Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Adventure: Rock Gardening (it has nothing to do with dirt)

I have peripherally been paying attention to a kayaking activity called "rock gardening", which, like most things in the water, is much more advanced on the west coast then it is here in the east. However, I have run across some indications that could change. The general idea of rock gardening, as a kayaking sport, is to paddle on, over, around, between, and through rock formations on the coast or in open water. As you might imagine, this is probably not a good idea for the beginner, and could be highly dangerous if you didn't know what you were doing. That being said, the folks who do know what they're doing sure make it look like fun. 

I have noodled around rock formations a little bit, in a very conservative fashion - mostly because I've been by myself. This sport is something you would want to attempt only with like minded and experienced paddlers. A helmet is a must, and a solid roll will likely be required. My go to video on the subject is a group of rock gardening, and otherwise adventurous California kayakers who call themselves Neptune's Rangers. These folks look like they have a blast - and frankly, they have some serious backbone to play in the environments where they paddle. They also appear to have a ton of specific knowledge and great camaraderie - and (inspirational to me, anyway), they're not kids. Some of the folks on video appear to be well into middle age. I can only hope to maintain their sense of adventure and playfulness as I see the north side of 50.   

Here's a fantastic video of them doing their thing...


As you can see, they make rough water paddling look like it's second nature - they're completely at home in gnarly California coastal conditions. Kudos also to their video editor Roger Smith. He does a great job emphasizing the excitement. You can check out their website for fantastic advice on equipment and technique. 

As for us laggards here in the east, I did at least run across a very nice blog post on a first time rock gardening trip near Buzzards Bay in northern Rhode Island. This was written by Johna Till Johnson who describes her rock gardening adventure with Osprey Sea Kayak.

Here's a link to her full post - Where the Wild Rocks Are: Rock Gardening in Rhode Island   

So, if you're an experienced paddler and have a friend or two with similar inclinations, maybe rock gardening is a kayaking adventure you can try. Just be as safe as you can, do your research, learn some technique, and then, have an adventure. Who knows, maybe I'll see you there 😏.

- TB on the Water    

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