I grew up in an area of the world that had two seasons: green (for two months) and brown (for ten months). No seasons per se, just variations in temperature from almost warm to blazingly hot. In any case, the weather didn't affect what I did.
The problem with living in the upper Midwest is that we tend to get cabin fever for the seasons that follow. We love spring, but we're already looking for dates when we don't need the fleece. In summer we may pine for the cooler, crisper days of autumn. Late autumn finds us begging for snow. In winter we are sick of slush and we want spring.
It's that last category that can be dangerous for paddlers. We all love days in April where it's 70 degrees and partly cloudy with a light breeze that carries the scent of life into your nostrils. The problem is that the water is not 70 degrees. In some places, there's a good chance that the water running down your favorite river was ice or snow a few days previous.
Still, paddling in the spring is fantastic. Rivers that are unpaddleable most of the year are flowing high and the bugs are still trying to figure out what they're supposed to do. With the trees just budding out, birds are visible from the water. Spring wildflowers dot the banks.
Like all activities, it's about minimizing risks. Two things will get you into trouble here: high water levels and low water temperatures.
Read the entirety of Darren Bush's advice for avoiding trouble while spring paddling in the April 2013 print edition of Silent Sports magazine. To order copies or subscribe, call 715/369-3331.