How to return to car?

Hi all,

I’m new to this forum and fairly new to kayaking. My husband and I have been really getting into kayaking over the past year, living in MI it is a beautiful way to explore the outdoors. Anyways, we used to always rent our kayaks but now we are looking into buying one ourselves.

So now i have a silly (?) question: To all the couples out there that will be kayaking together on their own… how do you return to your car/ how do you handle being picked up? Is it common for rental companies to arrange to be picked up by them (for $$). I would assume there is more people that will go just with the two of them? None of our relatives or friends are into kayaking…

Thanks alot!!

ps this is not a joke eventho it sounds as silly as it does

A few ways.

First, both you and your husband can drive separate cars, leave one at the take out, then drive the other to the put in (a river I’m assuming), then paddle down to the take out car.

Next, you can drop the yaks off at the take out, drive to the put in and bicycle back up to the take out.

Or you can paddle up river, the float down to the car.

Or hire a shuttle service.

A couple options
Join a local paddling club, or just try to find other friends that may paddle with you. With multiple cars, one can leave a car (or more) at the take out so that a vehicle is waiting to drive people and/or boats back to the put-in to retrieve other vehicles. This is called a “shuttle”

If you can’t find anyone to paddle, then look for trips that you can do without a shuttle…that is, pick flatwater rivers that you can paddle upstream to a point where you turn around and paddle back to your car. Or paddle on ponds from one access. If you are really enterprising and want to do a downstream run, unload your boat at the put in, drive to the take out, and ride a bike back to the put-in, locking it to a tree or fence while you paddle. At the end of the day, don’t forget to go back to retrieve the bike.

Have fun!


What kind of kayaking?
In flatwater paddling, more often than not you return to the place from which you launched. The exception is when you want to put out two cars and skip the return trip due to current or disinterest in seeing the same scenery both ways, or when current is too annoying to paddle back against. (Tho’ the usual solution for that is to paddle upstream first then return downstream.)

The kind of trip you talk about is more often a whitewater thing, where paddling back to the launch point is a physical impossibility.

So - what kind of kayaking are you talking about doing?

There are lots of people in Michigan who love paddling and it shouldn’t be hard to meet some. You could join a local club, or use the appropriate forum on this site to do so. Obviously, it is easier to set up a shuttle for a point-to-point trip when you have 2 vehicles, each capable of carrying boats.

Yes, many outfitters will shuttle you for a fee, assuming there is a local outfitter or livery where you want to paddle. In my experience, the fee for this service has been getting rather high, in some areas.

Believe it or not, some folks do river trips as there-and-back trips, paddling upstream in one direction. Obviously, this depends on your fitness and skill level, and the strength of the current. If you do this, it is probably best to do the upstream leg first, when you are fresh and so as not to misjudge the strength of the current and not be able to return.

A few rivers make sharp loops where it is actually possible to paddle a good distance on the river, and return to the starting point over a fairly short portage. But the portage is always uphill, assuming you paddle the river downstream.

On very popular rivers such as commonly run whitewater rivers, it is usually possible to wait around the put-in and meet up with someone who is willing to set up a shuttle with you. Alternatively, you can drive to the takeout, and hitch-hike back to the put-in. If you are dressed like a paddler, and especially if you are carrying a paddle, many other paddlers will stop and pick you up.

If you don’t expect to see others on the river, you can leave a bicycle hidden at the take-out point so as to be able to ride back to the put-in to retrieve your vehicle. I don’t doubt that roller skates or scooters have also been used for this purpose. But if the river has any gradient at all, the ride will always again be uphill.

On a lake, of course, you can just paddle back to your put-in site. Be aware of the wind conditions, however. Many folks have a natural tendency to start out in a downwind direction, because it is easier, and then find they have a difficult return upwind. Also, many times the wind is light or nonexistent in the morning and early afternoon, only to pick up in the mid or late afternoon, and when it does so, it seems as if it is always blowing from the direction you put in.

