“You Do What?” is one incredibly unathletic girl’s journey to explore alternative sports. Check back every week for my take on sports I once knew nothing about and now find fascinating.
My father is one of those people who can sit in his boat and fish from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. straight. My mother and I, however, cannot.
One day we decided that we needed something to keep us occupied while we were marooned on the S.S. Bored Stiff. The solution to our apathy problem turned out to be kayaking.
I had seen people kayaking on the different lakes we frequent. There seems to be two types of ‘yakers: the speed-racing, muscles-rippling, glistening-in-the-sun variety and the sweetly lazy paddlers who just want to enjoy the view and do something outdoors. I am the latter.
Kayaking is very individualized, so everyone can paddle at his own pace and explore wherever he pleases because there is usually only one person per kayak.
Kayaks come in different lengths and widths, with longer and skinnier being preferable for racing and wider, shorter kayaks for long trips and stability.
Renting a kayak is an excellent option available to the public at many lakes. It is up to the kayaker if he wants to pay around $10 for an hour on the water or goes enough that it would be worthwhile to shell out the cash for a his own personal model and equipment.
It’s not a difficult activity – there isn’t much to learn except how to paddle correctly and navigate in the water. Whether racing or lazily paddling, kayaking is still great exercise.
Ryne Bogart, a 21-year-old photographer from Philadelphia, has been kayaking for about four months now.
“The fact that it works your entire upper body is a huge plus,” he said. “My back and shoulders are much stronger and more defined now.”
Kayaking is great cardio exercise, too.
Bogart’s favorite part of kayaking “is the ability to get into secluded areas on or around bodies of water that are unreachable by foot.”
There are many lakes that have hidden coves, like the one in Tuscarora State Park, which is about an hour drive from Wilkes-Barre. The cove at Tuscarora is only accessible by water and is shallow enough to moor a kayak on the shore and take a walk through the pebble-strewn creek that feeds the lake.
Olivia Hewison, a sophomore chemistry major at Wilkes, has been kayaking for seven years. Her favorite trip was when, “I kayaked the Chenango River last year with my parents.”
The trip was three to four hours and she liked it best because it was more diverse than a lake and she got to spend time with her family.
There are, of course, safety precautions as with any sport. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boating Commission handbook states that a life jacket is required to be on board, though it doesn’t need to be on the person, just “readily accessible.” It must, however, be worn during the cold weather from Nov. 1 through April 30.
Kayakers must also have a “sound-producing device” in case of distress. An athletic coach’s whistle will do just fine if one flips over and needs to alert someone for help. The last bullet on the checklist is registration for the kayak, if it belongs to the individual kayaking.
A violation of any of the regulations will usually result in a fine, so it’s best to double-check everything and stay safe before venturing out into the waters.
Adventure Education and the Environmental Club on campus do occasional kayaking trips in the area and will post fliers around campus with info on how to get involved.
For more information on kayaking, go to the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission’s website www.fishandboat.com.