Perception Sunrise 10 Kayak






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1969 GTO Judge Convertible

GTO Judge 1969 Ragtop - The Ultimate in Summer Cool
1969 GTO Judge

Keeping Cool in Your Canoe This Summer

Oklahoma canoe and kayak paddlers need to think hard about the heat these days. As temps have begun to regularly reach 100+ degrees, it can be tough to enjoy the outdoors. Of course you should be wearing sunscreen, a hat and cool clothing. Here are some more tips to keep you cool in your canoe or kayak so you can enjoy summer in the Ozarks.

Paddle Colder Rivers

Arkansas and Missouri offer a number of spring-fed rivers that flow all year long with frigid, crystal clear water. Expect these Ozark rivers to be crowded on hot summer weekends. Try to launch early in the morning or after 5pm and you can often avoid the heavy traffic on the river. Broken Bow, Oklahoma’s Lower Mt. Fork River offers colder water than any other place that I have paddled in Oklahoma. For well air conditioned paddling, drive to The White River in Arkansas to kayak in morning mists ten foot deep than linger long past sunrise. Kayaking the White River mists in summer's deepest heat can be as comfy as a sunny day in early May.  If you luck into some rain, The Mulberry River in Ozark, Arkansas offers some fun whitewater, just dress to get wet!


Head for Northern Waters

The Oklahoma Flatwater Paddlers occasionally make out-of-state kayaking trips.  Higher altitude tends to offer lower temps and swifter, clearer waters.  Colorado and New Mexico float trips are under discussion now.  Personally, I hate the idea of burning a day’s worth of gas to get my kayak cooled down, but nothing flows as cold and fast as mountain water. Heading north for some summer paddling is very tempting.  Dianne and I have not yet ventured to Colorado for a float trip, but I hope to make it there someday. Recently, Dianne and I headed north to Kansas to enjoy some lake kayaking at Santa Fe Lake.  It was quite a ways north, but it sure didn't seem much cooler.


Paddle in the Shade

I love to paddle the narrow feeder creeks around our Oklahoma lakes because they are much shadier than the parts of the lake more popular with motor boaters. The Oklahoma Water Atlas is a fantastic tool for finding the coolest parts of any public lake in Oklahoma. When paddling your local channels starts to get dull, consider inviting some new kayaking buddies to ‘taste the local flavor’. They will see your local creeks with fresh eyes. Your leadership will be valued and your appreciation for your area reawakened.

Oklahoma's slow moving rivers offer more shade than lakes. We do a lot of kayak fishing in the Deep Fork River during the hotter Summer months.  Taking an up-and-back trip from the Highway 266 boat ramp on the Deep Fork River is wonderful... as long as you launch real early in the morning or near sunset. For a really shady lake try making a kayaking trip to Caddo Lake in Uncertain, Texas.  Caddo Lake is an ancient flooded forest of massive Bald Cypress trees intersected with tons of 'boat roads'. More like a river system than a lake, fish and wildlife grow abundantly.  Lily pads, Lotus, Duckweed and huge streamers of Spanish Moss fill the marshy bayous of Caddo Lake.

Canoe the Magic Hours

Just about any weather site on the web can provide you with the projected times for sunrises and sunsets. Launch your kayak a mere hour or two before these 'magic hours' and you will find much cooler paddling conditions AND cooler temperatures. The fishing and wildlife observation is also at its best close to sunrise and close to sunset.

Keep your trips short in the hot summertime, especially when taking new paddlers along. Many paddlers, like myself, enjoy a good bit of exercise at the end of a float trip. This can make it tough on novice paddlers seeking an introduction to paddle sports.



Kayaking at Sunset on Dripping Springs Lake

Gear Up to Stay Cool in Your Kayak

My wife bought me some black shorts and shirt made by Under Armour HeatGear. I was very impressed by how cool and comfortable they kept me during some very hot, humid and sunny conditions. When I first saw them I thought: "they were crazy to make them in black, I'll roast". Somehow the black color on HeatGear doesn't seem to heat up. It also helps keep you cooler once it gets wet, without adding the huge amount of weight that cotton adds once it gets wet. The wicking action of HeatGear keeps you cool while transporting moisture off your skin to prevent rashes. Great for outerwear in the summer and a as a base layer in cold weather.  Do I get a little change back if you buy Under Armour from one of the links on my site?  Yes, absolutely...just enough for a snack, not enough for a new kayak.;-)

There are other interesting uses of technology to stay cool on the river. My buddy Al attaches portable fans to the deck of his kayaks, Hobie offers a bimini top for some of their kayaks and we all need to be wearing a good river hat. I usually wear a hat I can soak down with water to enjoy some evaporative cooling in addition to shading my face.  Either a Boonie Hat or a Soaka Hat fit the 'bill' perfectly.

Mists coil around the trees near the confluence of the White River and the Buffalo River in Northern Arkansas. 
The White River

Night Paddling

Paddling your canoe or kayak at night is an exhilarating and addictive thrill. Even the mildest, most familiar flatwater takes on a seductive and mysterious aura after the sunsets. Privately owned water-shed lakes dot the landscape in Oklahoma and cabins like Long Lake Resort and others offer access these tiny lakes or large ponds. The older watershed lakes are often surrounded by shade trees and they are usually free of lake rangers and speed boats. This makes them ideal for night paddling just for fun or even running limblines at night for catfish.  Dianne and I occasionally do some night kayaking on the Deep Fork River or on Okmulgee Lake's Salt Creek.

Fireworks Displays Are Often Near Water

Many kayakers I know look forward to taking a night paddling trip on the Fourth of July holiday.  Watching fireworks from your kayak in the middle of a lake is a cool way to enjoy the show and still avoid the crowds.  Most water regulations require a light on the front of your boat and another on the back of your boat.  For safer fireworks show night paddling, I would suggest: paddling with friends, wearing a PFD (as usual) and leaving the dog at home. OKC, Tulsa and Broken Bow are popular Oklahoma town where boaters enjoy beautiful firework displays on the water. Here's another tip, use your sprayskirt if you have one. The lights on your kayak will draw loads of bugs at night, your spray skirt will at least keep your lower body protected.

Plan Your Night Float Trip Carefully

Be sure to use a take-out that you can find in the dark. Returning at night means the take-out may be harder to find. However, if you use an official boat ramp there should be plenty of lights to guide your kayak home. Kayaking at night without proper bow and stern boat lighting is dangerous and will get you a ticket.  Let someone who cares about you know exactly when you are leaving and when you expect to return. If you are night kayaking there, you should know if your cell phone is likely to be operational.  Have a communication plan, just in case of unexpected disaster.  Paddle safely.

Night Paddling Requires Light & Lights Draw Bugs

Most kayakers I know use a hat light or helmet light in addition to the legally required bow light & stern lights whenever they are paddling at night. Lighting up a small craft like a kayak is sure to draw insects from around the area.  Keeping the bugs off of your face works best with Hat net or head net, but a good dousing with Deep Woods Off is better than nothing.  I like to carry the Off in the form of individual towelettes in my PFD pocket. They stay fresh, they don't leak and they are there when I need them.

Buzz-Off Clothing - Apparel featuring non-toxic insect repellent for outdoor adventures, like the cool insect-repelling Boonie hat below. Great shade and evaporative cooling have made the Boonie Hat a classic bit of float trip apparel.






...Complete Oklahoma Area Float Trip Outfitters List


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