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Great Outdoors: Adventure on the Water

by on June 29, 2018 3:01 PM

On a sunny summer day in 2012, Mindy Krause went on her first kayaking sojourn. Although the State College resident went with experienced kayakers, she didn’t really need anyone to show her what to do.

 “It’s pretty intuitive,” Krause says. “The hardest part, in my opinion, is learning how to catch your balance and perfect your paddle stroke to travel in different places.”

Since her first time kayaking, Krause has sought out this bond with nature – the sun on her skin, peaceful sounds of rushing water, and the calming ambiance she experiences while kayaking.

“It’s a great way to enjoy nature and see scenic trails from a much different view,” she says. “Many waterways I’ve kayaked run parallel to roadways and walking trails. The perspective you get from the water is much different, however, and is very eye-opening. I personally feel much more connected to nature.”

Ed Bowman, owner of Tussey Mountain Outfitters in Bellefonte, has seen interest in kayaking grow exponentially since he opened his doors 40 years ago.

“A lot more people seem to be looking to recreate now more than before,” Bowman says. “The sport has become very popular in recent years; more people seem to want to be outside. Kayaking is appealing to both adrenaline junkies and people that just want to relax.”

Whitewater kayaking and recreational kayaking, Bowman says, are very different and require different types of kayaks. The best places that are consistently good for whitewater kayaking are out of Centre County: Lehigh River, Stony Creek River in Johnstown, and Ohiopyle closer to Pittsburgh. But, he says, whitewater kayaking can be done in the county, if you’re a whitewater opportunist.

“For example, we had a lot of rain yesterday, and the water stream in Black Moshannon Creek will be high enough to enjoy some whitewater kayaking,” he says. “However, by tomorrow, it won’t be high enough.”

Bowman adds that the people who want to find the best places to kayak (or canoe) in whitewater locally, should check out a book by Edward Gertler called Keystone Canoeing: A guile to Canoeable Waters of Pennsylvania. Gertler details some of the best streams and rivers to watch after rain for a more adrenaline-pumping experience.

Kashia Quay, the assistant event planner at Bald Eagle State Park, prefers the whitewater kayaking because she likes the idea of having somewhere to go – although she does enjoy the still water when she just wants to relax or is on her own.

Quay started kayaking seven years ago when her mother decided to buy kayaks for the family – they often went camping and decided to invest in their own kayaks.

“The first time we went out was at F.J. Sayers Lake at Bald Eagle State Park,” Quay says. “We brought our Yorkie with us. She jumped and swam from kayak to kayak the entire time. It was a blast and we couldn’t wait to go again.”

Now Quay gets out at least once every week or so in the summer to kayak with family or friends. Her favorite places in the area are Bald Eagle State Park, Spring Creek into Bald Eagle Creek, and Poe Valley State Park.

“The best part about kayaking is that every experience is different,” Quay says. “Even when I return to the same places to kayak over and over, the trip is always different. You see different things, the water level and flow is different, the weather is different. I can always make a new and unique memory every time I get out in my kayak.”

Bowman has a few favorites, too. He says Penns Creek is one of the prettiest little streams in the area, but he also loves the Frankstown branch of the Juniata River toward Hollidaysburg and Pine Creek just a little northeast of the area.

“I would venture to guess that if you get out in your kayak after a hard day’s work, most of the day’s trials and tribulations would disappear,” Bowman says. “Hopefully you’ll get to see some wildlife while you’re out there, too.”

Bowman says that in his experience as a kayak and canoe outfitter, kayakers find each other. He has seen people come in wanting to kayak with others, either to learn more or share rides from one end of the trip to the other – two cars are needed for pickup and drop-off.

“It’s hard to explain, but once they start talking about it, they find others to kayak with – talking about it at church, or at the bar,” Bowman says. “Birds of a feather fly together I guess.”

Quay says she enjoys the solitude of kayaking alone out on the lake at Bald Eagle, but always enjoys the company of friends and family if they can join her. For those looking to give kayaking a try, she says Bald Eagle State Park and the Nature Inn at Bald Eagle are hosting a kayak adventure weekend, on August 10. More information can be found at the naturinnatbaldeagle.com.

In the summer, Bowman’s Tussey Mountain Outfitters on Linn Street in Bellefonte hosts one demo night each month where customers are invited to try out different sizes and brands of kayaks to see what’s right for them.

Additionally, there are outdoor Facebook and Meetup groups that advertise kayaking adventures in the area for group members.

 



Rebekka Coakley is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia.
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