Kayaking on the Hudson

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hudson River Trip - Day 2

Day 2
After paddling against the current on our first day, we all elect to get up early and paddle with the current and at slack tide (no current either way).  The sun and hot temperatures are gone.  It is cool and overcast.  We suspect that rain is coming, but there is nothing we can do about it as we shove off into the early morning mist.

Paddling a fully loaded kayak is nothing like paddling an empty one.  You would think that a fully loaded boat would be very slow and hard to paddle, but the reverse is true.  The first few strokes are tough, but once you get up to cruising speed, the weight creates its own forward momentum.  The average paddler moves at 3mph.  We are averaging 5mph.  We are paddling hard, and making great time. 
Russ & Dave paddling toward the Rip Van Winkle Bridge

Usually, kayaks stay far out of the shipping channel and hug the shore line.  It is much safer to stay out of the way, especially on the Hudson where football field sized barges are common.  But in order to catch the current and make time, we are paddling out in the center—right in the shipping lane.  It feels strange at first, but partly because of the time of day and partly because it is before Memorial Day, there is almost no boat traffic.
To get a sense of scale, I photographed this barge just before it passed Russ.  Can you see him in the photo?  He's the tiny bump on the water just off center below the trees.

Our destination today is Saugerties, 22 miles downriver.  The farthest any of us has ever paddled in one day is 22 miles.  Today we will match that.  The next three days, we will exceed it.  At least, we will try.

During a rare break in the paddling, we watch as an immature bald eagle swoops down at a goose who is sitting calmly on the water.  Just as the eagle is about to grab the goose, the goose dives under the water.  This diving and bobbing goes on for a few minutes, then another eagle joins in and they both dive at the goose.  Eventually one of the eagles catches a fish and they both lose interest in the goose as a third eagle (all them immature) flies out from the woods and the three of them fight over the fish.  Just as we are paddling off, the pair of mature eagles flies up to complete the family.  Five bald eagles at once!
The lighthouse at Saugerties greets us when we arrive.

We arrive in Saugerties early afternoon and five minutes after we set up our tents, it starts to rain.  We walk into to town and have lunch at a local restaurant and it rains hard.  We spend the afternoon at the Saugerties library, bookstore, ale house and local restaurants.  It was a good paddle, our tents are dry and we are well fed.  But we all realize that tomorrow we will be paddling in the rain.

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