I had plenty of other things I needed to do today, but paddling 10 miles and biking 15 sounded like a better idea! I hit the road at 6 a.m. and headed down to the Eastern shore of Virginia – Hacksneck to Morley’s Wharf. Winds were predicted to be 5-10 knots out of the NE so I decided to paddle from north to south. Here’s the path I took:
I drove to Hacksneck first, unloaded my kayak and locked it to a fence. As I unloaded my gear, I realized my trusty dry back had a giant hole it in! The bottom was falling out and nothing could possibly stay dry in it. I needed the stuff in it (first aid kit, extra sunscreen, multi-tool, etc.) so I stuffed it in one of my dry hatches instead.
I had paddled north from Hacksneck last year for my first official paddle for my gig with Virginia Water Trails, but this time I paddled south for me (not for any kind of work – nice change of pace!).
After dropping off my kayak, I drove to Morley’s Wharf. I parked my car, unloaded my bike, and set out on the 15 mile journey back to Hacksneck. I’m not a strong cyclist. And I honestly haven’t ridden my bike lately at all, except for 1-2 miles around the neighborhood with Patrick. I was dreading the 15 mile ride. None of the back roads had wide shoulders, and there were even some small hills. But I did it with no problem! Well, except for a really angry pit bull tearing across a field towards me, but he luckily couldn’t keep up with me! But I did scream – hah. I’m not a huge dog person. I’ve always been a little anxious around hyper dogs that I don’t know. And that dog looked hyper and MEAN.
Anyway, I felt accomplished even before I got in my kayak, since I finished the bike ride. Once I got to Hacksneck, I swapped my bike for my kayak, and got ready to hit the water. And that’s when I realized I had left my VHF radio in my car. This was going to be a pretty remote paddle with likely little cell signal, so not having the radio had me second guessing everything. But I decided to go ahead and launch without it.
The first 2 miles were a bit dicey, despite the wind being at my back. I think the tide was coming in against me, clashing with the direction of the wind. And then add in some random boat wakes and the water was kinda swirly and unpredictable.
But once I got around the first bend of shoreline and turned south, all was well. The wind was at my back, no crazy currents, and I cruised on down the shoreline. This part of Virginia has some stunning sandy beaches. Both right along the shoreline and also several hundred yards offshore. I could see waves breaking off to my west, and those sand bars really provided some nice protection from most of the current coming from the open bay.
I don’t normally take breaks to get out, but I did today for some photo ops. The eroded shoreline and roots in the water were kinda cool looking. And just inland from the beach was a cool marshy/pond area (I didn’t venture into the woods though to see it – probably tick central).
The one overriding thought of this trip was potential storms. I definitely have some anxiety when it comes to being outside and getting caught in a storm. The forecast only said 15% of rain (not even storms), but some of the skies out to the west looked awfully dark, and all the military aircraft in the area kept making me think I was hearing thunder – ugh!
After about 7 miles I entered Occohannock Creek, where Morley’s Wharf is located. I knew the landing wasn’t going to be right at the mouth of the creek, but MAN did the last stretch feel like forever (only 3 miles)! I was paddling against the wind and I was pretty tired from my bike ride and already paddling 7 miles. I was probably less than a mile away from the end when I REALLY started to get hungry. I could feel my blood sugar dropping, I was getting a little shaky, and I was losing strength. I grabbed for my dry bag to grab a snack and then realized it was in my dry hatch behind me! Ugh. No VHF radio, no snacks within easy reach, I really had some major faux pas on this leg! But luckily I didn’t pass out, I stayed hydrated, and I got to Morley’s Wharf safely. I loaded up my kayak, changed my clothes in the super fancy port-o-jon they have there, and then tore into my snacks!
I then drove back to Hacksneck, picked up my bike, and headed home. I might be exhausted now, but I feel accomplished, and it’ll only get easier from here. Peak paddling season is here (I love September and October the most, but I’ll paddle into mid-November, depending on the water temps). I hope to log lots of miles this year!