Canoe and Kayak for Fun and Relaxation
Are you looking for exercise, serenity, a chance to explore, and a feeling of being at one with nature? Perhaps all of these are at your own back door.
If your area has calm water nearby, then consider canoeing or flat-water kayaking. My area is the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. We have a lot of water around us in the form of mostly small lakes, as well as some larger rivers with slow moving areas. The problem with motor boats is that in no time at all, the entire body of water has been traversed. Zoom,zoom- all done. Some people enjoy this, considering it as just travel time to get to their destination to fish, picnic, or just relax. I wanted to be able to appreciate the journey. Perhaps I'm more journey oriented than destination oriented when it comes to enjoying the water. So, that's how I discovered flat-water kayaking and canoeing.
Kayaking had always evoked a picture of helmeted daredevils risking life and limb to challenge potentially deadly white water. That kind of risk was not for me. I learned that there was another kind of kayak specifically design for traveling over flat water as opposed to rapids and white water. I was intrigued. I had enjoyed rowboats but hated coming back against the wind. It was too much of a battle. The flat water kayak is actually easier to paddle than a canoe and has no trouble coming back against the wind or even going upstream against gentle current. Unlike its whitewater counterpart, many flatwater kayaks are designed for stability. So here we are: close to the water, easy to paddle, pretty stable, able to go into the wind, and with storage space to boot. A canoe offers similar opportunities. It will not paddle as easily as the kayak, but the canoe offers the flexibility of a varying number of passengers.
The lake that can be negotiated in a powerboat end to end in one hour, is a full day's adventure for the paddler. The degree of exercise depends on how hard one paddles. It is up to you. For me, as I start such a journey, initially I find myself approaching it with the same rush as in my day to day life. Then the rhythm of the paddling takes over. The rush to get somewhere disappears and the journey becomes that which is important. The steady rhythm of the padding melts away the tensions of the week, the serenity that follows allows me to drink in the beauty of the slowly passing scenery around me. It is serene and yet exciting. My experience is such that paddling adjustments have become automatic. The adjustments in paddling a kayak involve the entire body, not just the paddle. I have a sense of being one with the boat, and the boat puts me so close to the water, that I soon feel to be a part of it as well. I have watched the great blue heron eye me as it decides when to burst into flight. I have had deer run across calm streams in front of me in the downtown of our city of Allentown, Pennsylvania- the same Allentown sung about by Billy Joel. I have glided by wary frogs sitting on floating logs on the lake shore. Because of the slow pace of the kayak or canoe, otherwise small bodies of water become potential sources of adventure and there are more nearby than I can visit and explore on the weekends of a single summer.
Some resources for paddlers
www.canoekayak.com is the site of Canoe and Kayak magazine which is advertised as the number 1 paddlesports resource and has been around since 1973.
Local to the Lehigh Valley, PA is the Lehigh Valley Canoe Club: www.enter.net/~lvcc/index.html
Use deja.com to access the newsgroup rec.boats.paddle for discussions about
For more information about places to paddle in the Lehigh Valley area, visit the usboomers' Adventure Data Base.
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The Kayaking Sourcebook
Covers different types of kayaks, paddles, accessories, and more.
Kayaking Made Easy, 2nd Edition
The book focuses on flat-water kayaking
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