This past weekend, I crossed the Edisto, Saluda, Enoree and finally the S. Tyger rivers and inched my way toward the mountains, the South Carolina upstate. You know how I feel about rivers - ride a river.
I drove the two hours, leaving my house at 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, to attend Spartanburg Water's Paddle Fest on Lake Blalock, Chesnee, SC. It was well worth the drive.
Watch the news video here - I'm the one with gnarly gray hair, in a brown vest, light blue kayak. You'll see me on the front of the video before it plays talking to my new friend, Sandy, with the awesome kayak cart strapped behind her -- it's how she rolls.
Lately I've been doing some kayaking and thinking about buying a kayak for my birthday. (does anyone else buy yourself a birthday present or is it just me?)
Paddle Fest was a free event that offered kayak and paddleboard lessons and races. Sponsors were there to answer any questions about kayaks, paddleboards, fishing, water conservation and more.....
I could not have designed a better day. Everyone I spoke with took the time to answer all my questions. I can make an intelligent kayak purchase now
. . . except . . . well . . .
. . . now I might want a paddleboard.
Both kayaks and paddlebaords were available for demo. Tom Foote with Pelican/Elie/Aquabound, Academy Sports, Half Moon Outfitters, and New Wave Paddling Boarding offered instructions and/or demo kayaks and paddleboards free of charge. I tried out several, including this delicious little 10' Pelican. I think, however, that I want a kayak with adjustable foot stops. A lady I met up there had a little 8' kayak that only weighs 29 lbs. That would be good for me since I'll be going out solo a lot and need to carry it myself, including loading it up on my vehicle.
The instructors were great helping us learn the various features of the demos. Most of the paddleboarders, like myself, had never done it before and needed some instruction. Some instruction was necessary for this Hobie pedalboat:
Some kayak options:
- Light or heavy in weight according to their construction materials
- Sit-on or Sit-in
- Permanent or adjustable footstops
- Built-in, waterproof storage
- Built-in rodholders for fishing
- Pedalboat - demo in the center, top photo
- Outrigger kits so your dog can ride with you
I will probably want a two person kayak as my second kayak purchase so I can take my grandkids with me. It is big, bulky and heavy, so I will need that second person to help me load and carry the kayak.
I took a beginner's kayak lesson and learned a few good tips. Other kayakers told me their stories about buying, using and transporting kayaks. I'm pretty sure I want a small one with a cart to roll it around on and an anchor so I can float and read a book when I find a peaceful spot on the water. One guy I talked to said he made his own anchor with a hand weight. I might want a trailer hitch rack to hold the ends of two kayaks up off the ground when they stick out the back of my
Watershoe Review: I wanted to review my new watershoes from LL Bean. They are Mary Janes, which are super cute. However, I would have preferred them with socks and there's no way I'm walking around in super cute Mary Janes with socks on. I got blisters on the top of my toes (one review called them "Blister City," maybe I should have paid attention). I need toe-less water sandals instead. Otherwise, the Mary Janes were great - excellent traction, fairly quick drying, easy on/off velcro. Buy a half size smaller than you usually wear, they run big. Don't wear them for actual hard core water use, wear them around the docks and outdoor parties when you want to look super cute and it might rain.
Sit-On, not a Sit-In Kayak
Paddle Leash. Because.... well... you know me.
LokSak bag for my cell phone.
Rubber grip paddles. Ahhhh, luxury, you will want the rubber grips.
Anchor. Another paddler told me I could make my own with a small hand weight.
Trailer Hitch Rack
Kayak Cart - folds up and stores right on the kayak, great for solo kayakers
Inflatable thing you can put on the end of your paddle when you have overturned in deep water. This makes the paddle buoyant. You rest one end of the paddle on your kayak and float the other end of the paddle, then use the stabilized bar to push yourself back on the kayak.
Lake Blalock - Exit 78, I-85, Chesnee. Small engines only so the lake is calm and quiet. Fishing, boating, picnics. Located a 15 minute drive from the Gaffney Outlets. Drop some folks off to shop while the rest of you go to the lake. PS. There is a Starbucks at the Outlets exit, Exit 90, I-85.
Visit Spartanburg - What to do, where to stay, where to eat, etc. I've heard that Spartanburg revitalization is bringing the downtown back, it might be worth a visit.
List of Sponsors:
1. UPSTATE FOREVER
2. SPARTANBURG COUNTY GOVERNMENT
3. SPARTANBURG SOIL AND WATER CONVERSATION DISTRICT
4. PACOLET AREA CONSERVANCY
5. WATERSHED ECOLOGY CENTER
6. PELICAN/ELIE/AQUABOUND (TOM FOOTE)
7. SPARTANBURG PARKS AND RECREATION
8. ACADEMY SPORTS
9. HALF-MOON OUTFITTERS
10. ONE WITH THE RIDE
11. BOILING SPRINGS KNIFE AND FLY
12. NEW WAVE PADDLING BOARDING
13. GLENDALE OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP
14. SOUTH CAROLINA WILDLIFE FEDERATION
15. SPARTANBURG AREA CONSERVANCY
17. THE BACKPACKER
18. DICK’S SPORTING GOODS