State 29 of 50: Delaware – Broad River

Windy day and falling leaves
Date Paddled: November 16, 2017
Nearest City: Milton
Put-In: Milton City Park
Take-Out: Route 1 – old highway bridge
Duration: 4 hours
River Miles: ~7.5
Shuttle: car shuttle – 8 miles with Anita and John
Weather: sunny 58 and windy
Difficulty: quickwater, tide favorable
Cfs: tidal

At first, Delaware looks like a piece of cake for finding good paddling. There are a number of swampy areas that extend well inland, with tidal marshes in green parkland. Furthering my research, I discovered that Delaware seems to be the hunter’s paradise, each one of those red areas along the coast are filled with deer and duck blinds that are constructed by the state to promote their economy.

deUnfortunately for us, we were in Delaware at the height of the hunting season. So we moved onto plan B. I found the Broad River which seemed  just the ticket, with little or no rapids and tidal assist. Since my major surgery two months earlier, I had only paddled locally and was a bit apprehensive of this longer paddle followed by more paddling the next day.

Since I needed a bit of pampering, we decided to stay at an Airbnb with Anita and John at The Missing Link Hideaway near Rehoboth Beach. They were great hosts and even gave us a shuttle the next day from the Town Park in Milton. Thank you!DSCN7613We quickly kayaked away from civilization and heading down the, ah hum, broad river…DSCN6879We happened to be putting in at the right time to go with the slack and out-going tide. Even more importantly, for most of the paddle the wind was behind us, making for a pleasant pace. We enjoyed spotting a number of basking turtles as well as seeing the largest collection of turkey vultures (25 or so) hunting in the areas vacated by the outgoing tide.DSCN6901As we neared the ocean, the wind picked up and the magic happened –  floating leaves and abstract patterns. This is a good example of the surprising and spontaneous meditations one is treated to while kayaking. A major reason we’re so hooked on it!
The last part of the paddle was very different with marsh grasses and open, exposed, windy areas. This time the wind was against us and the last mile was a challenge. DSCN7641I was glad to get back to Vinny, our trusty RV, waiting to whisk us away to our next paddle in Maryland.


Taking a Break

Had to take a time out from Kayak 50 to deal with a breast cancer diagnosis. I had a mastectomy on August 2nd, a small revision surgery about five weeks later, and then finally on December 19th, I had the last reconstructive surgery.  It was a painful, long and weary time, yet also filled with many blessings.

The good news was plentiful: no chemotherapy, no genetic disposition (especially great for my kids), super-quick recovery, and a 16 percent chance of recurrence which is very low, even lower with dietary changes and supplements. Needless to say, much time was out of the kayak, however some enjoyably spent in my garden – a place of happiness and healing.DSCN7153It was a blessing to have friends and family visit me and everyone was such an encouragement!

Peter took good care of me especially in the first weeks when there was a lot to do medically speaking.DSCN7201 (2)While I was recovering, Peter made a trip to Oregon to buy land for our new home! We will be moving to Sisters in February. I moved my sister, Linda, into an assisted living facility in Bend from San Diego, good friend and kayaking buddy, Christian and his mom, Diane will join us, and I hope to convince my mom to move out too! Here’s a preview:

Nellie in our seasonal pond
Nellie in our seasonal pond
Yellow spring flowers
Yellow spring flowers
Tons of morels!
Tons of morels!
36 inch diameter juniper near the home-site
36 inch diameter juniper near the home-site
Views of Sisters Mountains
Views of Sisters Mountains

We will build as “green” as possible with passive and active solar design, building materials that are sustainable, and low impact on the land itself. We are very blessed and looking forward to 2018!

State 28 of 50: Connecticut – Housatonic River

Lovely recovery of free-flowing beauty
Date Paddled: June 28, 2017
Nearest City: Cornwall Bridge
Put-In: Push ‘Em Up – 1/2 mile north of Covered Bridge
Take-Out: River Road/North Road AT Trailhead
Duration: 4 hours
River Miles: ~8
Shuttle: Easy shuttle with car 11 miles
Weather: Mostly sunny 73 degrees
Difficulty: Mostly quick water, class I, II
Cfs: 580cfs

It’s always a pleasure kayaking the various reaches of the Housatonic River, a 30-60 minute trip from our home in New York. On this particular paddle, we were joined by good friends, Christian and Jen.

Depending on the water levels and ambient temperatures, there are a number of runs possible starting from the dam at Falls River which has water all year, but gets iced in first, to another possible put in at the 112 bridge, steep and slippery, but doable, to the one we chose at Push’Em Up, about a half mile from the class II+ to IV rapids under Covered Bridge.  The colorful name is from the fisherman who love this spot where the big’uns get pushed up by the rapids.DSCN6492 (2)Just before the covered bridge are another set of large rapids. If you don’t want to run them, you can pull out river left. This is a play spot in the spring with a nice pull out/parking area at the end of the rapids for quick transport back up to the top. It’s filled with large boulders which makes it exciting or terrifying depending on your skill level. At 580 cfs the rapids were about a II+ so that splashing on a warmish day was very respectable. Overall, the guys in our group were dragging a bit too much for their taste while the women found it very acceptable.

Just down from the rapids, we spotted this beautiful eagle. There are nesting pairs along the river and it’s rare not to see them!DSCN6518We were also treated to a merganser family caught in an eddy. They also are residents that you can expect to see. While there is the occasional house along the river and Route 7 that runs along much of the paddle, the Housy still feels wild and free! DSCN6490 - CopyThe bridge at Route 128 in Cornwall Bridge is a favorite and not just of this paddle. It is beautifully designed and has just enough rapids to make it interesting without being too distracting!DSCN6538The Housatonic has been the recipient of mucho dinero from GE who polluted it with PCB’s.  So, while it’s not advisable to eat fish out of the river with any regularity, there are has many more access points for putting in as a result of this environmental fiasco. Like most things in life, it’s a mixed bag of cursing and blessing! One thing for sure is that the views weren’t touched and they continue to astound in their verdant beauty!DSCN6511 (2)