I’m going to start by telling you why kayaking is fun. The first obvious reason is that it gives you beautiful views over lakes and rivers. Rowing, you see places you can only reach by being on the water. And you are doing this at a suitable pace for admiring the surroundings. It is a pleasant activity, with unique images and moments, and a level of exercise that is accessible to everyone.
At the beginning of May, when the temperatures were starting to increase significantly, I found myself missing going rowing and kayaking, in the cool morning air, on the lakes near Cluj.
Although we have our own inflatable kayak, I was eager to see how the new rigid kayaks, bought by Alex to organize Kayak Trips, behave on the water. I wanted to try them as soon as possible. I also wrote about Alex on the recommendations and ideas page.
By that time, it had been many months since we had physically met with our colleagues. Up until that point I hadn’t got the chance to meet the new members of our team. In addition to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, I had been out of the country for some time, so we were seeing each other only online.
A nice thing about the kayak trips organized by Alex is that you can organize an event with a group of friends. As there are some people in our team who are passionate about adventure and outdoor activities, the idea arose to meet and go kayaking. We found a weekend in which everyone willing to come was in Cluj, we talked to Alex, so that he was available, and we decided to go, for a start, on Tarnița Lake.
It's Saturday morning. We meet at 7 o'clock at the end of Tarnița Lake. We chose the morning hours for several reasons. One of them was to enjoy a smooth lake. In the early hours of the morning there are high chances that the wind is still, so the water looks like a mirror. It's a very beautiful sight! Another reason is the silence. Fortunately, there are no more boats with noisy engines on the lake, but on the weekends there is loud music coming from the cottages on the shore, and we don't necessarily want to hear it. In addition, we have taken into account the announced heat wave, and we want to paddle in the coolness at least at the beginning. Last but not least, a summer rain is announced in the afternoon, so we would like to have the tour completed by then. And we almost succeeded.
After the necessary training and after getting into the Spray Skirts, we took the kayaks on the water and embarked.
Some of us have been kayaking before. We know what to expect and enter the water confidently. For some, however, it is the first nautical experience. The ones that don’t know how to swim and are not familiar with big stretches of water, need an extra dose of courage to get into the kayak. Although we have life jackets and we have been told how difficult it is to turn over in a smooth lake, the kayaks are not made to be stable, but fast. And this requires a bit of accommodation time.
The courage of those who overcome their fear is to be appreciated, as they are coming out of the comfortable area of the shore paddling (and trembling). Alex helps us on this side as well. As soon as a person enters the water, while he/she is still close to the shore, he "shakes" the kayak a little. By this, the kayaker sees that the kayak does not overturn so easily, despite its unstable appearance. Then Alex teaches us how to sway gently helped by our hips, in order to gain even more confidence in our movements. Of course, we are also informed about the gestures that must be avoided.
Finally we start. We take a conversational pace. We paddle, talk and admire. Soon everyone becomes comfortable with the kayak and we go without worries and without fear.
In the first part the lake is narrow, and we slide as if through a green corridor. The sun is still not high enough, so we are sheltered in the coolness of the forest. In front of us, the water is a mirror. And it's quiet. It’s awesome! It is superb!
I'm a bit sorry I didn't take out my phone earlier to take some pictures, but it's OK to stick with the memory of the moments only in our minds from time to time.
As we paddle, the lake begins to widen. Soon we pass the "Peninsula" zone and a beautifully landscaped shore, where parties and events take place.
We soon reach the intersection with the Râșca arm. This is the middle point of Tarnița Lake. It is the place where we see the largest surface of the gleaming water. The lake opens in three directions. In the back is the arm where we came from. On the left is the Râșca Arm, which also brings a significant volume of water. And on the right the two join, and the lake continues to increase in width and volume until the dam. (There is a map at the end of the story)
We are not alone on the lake. From the other direction come other kayaks, small, rowing in rows. It's good that there are no noisy motor boats that overturn you when they pass close to you, speeding carelessly.
We take the left, on the Râșca Arm, then left again, in a beautiful bay, and we stop to take a lunch break. It's 10:45 and we've been rowing for more than three hours, which passed unbelievable quickly.
After snacking and resting, we prepare to get moving again. For the second part of the route we exchange places. There are several types of kayaks, and we are reorganizing, so that those who want to can try another model. In this way, those who have come up to this point in a two-person kayak have the opportunity to see what it is like to paddle alone. And after switching from the single person kayak that I used until now, I see that it's not really easy to steer a double kayak.
