Kayakers tour through summer heat
— 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.
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.