Posted March 26, 2020
Written by Melyssa Millett
If you are taking the time to read this, it is likely that you find solace in being in nature during difficult or stressful times. Like me, you are especially content when partaking in passive outdoor recreation. Being in nature can be meditative and invigorating simultaneously, and this is especially true when you can share those experiences with your loved ones and friends.
Thus, over the course of the past few weeks, I, like many others, have been anxious thinking about how I would maintain my mental and physical health while also limiting my social contact with friends and loved ones. Being in nature was the first solution that came to mind, but social distancing would still make gathering a group of friends or family difficult on a narrow trail.
Last week, I was sitting in my car, at the beach, looking out at the water and admiring how beautiful the spring weather was despite this stressful and isolative time. And it hit me. What better way to combine my need to be outside in nature, with my need to be social and interact with friends and family?! Paddling. A kayak, paddleboard, or even canoe would automatically put each person in the group at least six feet away from each other, while still permitting us to be active in the fresh air, and to talk with each other in person. Last Wednesday, I put it to the test. I asked a group of friends to come together and get out on the water – and it was phenomenal. The beginnings of spring are even more visible, in my opinion, from a river or estuary, and the beautiful scenes and quiet sounds of nature are the perfect backdrop to take a few moments to center yourself, be present, and let go of the worries that may be weighing on you (and there’s the added benefit of social interaction)!
I would highly recommend that, if you have the resources, you plan a morning or afternoon to try it yourself. If you are unfamiliar with paddling in the spring or fall, here are some tips and tricks to help make it a great experience:
- Layers are your friends! Not only will the air between layers act as extra insulation to keep your body heat from escaping, but you have the option to remove a layer if you start to sweat.
- Wear a life jacket! I know that during the summer having a PFD on board seems sufficient, but in the off-season, when the weather is colder, it is best to wear your PFD at all times while on the water. It will also help maintain your core body temperature!
- Wool socks! Even if your paddle drips on your feet or you get splashed, wool and other synthetic hiking socks are fantastic because they will keep you warm even when you are wet – avoid cotton!
- Make a float plan! Especially in the off-season, making a float plan is extremely important. Let someone (who will not be paddling with you) know when and where you intend to go, and what time they should expect you back.
- Bring snacks and water! The first few times you go, make the experience casual – don’t plan to be out for too long, and take plenty of breaks. Once you are more comfortable, you can always extend your trips!
So, if you need a way to be social and active in nature this spring while following social distancing recommendations, paddle into spring with me. Follow these tips and tricks for safe and enjoyable spring paddling, get outside, and share photos or experiences with us! In addition to beaches like Onset Beach and North Water Street Beach, here is a map of other possible launch points in Wareham!