BLACKWATER: A PERSONAL REFLECTION
Told by Capital SUP paddler Sharon Pieczenik
Closing my eyes, after a long stressful day at work, I replay a montage of my past weekend’s Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge adventure with Capital SUP. A weight lifts from my body as a calm peaceful feeling settles in. I can breathe easier, my mouth broadens into a smile, and my shoulders dislodge from the hyper-alert sentry posts they migrated to during the day.
Images flow through my mind and the memories replay through my body. This is the type of visual meditation I could indulge in for days. I see my red kayak gliding through the broad, calm waterway, a brown brackish river carving a spacious labyrinth through the marsh. I feel expansive like the vast sky and yet safeguarded by the bank’s tall reeds. I look up and around at my fellow adventurers, a cadre of kind souls seeking kinship, freedom, and release from their work week grind. A multitude of different persons of varying ages and abilities exploring nature’s wonders on paddleboards and kayaks. Smiles abound as paddles splash.
Memories of curiosities along the river make me chuckle. Chris floating by like a King on his throne, a cooler full of refreshing water serving as his royal paddle board seat. Kevin and Lindsay’s valiant efforts to keep their kayak upright as their rambunctious black Lab puppy, Huckleberry, rotated his efforts between diving overboard, pacing the length of the kayak, and clinging to each of the paddlers. Brian stair-stepping by on a paddleboard contraption that made it look like he was running and/or Zumba-ing across the surface of the water.
Although the plan was to set out for three hours on a seven-mile paddle, no great adventure is without its share of hiccups. What started as an ‘I can totally do this’ excursion evolved into an ‘I think I’ll be sore tomorrow’ triumph. Five hours and twelve miles later, we were a crew of valiant explorers who literally found their way back to shore. Although there was no danger of ever truly being lost, a mistakenly marked waterway led our expedition further than planned. It is a testament to the calm, collected, and good-hearted nature of the Capital SUP crew that everyone finished with smiles.
And what better way to celebrate a successful expedition than to end up in a local brewery! New friendships were formed over tater tots and suds. A van ride back was reminiscent of summer camp days – singing songs, laughing loudly, telling stories old and new.
When I close my eyes and think back on my past weekend’s Blackwater expedition with Capital SUP, I am truly carried away. And I know, that if I ever need a moment of peace and perhaps a little chuckle, I can close my eyes and dip back into those waters again.