Kayaking at Siltcoos River Trail
We drove over to the coast just for fun, with no actual plan about what to “do” when we got there. Mostly we just wanted to get out of the house after getting our vaccine.
When we got close I thought maybe this was the day I’d get out on the water with BF (who had been trying to get me to go kayaking for quite some time). I was asking Google about paddle boats and it sent me to this place on Siltcoos Lake, just south of Florence.
When we got there it was all about kayaks. Lucky BF! Maybe it was the sign, or maybe it’s because I let BF go ask about the rentals.
We went down a trail behind the house to check out the kayaks. The owner reassured me that this kayak could hold someone my size. (I’m about 330# and my hips measure 64” around – I’m a VERY bid girl, and in my mid-50s I’ve got some mild joint issues as well, especially in the knees.) And BF was so happy. I figured if I could fit in the boat, why not?
Can a Fat Girl Go Kayaking?
Amazingly enough: YES!
Getting in the kayak was really awkward. I have been out on a few lakes in a large inflatable boat/raft. Getting in the boat is usually a little tricky – and my main approach is kind of like… falling in. That’s great in a 6-man raft, but how to get into a single kayak?
They had a launcher on their dock to help us get out on the river. It’s a clever plastic thing attached to the dock that holds the boat while you climb in. I was worried (as always) about breaking their device. Stepping down into the boat required a little bit of a jump or fall at the point my knee starts to give out. But I did manage to climb in without breaking anything and from there it was just a matter of sitting down.
(I have watched some YouTube videos since then that show more horizontal approaches to getting in the boat and would have been useful if I had planned the trip instead of showing up on the spur of the moment. If we go again, I’ll try sitting on the dock and scooting into the boat instead.)
Getting used to the paddle was my first challenge.
We pushed off the dock and once out on the water it felt pretty good. The boat was mostly stable under me and after a couple of minutes I was not worried about it turning over or dumping me out.
I tried paddling in a circle while waiting for BF to get in his kayak – and promptly ran into the branches hanging over the opposite bank. I managed to push my way out of the branches and get turned around while the guys offered helpful advice like, “watch out for the trees!”
Paddling a kayak is not the same as rowing a boat.
Once we were both in the water and paddling in the same direction, keeping the boat straight, or at least in the middle of the little creek was not to difficult. The advice I got as a first-timer was to not paddle too deep, so I was pretty cautious at first, but more aggressive as we went along.
Siltcoos Boat Trail
The creek was great. I loved being on the water and there were lots of rocks and trees and stuff sticking up out of the water to create a little obstacle course as we went down the river.
We paddled about a mile down the creek to the dam and back. You can get out of the boat at the dam and drag it over somehow and get in the creek below and go all the way to the ocean. Some of the kayakers who were heading back said the water was pretty shallow and the boats were getting a little stuck in places because of the low tide.
But more importantly, I was not sure I could get out of my boat! So we turned around a the dam. The trip back was much quicker as I felt more confident with the boat and the paddle.
Then went up the other way past the launch dock and out into Siltcoos Lake. It was windy and the water was choppy but the boats still felt really stable. We got to do some faster paddling and even race a bit on the open water. I gave my BF a run for his money there – but I would not describe the overall speed a ‘fast’ – about what you might go on an average bike ride when the wind was at our backs.
The Moment of Truth: Can I Get Out?
After a couple hours of paddling my hands and wrists hurt. It felt like I was getting blisters, and my wrists were aching like I’d been typing non-stop for a week. It was time to see if I could get out of the boat!
It was a struggle. I let BF go first to demonstrate while I made a turn around without running into the trees this time. Then it was my turn.
Getting the boat in the launcher was pretty easy, but I wasn’t even sure where to begin trying to get out of the boat. I was wedged in there pretty good. (Not uncomfortably tight, but think “wet jeans”…) My legs had plenty of room under the deck, but I could not get my knees up into the opening of the cockpit…so stepping out of the boat was not going to happen. The rim of the boat was a little too high to get any leverage to lift my butt out first.
Again, I got some helpful encouragement from my guy: “Imagine the boat is on fire. I bet you could get out if it was on fire!”
Yeah, I’d push this thing out of the launcher and jump in the lake!
I finally managed to roll over inside the cockpit and get my knees on the seat and then back to standing and step out with a hand from my smart-ass, but honestly trying to be helpful BF. I’m just glad there was no one with a camera around – that’s one YouTube video I can live without.
I definitely want to do this kayaking thing again! It’s been a long time since I could spend a few hours out in nature and just enjoy the scenery. I’m so big that my back and knees hurt when I stand up for more than a few minutes, never mind a 2 mile hike! This experience was like losing half my body weight and turning the clock back 20-30 years. I’d definitely recommend it to other oversized gals (and guys) who like the outdoors, but can’t enjoy it on foot.
The guy at the rental place was super nice and helpful and the Siltcoos River Trail was a perfect place for my first time. I wish that I had paid more attention to what kind of kayak we were in. Chris thought they were your basic Walmart kayaks and so we left talking about buying a couple.
I spent the next week researching kayaks and looking for one that claimed it could carry my weight. Those Walmart boats look like they top out their capacity around 275, and I’d really like to know if that’s what I was paddling in or not.