It’s May 2nd and I finally got my boat in the water for the first time this season! The Chesapeake’s water temperature is just now at 60 degrees, the forecast was 75+ degrees and 5 knot winds – perfectly timed for my day off.
Since I haven’t paddled at all in 6 months, I didn’t want to do anything super long, so I planned a one-way trip around the southern tip of Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge – 5.6 miles of paddling, and 2 miles on the bike, so pretty low-key excursion. What was NOT low-key was the drive there from Ocean Pines! 2.5 hours is the longest I’ve driven to go paddling on Delmarva (definitely drove further for my gig with Virginia Water Trails, but it was long for a day trip on Delmarva).
After dropping Patrick off at daycare, I made the long trek up to Rock Hall. I dropped my bike off at Bogles Wharf and then drove to Ingleside (both landings are within the refuge). Since the water was barely 60 degrees, I changed into my farmer-jane wetsuit before launching.
Although it was kinda overcast and a little foggy, it felt great to be out on the water. The bay was incredibly calm which made for a relaxing paddle. The tide and wind (what little there was) were even with me for a good chunk of the trip. Bald eagles were EVERYWHERE, a few osprey, a few cormorants, and that was about the extent of the wildlife sightings.
By the time I rounded the southern tip, the fog had burned off and the sun came out, however a few times I was sure I heard thunder. A storm never brewed, so it was probably just some large ships in the distance, or construction nearby, but my storm anxiety had me checking the radar on my phone a few times.
Before I knew it, I was at Bogles Wharf, swapping my kayak for my bike. As I was locking up my kayak, a man pulled out of his parking spot, rolled down his window as he was leaving, and said, “Wow! You really know what you’re doing! You crept right up there and I didn’t see or hear you coming!” Umm… okay? Your truck was facing me as I paddled toward you for the last 30 minutes…? Always interesting characters at boat ramps (and sometimes sketchy, which is why I carry pepper-spray and a knife with me!).
From there I hopped on my bike and rode the 2 miles back to my car. I had had plans to change out of my wetsuit, but there were a few people in the parking lot, so I opted not to and rode the 2 miles in my wetsuit! Nobody was parked at Ingleside so I changed there. Once I loaded up my bike, I headed back to Bogles to load my kayak, and I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring some of the trails at the refuge.
I’m glad I didn’t paddle much further. I’m embarrassed to say that I was tired and blisters had started to form on my thumbs. And I got a super sweet sun burn – used sunscreen on my face, neck, and hands, but not my arms when I rolled up my sleeves. Rookie mistake! Gotta get back up to my normal 10-15 mile trips – the winter made me super rusty!
Here’s the path I took: