Our apparel was very colorful and each of us put on a waterproof jacket, a spraydeck and a life-vest. We laughed at our appearance while Pablo finished the preparations and adjusted our life-vests: an essential element.
We heard the sound of the kayaks dragging their bellies on the sand towards the water. And so we embarked. The lake was slightly choppy, which made us feel thrilled. All necessary precautions had been taken.
We advanced slowly following the Angostura Arm as we broke the water surface with our paddle to one side and then to the other. We practiced during the first stretches.
We felt that part of our body was under the water and that made our arm movements easier. The paddles were not supposed to sink. We just had to submerge the paddle halfway. The spraydeck or “skirt” made sure no water entered the kayak.
At first, we were still and alert for instructions. Little by little, we relaxed and appreciated the surroundings. The large snow-capped mountain ranges bordering Lake Nahuel Huapi were impressive and made us feel insignificant.
We took a deep breath and enjoyed the voyage. Some usual birds appeared before us. It is harder to watch them from a larger watercraft, especially from those with an engine. A couple of grebes and a fresh water cormorant floated on their feathers and were surprised by our presence.
We visited three hidden beaches. Timid stilts welcomed us at each of them. They did not trust our intentions. Once on solid ground, we had a snack, a rest, a chat and we shared experiences and feelings about this adventure.
We asked Pablo for his observations about our attitude and posture. We also wanted to learn more about the speed reached on kayaks. Pablo answered all the questions. After that, we knew a little bit more about sailing, the lake mysteries, as well as the plant and animal species.
Pablo told us: “I prepare the route the day before the ride according to the suggestions made by the group and I give my final approval pursuant to navigation conditions. When permitted by the temperature, we dive at some quiet spot in the lake and practice snorkeling with neoprene suits, masks and snorkels I carry in the kayak.
The water hues changed according to light, the clouds and the lake depth. Intense shades of green and blue were printed on the photographs we took home. In the shallow spots, the logs resting on the bottom seemed close to the kayak but that was just an optical effect. Three Yellow Spots in the Vast Patagonian Lake
The feeling of vastness, of serenity in this place makes it difficult to measure distance. The nearby mountains were very well outlined and the farther ones appeared to be lying behind a light mist on the surface of the water.
The soft swell, the sound of the paddles breaking in and out of the water and the quiet conversations inside the kayak made us lower our voices even more and feel trust and quietness.
It was time for mate
and some delicious pastries no one could resist. Thus, we crowned the friendly atmosphere created before. Pablo told us that, when permitted by the lake conditions, that ritual was carried out in the middle of the lake.
We asked Pablo what he felt while he was paddling. “Happiness! I love kayaking with all my heart and I have infected my wife and son with that feeling.” That was his answer. He left his hometown in Entre Ríos
to find the immensity of the lakes. He added: “In order to come down South, one has to have inner peace”.
There certainly was much more left to experience. The voyage let us feel light, quiet, with a revitalized spirit to go back home, to our busy routines.