Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Advice: 5 Tips for Paddling in the Bumper Seasons
Even the swans know it's time for the lakes in late Autumn  

As autumn fades to winter, and colder temperatures arrive in the northeast, the challenge for finding suitable paddling trips gets a bit more complicated. The dangers associated with lower temperatures and less daylight make kayaking an activity that requires more planning and consideration. In that spirit, here's 5 tips for enjoying late autumn (or early spring) paddling:

1. Be aware of the water temperatures. As I have stated in other posts like 8 Tips for Dressing Right for Your Kayaking Adventure and Safety is a Mindset - 10 Tips for Kayaking Safely, you must be aware of, and dress properly for, the existing water temperatures in case of an unexpected immersion. In the autumn, there is some carry over of summer water temp's in the ocean (and in larger lakes), but in the early spring, there is carry over of colder winter water temp's. Either way, the water is going to be colder than in mid-summer, and the ambient air temperature (and maybe wind chill) will be colder too. Find out what the water temperatures are in the areas you are considering, then exclude the coldest options and dress appropriately.

2. Consider Moving Inland. Flat water rivers and lakes are a better option for colder weather paddles, as are salt water marshes that meander far inland. I often save some of these areas that are on my "to paddle" list just for these times of year. You can frequently see active wildlife like migrating birds and deer in the bumper seasons, which is a bonus. There's also the benefit of paddling inland waters when the boat traffic is minimal, if any at all. Add a paddle up a historic river (see my post 5 Tips for Touring a River in a Kayak), and you will have plenty of interesting things to see.

3. Stay Close to Shore. Capsizing far from shore can be dangerous no matter the season, but in the colder weather it can be deadly. Keep close to river banks, islands, or lake edges to give yourself an escape to dry land (or just a rest spot) if it is necessary.

4. Absolutely Bring a Dry Change of Clothes. If you get wet, you will need to get dry ASAP. It could mean the difference between life and death - seriously. You MUST have something dry to change into in case of immersion. I also recommend bringing something to reliably start a fire in an emergency scenario.

5. Wear a Watch. Shorter days will give you much less of a buffer for your return trip, and you want to get back before dark. Darkness will only add another layer of danger to a challenging paddling scenario. Wear a watch, check it often, and head back with plenty of daylight to spare.

You can enjoy serene paddling through beautifully stark landscapes here in the northeast in late autumn. After the leaves fall, vistas open through bare tree limbs that bend and hang like modern sculpture. The angle of the light casts long shadows that ripple under the stroke of a paddle blade, and the still air invigorates as it chills your lungs. The world becomes more elemental, and to me, in some ways more beautiful - as nature dies and sleeps, and waits to be reborn.

Plan for it properly, then you too can slide quietly across its cold smooth waters.

TB on the Water 



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