Archive for July, 2008

Mainely Kayaking

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

I recently spent 11 days kayaking along part of the Maine Coast – with a little trip planning help from Dave Mention of the Maine Island Trail Association and Nancy Moore, a paddling instructor from Madison area with family ties to Maine. My intent is to post several entries highlighting parts of the trip. Though, I often have great intentions that don’t always pan out!

I launched from Old Quarry Ocean Adventures on Deer Isle (near Stonington) and headed out into gorgeous, sunny weather without much wind. Old Quarry is in a great little spot on Webb Cove. They have a small store, some great campsites and, of course, a good all-tides launching area with a place to park my car for an extended time. They rent kayaks and do tours, and also have sailing, cruises, and hike and bike activities on some of the surrounding islands. A great business.

I spent several days in the Merchant Row area, the highlight of which was paddling around Isle au Haut. A large portion of this island is part of Acadia National Park. The southern part is exposed, and was really the only open ocean paddling I did – otherwise I was in waters offering at least some protection from the ocean swell. The scenery here reminded me of parts of the North Shore of Lake Superior. In fact, I bet if I swapped pictures between groups of slides, no one would no the difference! There are boreal forests on most of these islands – as on the North Shore of Superior. I also did a day of hiking on Isle au Haut, disappointed because where I hiked offered limited (or no) views of the surrounding ocean and islands. But, pretty none-the-less.

Stopped back at Old Quarry to drop off garbage and take a shower before heading out again, going counter clockwise around Deer Isle, through Eggemogin Reach and spending several days exploring areas East of Deer Isle.

I had great, sunny weather the first 1/2 of the trip. Then, some rained mixed in later on. But, mostly at night and always after I had camp set up, so that was OK. The last 2 days offered classic foggy Maine paddling – good thing, or I wouldn’t have felt like I was in Maine!

Overall, it was nice to see a new area. Good practice with fog and navigation and tide charts etc. Best part is just getting away from the hubbub of the modern world for a few days. Paying attention to the world – sunrise and sunset, the phases of the moon, the times of the tide, the sounds of the birds and the wind and the rain on my tent, the height of the swell, the feel of the currents. All narrowing my focus to appreciate the world in my immediate vicinity – while simultaneously giving me time to read and relax and let my mind wander and ponder anything at all.


Nancy Update

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

I haven’t heard much from Nancy with everything going on. She posted the following on the local paddling groups email list but otherwise my assumption is she is paddling around with a rocket tube on the Maine coast.


I am visiting my parents in Tonawanda NY, between Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Though I was in a canoe on the Niagara with my Dad as a kid, I have never kayaked there. So, I took the opportunity the other day to do a 13 mile stretch from Downtown Buffalo (beginning on Lake Erie), ending in Tonawanda. I, of course, stayed well above the falls! Below is a link to the map of the river. It is not recommended to go North of Grand Island / Navy Island (the small island to the northwest of Grand Island) in any kind of boat.

I haven’t found an official report on river currents in the area where I started the paddle. Somewhere said 15 Knots, another place 7 to 12 mph. The latter seems correct. The river widens around Grand Island, and the currents are less, though still very significant. Here is a quote which tells a bit of why… “Although only about 34 miles long, unlike most other rivers which begin as tiny streams, the mighty Niagara is created when a tremendous volume of water draining from the upper great lakes is squeezed into the narrow one-half mile wide river bed and begins its rush toward the Falls and Lake Ontario.” Not to mention a drop of well over 300 feet along the course of the river (mostly at the falls). The currents and eddies around the peace bridge and international railroad bridge are pretty wicked. Below is a link to a video of this area (not mine).

It took me 2 1/2 hours to go 13 miles – with not very hard paddling! I also had a nice tail wind. I wished I had timed myself between the 2 bridges, where the current it fastest – but I did the 2 1/4 miles in less than 20 minutes. Not a bad pace! I turned to pace upstream at one point, but it is very disorienting for me in those currents, and I was afraid of getting motion sick, and since by myself didn’t play very long.

Anyway… happy paddling back in the UP!



Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Well it has been a while, much has happened and our blog went dark.

First off I got waylaid by some sort of virus that canceled about half of the Bay Cliff kayak program by keeping me flattened for a week. Still recovering with about 70-80% energy. Worse is a pretty challenging bad attitude. Summer just is not a time to be sick…

Workload has been heavy making free time scarce. Worked the Door County Symposium and the Grand Marais symposium in addition to classes, private lessons and massages. Today is the first day since June 22 that is a full day off without being a sick day.

Then we got hit by some hackers that took down all our online stuff with the photo gallery is still offline. Looks like they came in thru our website host.

Needless to say I’ve canceled my trip from Terrace Bay to Wawa. My fitness isn’t back to do a trip of that length. Looks like I will be doing some time around the Keweenaw Peninsula. Right now a remote wilderness campsite where I can sit, have an evening campfire and do some low key paddling and hiking sounds right. I do need to build myself back up for the fall course of workshops and of course shake off this bad attitude, no matter how much fun it brings being crabby! :)


The Kickapoo River

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

After paddling with the Rutabaga and WI gang, I headed further west to visit friends in Richmond Center. When listening to all the news recently about the mid-west floods, my brain didn’t connect this part of Wisconsin with the floods. But, indeed, all the rivers in the area flooded, including the Kickapoo River, where we chose to paddle. Click here for a CNN story. My friends, thankfully, live on very high ground and were not effected – though Rachel’s garden compost was washed down the hill several times before she actually got the compost to stay and the plants in the ground!

On Monday, Rachel and I took the canoe and the kids and headed to the Kickapoo Valley Reserve (click for photos of the flooded river) to paddle from bridge 7 to 10. In contrast to the cold, windy, threatening weather of Sunday, it was sunny and calm. A perfect day to paddle. As we drove, we went over roads and bridges that, not long ago, had been under water. Hard to imagine this little river flooding such a huge area. But, the signs of debris way up in the trees was hard to miss.

The Kickapoo is a gorgeous valley with areas of steep cliffs, a few small caves, and lots of mud. This section of the river had been cleared of major debris so it was safe to paddle, though other parts of the river remained impassible. I realized I am not as proficient in the stern of a canoe in current as I would like to be… it is different steering from the back of the boat, and having a blade only on one side. I have a much better idea of how a boat responds when I am in the middle… and can switch sides a bit easier. If I ever wanted to do river canoing, I sure could use some lessons! Overall, a very fun day.


A Mad Weekend

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

I spent the weekend in Madison, Wisconsin helping with an open house sponsored jointly by Rutabaga and Wilderness Inquiry (WI). The open house was geared toward helping folks with disabilities explore the possibilities paddling offers. Rutabaga is not only a large paddlesports shop, but has a huge instructional program and in recent years has been actively promoting paddlesports for people of all abilities. Wilderness Inquiry has been around for several decades, promoting adventure travel for all ages and abilities. They began with paddling trips in the boundry waters, and have expanded to 4 seasons of trips all around the world.

Rutabaga brought a huge trailer full of canoes and kayaks, while WI brought three voyager canoes. Despite a cool, overcast and very windy day with threats of rain, over 75 people came out to paddle. I was pretty impressed. I am sure more would have come had it been a nice day. But, I figure any weekend where folks are introduced to paddling is a good weekend! For more photos, click here.