Polar Explorer Eric Larsen
Day 2: New YorkATHON
Eric Larsen
23 October 2019 | New York
With winds gusting upwards of 20 knots and waves breaking over the deck of our kayak, we faced a stark decision. Keep paddling across the open and increasing swell of Cumberland Bay or turn North and head toward Plattsburgh.

In reality it only took about a half hour of paddling to realize that we were in a fairly serious situation. The weather forecast called for increasing winds throughout the day and as we paddled more the wave size increased substantially. It wouldnâ??t wouldnâ??t take much...

I started think about a similar situation that happened one blustery fall day in northern Minnesota where I used to live. A local man and a young seasonal worker were kayaking in some big waves in Lake Superior less than half a mile from shore. The tipped and both men died. One had a young daughter. The other was in his early 20â??s. Had they been wearing wet or dry suits they most likely would have survived.

While tipping a kayak isnâ??t necessarily a death sentence, tipping a kayak in four or five foot waves in cold water while not wearing a wet suit has a low chance of survival.

Which is why, in between big sets of waves, we turned Northwest. Now in a following sea I had to use my paddle as an additional rudder to keep us at a safe angle to the waves.

Still, we managed to cut more west to a marina in Plattsburgh. Every few minutes, however, I had to rudder hard to the right when a large set of waves crashed by. After and hour and a half, we were close. I told Gus to keep pulling hard. And then, to our relief, we were on the leeward side of the marina. Safety - what a relief.

We had taken on some water and were a little wet so we quickly changed and unpacked the boat. Progressing in these conditions would be dangerous at best, and looking at the weather report, the wind would be fairly steady for the next several days.

Part of doing these StateATHON adventures is planning and another part is simply adjust those same plans. Itâ??s fairly similar to what happens on big polar expeditions. So without a viable option to continue in the water, Gus and I loaded all our gear into our Osprey packs and started hiking down highway 9.

This afternoon, we made nearly the same distance that we planned on kayaking, 15 miles. Tomorrow we will keep â??roadâ?? hiking where by the end of the day (hopefully) we will intercept our original hiking route.

Lastly, giving back is also a primary goal of this adventure. Please help raise $5,000 to support NYC ICO adventures. Donations will go directly to their programming and can be made through the online fundraising page: https://www.classy.org/campaign/new-yorkathon-supporting-nyc-inspiring-connections-outdoors/c252861

Image: hiking through downtown Plattsburgh.
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