My semi home state of Maine might be the most well known place for long distance kayaking in the Northeast, but Maryland has a similar reputation for such trips. Although I could only go out for a day, the opportunities for big trips on the Chesapeake abound.
|A perfect September day on the Chesapeake|
After making the terrifying ascent of the highest mountain of Delaware (roughly 400 ft in elevation), you would think I would rest my laurels on that. However I was still up for more adventure (for those who are unaware, Delaware's high point is a short walk though a suburban neighborhood.)
The Chesapeake is such a storied and magnificent waterway that I couldn't just swing by the area and not do some kayaking. Of course, this bay is over 200 miles long, almost as long as the coast of Maine! I could have spent this entire month off just kayaking up and down the Chesapeake and its rivers and not see the same thing twice. It was going to be difficult to decide what I should do with my single day in the area.
I would be heading over to Western Maryland and Pennsylvania again after this so I decided to start with the upper Chesapeake. After seeing some pictures and looking at a topo map, Elks Neck looked like a good bet. I was not disappointed. Here's an approximate route of my day trip-
Maryland may not be as big as California but it has about as much diversity in scenery. The state parks are numerous and many of them are deeply historical in a natural and human sense. Elks Neck State Park
happens to be one of the finer parks which sits on the bay. It is a prominent peninsula which divides the Elk River and North East River's outlet and is not far from the famous Susquehanna River. A circumnavigation would provide good vantage points of all three although the Susquehanna would be distant.
Putting in at Rogues Harbor, I traveled northeast at first which took me up the Elk River. I was greeted by a veritable flock of bald eagles presumably soaring on a thermal. It is not a rare sight on this massive estuary, but still glorious! Other raptors were in the trees, staring down at me as if I was their next meal.
|Birds of prey were everywhere|
|Though mostly rocky, the beaches had a tropical feel to them|
After this excellent start, I made a U-turn and started heading towards the end of the peninsula. The Turkey Point Light is a little lighthouse that sits on the end of Elks Neck above its towering bluffs. These banks give the point great relief which makes for good views of nearly the entire upper Chesapeake. I landed my kayak and took off on foot, easily coming to the lighthouse and observation points.
This bay has played such a critical role in state and national history and it continues to do so today. The upper bay was teeming with commercial and recreational boaters. Some were just other kayakers like me out for a nautical stroll. Others were massive ships and tug boats, probably heading to Baltimore. This was one of those unusual times were I somewhat enjoyed watching traffic! Some people like to people watch, I like to boat watch.
|On top of the bluffs of Turkey Point|
I rounded the lighthouse point and continued to go up the outlet of the Northeast River. There wasn't a current at all and the tides were hardly noticeable. My furthest destination were the White Banks. I could see them from miles away which gave the illusion that they were very close. After about an hour and a half of paddling from Turkey Point, I was in their shadow. I strolled along the beach below the banks and took many pictures.
On my way back, I encountered many boaters but everyone was cordial. On a nice Sunday such as this, I can understand why everyone would want to be out here. September was a perfect time too- lots of birds to see and the temperatures were hot but not scorching. It was a good reason to take a swim from time to time.
Back on the boat launch, I knew that this would not be the last time I would kayak the Chesapeake. As with Maine, there is a robust industry around kayaking and a substantial number of resources. Unfortunately, googling "kayaking the Chesapeake" is, as they say, like taking a drink of water from a fire hose- just too much information. I'll have to find some better written resources in the future. In the meantime, I bid farewell to the ocean and headed back inland to the Appalachian Mountains for more climbing.
Read. Plan. Get Out There!