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by Jim Wright  - Las Cruses, New Mexico - USA

We looked out the window at 7:00 Saturday morning January 14th and saw a thick coating of frost on our Toyota Van and wondered if anyone would be coming to the second annual MLK Kayak Regatta.

On the way down to the lake Paul Cook called and said where are you? Pat and I arrived a few minutes later with Dave Stettler close behind. As we were unloading kayaks and gear I was thrilled to see vehicles with kayaks parking around us and starting to unload their kayaks and equipment.

The starting line up!

By 11:00 most people were ready to go. I gathered the group of 17 kayakers together and outlined the day's itinerary. I loved how people listened and followed the day's plan.

Skippers meeting

Before noon 16 kayakers and Dave in his row boat were heading towards Rattle Snake Island. As we got closer we were happy to see there was water covering the road between Rattle Snake Island and the western shore. This enabled us to paddle around the island and go back to Hot Spring landing for an afternoon cookout. As we reached the road to Rattlesnake there was only about six inches of water over it. Too shallow for our kayaks but in a short time a channel was dug with kayak paddles for boats to go through-even Dave's row boat.

Steve Verchinski pulls Ernie through the Rattlesnake Island channel as Dave "the Spotter" waits to go through.

As the day progressed everything only got better. There was a clear blue New Mexico sky over our heads, not the slightest breath of cold air, water as smooth as glass and only the sounds heard were of people having a really good time.

Brian's Dory and kayakers

We even had a visit from Brian Gillis in his beautiful wooden dory to make sure everyone was OK before he took off to go fishing. The trip from Hot Springs Landing and back took about two hours and Pat Wright noticed few people seemed to be in any hurry to get back to shore.

The Grand Finale

We had another pleasant surprise when we got back to the shore. While we were gone Pauli had prepared lunch for everyone. A fantastic meal was the perfect touch for a perfect day. Thank you so much Pauli!

During the feast Monty Kaasch suggested we go to Monticello Boat Ramp for another kayak adventure the next day. People got to the Monticello Boat Ramp promptly at 12:00 on Sunday and Craig set up a table with all kinds of delicious goodies to eat and drink.

Day 2 Monticello Launch Ramp

Afterwards seven kayaks and a homemade canoe went north across the lake in search of the place where the Rio Grande enters Elephant Butte Lake.

The weather was a little windy which made the day seem a bit cooler. Mickie said"today here at the Butte is like the warmest summer day in Alaska." We were out for a couple of hours and I believe everyone left the lake with a feeling of contentment.

Day 2 Starting line up

Special thanks to the Albuquerque and Las Cruces Paddlers for joining us!