8/16/09

Biking & Kayaking In The Shadow Of Storm King


"Wrong way!" one of our river guides hollered. Sonny, one of my friends who joined me in this day trip to upstate New York, kayaked way ahead of us, thinking our day in the Hudson River was about to end and he decided to paddle back to where we started 3 hours ago. "We're still going to the Moodna Creek", Paul said. He's one of the guides and he knows the ebbs and flows of the river like the back of his weathered hands. My butt is getting sore sitting on the kayak and my arms already feel like rebelling but my adventurous brain wanted to follow the leader. "OK, let's go", I muttered. "I'm loaded with memory cards". Somewhere in my seat is a small digital point-and-shoot, wrapped in a Ziploc bag - the only camera I can afford to risk. No DSLR on this trip.


STORM KING ADVENTURES

It's been a long day sitting on our arse actually. It started this morning with an hour-long Metro North train ride from Grand Central Terminal where I met up with Sonny and other friends I've invited: Tatum, Jenny and Jackie. Our destination is the quaint village of Cornwall-on-the-Hudson where our outfitter, Storm King Adventures (SKAT), is based. Named after the looming mountain just nearby, SKAT offers a trinity of outdoor pursuits: kayaking, mountain biking and hiking. At the Beacon train station, a yellow school bus (oh boy, do I feel young again?) was waiting for us and brought our group and some other adventurers directly to SKAT headquarters. The office is full of outdoor equipment yet feels so homey.

STREET NAMED AFTER ME?

As pre-arranged, our little group is doing some biking first - though not into the mountains. Candy, a 40-something-who-looks-half-her-age, was our guide. After a quick check on our bikes and a little tutorial on gear shifts, we pedaled right away on asphalt roads. It's backcountry all around us, lots of trees and lo and behold, a deer appeared for our very first wildlife encounter outside of the Bronx Zoo. The incline wasn't dramatically steep yet I kept fiddling with the gear shift, trying to figure what works well with my inexperienced legs. Candy kept looking back at us as if to say "move on!" - we're obviously not made for Tour-de-France! Never mind, it was all downhill after that. The rush of air unto my face fueled my excitement all the more.

DEER, OH DEAR!

We passed by the main road of Cornwall with it's white-washed houses and art galleries. Candy brought us to one of the restaurants for lunch. We sat outside and enjoyed locally grown produce, including a very refreshing Blue Berry Lemonade. Even the hamburger I was served was from a hormone-free beef. I'm not surprised: Cornwall, with a population of less than 4,000, is part of the Orange County in upstate New York where plenty of nearby farming communities are located. Many of the produce ends up in the lively farmer's market at the Union Square.

BLUE BERRY LEMONADE

After carbo-loading ourselves, we biked back to SKAT headquarters. A pick-up truck brought us to the Cornwall Landing where our kayaking trip will start. There were groups of other people already waiting. While handing us our paddles and vests, Paul and Brian introduced themselves as the guides, both NYS-licensed. Paul tutored us on the basics of paddling and what to do in case one of us goes overboard. We each had a kayak except for Jenny and Jackie who went tandem. Once in the water, we're on our own, paddling away, with the huge hump of the Storm King mountain right in front of us.


2009 is a momentous year for the Hudson river. 400 years ago, in September 1609, the British sailor Henry Hudson sailed from the New York Bay into the river that was to bear his name. Commissioned by the Dutch East India Company, he was in search of a northwest passage to Asia. His quest may have been a failure but his name endured, having led the first Europeans to sail up the river, sailing all the way close to what is now known as Albany, New York's state capital.


Today, we're only tackling a portion of the river and it looks like a huge task already, at least as far as our arms are concerned. We paddled upriver, stopping every now and then, grateful that motorized boats and jets skis were far away from us. Despite the water being calm, one guy lost his balance and his kayak overturned. Quickly, one of the guides came to his aid. "The water is clean, despite what you guys have heard", Paul reassured us. "You can swim if you like." That didn't do much to dispel a doubting Tatum. Not even if the afternoon sun is roasting us. A few of the guys did go into the water to cool off. But what's better was stopping by a secluded cove to stretch our legs, hid under a shade and rest our arms a bit.


We took the kayaks to the water once more. Some of us thought we're heading back. Paul had earlier told us of the possibility of extending our trip to the Moodna Creek depending on the tides. As luck would have it, the water is deep enough for us to navigate past the bridge into this tidal marsh with is unique flora and fauna. The water is so quiet and still it's almost like glass . . . until our kayaks broke the stillness. Brian talked a bit of history and folklore associated with the creek, citing its original name "Murderer's Creek" as a sign that we shouldn't stay long here.

MOODNA CREEK

Finally, it's time to head back to the Cornwall Landing. My butt is now truly sore, my arms are more rebellious and my adventurous brain is telling me, "I'm almost there". As I now sit in front of my laptop writing this blog entry, I try to forget that I am actually sitting.

11 comments:

  1. I can relate to the numb feeling after the exhaustion. But it felt great, eh? =) It's not everyday you find a street named after you. That's cool. =)

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  2. what a great day! i'm a mountain biking freak but I have yet to try that kayaking thing :D

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  3. That's a great day filled with outdoorsy fun. I should try kayaking one of these days.

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  4. It's nice to see women on bikes only wearing "skimpy" outfits... Maybe because of the weather... Here... It's close to impossible or they may be suffering from sun burns... jejejejejjeje... But what strikes me most is the food... yum! yum! jejejejejejeje

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  5. WHEW!..whatta Trinity of Adventure.. u made us green with envy, bro. but hey, san those carbo-giving stuffs, where else do u get ur energy!?

    times like that, a shock-and-water proof point and shoot cam is highly essential..theres no room for SLR, obviously.

    i wisht o try kayaking too. its looks great. u guys are really have a great time outhere, huh.

    great-great post & powerful snapshots, as usual :)

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  6. Hi Witsandnuts,
    Oh yes, kahit pagod, it was so worth it. The street name did surprise me!

    Hi Lantaw,
    I'm not really into mountain biking like you are but I'd like to try it in the Philippines someday. The only time I kayaked there was in Coron a few years ago.

    Hi Photo Cache,
    Kayaking is fun, sore muscles notwithstanding. Go and try it, you've got plenty of lakes in your area.

    Hi Xprosaic,
    My friend was wearing extra-revealing outfit because it was hot that day. Only sunblock covered the rest of her he he he!

    Hi Josh,
    I think I was born a hyperactive baby! he he he. I thought about buying a waterproof/shockproof point and shoot but decided not to in the last minute. Now I want one again. Hah!

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  7. i envy your adventures! haha.

    looking at the photos make me remember our trek to Taal Volcano here in Manila. It would have been so much better if we kayak-ed our way from the Tagaytay Yacht Club to Taal Volcano and back. :)

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  8. DENNIS! Thank you so much for including us on your blog! We really enjoyed the day too - such a great group of people from all over. Please come back to Storm King Adventure Tours and bring your friends! All the best, Kris

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  9. I would love to go next time.

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  10. Hi Collapsingbarrycade,
    I heard about Taal Yacht Club but didn't know there's kayaking available there. Have been to Taal volcano myself years ago but we rode on a bangka.

    Hi Kris,
    Thanks too for running the trip smoothly! I'll be coming back for sure.

    Hi Clint,
    Wish I knew you're interested. I'll let you know next time.

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  11. That looks like a lot of fun. Biking and then kayaking is an adventure that I have to try out. Those places that you have traveled to are just amazing. I love those photos.

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