In 1996 three of us took our first venture into cold-weather paddling. We met early on a Saturday morning with one boat, drove to an outfitter, rented another boat, and spent a beautiful Saturday on the Eleven Point River. That night it started misting rain around 8pm then rained steadily starting about midnight. The temperature dropped as well. Thankfully the rain stopped long enough on Sunday morning to cook, eat, and clean-up breakfast.
The tent seemed to weight a ton as I tossed it the bow of my boat. It rained steadily for about the first 2 or 3 hours of our float that morning. Once the rain ended the temperatures fell more and the wind picked up. By the time we reached our take-out temps were around freezing and it was spitting snow.
The weather didn't dampen our spirits then and we've continued the trip on the same weekend each year, although I now leave on Thursday morning. Over the years we've had average weather, unusually warm weather, and an ice storm. Thankfully the year of the ice we got to camp before it got really bad.
This year marked the first time we've ever cancelled a trip due to weather. Significant snowfall was forecast for our destination, but it looked like we could get there on Thursday with no trouble. The texting started about 5:30am that morning because the weather was coming in more quickly than expected and the snowfall forecast was on the rise. One of the group described it as being "crazy" versus "irresponsibly crazy" in terms of leaving their families with such impending weather. Our destination received enough snow to make the roads quiet dangerous.
At home thought we got nothing. So my usual paddling partner and I headed out for an afternoon on the Missouri. Wind chills were in the low teens at the start our trip and, of course, we had a headwind.
The drip rings on my paddle accumulated ice from the flow of water down the paddle. My gloves and paddle jacket had ice pellets on them. The side of the kayak had a fair bit of ice.
This may have been the coldest temps I've ever been on the water. With the right gear you can stay toasty warm.