Kayak­ers tour through summer heat

Times-Record - - Front Page - By CHRIS POLK cpolk@star­dem.com

— They were the coolest bunch on the hottest day — or close to it, ac­cord­ing to El­lie O’Brien Fri­day, July 21.

“Thanks for com­ing out on the hottest day of the year!” she said to a hardy band of kayak­ers poised to take off from the Greensboro boat ramp as the ther­mome­ter started to climb.

The kayak­ers were part of the Tour the Shore Ad­ven­ture Kayak Se­ries, a guided tour of the many creeks and rivers that make the East­ern Shore so unique, or­ga­nized by the Midshore River­keep­ers Conser vancy.

The tour has hap­pened once a month since May, when they pad­dled the up­per Tuck­a­hoe River through a flooded for­est filled with swamp maples, black gum and green ash trees.

In June, they tra­versed Black­wa­ter Na­tional Wildlife Refuge, pack­ing lunch and stop­ping off at a small is­land to pic­nic.

July 21, they gath­ered to ex­plore a small sec­tion of the up­per Chop­tank with the heat very much in mind.

O’Brien, MRC ed­u­ca­tor and out­reach co­or­di­na­tor, said she was aware of a heat ad­vi­sory, and the group was go­ing to try to paddle about three miles north­ward.

Even if you’ve never pad­dled be­fore, you can get to see some places that can only be reached by water, and par­tic­u­larly, the nooks and cran­nies only avail­able in a kayak dur­ing the se­ries.

The explorers said they ex­pected to see a wide va­ri­ety of wa­ter­fowl, sun­bathing tur­tles and — not ev­ery­one’s fa­vorite — snakes.

Dur­ing the last paddle, they said, a beaver swam be­side one of the kayaks, ap­pear­ing to be keep­ing pace with the pad­dlers.

And in Greensboro, they were go­ing to get a water’s-eye view of the town, in­clud­ing the old, ram­bling Vic­to­rian River­side Ho­tel and other land­marks.

The paddle tours are open to the pub­lic and en­able peo­ple of all ages and pad­dling abil­i­ties to rent a kayak or bring their own.

On July 21, MRC brought eight of its own kayaks for the pub­lic to use, and seven pri­vately owned kayaks were brought by their own­ers.

Tom Orem of Eas­ton stood guard be­side his Ch­e­sa­peake Light Craft be­fore push­ing of f.

Orem’s kayak was a hand­some wooden ves­sel topped with gleam­ing bright­work Orem had built him­self dur­ing a class at the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Mar­itime Mu­seum.

Kara Cris­sey hauled a dou­ble-kayak down to the boat ramp with the help of her 6-year old Span­ish water dog, Ot­ter.

She said Ot­ter has been on sev­eral of the kayak tours and al­ways is on his best be­hav­ior when he knows he’s go­ing to get a boat ride.

Those help­ing with the tour in­cluded O’Brien, MRC Development Di­rec­tor Sarah Boyn­ton, Tasha Royal of the Ch­e­sa­peake Con­ser­va­tion Corps, summer in­tern Jake LeGates and vol­un­teers such as Ge­orge Nor­berg, who served as the watch­ful eye and “ca­boose” for the group.

“It’s a fun way to see dif­fer­ent places and meet dif­fer­ent peo­ple,” Nor­berg said.

The MRC is an en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion that em­ploys sci­en­tists and an army of vol­un­teer creek watch­ers who fol­low a rig­or­ous water-test­ing pro­gram on Mid-Shore trib­u­taries each year to mon­i­tor the health of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay.

They have cre­ated nu­mer­ous in­no­va­tive pro­grams to pro­mote clean water, en­vi­ron­men­tal ed­u­ca­tion and com­mu­nity out­reach, as well as play an ac­tive role at the state leg­is­la­ture to pro­tect the Bay.

Or­ga­niz­ers say the time spent on the water with kayaks brings peo­ple in touch with wa­ter­ways they drive past ev­ery day, rais­ing aware­ness in a per­sonal way.

“This is a won­der­ful cure for na­ture deficit dis­or­der,” Nor­berg said, adding that he was quot­ing an­other en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist.

The next trip in the Tour the Shore Kayak Ad­ven­ture Se­ries will leave from Windy Hill Land­ing in Trappe to cross the Chop­tank River and up into the nar­row, twisted Skele­ton Creek that winds up through the Pre­ston area rom 10 a.m.to 1 p.m. Fri­day, Aug. 18.

The fol­low­ing month, the fi­nal kayak tour will be from 1 to 4 p.m. Fri­day, Sept. 22, when the group will ex­plore the undis­turbed Miles Creek with pick­erel weed and ground­sel tree bloom­ing, late summer in Tal­bot County.

Tour the Shore is open to the pub­lic ,but spa­ces and kayaks are lim­ited, so re­serve as soon as pos­si­ble.

Con­tact Suzanne Sul­li­van at Suzanne@ mid­shoreriver­keeper.org or call 443-3850511.

Visit the MRC online at www.mid­shoreriver­keeper.org.

PHOTO BY CHRIS POLK

Kayak­ers take off for the up­per reaches of the Chop­tank River un­der the guid­ance of El­lie O’Brien, right, dur­ing the Tour the Shore Kayak Ad­ven­ture Se­ries Fri­day, July 21.

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