We are new at kayaking. How difficult is it to launch going upstream and than come back downstream to your car? Everything we see is put in here and take out there. How is this possible with one car?
The art of shuttling
I am not sure what type of water you are planning to paddle on but moving water can be dangerous. Please get lessons and dress appropriately. That being said here are a couple of tips:
- Park downstream and hitchhike to your put in. People will be pretty happy to pick you up, but you will most likely ride in the back of a pickup. Dangerous but it works
- Leave a bicycle at your takeout. One person can ride back to the put in to get the car. A motorized scooter may work as well.
Depends on the water
I do it all the time in the Potomac. It’s not always easy, but it can be a great workout. But moving water changes all the time. Some times it’s slow and calm, other days… forget it. And be prepared for changes in the weather.
go upstream first
Some things to consider
I go solo all the time, but on rivers with a mild current.
Yes, go upstream first. At the end of a long paddle, you’ll appreciate how easy the return trip will be.
When you go upstream, you’ll know how long your trip will take, and what obstacles there will be, if any. A couple of weeks ago, I paddled a local river upstream, only to find that it was unusually shallow and the bottom was too mucky to walk. It hadn’t rained for a while, and the river was a lot lower than on my last trip. I turned downstream, no worse for the wear. Imagine if I had put in further upstream and ran into this mess. I would have been committed to trudging through the muck (if possible) or turning back.
Be prepared to walk your kayak at times. When the river gets narrow and shallow from time to time, the current really picks up. It’s a lot easier to walk in ankle deep water than to fight the current for 100 feet. Wear appropriate shoes. Of course, downstream you’ll just glide past the same spot.
As for the bike suggestion, I don’t know. I am very nervous about leaving my kayak alone for the amount of time it would take to ride the bike back to the car. I’f feel bad enough if someone stole the bike, let alone the kayak and paddles.
Ditto the rivers with a mild current
However; If you want to do a run where the water is simply too fast (may not be deep but betwen calmer pools it’s fast)contact any local rod and gun club and see about paying one of their crew to truck you and your gear up to the putin. A)These guys can give you the lowdown on the stretch you’re about to paddle and B)You can trust your vehicle will be where you left it at the takeout.
I do it all the time on the Charles, Concord, Subury and Assabet Rivers in MA., but it does depend on the river and the strength of the current.
I paddle upstream while I'm fresh and rested, then turn around and enjoy some help from the current going downstream.
Shuttling is still the best option but you don't need to depend on it exclusively. Take a drive to the river you want to paddle on, and see what others are doing, and decide the best method of approach from there.
Also, hook up with some experienced paddlers, they are usually willing to have someone travel along with them, and can give good advice on specific bodies of water.