I went kayaking and it wasn’t bad at all.
I have my list of things to buy and some observations that have been committed to memory. I’ll start with the things to buy.
- Fingerless gloves. My hands are wrecked. Blisters, galore. Much of that is because I am positive I don’t have the proper paddling technique down. I was using more arm strength the first half and upper body strength the second half. I was also gripping the shit out of the paddle. I didn’t have any kind of float for the paddle, it wasn’t secured to the kayak, there were gators, I was scared i’d drop it. No shoreline lol. Thick, dense woods full of brush. I was in flip flops. If I lost my paddle, i’d be fucked.
- Something to secure the paddle.
- Something to tether the kayak. I brought along the straps that I used to secure it to the roof. I had to stop because I was completely exhausted. So I hooked the strap around a tree and sat on the other end.
- A proper rack for my car. I have an older model Acadia so the roof rack system for that is expensive as fuck. I didn’t want to go balls to the wall and drain our checking account to buy all kinds of shit in one go. I know better, now. It’s a must. It took WAY too long getting it secure and I was paranoid as shit about it flying off the roof. It was just a cheap, $50 system to get me by on until I get a proper one. Which, I will definitely be getting before my next excursion. I don’t have time for that bs lol.
- A rolling mechanism for the roof to guide the kayak on when i’m mounting it. I managed to get it on just fine when I loaded it before I left. It was a bitch but I did it. Coming back, however, was a different story. My arms were like jello. A guy that was out there fishing saw me struggling and though I told him I had it, he knew I did not have it. I mean, I could have gotten it, I wouldn’t have left my fucking kayak there lol, you’d be surprised at what you’re capable of when you have no other options. But luckily, he was an option. Thankful for that. As he was walking over to help, two guys on four-wheelers came racing to try and help me haha. I really don’t even know if men are actually that helpful or if it was because I looked like a “damsel in distress.” I wasn’t in distress. I am a strong, independent woman, don’t need no man. There were also a couple of guys getting onto a little boat when I got there and they helped launch me off. Again, I didn’t need their help but sometimes you just have to accept help so as not to offend people lol. I told them it was my first time going alone and they told me where to go and what to avoid and that they’d be out there fishing if I needed help. One of them asked if there was room for two on my kayak. I should have told them, “Yeah, me and my fucking snacks. Scram.” But aside from that, they were really nice. I ran into them a couple of times while I was out there and we talked about the gators.
- A trolley for the kayak. They said it weighs 57 lbs but they LIE. They lie. If it is 57 lbs, it’s an awkward 57 lbs. Nearly impossible to carry on my own. I’m serious. It was painful and I have the fucking scrapes and bruises on my legs to prove it:
Big ups for murky bathwater. (yes, baths are therapeutic for me so I will just lay there for an hour, browsing on my phone. Not weird, at all. Maybe a little.)
Those marks are from A) the kayak knocking against me as I tried to muster up every bit of strength I had to lift it off the damn ground, by myself, and hoist it up onto the roof. BRUTAL. And B) from just kneeling on jagged concrete to hook the straps under the car. Could have put something down to protect them. Too damn lazy.
That’s all i’ve got right now as far as absolute necessities go.
- The biggest threat I could see facing is exhaustion. Paddling downstream is so deceptive. When you have to paddle back upstream against the wind, it’s brutal. There were times when I felt like I wasn’t moving, at all. I don’t have a lot of upper body strength anymore and it definitely showed, today. If it takes you an hour to get to your destination, you should assume it will take twice that amount of time to get back. At least, for me it did. Maybe as I get out more and build my arm muscles it won’t be as bad. But, as a rule of thumb, I know that I should probably not paddle down stream past the point of getting tired. If I start getting tired, I need to go ahead and turn back around so I have plenty of time to get back before it’s dark. For that reason, I guess I really should add “whistle” and “flashlight” to the list of gear to take.
- Gators don’t care about you when you’re in a boat. I know people are really scared of them, rightfully so, but they’re not going to charge you and flip your boat lmao. They could even swim right by you and still not be any sort of threat. Maybe if you were dumb enough to take your barking little Yorkie with you or raw steaks or something lol. But they don’t really care about what you’ve got going on. I saw like 5 while I was out there. I turned around when I saw the big ones. I was already getting tired and I didn’t want to take my break next to some big ass gators.
- Every time i’ve been on a small boat in the water, i’ve dealt with spiders. When you post up next to a tree, well, there you go. Spiders fall into the boat. I’m not scared of spiders, they don’t bother me at all. I just flick them away or just let them be. But if you were scared of spiders, beware. If my sister were stuck in a boat with a spider, I imagine she would flip the boat.
- Sunburn. Yes. You’re stationary in the boat. You’re sitting there just roasting. I am so burnt. Sunscreen, for sure.
- If you want to take video, you should get a go-pro and a mount. Can’t paddle and hold your phone at the same time.
Those are just some of the things I realized while I was out, today. It was serene. No noise. Absolutely beautiful. I imagine it would be amazing to go out in the early, early morning or at sunset. I’ll have to get a little more experience under my belt before I venture out late in the evening, though.
The biggest observation I have is that people are fucking way too paranoid. As long as you have common sense, you should be fine. I knew to turn around when I started getting a little tired. I wanted to keep going, I felt like I didn’t get to see enough. But I knew it was going to be a bitch paddling back. If I were stupid, I would have kept going and I would have been screwed. I am also in the woods enough to know that everything looks the same. It’s not like being on a road and having landmarks to help you navigate. Sure, there are some interesting looking trees and what not but they tend to blend in when they’re surrounded by more trees lol. They aren’t reliable landmarks. The dinosaur on Beach Blvd. is a reliable landmark. That fallen tree with the cool fungus on it is not. So I wouldn’t be keen on taking little detours or whatever. Especially not alone. I get lost all the time out at the Suwannee and i’ve been there a LOT. And there’s trail markers lol. And signs. Lord. Yeah, I wouldn’t do any exploring off the main trail unless I was with someone who knew it, well. Also, I know my upper body strength is shit so i’m not going to explore rivers with strong currents just yet. I’ll stick to the small, easygoing creeks, for now. There’s plenty of them. I already have my next adventure in mind. I want to get more experience so I can paddle the Suwannee to the river camp and go on a solo kayaking/camping/fishing adventure. That would be so much fun. There is no better therapy than being outdoors. Period. In fact, i’m getting outside tomorrow and cleaning up the backyard so I can go buy a hammock. Lazy afternoons, sweet tea, hammock, and a good book. Yes. This world is awesome.
Gonna buy a fishing pole tomorrow. Gonna catch some fish. Gonna clean and fillet some fish. Gonna fry up some fish. Because, Florida. I can do that, too. Betcha.