laura paddles delmarva

Circumnavigating 650+ miles of Delmarva's shorelines

Deal Island WMA to Champ Wharf

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I’m taking two weeks off from work! Yes, you heard me right. Taking some time to burn vacation days, get stuff done around the house, and go kayaking!

Patrick’s first day of Pre-K3 was yesterday so as soon as I dropped him off at daycare (he takes the bus to pre-k in the afternoon), I headed out to Deal Island to paddle.

Once again, I embarked on a one-way paddle and a bike ride back to my starting point, so I dropped my bike off at Champ Wharf first.  It had been over 5 years since I paddled from this spot, but it was still familiar. I then drove down to the boat ramp within the Deal Island Wildlife Management Area to launch my boat.  About two years ago I ended a trip here and biked up to Dames Quarter boat ramp, but I had sort of forgotten the 2+ miles of gravel road, and already started to dread riding my bike over it later in the day.

Anyway, I set out on my adventure.  The weather was perfect. 5 knots and 75 degrees.


After about an hour of paddling, I saw a sandy beach to take a quick break on. I don’t normally take a break just to stretch my legs, but I really wanted to take in the silence of the marsh and bay. I could not hear anything man-made. No boats, not aircraft, no cars. Just the soft breeze and occasional laughing gull in the distance. Plus it was a nice spot for a few photos:

After a few moments of soaking in the view, I hopped back in my boat and continued on.  Once again, thank goodness for my GPS tracker app! I have such a hard time looking at a map, and recognizing what’s what when it comes to marshes and tidal creeks.  If you zoom in on the map, you’ll see a few divots in my path – that’s where I thought I was headed in the right direction, but pulled out the GPS and realized I was going off course and had to correct myself.


Champ Wharf

I finished up the paddle in just under two hours – a total of 7 miles.  The wind did pick up a little out of the NE at the end as I was headed into St. Peter’s Creek, so I definitely got a workout! I felt accomplished when I got out of the water (as always), but I knew my adventure wasn’t over yet!  I had a 10+ mile bike ride ahead of me, I’m not a super strong cyclist, and I was dreading the last 2 miles of gravel!


The first few miles were nice. Back roads, one of them not even maintained by the state, cool old abandoned houses, with plenty of shade and protection from crosswinds. I loved this intersection so much I stopped to snap a pic. If this isn’t a Maryland intersection, I don’t know what is!


And then I entered the main road (363 – Deal Island Road).  And it was not nice. No shade, wind was picking up, trucks driving by me really fast, and it was now HOT! I powered through until I got to Dames Quarter to take a quick break, grab a drink of water, and catch my breath. I figured the worst was behind me – how bad could that gravel road be?

BAD. So, so bad. I was exhausted from paddling and biking, and now my brain was rattling inside my skull with every damn pebble I rode over. Now I know what mountain bikes are for! I had no choice but to keep chugging along and finally I came to the group of trees next to the boat ramp (I couldn’t see the boat ramp because the trees were blocking it). Shew.  Finally, almost there.

And then I biked around the edge of the trees and realized I had OVER A MILE left of the gravel road. The trees I thought I had just passed were WAY far down the road! I wanted to cry.  I could see the glint of sunlight reflecting off my car and it just seemed so far away.  But, I had to keep going, despite having just finished my last bit of water. Nobody was coming out here to save me, that’s for sure.  After a quick break in a tiny patch of shade, I mustered the energy to get through the last stretch. Holy moly. I was slightly sun burned, exhausted, out of water, and now had a throbbing headache from 2.2 miles of biking on gravel. I cranked the AC in my car full blast and nearly collapsed. Once I cooled off and caught my breath, I was able to disassemble my bike, load it inside the car, drive back to Champ to pick up my kayak, and head home.

I had just enough time to unload all my crap, hose down my PFD & paddle, and get a quick shower before picking up my elementary schooler!

How sweet is this boy??

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