The last section of the row is not long in distance but quite a challenge. By this time I’ve been sculling about 2 hours. I’m tired, my hands hurt, and my rear end hurts. So although it’s only about a mile to the end of the trip, it takes a lot of determination to keep going.
When I first rowed this route in 2005, I planned to work along the shore past the mansion, cross the inlet, work my way down the shore and along the causeway to the GA-44 bridge, under the bridge, across the inlet just south of the bridge, and then along the shore and behind the island to the beach at the north end of the Old Salem Park. However, when I started down the undeveloped shore towards the mansion, Walt suggested that I just row directly across the open lake to the bridge. I did that in 2005 and have done it each year since.
As I started out across the lake, I was surprised that the water was so calm. I had always remembered this section as being rough and choppy. But this day it wasn’t. I got about a third of the way across when the water suddenly became very choppy (6). Then I remembered. The first part of this crossing is in the lea of the land. Then I get far enough into the open to enter the area of the lake that has been made choppy by the wind coming down the inlet. It’s quite a challenge to cross this section. The danger is that the oar tips will catch the chop and capsize the boat.
Half way across this section, dehydration caught up with me too. I had taken one bottle of water with me and finished it about half way through the trip. Though I could make it without any more. However, thirst became an issue. So Justin brought the pontoon boat over. This is a tricky maneuver because of the distance that the rigger and oar extend beyond the boat. You can’t just bring the boats alongside each other as you might do with a canoe or kayak. It took two tries but Walt was able to get me a bottle of water in a net on a long pole. A quick drink and then off again...
Catch, Drive, Finish, Recovery-2-3...
I completed the trip to the bridge, lined up center span, and rowed under the bridge. This also has to be done carefully when power is being generated. I cleared the bridge and angled off towards the shore.
Walt had started to take photographs again but he wasn’t photographing me. He was aiming the lens out in front of me. I turned and decided to stop (7). It was an unusual sight. A flock of five to six cormorants swimming together. Cormorants are usually loners; it’s rare to see them in groups. Most of them flew off except for two which appeared to be a pair. They lingered for several minutes before they, too, decided to take to the air.
I set off again. I would rather have not rowed another stroke but the only way to get to the beach was to keep going. It’s a pity that I’m so tired at this point. This last short stretch, about half a mile, is normally in smooth water – a joy to row in – and quite pretty. It would be great to be really able to enjoy it fully. At last, I did reach the beach. Another trip successfully completed!
Photographs: Walter W. Knapp
Maps: Google maps