We continue to advance on the Râșca Arm. We reach the end, where we have to go around the muddy shore, not to get stuck. In the end, our attention is drawn to a small but beautiful waterfall in the woods.
Then we see some rocks, which appear on Google Maps under the name Râșca Canyon. Next to them, the Râșca river flows into the lake. The water level is high, so we head up the river to explore. Alex says he's never been there either, so it's a new place for everyone.
Rowing on a fast and narrow river is different from rowing on a lake. Here we must be careful not to hit the rocks. We have to be careful getting around the fallen branches. And we need to focus seriously on steering, otherwise we might just end like the Evergreen ship in the Suez Canal.
We pass by the small canyon, and in front of us the valley opens a little. We have a smooth shore, which invites us to a break, and we accept the invitation.
It's beautiful here, but time passes and we still have a few good Kilometers to paddle. Specifically, the entire route back to the end of the lake.
We start slowly. We enjoy every moment. We are glad that the sun is hiding behind the clouds and there is some shade. We are not in a hurry. But there is one thing we forgot: the weather forecast for the day. In addition, we begin to feel our arms getting a little tired.
As we leave the Râșca Arm and turn right towards the end of the lake, we see in front of us a dark sky. We have nothing else to do, we have to go forward in the direction of the stormy clouds, because that's where our cars are. All we hope is that we get to them before the rain starts.
You don't realise how hard you can paddle until you hear the thunders. We are speeding towards the cars, but the route that seemed very short in the morning, now feels as if it does not end.
The clouds continue to gather. From time to time the whole valley vibrates with the sound of a thunder. The wind intensifies and roars restlessly through the trees by the lake. We continue to paddle.
Under normal conditions we would not have had the energy to paddle so fast for such a long distance, at the end of a tour. But now we have a real motivation. We want to escape the imminent rain.
We can almost see the end of our route when big and cold drops of rain start to cool us down. The first ones are welcomed, but more and more of them follow. However, we are so close that we don't stop to put our raincoats on.
I realize that after you have lost all hope of getting to the car dry, you see the rain with different eyes. Whoever went through a similar experience knows how spectacular it is to admire the rain in the middle of the lake. It's amazing!
A few more through the cold rain, and we reach the shore. Victory!
We mobilize to quickly gather the kayaks, still feeling the adrenaline pumping in our bodies. Those of us who have dry clothes put them on. Then we take shelter in cars, say goodbye, and head home.
It was a great tour. We enjoyed together the water and the exercise, we overcame our fears, we fulfilled our desire to go kayaking, and, in the end, we overcame our own selves.
I liked the description that Alex wrote in the Facebook post:
Last weekend I had a team-building trip reserved for a company from Cluj, on Tarnița Lake.
We were asked to start not at 10:00 as usual, but at 6:50 at the meeting place. So, we met around 7:00, we did the training and in 15 minutes max we got in the water.
Our friends were very receptive, and those who were quite scared at first, 10 minutes after entering the water, were able to relax and enjoy the experience.
Tarnița had a higher water level than usual and we were about to go kayaking through the forest. But we preferred to paddle on the Râșca arm, and due to the high water level, we managed to go up the stream far enough to put our newly acquired kayaking skills to test.
We enjoyed a beautiful Saturday, and what surprised me a lot was that people exchanged kayaks with each other like in a real family: "I want the double one, I want the simple one, I want to try the faster one" or "I'm willing to give up a single one for a double one, but I don't necessarily want to." And so on.
We were a real team and we had unforgettable moments!
And I especially liked Corina's comment, in which she describes the experience. She allowed me to mention this in the story, so I put it here. I don't think I could find a better ending for this adventure.
I also want to share my story about self-overcoming ... I chose that day to return on the route back alone in a kayak and I was happy to see how easy it responded to maneuvers, how cool it is to go wherever you want, however you want and however fast you want ...The freedom and being able to take things into your own hands is incredible. That was in the beginning ... 🙂 then came the last hour on the route ... when my body started to show that it was exceeding its limits, but how can I give up? 🙂 Colleagues and Alex were all the way with me. God, how good it is to set off together and not just alone! It was getting harder and harder ... Emilian kept telling me stories 🙂 Alex was checking if I can go on. He was probably mentally preparing the tow rope. But I went on. And the wind and the rain started in the last hundred meters. I was behind Alex on the way left by his kayak to have as little opposed force as possible. But alas, wind and rain! I reached the shore, at the end, shouting with my remaining energy and being motivated by a calm Alex, glad that I had arrived safely and that I had not given up. It was incredible!
Til next time!