Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jane's Island and Chincoteague

Years and years and years ago, before we were even considering growing to adulthood, Alexis and I went to Jane's Island State Park. The park is on the southwestern-most tip of the DelMarVa peninsula. It has about 30 miles of calm, wide paddling trails that wander through reedy, wildlife-filled marshland.

I vividly remember the first time we drove down Route 413 to Crisfield, Maryland (that's right, we named our dog after the town). It was early morning, and the world around us was misted and green. The road dropped away on either side into wide, sluggish ditches, and peeling paint whistle-stop towns flicked by. We were there with a Kayak group out of Pittsburgh (this was the infamous trip where I got stuck, upside-down, in the water while practicing wet exits), and that night a hurricane moaned and swam its way through the tall pines surrounding our small green Eureka tent. In the morning, we found a tree frog had taken refuge under our rain fly - stickily balancing on the end of the ridge pole. We carefully removed him and went body-surfing in the storm surge.

We went as often as we could, then, from Pittsburgh. We even tried it a few times from Ann Arbor but the trip was too long, and honestly, we just got too sad. So it was with great momentous-ness-pomp-osity that we loaded our two trusty craft onto the truck and headed east to Annapolis and over the bridge.

We were on the water for 8 hours Thursday and 8 hours Friday. We are sizzled messes, but if we were there now, I'd have been on the water all day yesterday and ready for more today. This is due, in large part, to my lovely new undercarriage: Bluebelle (a SurfTec rigid SUP).

The water in Jane's Island was pretty flat, with a moderate current. I spent a lot of the trip paddling on my knees (an acceptable form, even if it is a stand-up paddleboard) not because of the footing but because the sheer number of sea nettles made me a bit nervous about pitching in.

The next day, on the open ocean, I got a lot of practice keeping my footing over waves and chop:

Not that I didn't go ass over teakettle many, many times...but that's the best part! One second you're fighting to stay atop this rocking and diving platform, and the next second, you're in the warm and wonderful ocean. What's better than that?

Actually, dolphins are better than that. Three pods passed as close as 15 feet from us. We heard them breath, we could identify the babies, and we observed them playing. Incredible.

Our paddle on Friday was much longer than we had thought, mostly because we didn't bother to read the map, but also because I was poling an eleven-foot dinner plate through three-foot chop and significant wind. We went about six miles , and 3.5 hours without stopping. Extreme.