Paddle, paddle, paddle – wipe, wipe, wipe – was my mantra during my first kayaking trip. It was my cousin’s idea that we should start kayaking and I am always up for trying something new, especially if it involves the outdoors and exercise. Since it is a water activity, it was even more appealing.
Because of scheduling conflicts and weather related events, we weren’t able to schedule our inaugural trip until early fall. As it turned out, there was hardly anyone camping and very few people on the river, so in a lot of ways, it was the perfect time to go.
Waking up the morning of our eight mile float, we found a perfect day, sunny and not overly hot, but not cool enough to make being on the water unbearable. The meteorologist said rain was on the way, but wouldn’t arrive until late afternoon and we planned to be back long before then.
The big joke of the morning was everyone from the people in the office to the driver of the van asked us if we had our rain gear. We could not understand what rain gear would we need. First, we planned to be back before it began, and second, we would already be wet, why do we need something to keep us dry?
We laughed and chatted in the van on our way upstream where we would set in our kayaks. When we arrived, all four of us (two more cousins came along) dragged our personal boats to the edge of the river and launched ourselves into a fun-filled day. The river was full from all the recent rains, which made the current really slow. Our estimated return time didn’t account for the current, but we just kept paddling along, talking, listening to music, and enjoying the beauty of the river.
We weren’t really paying attention to the time. We were just enjoying the day, stopping to swim or eat or rest, whenever the mood dictated. Then, the rain came.
It wasn’t just a nice fall rain either, it was unrelenting sheets of water from the sky. We kept paddling trying to stay ahead of the thunder and lightning, even though I know to get out of the water and find shelter if you hear thunder. If you can hear thunder, there is lightning and lightning can strike up to ten miles away from the storm.
Paddle, paddle, paddle – wipe, wipe, wipe.
I forgot my hat, so my eyes had no protection from the deluge and I could barely see. The rain gear we needed was perhaps a hat. I will not forget my hat next time. We kept paddling though it seemed we did not make any progress. The river was more like a lake and the rain and wind forced us to keep paddling so we wouldn’t be pushed back upriver.
For two hours the rain fell in huge, unrelenting drops. Several times I felt like we should head to shore and find shelter, but we kept going, slowly maneuvering our kayaks through the water. After two hours of fighting through the weather, it finally moved on and the sun made a welcome appearance. We stopped paddling and floated for a bit, relaxing after working so hard for so long. The river came alive with the rays of the sun and seeing this natural beauty was worth the effort of the last couple of hours.
When we finally made it back, family and campground staff greeted us relieved we returned safely. Talks of sending a search party for us had begun because more than two inches of rain fell in two hours and they worried we might be in trouble. We are all experienced floating in rafts and canoes on the river, but novices in kayaks.
Though it was hard, and a bit scary at times, It was the best first trip. I loved every minute being on the river with my cousins and surviving a storm on the water. It is a kayaking trip I will never forget.
Do you have great stories of your first kayaking adventure? I want to hear about them in the comments!