Several ideas
My gf and I often each take vehicles and do our own shuttle. A few times I’ve left a bicycle at the take out when I’m paddling solo. I lock the bike to a tree. When my trip is over, I swap my yak for my bike (locking the kayak to a tree), then pedal to the put in and return for the yak.

Sometimes we pay an outfitter for a ride. The people in Parker, PA will drive with you to the put in, then drive your vehicle back to the take out. The fee there is $15 and we always tip the kid $5. The tip has come in handy. One time my Jeeps top was down and there was a storm. We were dreading driving home in a soggy Wrangler, but the kid had put my top up!

I have also hitch hiked, but depending on the area, it sometimes involves a long wait. One time I walked into a bar at the takeout, hoping to find someone willing to drive my vehicle back. I made an announcement (after asking the bartender if she minded). The only person who wanted to earn a few bucks had been drinking all day and could hardly stand, let alone drive.

yes. the club is best…
…or do the upstream then back.

However, ALWAYS DO IT IN THAT ORDER: up then back down. otherwise you’ll have gone farther than you expected to and/or be tired and still face an upstream paddle back.

This is the voice of experience!

But the clubs are best.

I do upstream and back, like rroberts.
You’ll find an odd but always true thing about paddling up and down rivers: regardless of teh river flow rate, it will always take 2/3 of your total on-water time to paddle upstream, and 1/3 of the time to paddle downstream. Example: if two hours upsteam, one hour to come back down. It’s uncanny.

Park up stream

Paddle into town

Call for a taxi to take one of you back to the truck

Provedeing the town has a taxi.

Do you guys bike at all ?
If we are not with anyone else and are only using one vehicle, I drop my wife off with the boats. Then I drive to the take out and leave our vehicle there. I peddle back to the put-in and lock the bike to a tree or post, and away we go.

I am the lucky one, getting a bike ride and then a paddle.

Like others above have said, we will also on other occasions paddle up river for about two thirds of the day, and then turn around and float back down the remaining third.

Lastly check around for a shuttle service.

When we were up in the Yukon and wanted to do a 35 miles section of the Yukon river we stopped in a little general store and asked them if they knew of anybody that did a shuttle. The store owner got on the phone and within about ten minutes a Germain guy showed up with a old beat up van with a couple of 2x4’s on the roof that were tied on with rope going through the windows.

He drove us to our put-in which was a little Indian fish camp, and dropped us off for $10, (needless to say we gave him more).

Later in the evening when we got to the take out, he was sitting there waiting at our truck, and he explained that he just wanted to make sure we got back safely - Kind of makes you realize that there are nice people all over this great world !



I married a shuttle bunny. I paddle.
She finds something to do, and then picks me up at the designated spot.

This is not totally fair, because my wife does paddle with me now and then. She and I did the Platte in Sleeping Bear in Michigan. But she does not like “hard stuff” and prefers to go find a warm rock where she can read and relax while I am on the river.

Another idea
regarding bicycling. Many of the rivers I kayak have “rails to trails” bike trails along the river, making a bicycle/kayak combo a great option.

what I do
when on rivers I always paddle up the river, the go back to the put in. As stated by someone earlier, always do the hard part first. I went downriver first and couldn’t paddle back up, so had a bit of a walk.

I’ve done this on the St. Francis River before. I Take my GPS, Cell, and a book. I’ll go down river, explore all the side shoots etc while my old lady goes shopping somewhere down river. When I find a good take out, I call my old lady with the coordinates and have her plug them into the Tom Tom. Then I pull out the book and relax while I wait.

groups are the best
If you are looking for a paddling group try to google just that for your area. Another option might be to google www.meetup groups/ you might find an already eastablished group in your region, or you might find plenty of area people looking to join a group, it just needs someone to get it going. To give you an idea of how these groups work try to google other established groups in cities like Albany, NY or the pacific rim of washington and oregon. Good Luck!

yeah, well, I can…
…understand why she doesn’t want to paddle with you too often.

try this link