Kayaking Charles River (Newton and Dedham Massachusetts)

On August 10, 2019, I made my first solo kayaking trip in Massachusetts. This trip was an 11 miles journey that tested my endurance to the point that I had to call my best friend to push me through to the end.

Planning the Route

The first thing for this trip was looking for a place that I could rent a kayak, and that had a challenging route for me. So I found "Charles River Canoe & Kayak: Nahaton Park, Newton MA" that rented kayaks all day for an affordable price. I went to Google Maps and saw that I had the option to make a very long trip around 11 miles. With my route set, I packed my gear and drove to start my adventure.

An Optimist Start

I arrived at the kayak rental place and found parking easily. I had to walk a short path to get to the rental area, but once I got there, I picked a map and saw it had the route I wanted to do.

I asked the owner of the kayaking rental place how long the route take which he said around four hours and recommended to rent the kayak for all day. I rented a single kayak, and they gave me a dry bag to put all my stuff. So far, so good, let's take an awesome selfie and take off.

A Busy Area for a While

At the start of my trip, there was a decent amount of people in kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. There were mostly families with their kids, and then there was me thinking how far I will need to paddle until there were no longer people around.

I kept going padding at a good pace and living the moment. Then I saw some awesome ducks minding their own business.

A Rock Attacked Me

After seeing the ducks, I kept going at a good pace but started to noticed that the water was not too deep at all. My kayak was nearly touching the ground, so I had to maneuver around the water, looking for more water LOL. And that when it happened, my kayak got stuck on a rock.

The irony (a deja vu) is that this exact situation happened to me a couple of years ago on another kayaking trip in Puerto Rico. I "survived" both experiences, so I'm happy. After having a short meditation with the rock, I continued my journey and passed a bridged with some graffiti on it and further behind two electric poles. 

Made it to Point #11

I had been paddling for about one hour and a half and made it to Point # 11 on the map.

I decided to take a short break here to eat something and catch my breath. It was an excellent comfortable area with a playground for kids not too far.

After resting for about 20 minutes, I got on my kayak again to continue my journey. I stopped for a moment to take a picture of a bridge when I noticed another guy on a kayak coming. At that point, I was considerably far from where you rent kayaks, so seeing him there surprised me.

I talked to the guy, and he told me he came from Millennium Park, which was about a mile away to where I was. I asked him what route he was doing, and he told me he was going a bit further and then turned back. I showed him my map and the path I was doing, and he told me he didn't know about it. After chatting a bit, we went our separate ways.

Found a Deer

At this point, the guy I met was paddling in front of me. I was taking my sweet time taking some pictures and enjoying the view.

After a little while, I started to paddle faster until I pass the guy and left him behind. Then I looked at my left and saw a deer.

The image quality is not the best, but there is a deer in the picture above, I promise. I wanted to get closer, but I didn't want to scare the deer away, so that the best I got. I kept going for about half an hour or so paddling behind Dedham mall. At this point, I was about halfway through my trip but still had a long way to go.

Made it to Point #6

After crossing the bridge, I reach Point #6 on the map provided, which was about five miles from where I started. This location was the former site of Dedham Boat Club, which existed from 1874 until 1935. Some pieces of history, but all I saw were some wood sticks.

A little ahead, I reach Point #4, which looks like a decent place to stop. This area was initially called Bullard Landing Place and is a short walk from Dedham square.

That was not my destination, so I kept going reaching another bridge located on the conveniently named" Bridge St."

After the bridge, I needed to paddle a little bit to reach Motley Pond. Along the way, I saw a small house and a boat with a roof. It appears boat is for tourist trips or something like that.

As I was getting closer to Motley Pond, I noticed that the paths started to divide into two, and I wasn't sure which way to go. I checked Google Maps to see where I was and adjusted my trajectory accordingly.

I took a right, and after a while, I saw some duck just chilling there.

After that, I reach Point #2, which is, according to the map, the Riverdale Castle at Noble Greenough School. There was a house there with a couple of boats, so I wanted to know what it was. I looked at Google Maps and saw is a place called" Noble Day Camp." It seems like a fun place for kids, but as for me, I had to keep going. I had a lot more to paddle.

The moment my anxiety attacked

After passing through Motley Pond, I had to paddle through a narrower path to get back to where I have rented the kayak. I needed to go from Point #2 to Point #13. At this point, I have been in the water for three hours, and my body was tired. My muscles were hurting a bit from kayaking none stop for so long. Still, I was confident in my physical condition, and I knew I could handle a couple more hours, no problem.

