The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Great Kayak Adventure -- Caught Between the Tide and a Monsoon

Just sit right back and read this tale, the tale of a fateful trip. Back in December at the Bike Club's holiday party, I was one of eight ride leaders that won a special “mystery prize.” The prize was a gift certificate for a “kayak adventure” from Hudson Valley Outfitters in Cold Spring. On Saturday morning August 2, 7 castaways, oh I mean ride leaders set out for a 3 hour tour of Constitution Marsh.

After getting “fit” for our kayaks and a few minutes of instruction, we were ready to put our ship, oh I mean kayaks in the water. I very casually mentioned the possibility of a thunderstorm, and was told by the fearless crew, oh I mean kayak guides, not to worry. They would know what to do in the event of bad weather and I should just have a good time.. I was assured that the thundering noise I was hearing was not thunder, but artillery at West Point.

Entering Constitution Marsh via kayak requires passing underneath the railroad bridge. There is not very much clearance, and this is highly dependent upon the tides. But obviously the Professor, oh I mean Matt the kayak guide, had knowledge of the tide schedule and we entered the Marsh. Even on a cloudy day, my first impression was of the overwhelming beauty of the marsh—the tall grasses, the beautiful flowers and the calls of the birds. As we paddled along, it started to drizzle, but it was actually quite pleasant and we moved along through the channels in the marsh. A few minutes later, we heard thunder. Very clearly thunder and not artillery at West Point. The 3 guides had a brief conference and decided we should make our way to the Audobon Center just in case we needed to get off the water. At this point the tide was coming in and getting back under the bridge to get back to Cold Spring was not really an option.

Guess what happened next, my friend. The weather started getting rough, VERY rough. It was becoming obvious to the crew that we were not going to get to the Audobon Center quickly enough and that we needed to get off the water. The kayakers set ground on the shore of this unchartered piece of Constitution Marsh. We disembarked; over the rocks, between the large tree limbs and through the poison ivy patch. One or two people fell out of their kayaks, but it was warmer in the water than standing in the now torrential downpour. If not for the courage and fast acting guides, the kayakers would have been lost! We spent the next 20 minutes huddled together in a very small clearing along the shore, waiting for this monsoon to pass. But it did pass, and we were able to get back in our kayaks. Most of them were now little floating bathtubs. We continued on our journey and made our way to the Audobon Center, where we were able to wring out our clothes, bail out the kayaks, eat our lunches and make a few more analogies to Gilligan’s Island. At this point it was abundantly clear that the monsoon was not going to repeat, and we were given the choice of a ride back to Cold Spring or returning via kayak. All 7 of us proudly got back in our kayaks and we set off. The Marsh was peaceful and cool and quite beautiful and the tide did most of the work, pulling us along. When we got near the railroad bridge, the guides had us practice crouching in our kayaks to make sure we didn’t get bonked in the head. We all made it under the bridge and back to Cold Spring. You can be sure that all 7 of us will be at the Holiday party in December, hoping that our names are pulled out of the bag for another Great Kayak Adventure!!

1 comment:

Dee said...

Sounds like a fun (but scary) trip. I just bought a cheap kayak from Academy. I took it to my boss's pool to test turning it upside down. I got in the deep end and did this. I did not know the entire kayak would fill up with water. It was still floating, but no room for me in it. I will now take something with me to bail out water, but I will be extra, extra careful not to tip that kayak over!