Family Fun

Tips for Your First Kayaking Trip

Just over a week ago, we went kayaking with some friends of ours. We were going to be on a creek I was unfamiliar with and a lot of rain had fallen recently, so I was a little apprehensive!

Kayaking is a very popular activity in our area. It may be more widespread than that, but my reaches don’t go far out of our valley!

My first kayaking excursion was out-of-state.

My husband and I went to Virginia for our honeymoon almost two years ago. One of the adventures we really wanted to try was kayaking. So, we found an outfitting service at the resort where we were staying. They took us to the Shenandoah River, helped us push-off into the water, and then picked us up a few miles down the river.

There were a few small rapids that we went through, which were my husband’s favorite part! We saw a whole bunch of turtles hanging out on logs and rocks, and some of them slid into the water as we cruised past.

We both really enjoyed the trip, and desired to do it again. But we did not have kayaks of our own, or readily available.

Some friends asked us to go kayaking with them.

Close friends of ours decided they wanted to take a Sunday afternoon and go kayaking. They invited us to go along. Of course we accepted! And they were kind enough to find kayaks for us to borrow!

I was nervous to start, but once I saw the creek that we would be traversing, my nerves were at ease. Yes, the water was high and murky. But it was not rushing like the creeks do around our house. It was flowing at a pretty leisurely pace, in fact.

It was such an enjoyable afternoon! I had a blast! There was no rough spots, and we did not have to get out and walk at all. It was a warm day, but not scorching hot. The sun felt amazing on my skin! There was some shade along the route to even out the sunny spots.

The water was flowing just enough that we really did not have to paddle much. We had a nice float! Our husbands found vines that grew seed pods that looked like giant green beans. They discovered that these were fun to throw at each other. They also improvised a kayak football game with a half-filled plastic water bottle.

We got to see some wildlife along the way. There were turtles, a snake, buzzards, herons, and other things I cannot remember right now.

So all in all, we had a great day! I made a video towards the end of our float. If you’d like to watch it, you can check it out here. (I will warn you, I mention my old website on the video, as I went kayaking before I transferred my content to my new site.)

For your first time, go with someone who has kayaked before.

This is not a hard and fast rule, but it is a good idea. I had no idea what I was doing the first time I went out on the water. Literally no clue. Even the most recent time we went, I was a little uncomfortable in the water at first. So it was nice to have more experienced people around me to ask questions and demonstrate anything I may need to see.

Push your paddles.

This is a technique my husband and I learned in Virginia. I do not quite have the hang of it, but my husband reminds me frequently to try. Our guide on the Shenandoah told us to push the side of the paddle that is not in the water forward rather than pulling the side of the paddle that is in the water. This provides greater paddling efficiency.

Wear something you do not mind getting wet.

We did not fall out of the kayaks into the water. But there is always that chance. And even if you remain in your kayak the entire time, you are still going to get wet. We were having a good time splashing each other with our paddles! And even without any horsing around, the water still dripped down my paddles and got me wet as I was moving them through the water. So, basically, just prepare for a part of you to get wet!

Invest in a water box.

Our friends introduced me to this concept. I brought quart storage bags along for my husband and I to store our phones in. These would work fine to keep the water from touching our phones. I have done this to put my phone in my FlipBelt while running to keep the moisture from my sweat off of my phone. The only thing that concerned me was there was no way to attach our phone-in-bag to our kayak. If for some reason we flipped, we would need to scavenger hunt for our phones.

Thankfully, our friends had a spare water box they had borrowed from another friend. It was a plastic box with latches, a waterproof seal, and a strap that allowed it to be fastened to a cord on the kayak. I did not throw it in the water to test it out, but I am assuming it would have worked if I did! Even if you do not go kayaking often, I would advise purchasing or borrowing one of these for safe keeping of belongings!

Attach as much as you can to your kayak.

Anything you do not want to lose should be attached to your kayak. This way, if by chance you tip over, all of your belongings do not get swept away! They will be easy to collect, since they will all be fastened to the same object.

Wear water shoes or sandals that stay on your feet.

When we went kayaking on the Shenandoah, I wore a pair of old sneakers. My husband did not have old sneakers along, so he purchased a pair of water shoes at the outfitter. This was just in case we needed to get out and walk, we would be able to keep our feet underneath us with less of a risk of slipping or our shoes coming off.

I debated what I wanted to wear on my feet this time around. I settled on Old Navy flip-flops. They were fine while I was in the kayak. However, when I was getting into the kayak for launch, the mud was very slippery. My feet were sliding out of them when I had to get out of the kayak to dock as well.

What I realized I should have done is worn sandals with straps. My husband and I went to Niagara Falls for our first anniversary, and we were given sandals to wear as we were walking through the Cave of the Winds tour. Those would have been perfect to wear, and I will need to keep them in mind for the next time!

Wear sunscreen!

Even on cloudy days, the sun can burn your skin. The reflection off of the water does not help the matter! I put on a low SPF tanning lotion for our trip, and my arms got a little red, but it had turned to tan by the next morning.

Take drinking water with you. And snacks, if you wish!

Generally, kayaking trips are not short endeavors! So, take some plastic bottles of drinking water along with you. The kayaks we used had cup holders at various places, depending on the brand of kayak. Please, take your trash with you when you get out of the water though. No one likes a litterbug!

Take a shower when you get home.

There are all kinds of things that live in creek water. Fish, turtles, snakes, crayfish, and bacteria are just a few of the things that call creeks home. It probably will not harm you, but I always feel better when I wash all the creek water off of me!

Kayaking is something we do not do often, but I really enjoy it when we do go! Do you enjoy kayaking? Are there any tips that you would like to share with the rest of us? I would love to hear them!

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