Monthly Archives: July 2011

Sea Kayaking Adventures in New England: A Few Photos to Start With

By Vladimir Brezina and Johna Till Johnson

After returning from a week’s eventful paddling in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, Vlad is sorting through hundreds of photos and Johna is turning over the stories in her head. It will take some little while for the report to come together, but it will feature:

Long open-water crossings!

Exciting surf landings!

Unexpected encounters with low tides…

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The Sun and the Rain: Kayaking down the Hudson from Albany to New York City

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

“Why is camping fun?”

I’ve been asked that many times through the years. Even active, tough, and healthy people, folks who glory in the feel of a strenuous workout, often wonder about it. Hard physical activity is a joy when it’s followed by a hot shower, a good meal (preferably cooked and delivered by someone else), and a clean, soft, safe  bed. But where’s the fun in ending a hard day’s workout by erecting a tent, attempting to cook dinner, bathing (if at all) in unheated water, and attempting to sleep on rocky ground? (Let’s not even talk about stinging and biting insects, itching poison oak and ivy, and the smallish-but-real risk of being attacked by a wild animal—or person.)

Why is camping fun?

It’s hardly a rhetorical question when you’re standing drenched to the skin, watching raindrops bore holes into the curry you’re desperately trying to heat over a flickering camping stove. Your muscles ache, but you can’t sit because the picnic table and ground are sodden. Darkness is all around you, lit only by the stove and the weak ripple of LEDs from the camp lamp through the rain. Behind you, the tent is battered by rain: Rivulets are pooling on the top and running down the sides, and you’re pretty sure the inside is damp as well. And the plummeting raindrops are cooling the curry as fast as you’re trying to heat it.

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NYC’s Toxic Waterways, Trip Three: The Bronx River Attempt

By Vladimir Brezina and Johna Till Johnson

Lately we’ve developed a fascination with the legendary toxic waterways of New York City. Previously, we’ve traversed the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek, both Superfund sites. On July 2, we decided to explore the mysterious Bronx River.

Unlike the other two, the Bronx River isn’t truly toxic. In fact, by all accounts, the river is surprisingly bucolic as it winds under a leafy canopy, a narrow green ribbon through the concrete and asphalt of the Bronx.

But it’s not particularly paddler-friendly. Photos from Bob Huszar’s pioneering trip show numerous weirs, dams, and waterfalls. Paddlers pose with car carcasses half-submerged in the river, and rafts of floating trash collect behind a skim boom. (This last feature was one we should have paid more heed to!)

Since then, the river has apparently been substantially smoothed and civilized. The Bronx River Alliance has worked hard to institutionalize kayaking and canoeing on the river, running regular trips and producing a very useful map and paddling guide to the “Bronx River Blueway”. But the guide still shows three portages, some “challenging”, and warns that the water “can be very shallow at times. Paddlers may need to disembark and pull boats for short distances.”

Most paddlers come down the river in old beaten-up plastic river kayaks or canoes. We were headed up the river in our tender sea kayaks—his a soft-skinned folding kayak, hers pampered carbon-kevlar. How far up the river would be make it through the obstacles? Not so far, as it turned out.

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