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Paddling The Paddling forum is for discussion that relates directly to wilderness paddling (canoeing, kayaking, rafting). Topics focus on trip planning and gear.


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  #1  
Old 07-23-2009, 07:31 AM
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Trudy Trudy is offline
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Swimming to an island

This was a novel trip for me. I had often kayaked to Rogers Island in the Hudson River to explore and camp. It's a three mile trip from either Hudson or Catskill. But in fact Rogers Island is actually only a 10 minute walk from where I live - if I could walk on water, that is. The last 80 feet is in Hallenbeck Creek, a side channel of the Hudson. The water runs deep and fast here when the tide changes.

I thought about various ways to cross the channel. There was no way to bring the kayak down to the shore - access was difficult and there was no place to park, legal or otherwise. I considered an inner tube, but trials in the backyard pool made me realize how hard it was to paddle a round object in a straight line - I just went around and around in a circle.

I decided the best way to get there would simply be to swim. I waited until conditions were exactly right - low tide at 8 pm, which meant less water to cross and less current.

All my overnight gear went in my REI 45. I hiked down to the shore. It only took a minute to transfer everything into a dry bag, which I rolled up tight.
The shoreline was mucky but the water was calm. My real fear was of snapping turtles. I had seen snappers here as big as turkey platters. Everywhere in the sand were the remains of leathery turtle eggs that had either been dug out by raccoons or had hatched out. I swam as fast as I could, using a one-handed crawl.

It felt strange to be on the island without a boat. I pitched my tent in my favorite spot and settled in to the night sounds - tugboats, trains, a fox barking, deer snorting, the weird cry of a heron.

In the morning the river was wider and there was a slight current. An immature bald eagle regarded me from a treetop. The water felt warm and it was no problem to swim back to shore. I was still very afraid of snapping turtles. I didn't bother to change back to dry clothes, just walked back uphill to my house. It was 7:30 am. I must have looked odd. A woman leaned over her porch railing to check me out but I just pretended to be adjusting a backpack strap.

After all the puzzelment I'd gone through for over a year trying to figure out how to get to Rogers Island, I found the simplest thing to do was just take the plunge.
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Old 07-23-2009, 10:05 AM
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Laurie Laurie is offline
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What a neat idea. I am afraid of snappers too. I had a tug of war with one on our last trip. At least they are slow.

I take it all the gear stayed dry? I'd be worried about that.
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Old 07-23-2009, 10:42 AM
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Trudy Trudy is offline
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Yes, everything stayed dry in the dry bag, which is one of those extra heavy-duty ones that seal with a zipper like a ziplock and then roll down.
Heavy to carry but on the water it floated like a raft, so it was effortless to pull along.
I think I could have actually gotten on top and paddled it. Maybe next time.

I'm not sure if my fear of snapping turtles is irrational or not. It goes back to a book by T. Coraghessan Boyle titled World's End in which a boy swimming in a pond had his leg bitten off by one. It sounded like it could happen. Those things are huge and pull down ducks and geese with ease.
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Old 07-23-2009, 04:16 PM
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Laurie Laurie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trudy
Yes, everything stayed dry in the dry bag, which is one of those extra heavy-duty ones that seal with a zipper like a ziplock and then roll down.
Heavy to carry but on the water it floated like a raft, so it was effortless to pull along.
I think I could have actually gotten on top and paddled it. Maybe next time.

I'm not sure if my fear of snapping turtles is irrational or not. It goes back to a book by T. Coraghessan Boyle titled World's End in which a boy swimming in a pond had his leg bitten off by one. It sounded like it could happen. Those things are huge and pull down ducks and geese with ease.

I'm not sure of how accurate this is.... but... my Dad always used to say that a snapper couldn't open his mouth once he started closing it unless he had closed it all the way. That's what freaks me out even if it isn't true (and my Dad tended to try and scare me with wild stories) I still can't get it out of my head.
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Old 07-24-2009, 07:27 AM
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Trudy Trudy is offline
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This thread reminded me that I've been carrying this fear of snapping turtles around too long. So I googled the question of whether they're likely to bite a swimmer. The answer was overwhelmingly No.
On land snapping turtles can be aggressive if messed with, but in the water they just want to get away from you. What if you stepped on one by accident in the water? It's possible you might get bit, but the chances are very small.
Laurie, as to whether they have to close their jaws all the way before they can open them, I couldn't find anything to substantiate that.

But make no mistake, it's a heck of a bite. In a bite test conducted by National Geographic, snapping turtles were third with 1128 pounds of pressure behind only crocodiles (2489) and hyenas (1123). Pit bulls were at about 300.

So as far as I'm concerned, I guess it is safe to go back in the water.
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  #6  
Old 07-25-2009, 12:44 AM
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Wombat Wombat is offline
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What a wonderful and courageous thing to face our fears, then come to find they were actually unfounded. Well done Trudy! Where I come from, we're more scared of sharks, but it's never stopped me swimming so far.

Kerri
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Old 07-31-2009, 05:10 PM
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WildlifeNate WildlifeNate is offline
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I'm definitely not a strong enough swimmer to do that. I'd get a kayak or canoe down the banks however I could (even if I had to rig a winch/pulley system to raise/lower the boat.
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