Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Spring Mendoza Line

Sixty degrees. That’s the magic mercury, for both water and air.

After the typical Vermont freeze, when the strength of sun becomes noticeable on your cheeks, it’s not until the air reaches 60 that you first feel free of winter’s clutch. Sixty degrees brings the toes out to wiggle in sandals and reveals legs all around us after so many months of mandatory pants.

For Vermont Stand Up Paddlers, that first 60-degree day starts the clock ticking to the moment you’ll hear the slap of your board hitting the water for the first time in the New Year.

Finishing the ski season strong, thoughts shifting to leis and the Lake

This was an especially chilly winter as far as recent memory goes — although typical by Vermont folkloric standards. Lake Champlain froze completely for the first time in ten years. March was cold. April was cool, cloudy. May has been all over the place, but decidedly not warm. The last patches of mountain snow are just now dispersing into creeks and tumbling toward the valley.

Water temps in Lake Champlain remain in the upper 40s …

Dry suits and jackets — spring in Vermont
But they are rising toward 60! — that next plateau in our SUP season. Sixty degree water marks an unofficial beginning to the Lake Champlain summer. It’s when Stand Up Paddling in Vermont can be what Stand Up Paddling is meant to be.

This is a Hawaiian sport, rooted in surfing. It's brought a real connection to that sunny spirit of Aloha to the Green Mountain State. We have no doubt added our twists, donning dry suits to play with ice chunks on the Winooski River in March and pushing early season outings on Lake Champlain.

But as much as we can gear up for some guerilla spring SUPing, the sport goes best with summer days and sunset colors. That iconic surf vision of running over sand toward water with a board under your arm can only happen in-season.

And it all starts at 60 degrees.

Behind schedule perhaps, but it's coming ...