For years, I’ve said I wanted to learn to canoe/kayak.
Many of my friends did it. Whether for fun or for whatever, they did it. Some even went geocaching with the help of these boats. What a way to find a cache, eh?
Last year, I was at GeoWoodstock when it was in western Pennsylvania. This is the biggest gathering event for geocaching in the world. More than 5,000 people were there. I met a lot of fun people while there and a couple of them convinced us we needed to go do a 5-star terrain cache.
Normally, you would need a boat to do it. But the water was low enough where we didn’t need to, so we walked across the river.
Still, I saw many people on the water that day, just out kayaking and enjoying themselves.
On top of it all, I figured it would be a great way to get some exercise and work different muscles.
I had been in normal paddle boats and power boats before. And I recall a canoe at some point or another. There had never been a kayak.
A few weeks back, I went with my friend Darren. He has several kayaks and got me into one. Let me say that it likely wasn’t the best kayak for me to start with. Within moments of getting out into the river in our town, I flipped and was dunked.
The water felt good, but it still sucked. After all, I figured this was going to be a breeze.
We paddled for a while. I wasn’t having the easiest time with it, but I soon got my balance and was doing OK. We didn’t go too far, though. Maybe a quarter to a half a mile – tops.
The following day, the two of us went again and this time we went about 2 ½ miles. We had to get in and out of the boats a few times because of low water, which kind of made it tough. But I got the hang of it. We went through some light rapids and enjoyed it.
Over that time, Darren had met Brent, a disc golfer and the owner of a local kayak and canoe rental place. I, too, met Brent and I soon realized that the way I was going to learn to get better at this was not just to hop in any old canoe, rather one that fit me both with size and experience.
Two weeks ago, I finally went at it. With another friend, Tavis, and his kids going along (Tavis, like Darren, Is much more experienced on a boat than I am), we went to Brent’s place. (If you are in the Oneonta area and you read this blog, I highly would recommend going to Brent’s place. It’s in Portlandville, his rated are extremely affordable and he has a dock right on the river for you to launch from when you rent a boat).
The main part of the day was spent paddling back and forth near the shop. We’d go up a bit, head back and then wander down river and back up. We did this for an hour or two and it was a nice way to get my feet wet, so to speak.
In reality, water only got into the boat once that day – when a motor boat went by and didn’t mind the no-wake rules. We got caught in a wake and rode it out, but some water came up over.
We went again this past Sunday. Darren and his wife, Jodi, joined us. This time, it was a ride a bit longer – about 1 ½ miles up to a railroad trestle. It was an enjoyable paddle and I was a little more daring. So much so that I took a wet sack from Darren and dared to bring my iPhone with me, thus giving me the chance to take photos.
I’m not brave enough to bring the good camera stuff yet. Maybe sometime, but not yet!
We hung out near the trestle for a bit, enjoying the scenery and the peacefulness. As we started to leave, I kind of broke away from the few of us who had settled back for a bit. I didn’t do this to prove a point, but I wanted to see what I felt comfortable doing while being out by myself.
What I found was one hell of a soothing experience.
The serenity of being out on the water in a kayak is really amazing. The sounds – such as the water being cut through by the front of the boat or the sound as you paddle through the water. Then, if you paddle for a few moments and then just coast, it’s so peaceful to hear the water.
No people. No cars. No phone calls.
Just the sound of the water.
It’s freakin’ awesome.
At times, I’d coast and dip my hands in the water. On a day where it was in the high 80s and the heat beat down on you, little things like that are really nice.
Some of the others dangled their feet over the side of the kayak. I’m not quite that brave yet as I still rock the kayak a little bit when I’m in fully and paddling, so I’ll have to work up to that.
I really think that this is one of the best ways to relax. You can just sit back, relax, listen to nature and enjoy everything around you.
Unfortunately, this won’t be an everyday thing for me.
I can’t afford a kayak of my own right now, so renting is my only option. Even with the affordable prices at the local place, I still have bills to pay and with the current situation, I have to be frugal as possible. I can do it here or there though and I will because I was amazed at how much stress leaves my mind and body when coming down the river.
The best part of this is I know what boat I would like to eventually purchase. Hopefully, it will be sooner rather than later as I truly think this is something I could have fun doing on a regular basis.
There’s also a lot of room for improvement and having a boat would make that easier to accomplish.
I need to feel stable in the boat. There are times when it kind of leans one way or another and I get a little spooked. I think once I get past that, I’ll be more daring to think about bringing my normal camera – though that would also be easier to do once I can afford a sack for the DSLR. Good ones are out there, but they run about $150. I could also get waterproof housing for the camera, but that would cost me upward of $1,500.
I also need to learn a few things about turning and paddling in general, which will come with time.
In the end, I’m quite happy I finally got out paddling. It’s an amazing way to lose stress and get in touch with nature. And, it’s a great way to get some exercise. In this day and age, who can’t use extra exercise, right?
If you’ve never paddled, I’d encourage you to do it. I just wish I had done it long before now as it’s one heck of a fun time!
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