|By Julio Perez
This was a required trip for a Cuban. After all “La Bohemia” was Cuba’s combination LIFE and People magazine for many years. It was an icon of island culture, full of politics, propaganda, entertainment and humor. This Bohemia river is not an icon of a country, culture or people other than those who live there. It is a Chesapeake river of modest length if compared to the Potomac, James or even the Chester. The Boh is impressive if one takes the time to explore it intimately.
The trip was made eventful by a pontoon plane that seemed to want to use my kayak for a carrier landing but turn eventually to a close by marked runway. Due North of Veazey Cove about one mile, we round Battry Point. This point marks the first narrowing step in the river from about one mile to one half mile. Details of both shores are now within view –most noticeable is the contrast between affluence and old Maryland shore life. Within a 20 minute paddle the river takes another narrowing step and it’s shores are less than 200 yards on either side of us. There are now scattered homes and more marshy lowlands where herons, Osprey, Mallards and Canada Geese are more evident. So far we have come 8 miles to an excellent picnic site beneath the north end of the route 25 bridge.
Launch Ramp at Elk Neck Park
Our trip starts with a put-in at Elk Neck State Park where we had use of an excellent launching beach at Stoney Point. This site had ramps, clean bathroom facilities and a loop road to facilitate dropping the boats and gear near the water. (editor's note: The park charges $5.00 per vehicle for parking. Elk Neck State Park is on a long penninsula between the Northeast and Elk rivers, reachable from US 40 and Route 7 between Northeast and Elkton, MD in Cecil county. Elk Neck has camping facities and cabins for rent. )
Steve, Julio and Ted at launching
Sand beach just to South Launch Ramp
We pack up the boats and head out about one mile across the Elk River and right into the mouth of the river. The party consists of a fit beginner (Ted) and three seasoned kayakers( Hank, Steve and yours truly). We are prepared for the journey with prior chart and map review. There are two GPS units and at least four compasses in our gear. This diligent navigational preparation was one reason for a crossing that was relaxed and packed with good conversation. That may be why we ended up in Cabin John Creek instead of the Boh.
Cabin John Creek
Cabin John Creek is quiet, narrow and shallow, about one mile long with signs that it's most common inhabitants are feathered or four legged. We exit this pleasant but unplanned exploration and head NNE, about 1.5mi. from the mouth of the intended river.
Here is the Boh. It is now mid morning and boat traffic is near it's maximum but most congested near the north shore. The north coast runs east/west for the widest section of the river then at regular intervals the river narrows in three steps heading in a generally easterly direction. We enter the river and skirt the south shore. The views are of large homes on the north shore and even more impressive estates on the south through Veazey Cove.
We can see step three in the narrowing river. The fork marking the beginning of the greater and little Bohemia Creek is to our left. Before us and to our right there are two marinas that we will recon as possible put ins for the future. It is time to eat. Out of the boats comes a smorgasbord that would make an alligator sick. Power Bars, granola, yogurt, Cytomax, trail mix, PBJ, ham and cheese sandwiches and Luna bars for dessert.
With full and achy bellies the group resumes the exploration of the most intimate part of the river. Approximately 150 yards wide, it feels like we are interacting with both shores at once. White tail deer and signs of beaver and racoon are evident, boats and houses are few. Beautiful habitat. Classic Chesapeake. We feast on the sights and turn back at the final fork in the river having travelled 12 miles and about nine back to the beach.
This is the sad part of the voyage, seeing the same sights from a different perspective and recognizing that the end of the trip is imminent. Return trips always seem to take forever and progressively slow as we approach the take out. At about the sixteen mile point, we begin crossing the Elk River and soon have to decide weather to cross quickly or wait for a car carrier ship to cross the channel before us. Testosterone impels us to make the dash and hope for enough wake to surf toward the opposite shore. (editor's note: The speed of an oncoming large ship is difficult to judge and often deceptive. You should observe and carefully weigh the decision to cross in front of a large ship. This crossing was not close.)
We all paddle hard and fast, some in hopes of a great ride some in fear for their lives. We cross the channel with plenty of time to spare and slow to wait for the waves. The wake was surprisingly feeble for such an enormous ship. With the take out visible in the distance, we skirt the shorelines curves to prolong the trip by a few precious minutes. Conversation turns to appreciation of a good trip, a new river explored and Ted’s longest paddle so far. We arrive at the beach well before we wish but it was another great day on the Chesapeake.
Other nearby trips
Susquehanna Flats Three Lighthouse Tour