at Pinewood Reservoir.
Have you ever had a terrifying experience like this?
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