An Abrupt Season's End

posted Nov 6, 2009, 7:54 AM by Richard Sevenich   [ updated Nov 8, 2009, 7:02 AM ]

In such waters as off Vancouver Island, sea kayaking continues in all seasons - merely slowing in the colder, darker winter months. On Lake Pend Oreille, sea kayaking shuts down in winter ... ok, a few hardy souls might seek out a winter paddle, if successful at finding a launch site. Fall is, perhaps, my favorite time to paddle on our lake. It is visited by many migrating flocks and some will hang around for a while. The drawdown of the lake level, unfortunately, makes many of our usual launch sites unusable by exposing long expanses of the evil boot-sucking mud.

My own kayak season ended abruptly on October 25, oddly enough on a bike ride. The day before, we had ridden our closest single track whose tricky sections we walk. One pays close attention. But on the 25th, we were enjoying the lovely Coeur d'Alene Trail, starting at Plummer and turning around at Harrison - smooth, flat, safe asphalt. On the way back to the Plummer trailhead, I was watching the scenery instead of the smooth, flat, safe asphalt. So I failed to notice one of the stout metal posts, located at appropriate intervals to deny motorized vehicle access. I hit the post head on, at a modest 12 mph. The results included a totaled bicycle frame, a broken little finger (right hand), four fractured vertebrae (including C1 and C2), and maybe some cracked ribs. After assessing my injuries, I suggested that I needed a cervical collar, a backboard, and a call to 911.

So now I am healing from neck surgery, with a prognosis of 100% recovery - including neck rotation (maybe, even 360 degrees?). After the initial bad luck, all the luck has been good - no spinal cord damage, no abrasions, the finest spinal/neurosurgeon in the area (Dr. William Ganz), etc. However, in the meantime, I keenly miss kayaking off Vancouver Island.