But even the generally more stately flow of the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers needs to be reckoned with when planning a paddling route on flowing water.
As a newbie, I expected the up-river paddle to be invariably more arduous then the down-river run. Well, I've paddled this venue often enough to learn that this ain't necessarily so.
My flat-water paddling experience had already taught me the importance of wind direction. As a long-time sailor this was a no-brainer! When it comes to smooth-flow river paddling a building breeze may quickly have an overriding effect. When the wind blows down river, the ride will be all the faster. When the wind blows against the current, watch out!
From my house, I can be on the Ohio near the Point downtown Pittsburgh in 15-20 minutes. Without question for me this is the quickest access to paddling water.
|She will have her own Shearwater Sport next season - promise!|
YET, Pittsburgh paddling is very attractive all the same. Besides, while the abundance of power boaters don't replicated ocean swells, they do provide a certain quota of choppy conditions. Near downtown, big powerboat wakes bounce off the walls and ricochet in ways that can be quite exciting on a sea kayak.
When one of those monstrous river chariots roars by from behind, I try to position my boat so that I can surf the wake. In on-coming situations I try to bisect the wake and then catch and surf the ricochet to propel me on.
Anyway! On Saturday I set out for a nice afternoon river paddle accompanied by an ominous forecast and threatening clouds. I figured, worst case scenario: I get wet. Big deal! That might be a welcome relief from the high humidity.
So as I turned my head I immediately recognized what it was... it was a S&G Night Heron, energetically paddled by its builder, Jim Noel.
Imagine that: two Night Herons on the Allegheny, skimming the waters side by side!
Frankly, I was having trouble keeping up with Jim. Clearly he had been working on his stroke and stamina quite a bit already. Actually, he was preparing for upcoming week's Presque Isle paddle event which involves an all day paddle of 20+ miles around the peninsula.
Yea, I'd say that I have my work cut out for me if I want to go paddle together with Jim for any distance. I have no doubt that it'll be worth the effort.
|Jim Noel's S&G Night Heron|
My birding report: Herons are here in Western PA.