Longest paddling trip of my life (to date): 16.5 miles (see map near the bottom of this post). Completed on Sunday, September 15, 2013.
Long, painful, and exhausting are all words that first come to mind to describe this paddle. I really shouldn’t be saying that though. When I really start thinking about it, it’s more like peaceful, isolated (in a good way), and accomplished.
Here was the plan: hit the water before sunrise, paddle south for 4 hours or so, and Brian will be leaving work in time to be at Truitt’s Landing around 11:30 to pick me up. I didn’t quite make it by sunrise; I made it in the water maybe 15-20 minutes after sunrise (not bad for getting up so early on my day off). I wanted to paddle alongside Assateague instead of the mainland because I enjoy paddling next to marshes more than farmland, and it just seemed quieter and more peaceful.
As I paddled away from the dock, an older gentleman was launching at the same time, but we were headed in different directions. He asked me where I was headed and I told him Truitt’s Landing. He seemed a little confused and shocked that I was planning to cover such a long distance, but then he said it looked like I knew what I was doing and that I could handle it. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was good encouragement for later on in this adventure!
I passed a few kayakers when I got up next to Assateague. It appeared they were campers in the campground, doing some early morning exploring. I’m starting to notice a trend among kayakers lately (and I saw some coming from the campground). There is this funny demographic of recently retired, seemingly highly educated people out on the water. They purchase really fancy/expensive kayaks, they wear all the fancy, high-end kayaking clothing and accessories (wide-brimmed hat, kayaking gloves, and an explosion of gortex). And they appear to think that kayaking is the coolest way to spend their time and they are overly excited about it. This is all fabulous; it’s good to see these people enjoying their retirement and spending gobs of money on something (in my opinion) worthwhile. However, the thing that bothers me about them? They buy these fancy shmancy kayaks and don’t go for long distances. They just poke around in the marsh and explore small areas (or so I’ve witnessed over the last couple years). I mean, can’t we trade? Not that I don’t absolutely love exploring salt marshes and not that I don’t adore my 12 foot Necky, but seriously. Why do you need a fiberglass boats to explore marsh creeks? Clearly this is a huge stereotype, but I just needed to say it!
Okay, rant over. Back to my 16.5 mile journey!
One of the cool things about Assateague is that they have campsites that you can kayak to. The last people I saw on this trip were on their way back from a campsite. However, even though these people were the last people I would see, I still had 10+ miles to cover at that point!
A little further down the bay, I finally spotted some ponies! When I am driving on Assateague I get annoyed because they cause traffic jams and mobs of silly tourists. But for some reason when I see them in a remote part of the island, it’s really exciting. There were a bunch of them chilling in the marsh but as I got closer to snap some photos, they slowly moved inland so my pictures aren’t that exciting.
I took a quick break to eat a sandwich before heading straight across the bay to Truitt’s Landing. I had it in my head that I was not far from the finish line. I simply had to paddle across the bay, right? No. Wrong. I had to use all the energy in my body and all the motivational thoughts in my head to complete this last section of the trip. The first mile wasn’t so bad (I saw huge jellyfish and a giant sting ray!) but the last 5 miles or so were complete torture. My arms weren’t just tired, I was in pain. When I finally made it next to land, I was extremely relieved. However, I pulled out my phone to check the map and realized it was just a little marsh island and that I still had another 2+ miles or so to go!
The last stretch was killer. I was talking to myself, singing songs, anything to motivate myself and not give up. Even when I saw Brian’s car at the landing, I was 3/4 of a mile away! When I FINALLY pulled up at the landing, I almost started to cry. Not sure if it would have been tears of joy or tears of sheer pain, but I was able to keep my composure. My arms were so sore that I had to sort of roll and shimmy out of my kayak, instead of my normal hoist and hop out!
I had plans to go to the gym the next morning. That sure as hell didn’t happen! But no big deal because seriously, look at this path on the map! Sooo incredibly proud of myself. 16.5 miles completed in 5 hours and 11 minutes. Not bad.
And you know what? Not only was this the longest trip I’ve ever completed, I’ve now officially completed the seaside coast of Maryland in my overall goal of paddling around the entire peninsula. Sweetness.