I did not have fun today. Or rather, I had a lot of fun until about 2:00 this afternoon when I suddenly got a real clanger of a debilitating headache to deal with for the last three miles of our day’s paddle. One minute I’m lounging around in the water, watching the boys swim and engage in their 51st epic water cannon battle of the day, and the next I’m standing up and striding over to the canoe to pull it off the sandbar and wondering seriously if I’m going to make it before my skull implodes. Too much sun? Too little water? Possibly, except that I drank nearly a gallon today and almost as much yesterday. At any rate, after a spectacular most-of-the-day on the water, the last ninety minutes to the take-out were agony; I would have gladly traded my sunglasses for a welder’s helmet to cut down on the glare, and I tried paddling as much as possible with my eyes closed. The boys very graciously agreed not to engage our boat in any pirate action, even as we passed richly deserving targets (we still have scores to settle going back to last year’s trip).
I understand that a lot of participants struggle during the first days of Paddle Georgia; the simple fact is that most of us don’t live lifestyles that prepare us for the kind of prolonged exertion and exposure this trip deals out. Last year I was absolutely shattered after the first two days, and in fact the family who had been our “buddy boat” up until that point packed it in and went home. This time around I’ve felt much more psychologically prepared—and have been enjoying myself a lot more—but I seem to have hit a physical wall anyway. Bummer.
The good news is—and I know this from last year’s experience—that it gets easier. Not easy, but a lot easier. The long mileage days at the end of the trip that I was dreading after two days on the water last year turned out to be no big deal at all. This year I’m confident of the same, though for starters I’m making darn sure I remember to put the ibuprofen in my dry bag before we head out tomorrow morning.
We’re moving basecamp tomorrow to another local high school further down river. Hopefully they’ll have internet access and I can keep posting over the next couple of days. And if YouTube isn’t blocked I’ll download and embed some video from the past two days, including some masterful pirate action from earlier today.