Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kayaking The Delaware Day 2

    I woke up at 8am still exhausted from all the paddling into the wind I did yesterday.  I made some coffee and ate a few granola bars.  The wind was still blowing and turned my tent over as I was packing my gear up.  I headed out and paddled by where the Princetonites must have beached their canoes, but they were gone.  For the first hour or so, I had an extremely difficult time keeping my kayak straight.  I don’t know if it was the current, the wind, lack of knowledge or what.  I’ve kayaked and canoed several times before.  I think part of it was that I was near the front of the kayak and my gear was behind me.  I could steer from the front, but sometimes I would paddle as hard as I could on one side and the damn thing would still turn the wrong way.  I had to stick my paddle several feet out and pull in to straighten the boat, but then if I titled it a hair in the other direction, the mysterious forces would cause it to swing in that direction.  Sometimes I could even be going straight, but knew that the thing would turn damn near ninety degrees if I paddled on one side just a hair.
    I was able to take advantage of a few nice downstream currents including a short section of Class I rapids which moved me along swiftly without me having to do much paddling.  I passed a couple blue herons which would squawk loudly while flying away when I got near which I took as their way of saying, “Screw you.”
    Near the end of my journey, the wind coming at me really started to pick up and the last one hundred yards were some of the hardest paddling I’ve done in my life.  I was utterly exhausted when my kayak slid onto the canoe ramp.  I turned in my life jacket and paddle to the canoe rental employee and watched as a young couple entered the water in a canoe, paddled a few times on the left in an attempt to turn right (downstream) only to turn left and begin riding the wind upstream.  Screwed.
       I took my gear down to my car and saw the Princetonites sitting in a circle, some of their gear laid out to dry.  Guess they were waiting for a ride.  There was a ticket on my car.  You’re supposed to pay a fee to get into the beach area and park, but it’s a national recreational area and I have an interagency national park pass which claimed it was good for all recreational areas, so I put the card on my dash.  The writing on the ticket said, “Annual pass not accepted here.  No entrance fee.”  Right, there’s no entrance fee – you just have to pay money before you enter the parking lot.  Gotcha.
    I laid out my wet, dirty camping gear (the ground where I camped was wet) on a large grassy area next to the beach along the river there.  I took off my shoes, socks, shirt and took out everything from my pockets and walked into the cool river.  I got back out and laid out in the sun for the most relaxing hour of my trip.  I was so exhausted from paddling and so glad to be back before I started getting fined that I laid out on the grass and almost fell asleep.  I let all the small worries fade away and didn’t care what time it was at all.  I almost felt as good as when I was a kid at the beach.  I often wonder if it’s possible for adults to ever feel as happy as they were when they were kids.  I was close on that warm afternoon lying in the grass.  I thought about taking a nap, but knew I’d probably get sunburned if I did.
    As I was washing my gear off, I read a sign about how there was almost a dam build on the Delaware River to prevent flooding.  There were protests against it from citizens, but the government began clearing out areas along side the river anyway.  The project went on hold for a while or got delayed for a reason I can’t remember and eventually got turned into a National Recreation Area.
    I picked up some groceries in Stroudsburg, PA and then headed north along a riverside highway.  I wanted to pick up some beer, but only found a place that only sold by the case.  I was too exhausted to go on a beer hunt.  I miss being in a state where even lemonade stands run by six year old girls can sell booze (probably not true).  I got to Dingman’s Campsite at around six and cooked some grilled cheese and tomato soup.  When I walked out of the bathroom from brushing my teeth, this tiny dog ferociously barked at me and even made a few nipping jolts toward me.  Of course the damn thing wasn’t on a leash.  The owner said, “She’s just smellin’ ya.”  I didn’t respond but thought, “If she smells me with her teeth, I’ll smell her with my foot.”  All in all though, I was glad to be back in civilization.


Anonymous said...

Hey Ryan, are you still with us?

Mr. M

texascandler said...

We are enjoying your adventure. Please keep the pics updated.

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