It is New York, early January, 2012, but this winter has been so warm that I am already thinking about getting back on the water. My cross-country skis and snowshoes sit idly, waiting for a snowfall that will never come. I receive an email from my friend and fellow ADK (Adirondack Mtn. Club) member, Jean-Claude. He wants to paddle the Hudson from Albany to New York City and since I have done it before, he wants to get any information I have about possible camping spots and he wants to know if I want to go with him.
The Albany to NYC trip is one of those epic treks that every New York kayaker has on his bucket list. I did it back in 2008 with the Great Hudson River Paddle (GHRP)—an 11 day trip with full ground support. Jean-Claude has something a little tougher in mind. We’ll do it in 6 days with no support. The idea of a bare-bones expedition is too good to pass up and I start training immediately to get into shape.
At our first logistic meeting, about a month later, four of us have assembled. Jean-Claude is the trip leader, but he is counting on the experience of all of the trip participants since he has never done this trip before. Jean-Claude is an old-school, non-technical paddler. He still uses the same gear he bought back in 1989 because he just never saw any need to upgrade. He paddles his trusty old Current Designs kayak with amazing speed and endurance.
Dave is the next to sign on. Dave is an extremely experienced and skillful paddler. His technical ability is eclipsed only by his modesty. He will tell you that he isn’t that good of a paddler, but anyone who has paddled with him can quickly see that he is a very strong paddler with top-notch technical skills. Dave is also our resident expert on Hudson River tides and currents.
Russ is an experienced back-packer and canoeist who added kayaking to his repertoire only five or six years ago. His is by far the most experienced camper among us and whether hiking or paddling, he always lives up to his nick-name- the Energizer Bunny. His endurance is nothing short of legendary.
Then there is me. In most circles, my 18+ years of kayaking experience puts me in the “advanced” category. With these three, I am clearly going to be the weakest paddler. Out of shape and suffering from a host of chronic injuries (the two degenerating disks in my back and the acute tendonitis in both forearms being of most concern), I wonder if I am going to be fit enough to keep up.
At our first meeting, everyone is wondering the same thing. We are planning to launch on May 20, and in the Hudson Valley, the paddling season starts in April. That does not give us much time to reach peak paddling form. But at least we are all in the same proverbial boat.
|A week's gear going into a kayak made for day trips.|
While our proverbial boats may be the same, our actual kayaks differ quite a bit. Jean-Claude’s Current Designs boat is old, but very long and very sleek. Translation= it is fast. Russ is paddling a Night Hawk by Eddlyline—a good choice for this type of trip. With a long water line and plenty of cargo space, he should be fine. Dave and I are facing a bit of a quandary. We each paddle a Romany by NDK. The Romany is an awesome boat, but it is made for day trips and is very small and very slow. I have done trips with this kayak before, but never a self-contained, 6-day trip. Fitting all of the gear, clothing and food for 6 days will be tough.
|I used every inch of space in the Romany kayak|