Reader’s Stories: Paddling Mis-Adventures

Sometimes our day on the water canoeing or kayak fishing doesn’t turn out like we expect. When we asked readers for their stories for our 2020 Story Contest, a couple brave souls entered tales of their misadventures.

If you’ve ever had a paddling day go wrong, you’ll be able to relate…

When’s that Submission Deadline Again?

By Rebecca Antkowiak (Oil City, Pennsylvania)

“I don't think this would qualify as an "awesome" paddling story, but it's one I won't forget!

“My boyfriend and I were fishing a tournament back towards the end of the summer. The fishing was average, but the scenery on the water was beautiful! From bald eagles to various forms of wildlife, there was something to pause to admire at every bend.

“Well, it started to get a bit later in the morning and knew that we still had to submit all of our fish! That section of the river had very spotty service, and we started to panic thinking we wouldn't get all our fish submitted in time! We began to paddle fast and furious against the brutal wind. After a series of.."I think the launch is around the next bend"...which it never stress levels were through the roof!

rebecca antkowiak
Kayak angler, Rebecca Antkowiak

“Now I am not in the best shape of my life, but I somehow continued to paddle non-stop, straight ahead against the wind for about 2 miles. Around the next bend, we entered a familiar stretch, one in which I knew the end was in reach. Time was not on my side and my rubbery arms needed a break, so I decided to paddle to the side and sprint up a hillside to the road where I knew I'd get service.

“As I pulled my kayak up to a safe spot, I quickly realized I was so worried about the pain in my arms and shoulders, I didn't once stop to think that my legs were so cramped up from being out on the water for so long! In my haste to get up the hill, I took 2 steps and collapsed to the ground! Ha! What a sight I must have been! After dusting off my pride, I managed to get to the top of the hill to connect to the internet. Satisfied with my submissions, I took to the water again to finish the last leg of the trip.

“Upon arrival at the launch, I was confused, but yet surprised to learn that I read the time wrong and could have paddled straight to the launch without the hassle or embarrassment. What a day!”

Stuck in 2020!

By Sheila Goss (Vermont)

“Hindsight is 2020...well, in hindsight, my decision to paddle that day may not have been the wisest. However, it was a beautiful sunny day, and my husband and I had managed to find a rare campsite opening in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont for a few days.

“We love that area of Vermont and enjoy paddling its many remote ponds and lakes. Paddling season 2020 was one of adaptations, disappointments and altered destinations. Our plans for paddling in Algonquin Provincial Park had been COVID-ified, and even our trips to the Adirondacks were cut due to the pandemic travel restrictions.

Sheila Goss and gryphon
Sheila Goss and her paddle pup, Gryphon

“So a chance to paddle the Nulhegan Pond section of the Northern Forest Canoe trail was welcomed, even if we knew water levels were low due to another 2020 highlight—a regional drought.

“The access area for this pond is often "iffy", as it cuts through a section of thick marsh before reaching the pond's open water. On this particular day, the access was barely identifiable, and the long quagmire seemed to present an insurmountable obstacle.

“My husband, deciding his heavy fishing kayak would never navigate the slop, opted to remain onshore and walk with his dog while I paddled my solo canoe with my faithful paddle pup Gryphon. I thought (forgetting this was 2020 so disaster was inevitable) that since I've paddled many muddy spots before, no problem!

“Launching was interesting, as my dog and I had to walk a narrow log to get out far enough into the muck to be able to enter my canoe. Once in, we slogged our way through the access area, alternating paddling with my BB Sunrise paddle, poling with the paddle, and pushing along with my BB special edition bent-shaft paddle.

“We reached open water, and enjoyed paddling along on the windy waters, watching loons, heron, and small shore birds. Alas, I had to deal with the thick, adhesive mud as I "paddled" back through the access area.

“Our departure water channels had filled in, and we faced nearly impenetrable mud and goo in our slow, plodding attempts to return to shore. Again, paddling was ineffective, and poling only slightly effective, as we sloooowly, approached the shore. My husband, watching, could barely contain his laughter, and kept saying that he had obviously made the right choice to stay securely on land.

“I managed to get within 10 feet of shore. The mud was over 4 feet deep, based on paddle measurements, and the consistency meant I would never be able to walk through it...and certainly, neither would my dog! It was time to revert to plan B.

pulling canoe into shore

“I used my throw rope to toss a line to my husband, and with the added oomph provided by his pulling, my push/paddle/pole technique resulted in my reaching a log near shore. Yeah, we made it! My dog was unhappy about getting his legs quite muddy as he disembarked, but we had succeeded in conquering the Quagmire of 2020!”

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