by Phil Rowe
Many years ago, while living in the Spokane, Washington area, I was fortunate to have a friend with a sailboat. He was always looking for somebody to go out sailing with him, for two people were far better than one in handling that Star Class racing boat. Nearby Coeur d'Alene Lake in Idaho's northern panhandle was a terrific place to sail.
So it was not surprising that years later, when I'd taken up the sport of sea kayaking, Coeur d'Alene once again beckoned. It's a magnificent body of water in a terrific mountain setting. The scenery is hard to beat, a delightful place to sail or paddle.
A KOA campground on the northeastern arm of the lake made a convenient place to stay and launch my boat. They tiny dock and waterfront area is suited only to small boats, canoes, kayaks and perhaps rowboats with outboard motors. You have to snake your way down a channel, through reeds and a marsh, to get to the main body of the lake. My kayak was just the ticket for that. It's lots of fun to weave in and out of those reed-lined channels, where waterfowl, frogs and fishes are hiding. With a stealthy kayak or canoe you get to see the wildlife up close.
Once out onto the main part of the lake one has to be aware of the winds and other boat traffic. The winds, in that north-south oriented lake, can cause pretty high waves, especially when it comes from out of the south. I can handle two-foot waves with whitecaps handily in that ocean-going boat, but when the waves get much higher I become concerned and head for shore. And besides, paddling in heavy winds and waves is more work than fun.
On my last visit the winds were light, so paddling and exploring was fun. Though I limited my travels to the north end of that huge lake, I was satisfied and thoroughly pleased with the chance to paddle Idaho's magnificent Coeur d'Alene lake. You ought to try it.
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