Written by Denise Cunningham
Wednesday, 01 June 2011 13:10
As the weather warms up after an unusually long, cold winter, it is finally time to come out of hibernation and get outdoors. One way that more and more people are exploring our great regional waterways is through kayaking.
Why is the popularity of kayaking exploding? Kayaking is a healthy, fun, and exciting activity for all ages. Also, it is very easy to learn and a great way to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
One of the best ways to find out if kayaking is for you is to rent one. If you’ve never been in a kayak, it might feel pretty unstable at first, and the paddle itself may frustrate you. Just getting the boat to go straight may be a little tricky, so taking a beginner’s class is a great way to get moving in the right direction.
Frances Slocum State Park, located in Wyoming, rents kayaks out by the hour from Memorial Day into the early fall. Frances Slocum also has a few events held throughout the summer months for the explorer. “Kayaking for Beginners” will be held at the Park on Saturday, July 9, 1-2:30 p.m., for ages 14 and up. Another event, “Ladies of the Lake Kayaking”, will be held on July 16, 2-3:30 p.m., and is for ladies of ages 12 and up. Both events require registration. Interested participants should contact Kathy Kelchner at (570) 696-9105.
There are various types of kayaks to suit specific purposes. As a beginner, it is best to start off with a recreational kayak, placed in calm waters, to get the basic paddling strokes down. An initial/recreational kayak has a shallow shape on the bottom that helps it steer straight. A recreational kayak is highly recommended for the beginner since it is less intimidating and helps improve paddling skills. The kayaks are long, stable, and have plenty of interior and exterior cargo room. They have flat hulls (bottoms), hard chines (the curve between the sides and bottom) and are wide, which make them less maneuverable, but fast in a straight line. Recreation kayaks tend to run anywhere from 9-14 feet long.
A touring kayak is secondary in stability and tends to have a narrower shape on the bottom that glides it through the water more efficiently per stroke. This makes the boat more responsive and less tippy.
A third type of kayak that would be utilized in our area is the whitewater kayak. This vessel is shorter and less stable but is far more maneuverable. It is also more durable and built to handle what the whitewater rapids have to offer. These kayaks are typically 8-9 feet long, with rounded hulls and have softer chines. All whitewater kayaks are “sit inside” vessels, and they never have rudders. This past spring, the area had some visitors from New York who took advantage of the high waters in Hunlock’s Creek, near Nanticoke.
Before heading out and purchasing a kayak off the shelf, stop at Country Ski and Sports, located at 1080 Wilkes-Barre Twp. Blvd., in Wilkes-Barre, and talk with owner Sean Oshea. Oshea is very informed of the different types of kayaks and which one would be perfect for you. The store offers a large variety of kayaks and accessories.
Country Ski and Sports offers introductory clinics at local area ponds in Mountaintop to try the kayaks out and see which type you would be interested in before purchasing it. It also has moving water clinics on Thursday nights beginning in late May, held at the Susquehanna River. Skills clinics are also offered at no charge as long as the participant has his or her own equipment. Oshea teaches how to paddle upstream, eddy turns, peel outs in and out of eddy turns, and maneuver abilities. These clinics are launched at the Susquehanna River, in Breslau, and also at Nesbitt Park, in Kingston. Country Ski and Sports is open Monday and Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Check out the events calendar for upcoming paddling sessions this summer at www.countryskiandsports.com or call (570) 824-0541.
Kayaking is a fantastic way to spend a few hours on the water to relax, reconnect with nature, and get a little exercise in. So, this summer, grab a friend and do some exploring of your own.