Liquid Sunshine

Written by Kayaker Chip on . Posted in The Erie Canal

Chip MacAlpine, Erie Canal, Kayaking, Sally Supernova, Wilderness Systems

This image doesn’t do justice to how hard it was raining for the first eight miles of paddling this morning. There was also a pretty thick fog and the wind kept shifting, headwind, tailwind, broadside. It just couldn’t make up its mind. Good thing I am used to the liquid sunshine from paddling around Oregon. With my paddling jacket on it really wasn’t too bad and just as the forecast predicted it cleared up around 4pm, so I wouldn’t have to setup camp and make dinner in the rain.

The couple of locations I had looked up this morning for camping tonight didn’t work out. I guess sleeping behind a correctional facility is frowned on. Who knew? I don’t mind being on the water late into the evening as long as I know where I am going and what the take out conditions are going to be. That continues to be an unknown on the canal. I kept on paddling anyway for a total of twenty-five miles and decided to give scrambling up the rip-rap banks another shot. If I could make it I would be rewarded with some twilight paddling and a stay at a campground and RV park. If I can’t and I fall in again, well it’s going to make for an even longer day, drying off and making camp somewhere in the dark. I’m no stranger to primitive camping, but each night as I’m looking for a place along the canal where getting out and making camp both work it’s generally in an area that camping isn’t allowed. Signs explicitly telling me I’m doing something wrong. Too close to public places were I could have a repeat of what happened in Lockport. It will feel good to be at an established place and not worry about getting tossed in the middle of the night. Plus I’ll get to have a campfire.

I can’t see over the bank, but from my surroundings and the GPS it looks like I’m near the campground. I scan the waters edge and look for some rocks that look stable and won’t cause too much damage to Sally’s hull when I have to pull her from the water. I pop my spray skirt and move the trolley wheels from the cockpit onto some rocks. I clip a carabiner and length of rope to one of the deck lines and throw the free end up over the bank. I take my paddle and position it behind the cockpit and across some of the rip-rap to stabilize myself and then make my way onto the rocks. So far so good. Crouched on the rocks I start to position Sally so she can have her turn. My paddle tumbles off the rocks and floats to the middle of the canal. Ugh, I was almost there. I pull Sally back around, carefully get back in and hand-paddle over to escaped double-blade. Back to the bank, back out of the boat, careful placement of the paddle and then I heave and pull on Sally until she is all the way out and on the tow path with me. Now were did those wheels go? After bit of a walk we make it to the campground office. It’s open but no one is at the desk. Beyond the office is a large hall and there are lots lots of people milling around. I pop in and they all look up and welcome me. Seems The other campers had a chili cook-off and were just finishing up. Before I was even situated with a campsite everyone was offering me their chili entry, plus various breads, rolls and corn muffins. I even scored some fire wood. It was pretty awesome.