Spring Season Paddling Tips
Although the daytime temperatures can be quite warm during spring, water temperatures in the Pine Barrens can range from 55 to 60 degrees. Below are some tips to make the most of your spring trip.
As the maple seeds develop along the banks, water temperatures in the Pine Barrens in spring can range from 55 to 60 degrees. Daytime air temperatures will also range from 45-75 degrees with even temperatures in the mid-80s in late May and early June. Although the daytime temperatures can be quite warm in spring, it is still best to come prepared for a paddling trip with dry-bags containing extra warm clothes (tops and bottoms) for each paddler.
Dress for Paddling Success
A thermos or two with a hot beverage or warm soup will be greatly appreciated by all company while you take a break from paddling on a sandy bank along the river’s edge. This can be a vital step in restoring body heat and preventing hypothermia. It is very important that cotton is not worn (or provided as backup clothes) while paddling. Cotton holds moisture close to the skin and will not dry during a trip. The effect of moisture robs your body of heat up to 32 times faster than air. Synthetic material such as nylon and polyester or woolen clothes are the only smart choice for spring paddling. Even in the summer time, a water and windproof shell are highly recommended. The effect of wind or rain is mitigated greatly by a high-quality shell. All outdoor activities have their challenges, but most of these can be responsibly handled by simple preparations.
Enough snacks and delicious lunch items for all paddlers is essential for staying warm and happy. You will need the fuel to keep up physical activity as well as to keep your body warm. Food is one area to splurge on for a paddling trip, as weight is only a small factor in your preparations. A variety of energy bars, fresh fruit, warm soup, or a hearty number of sandwiches will make for a happy paddle. Staying hydrated is just as important so make sure to pack a few liters per person of fresh water and warm beverages.
Tipping happens-even to the best paddlers. Make sure you stay calm, keep your head above water, and calmly get to shore.
Tipping happens-even to the best paddlers. Make sure you stay calm, keep your head above water, and calmly get to shore. Many areas in the river are shallow, but there are a few deeper spots (up to 6 feet) that you will need to swim in order to reach the bank. You will be thankful if you keep some of your items securely packed together or clipped to the inside of the boat so there will be fewer items floating down stream. It can be a challenge to right a boat once it is submerged, but if you work slowly and calmly it can be done in short order. Make sure to alert others on the trip that you have gone over and slowly get your boat to a solid and ideally shallow area. Preferably with a partner, turn the boat upside down and rock it back and forth until you can pick it straight up and break the waters suction, allowing the boat to drain freely. If in a kayak, identify if the kayak has a drain plug on one end or another. If it does, tip the kayak so that the water flows towards the drain, if it does not then put the kayak on a level surface upside and rock it back and forth until the water is removed. Now would be a good time to get out the dry bag and thermos, and take a warm drink and eat a sandwich or energy bar.
Expert Advice for Paddling Comfort
Shell Layer: Frog-Toggs Jacket and Pants – Cheap, effective and highly packable.
Back up Insulation: Wool Sweaters are cheaply available from many 2nd hand stores and wool and the latest synthetic layers can be purchased new from REI.
Thermos: REI’s Thermos have the best insulation on the market.
Hat: A hat with a brim with a backup wool beanie is the best choice for paddling in spring
Sunglasses: Polarized Glasses are nice for the ability to see through the reflections in the water and to protect your eyes from sun and the occasional twig. Sunglass retainers are recommended.
Footwear: Dedicated neoprene water shoes or very loose fitting rubber boots are a popular choice. However, any shoes or sneakers that you are willing to get wet are okay. Flip flops fall off and get lost. It’s really nice to have a dry pair of shoes and socks to change into when you get back to your car.
Gloves: Some paddlers will appreciate neoprene gloves to keep hands warm throughout the trip.
Undergarments: No cotton! Synthetic, silk, or wool are the choices to avoid the dreaded “soggy bottom”
Seat Pad: A Piece of closed cell foam from an inexpensive sleeping pad can be a great choice for a seat pad. This will give you great insulation and won’t be too bulky to change your center of gravity in the boat.