Chesapeake Bay Voyage: Cape Henlopen

The Chesapeake Bay Voyage is a series of kayak trips, with the goal of paddling the entire length of the bay from north to south. It is taking place over several weekends during the warm seasons of 2014.

Detour (Sun 4/20/2014): Cape Henlopen

Given a 3-day weekend (National Geographic has “Green Fridays” every other weekend throughout the warm months), I wanted to maximize my trip across the Bay Bridge.  So after our relatively short and easy paddle on Saturday, I took myself to the beach. Gladly I was joined by Peter, who’d loaded his boat on the car and coordinated where we could meet up.

Waking up in the morning, in my new REI tent pitched on lovely Site 35 up against the sand dunes, was heavenly. I think I could have lounged for an hour or two listening to the breeze and smelling the salty air. Eventually I convinced myself to get up. Not sure why the bath house at Cape Henlopen always seems sub par, but I got my shower anyway, we cooked some breakfast and headed out for a walk on the beach.

Road past the barracks of what was formerly Fort Miles

Road past the barracks of what was formerly Fort Miles

Cape Henlopen, formerly Fort Miles, is a coastal preserve on an old military base. Our walkabout took us past the reconstructed barracks and artillery display, then out to the beach itself. The winds had picked up significantly, and after enough of the punishing headwinds we took a trail to the more sheltered side of the peninsula. A kitesurfer and his kid were practicing launching the kite, with limited success, while we beachcombed for razor clam shells, bits of coal, slag, and other interesting finds. Eventually we found a trail through the woods, which led us back to the nature center where you can “rent” bikes for free, and on to our campsite to pack up.

Windy walkabout on the beach

Windy walkabout on the beach

The severe winds were dampening our motivation to go paddling, especially in the churning seas, so we weighed our options and drove up to Prime Hook NWR. I grabbed a water trail map and parked under a tree near the launch, which was gated but still apparently open for car top boats. The warm car, sheltered from howling winds, lulled both of us into a quick nap before we hauled our kayaks to the water. By now early afternoon, we took the narrow and shallow channel downwind to pick up the canoe trail. We hadn’t gone more than a mile or two before we concluded that slogging back through the mega-shallow mud against the wind would be miserable at best and impossible at worst. Instead, Peter identified a spot on his GPS called Foord’s Landing, with a road that came almost to the river. We took out there, walked our boats to the road, and put them on the car as we drove out of Prime Hook. Paddling 3.1 miles, walking probably 2 miles, experience priceless!

Driving back towards the Bay Bridge, we wanted to stop somewhere for a civilized dinner. Since it was Easter Sunday, most places were closed, and we wound up at Hemingway’s at the eastern end of the bridge. Completely renovated in the past two years, the restaurant/bar has big windows overlooking the water and a menu offering everything from decent hamburgers to classy fish dishes. We shared a beer and two entrees, using my new Marine Traffic app to get information about the ships anchored between us and Annapolis, and enjoying the slow kaleidoscope of a sunset.

Link to more photos

Link to Google map of Chesapeake Bay Voyage series

Link to Dave’s Spot tracks

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~ by pasadenagina on May 4, 2014.

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