This post is part of a series about learning to kayak & returning to Everglades National Park to kayak and camp the back country. See more of the series, here.
Last night, I wrote about a fraction of my experience in Everglades National Park and shared it with ParksFolio. I am awaiting approval for the article as it clearly outlines the very beginning of this dream I have to kayak, explore and camp the back country at Everglades National Park. I hope I will be able to share that with you very soon. If it is approved for inclusion in ParksFolio, I will provide the link and if not then I’ll just post it here! Either way, if you’re interested you will get to read it. [Update: ParksFolio posted first in series #girl2glades article here: Awakening the Explorer Within]
Today, I was able to realize the first step in gaining the kayaking skills that I feel are necessary for the trip I’d like to make. Let me make it clear that I don’t want to get into the Everglades Back Country and find that I am unprepared. It’s extremely important to me that I thoroughly train and gain as much skill as I can in order to prevent that from happening. I will not kayak into Everglades Back Country without a certain confidence built by knowledge and experience.
I gained my first real kayaking experience, today, at Sweetwater Creek State Park. Sweetwater Creek is old time stomping grounds for both me and my partner. We both have decades of experience in this park. It’s an excellent getaway for being so close to a major city like Atlanta, Georgia. I have hiked, fished, and even been in a row boat at this park. But, in all the years I’ve been coming, it never crossed my mind to try kayaking.. until the great Everglades lit a fire in my heart and soul.
I had been pretty excited about this planned kayaking experience all week. Right up until I stood staring at the kayaks and finally that sense of inexperience crept up and put a little inkling of doubt in my mind. It’s okay… that Everglades fire burning inside me quickly turned any doubts or fears into ash as I took my seat in the rented kayak.
The volunteers were extremely nice and helpful and their friendliness eased my mind a bit. Even though, I later found out that they pass some of their time by making bets (in good humor) on which of the boaters/kayakers would come back dry and who would come back wet. Ha ha
It’s March. The temps were probably average around 60-65. But, there was a strong cool breeze that made this first go round a tad difficult. The water also hadn’t warmed up much and it was slightly on the cold side. This brings me to The First Thing A New Kayaker Needs: A pair of paddling gloves. As excited as I was to get out on the water and paddle my little heart out… the one thing that really stopped me from “going overboard,” and over doing it was a lack of gloves. This might not be a big deal if the water were a bit warmer or if the cool breeze hadn’t been consistently blowing. Those things aside, my hands still aren’t accustomed to gripping the oar. A pair of paddling gloves would have allowed me to better concentrate on the learning process and less on my cold, aching hands. The first thing I did when I got home was buy a pair of paddling gloves from NRS to get me started.
I am lucky, I have my very own kayaking instructor built-in to my partner. He has years of kayaking experience and was able to provide me with a lot of basic knowledge and help. I greatly appreciate this. However, I’m still planning to get out to Sweetwater Creek State Park for the Women’s Introduction to Kayaking Class. I’m doing this for several reasons. While I do have my partner’s knowledge to help with my learning process, I want to acquire knowledge from several sources in order to boost my confidence in these skills. I also think that, being a petite woman, it is a possibility that I may run into gender-specific or size-specific issues and obstacles that other women could warn me about beforehand. What these possible issues may be, or even if there are any, I have no idea… that’s one reason why I want to attend the women’s class. I would also love to meet other women who are discovering this sport alongside me for support, resources and friendship.
Oh, I almost forgot… The results of the bet on me! I totally came back dry!
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