From East to West, kayaking’s still the best
by Doris Glykys
Every year, accompanied by my friend John from Kayak East (www.kayakeast.com), I went on a three-day weekend kayaking trip to St. Michaels (http://stmichaelsmd.org). Just a few hours drive from New Jersey, this tiny town offers great paddling opportunities along Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The quaint town has your all-American street, full of cute shops, great restaurants, and a maritime museum not to be missed. Wonderful inns and B&Bs can be found here too, a few with their own private access to the water. We’ve stayed at both the Black Walnut Point Inn (www.blackwalnutpointinn.com) on adjacent Tilghman Island, and at the historic Wades Point Inn (http://wadespoint.com).
The first day after a long drive, a short paddle to meet the new crew is in order. We get all the kayaks set and usually leave for a 2-3 hour paddle launching from the inn. Usually in a few minutes herons, ducks, and bald eagles are all in sight. We feast on the best crab cakes on earth and some local brews from St. Michaels' own microbrewery.
On the second day, after a hearty breakfast we drive the kayaks to a new launch spot by Ferry Cove and paddle to Poplar Island. There are very few boats here and therefore inexperienced paddlers can cross without much danger. Usually every year a few of these paddlers get their first taste of sea sickness, since it is open water with your typical swaying qualities. By the time we are at the island, our eyes become perplexed by the large quantity of bald eagles, especially young ones. One time we counted over seven in the air in less than a minute.
The first time John got off his kayak to explore the island due to nature calling, he quickly came back running as fast as I've ever seen him and yelling to not get out of the kayaks! That is when we saw a cloud of mosquitoes following him and we quickly diverted. John usually has an Englishman, named Phil, as a helper on our tour, and between them the stories, anecdotes and interesting facts regarding wildlife and life in general are endless. Gourmet serve-yourself lunch is one of the best in outdoorsy tourism I have tasted and always ends with Nonni's biscotti!
Many of the paddlers are not used to paddling day in and day out, so usually after the second day, some are pretty tired. We all get back to the inn ready to eat yet another succulent dinner of Maryland seafood, usually in a more laid back place that accepts no credit cards, but piles on high as much crab as I have ever seen, all caught that same day, right outside their door, the Crab Claw (www.thecrabclaw.com).
The last day is usually my favorite paddle. After packing all our gear and saying our farewells to the innkeepers, we set off to Bellevue park where we paddle around large mansions and then do a proper crossing with the Bellevue-Oxford baby ferry. At the end of this crossing is an inlet with more ‘MacMansion’ properties that end at the interesting Oxford Cemetery, visible via the kayaks.
We then have lunch at the end of a boat ramp and John treats us with freshly homemade ice cream, from a Scottish creamery (http://scottishhighlandcreamery.com) that churns it every day. It is the best tasting ice cream ever, and therefore regardless of all the paddling, we all end up gaining a few pounds (of muscle of course!).
Last year was my last paddle with them, I was soon going to be moving across country to Seattle and continue my kayaking expeditions out here. They were such a nice group of people that I miss them dearly. Luckily, one of the things I love about Seattle has been the welcoming folks at the Washington Kayak Club’s sea kayaking trips, especially Dave - who was the first one I paddled with this past May. I have met a lot of people through him, including the tsunami debris folks. I’ve been able to go on many adventures in the Puget Sound and beyond. I can’t wait to see what is in store in 2014!
So come on out and get involved, we would love to have more trip leaders; I would certainly like to see more new faces in the water all the time.
For pictures go here (I’m in all the ‘group’ photos):