Next to running, kayaking has become one of my favorite outdoor activities. I love to pull my paddle through smooth water. I love the solitude of a quiet river. I love being surrounded by nature. I was able to find all of these in New Buffalo, Michigan while kayaking the Galien River.
After a quick Google search, I found an outfitter that would rent me a kayak for the afternoon. I packed a cooler, dropped my mom off at work and hit the road. The rentals didn’t open until 11, so I spent the morning hiking around Indiana Dunes State Park. From there, it was about 25 minute drive to the kayak launch.
The kayak launch is on the side of the Red Arrow Highway, and I almost overshot it. Third Coast Surf Shop had a pretty nice selection of canoes and kayaks to rent by the hour or day. I decided to rent by the hour and spent around 2.5 hours paddling out and back towards Lake Michigan which ended up being about five miles. This paddle set me back forty dollars, which I paid upon return.
Waiver signed, I sat in the kayak and was off. The murky brown water offended my eyes since it was not the crystal clear spring waters I was used to paddling. Despite the ugliness of the water, I was still surrounded by the beauty of nature. Cattails stood sentinel guarding the river bank. Lily pads floated in bunches dotted with yellow flowers. Marsh grasses waved in the breeze. I glided by three snapping turtles sitting in the sun doing what looked like turtle yoga, their feet stretch out to the maximum length. As I rounded a bend of marshy grasses, seventeen mallard ducks floated by the front of my boat. But what really caught my eye was a fast moving patch of grass. At first I thought that it was just some debris catching the current the same as I was. When the grass began swimming faster than the kayak, I knew it was an animal, and upon closer inspection, I spied a muskrat. He must have been taking some marsh reeds to work on his house.
At about two and a half miles out, I found a nice boat ramp to haul out and eat lunch. After stretching my legs and filling my belly, I turned around and headed back towards the launch. On the return trip, I passed many families that seemed to be kayaking for the first time. They were making tons of noise, so the animal sightings ceased. Before I knew it, I was gliding under Red Arrow Highway and returning to land. I returned my kayak, said goodbye to Michigan, and aimed the car for Indiana. Not a bad way to spend a Midwestern day.