For this first trip, we chose to launch from Charles River Canoe & Kayak in Newton. This site offers rentals and is on a gentle portion of the river. CRCK also has rental sites on Lake Cochituate in Natick and on the Charles in Boston. I don't recommend large lakes for a first kayaking experience because of wind induced waves and power boats, and the Charles in Boston tends to have quite a few power boats as well. The stretch of the river in Newton and Waltham is narrow enough to avoid the waves of open lakes and doesn't tend to have many power boats, so it met all the criteria for RT's first kayak paddle. We headed out early to avoid the inevitable crowds on this beautiful, sunny Sunday.
After making sure that RT was being taken care of by the rental staff I headed to the parking/duck feeding/launch area on the opposite shore. Once on the river it took me a couple minutes to find RT. I'd expected her to be hovering on or near the dock, but she had ventured out further to watch a blue heron having breakfast. I was entertained to discover that the rental staff had given her a boat that matched her hat.
We headed downriver, which is not my usual choice when doing a loop. Heading upriver first takes you under a number of roads (rt 30, on ramps for the turnpike and 128, the turnpike, and 128) so it takes a while to get to a section where you aren't listening to constant road noise. By heading downriver first we escaped the road noise fairly quickly, and the current on this stretch of the river is fairly minimal. Adding to that this morning was a stiff breeze blowing into our faces which we both decided was better to have at our backs on the way back.
We chatted as we paddled - about paddling, family, friends, and everything under the sun. Our pace was relaxed, a pleasant paddle on a gloriously beautiful day.
The river critters were quite active this morning. During our paddle we saw ducks, herons (3 in total), and to RT's delight swans with cygnets. We did resist the urge to sing the ugly duckling, though it was a close call.