Saturday afternoon I went out on a kayaking trip. The trip was through the Urban Ecology Center and organized by the UW Milwaukee outreach program. When I was younger a friend and I got the idea of taking a raft down one of the rivers in Sheboygan. We planned to build the raft out of wood we found. The idea sounded great to us, we were at that age that anything seemed possible and no idea seemed like a bad one. Eventually the adults got wind of the idea and put a stop to it, but did not completely kill it. The home-built raft was replaced by a inflatable raft. We took a few river trips in it and had a lot of fun.
Recently I’ve been keeping on eye out for deals on a canoe. I was nestolgic for getting out on a little river again and thought a canoe would work better than an inflated raft. I signed up for a canoe trip through UWM but it was cancelled because of all the flooding we have had recently. They did give me a slot in the trip they are doing later this summer though.
While waiting for that I thought I would also give kayaking a try. A kayak is much easier for me to carry on my car because its smaller and I can get the kayak mounts that go on my Yakima racks. I’ve never been kayaking through so I thought I should give it a try first. What is really nice about the trip through the Urban Ecology Center is that they supply the kayaks and give you some pointers on how to use them.
Here we are getting the kayaks ready to go
After this I put my camera away in my car because I didn’t want to worry about taking pictures while trying to figure out how to drive this thing for the first time. I had my old camera along so I wasn’t worried about something happening to it. I just didn’t think it was the best idea to be distracted while doing this. I figure I will bring one along the next time.
In hindsight I should have brought my GPS so I could have a track of the course but, as with the camera, I wanted to focus on the kayaking for now.
I did take my phone along and kept it in a ziplock bag. I figured I could use that to snap a few quick shots while I was in the water.
We started here
And continued down-river until we reached this point, near the Milwaukee Ale house.
At first the kayak felt really wobbly but after some time I started to get used to it. Its been so long since I was canoeing that I don’t remember if the kayak felt less stable than the canoe but I think the kayak is less stable. I have a canoe trip coming up so I will be more sure then.
The trip was fun and it was amazing seeing Milwaukee from this angle. As we got farther down stream the amount of traffic increased which caused some annoyances. I have a new appreciation for the no-wake rules on the river. There were a fair number of boats that seemed to not care at all. Some people even seemed to think it was funny seeing the kayaks having to go through the wakes. There even was one guy in his boat that was clearly drunk. I wonder if anyone enforces the law on the river. It didn’t seem like it.
On the way back the sky started getting darker and it was clear some thunderstorms were coming in. We worked to get back up stream as quickly as we could. By the time we reached the docks and got the kayaks out of the water the rain started to come down.
I think I would enjoy this more on my own. Seeing that we were in a group everyone had to try to keep together. There wasn’t a lot of time to stop and drift. This was fine for my first time out. I know now that I would love to do this again. I did have some problems with my hands. They went numb at one point and felt some shooting pain. I might have to hold off on another trip until after my hands are fixed, something that I really need to arrange but was holding off on until a point opened up in my project schedule at work.
The instructor said that the Urban Ecology Center loans kayaks and canoes to members and rents them to the public so if I am interested I don’t even have to buy one. Personally I would like to try doing this farther up stream on the Milwaukee river. Maybe closer to my house or in Cedarburg. I have to get some river maps to see how clear it is farther up stream.
UWM has a kayaking the Horicon Marsh trip planned for late summer. After this trip I am thinking that might be a lot of fun.