This website is dedicated to day-touring and recreation kayakers and all those who dream to be. It’s a site developed to remember our paddling trips, spread information and genuinely share our passion for the sport of kayaking. And now, a little history…..
During the summer of 2010, after years of paddling lakes, rivers and harbors in ill-fitting rental kayaks, I decided it was time to purchase my own kayak and so my search for the perfect kayak began. Internet searches led to a dizzying amount of choices and information and the usual sporting goods stores led to disappointment. Most of the kayaks I sat in were just too wide or uncomfortable. Summer turned to fall, fall to winter and still no kayak. Winter turned to spring and with it came the New England Paddlesports Show. There I would have a chance to try many different types and styles of kayaks and speak with actual manufacturer’s reps.
At the paddlesports show, I quickly narrowed my choices down and was seriously considering buying a Necky Eliza, marketed as a women’s specific kayak, when I happened to turn around and notice some reps moving a Wilderness kayak onto the floor, a model that I hadn’t tried yet. At first glimpse from a distance, it looked narrow and long enough, and I decided to inquire about this one last kayak before buying the Eliza.
A closer look revealed the boat I had eyed was a Wilderness Tsunami 13.5 in my favorite color. Sitting in the 13.5 I knew immediately that this kayak was different, it somehow felt different, it felt wonderful, it actually fit. She was a real beauty, a slim day touring kayak with an exceptionally comfortable, fully adjustable seat and plenty of storage. I spent several minutes sitting in her checking out her details. I began rocking left and right and left and right and pictured myself on the water with her, I felt confident in her. In that moment I knew the search was over, I had found my first kayak and I loved her already. If you’re a paddler, you know the feeling, there’s no sense denying it, we all love our first kayaks.
I purchased my beautiful red Wilderness Tsunami 13.5 kayak that day, and thus began my paddling journey. My husband also purchased a Tsunami, the larger version, the 14.5. Life would soon change, the only choices we had to make now was where to paddle, would it be lakes, rivers, harbors or the ocean, so many choices near where we live in the NH/ME seacoast area.
Soon after my first paddle I called my lifelong friend, Lisa, and told her about my new purchase asking if she would like to go kayaking. I knew her answer before I asked. Always up for an adventure, Lisa quickly agreed. So we planned our first girl’s paddle and together we explored Pawtuckaway Lake in Nottingham NH for hours. We quickly caught up on our lives as we paddled around islands and into coves enjoying this new sense of freedom that can only be experienced on water. We enjoyed the sunshine on our faces, the lake scenery, the local nature and kept paddling until we were exhausted and could paddle no more. It was a great day and I was glad she came.
About two weeks later, I received a call from Lisa, stating that she too had purchased a kayak, a large yellow Wilderness Pamlico tandem kayak. She sounded so happy and I was equally happy for her. Her first kayak was soon followed by another purchase, she added a Wilderness Pungo to her kayak family. It wasn’t long after that she told me her mother had bought a kayak, and then her sister also.
As the summer wore on it seemed every phone call brought news of a recent purchase. Kayak after kayak were being acquired by family and friends. Tandems, day touring, rec boats and even break apart kayaks were filling the garages of people I knew. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. What had I started, had everybody contracted that world wide, little malady, known only to paddlers? Was I responsible for spreading, dare I say, kayak fever? By mid-summer it was evident that the fever was spreading and I was secretly glad to have shared it.
Where to paddle became the never-ending question of the summer. We were always on the search for the next body of water to kayak but not a lot of information could easily be found about recreational paddling. We had plenty of questions when planning each new destination we wanted to paddle. Was there a public boat launch, was there parking for a trailer, was there restrooms, was the shoreline developed, would there be islands or a beach to land on to take a break? We needed fast facts, and most of the information and books available were written by and for sea kayakers, you know, the ocean folk who travel miles off shore in very long skinny boats. Little information was available for day-touring and rec kayakers like us.
So we sought out our own information. We read books and magazines on kayaking, attended seminars, bought maps and charts, and kayak accessories and started paddling. Oh how we paddled, we paddled with each other, we paddled with husbands, we paddled with children, with nieces and nephews, with grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. We spread the joy of paddling with friends and neighbors and co-workers and we just kept paddling, on and on each summer season. We paddled on weekdays, on weekends and on holidays. We just couldn’t get enough. What started as a new hobby, became our obsession. When we weren’t paddling, we were thinking about paddling, and we paddled on.
Since 2011 our Wilderness kayaks have glided across many of the harbors, bays, rivers, and lakes in both southern New Hampshire and southern Maine as well as other waters found throughout these two beautifully scenic states. Some of the waters we have paddled many times, some waters, once was simply enough.
Each trip brought new experiences and together we learned to read charts and rivers and the sky. We learned to time the tides and take on waves, to avoid rocks and muck and how to spot from afar that perfect little patch of beach with the most incredible views to land on. We learned how to paddle comfortably and properly and more importantly, to paddle safely, and we paddled on.
Over the years, the husbands and teenagers tend to paddle less and less, but the women, we girls, we just keep paddling. It’s our escape, from jobs and chores and parenting. There’s no cooking or cleaning, laundry or care taking while paddling, just sun and clouds and the sounds of the river, or breaking waves or a loon or seagulls and more often than not, the sounds of laughter, the sound of joy filled paddlers. And sometimes, just sometimes, there is just silence, small speechless moments as our eyes soak in nature’s breathtaking beauty. The intense colors of a changing sky at sunset, a mountain view from a river bank, or fall colors reflecting off a perfectly still morning lake.
Paddling in beautiful and new settings reduces stress, exercises the body, challenges the mind and recharges the soul. We are by nature meant to explore, to take risks, to be outside. The water is our gym and our playground, it takes us to scenic spots and remote places seen by only a fraction of the population. Exploring each new paddling destination brings a feeling of accomplishment, comparable to the feeling you have when you reach a mountain peak for the first time or the end of a very long bike trail or jogging route.
The funny thing about kayaking is, you don’t have to be an athlete to paddle and you don’t have to be strong, or young or agile either. There is a kayak and body of water for every paddler, no matter their age or size, or interest. One only needs the spirit of adventure, and a sense of yearning to explore what is around that next river bend, in that cove, down that marshy inlet or on the other side of that rock cropped island.
So here I am, several years older, a few pounds heavier and still I paddle. I’ve learned a lot from kayaking, about myself, my friends, the sport and about the places we’ve paddled, I’ve even learned to create this website. And I hope to continue learning and exploring beautiful new waterways for as long as I physically can. Who knows how long that will be, but for now, what I do know, what I am completely and utterly sure of, is that I still love my first kayak, my beautiful red Wilderness Tsunami 13.5 kayak and in my heart, I will always be a Wilderness Girl, sharing the joy of paddling.
Hope to see you on the water,