However, I was not expecting how my anxiety would increase so much that I got frightened. There was no one around me. I was all by myself on an unknown land in a different country. My heart started to beat fast, and I felt a panic attack was about to come. I get panic attacks sometimes where I shake uncontrollably, unable to breathe or properly control my body. Is terrifying, and it was the worst thing that could happen to me at that moment.

Then I had to pee, so I stop for a quick moment in the middle of nowhere. That was a fantastic pee since it helped calm my anxiety a bit. I looked at Google Maps and saw that I had a lot more to paddle.

A helicopter to the "rescue."

So after peeing, I got on the kayak, and I heard a helicopter passing. I idiotically imagine the people from the kayak rental place sent a rescue helicopter for me since I was taking too long. That was my anxiety kicking stupid thoughts. The reality was that there was no excuse here. No one was going to rescue me. It was all on me, and I had to muster all my courage and keep going.

An Old Lady Kayaking

I kept paddling, reaching Point #1 on the map (Dolan Center Launch), and as I arrived there, I saw an old lady on her kayak. It was like God himself sent someone to let me know everything was all right.

We both stop to rest, and since I got out of my kayak first, I tried helping the old lady dock her kayak. The thing is that as she was getting off her kayak, I pull it too hard, and she almost fell in the water. That was so embarrassing, but anyway it was all right. I talked to the lady for a bit, and she was so kind. I told her I was a little nervous and she helped me calm down and wished me good luck. I thanked her for the encouragement and got on my kayak to push on once again.

Calling reinforcements because I was too scared

After leaving the sweet old lady, I looked at the map and saw that I had a long-ass way to go. I was too scared, my anxiety levels we're at the point of panic, so I decided to call my best friend for moral support. I called this guy:

Jorge is a pianist and music composer that recently debuted his first album called  "A Solas" (the Spanish word for" By Myself"). Download the album just because I said so, is fantastic! Anyway, Jorge answers his phone, and I explained my predicament, and like a good friend, he told me that he would help reach my destination.

No more pictures from this point

After I left Dolan Center, I was so focused on not having a panic attack that I didn't take any pictures. So from Point #1 to Point #14, I did not take pictures. I was so nervous, and my anxiety levels we're the highest I have ever felt while kayaking. Thanks to Jorge, I kept it under control, but it was tough. I talk with Jorge about our usual topics, music, Knights of the Old Republic, and among other stuff. 

Anyway, after we had that conversation, I reached Point #14 in the map, and it was the only time I took a picture while I talked with Jorge (remember to download his album" A Solas")

When I got there, I noticed there was some considerable water pressure going that way, and since I was so scared, I turn around like a wimp. I idiotically though I would capsize and drown, which was extraordinarily stupid. Jorge asked me about what was wrong, and I explain the situation. He helped me figure out that was the way to go and encourage me once again to push forward.

I did, and since there was a lot of water pressure, I didn't have to paddle much. I only needed to focus on keeping the kayak from slamming into something. It didn't take long to reach Point #13, and when I did, I was so relieved, and in nearly an instant, my anxiety and nervousness went away.

I told Jorge (which at that point was on the phone with me for about an hour) that I made it and that I was close to the kayak rental place. We ended the call there, and I thanked Jorge for supporting me in my idiotic solo adventures. Without any doubt, it would have been brutally challenging to make it by myself. I was too scared, but Jorge pushed me through it. So thank you, Jorge, and you can thank him also by downloading his album "A Solas" (available in all platforms).

Made it back with sore muscles

After reaching Point #3, I had paddled about 25 minutes to get back to the kayaking rental place. At that point, I have been kayaking for five hours, almost non stop. My arms and shoulders were killing me. It felt like I did an Insanity workout twice consecutively. The last mile took a lot out of my physical condition, but I'm unbelievably proud that I made it back to the starting point.

When I got out of my kayak, I was beyond exhausted, but I felt like a champion. I made an 11 miles solo kayaking trip that took five hours, in a country that is not my own. In Puerto Rico, I made challenging kayaking trips, but not even once, I got as nervous and as scared as I did on this trip. Since moving from Puerto Rico to the United States in November 2017, I felt out of place (still do), fully knowing that this new land is not my own. However, I had the opportunity to grow as a human being. I have been pushing myself to get the most out of this country, both personally and professionally. Still, Puerto Rico is my homeland and the place I can go back to explore because there is no doubt that Puerto Rico had many kayaking places for me to discover. I'm thankful for the kayaking trip on Charles Rivers and looking forward to my next adventure. 

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