|I was looking for a nice paddle that I could take on a day that was forecast to be one of those hot and humid days so common on the Chesapeake. One of the few rivers in the upper bay that I had yet to completely paddle is the Chester River, My friends Julio and Steve had paddled Langford Creek last year and I had not been able to go with them. So I decided I would add this creek off of the Chester onto my paddle log.
Langford Creek is on the northeast side of the Chester River lying completely in Kent county. I located a county ramp several miles up from the mouth of Langford on the Chester. There is another ramp on the west branch of Langford about half way up. But since i intended to concentrate on the more undeveloped eastern branch today, i decided that the launch at Cliffs Wharf was the best starting point. I mapped out the trip at about 26 miles using my topo software program. I intended to poke into every little indentation in the creek and there are quite a few of them, some with some length on them. I figured the paddle should take about 9 hours, using the usual estimate of 3 miles per hour average.
I left Bel Air later than I intended. My 7 o'clock start had slipped to 8. I arrived at the launch site at 10:15. Already the day was quite warm. I had three bottles of water and I had partly filled my 6 liter water bag. I put on a generous amount of sun screen, a SPF30 sports creme. The launch ramp was unoccupied with just two trailered vehicles in the substantial parking lot. The ramp was very small, just wide enough for a single trailer and an accurate driver. The ramp was filled with 4 or 5 filleted catfish which some fishermen had thoughtlessly left to rot. And rot they had in the warm 77 degree water. Their stench filled the air with a nauseating smell that hurried my preparations for departure.
Soon however the shore development thinned and a 1/2 mile before Langford Creek, ceased as the point was all a single farm with many buffer trees and a marshy shore. I rounded into Langford Creek and headed north towards Cacaway Island, a small island between the two branches. This is a popular place for cruising boats to come and anchor off the northern end of the island. There were 5 sailboats and 7 powerboats at anchor as I paddled past.
I stayed in the eastern branch and paddled along the eastern shore. This shore was developed but with large estate converted from farms. On one the silo had been refurbished into living space. There was a continuous window up the side and at the top there were windows all the way around. I suspect someone had installed an elevator into the silo and a room at the top. The barn had also been refurbished into living space. It clearly was no longer a working farm, but at least the open space of the fields are being preserved, at least for the time being.
I paddled on up to the head of the creek where on one of the splits to the right, I entered a long and very shallow section that eventually turned into a creek. I continued until the marsh closed in on both sides of the kayak and I could proceed no further. While I was up there I saw a mature bald eagle and an immature youngster, in the same area. It was about the only wildlife I saw this day other than some kingfishers.
The mid afternoon sun was merciless and the heat was quite intense. I kept cool by dipping into the water, which was not very cold in of itself, but kept things bearable by evaporation. i was running low on water and wished I had filled up my water container instead of estimating how much I would need. The amount of water required on a day like this one can be very great. I had already consumed 3 quarts in the first half of the trip and only had little more than 1 more.
I had also left my sunscreen in the car instead of bringing it along as I usually do. With all the dunking and splashing in order to keep cool, I was worried about the effectiveness of the sunscreen I had applied at the beginning. Although claiming to be waterproof, it is really not intended to be impervious to repeated dousing.
I returned back down Langford Creek retracing my course back to the launch. Rounding the point back into the Chester, I was startled by the sudden appearance of a low flying light seaplane. It was about 10 feet off of the water as it banked heavily around the trees on the shore. The lower wing was only a few feet off of the water. The drone of the engine I had mistaken for a boat motor. When it suddenly cleared the trees, the full roar of its rear facing high mounted engine burst up the creek. The pilot leveled the wings and continued up the creek. The planes pontoons were just a foot above the small waves on the water.
When I got to the launch I noticed a small pebble and shell beach in the corner of the ramp area that I had not notices at the higher tide of my morning launch. I avoided the stinking catfish carcasses by using the beach which had an unobstructed and smooth bottom where I could get out of my kayak without grounding the boat on the pebbly beach. I pulled the kayak onto the little beach and then lifted it onto the parking lot. It was 6:20 and I had been out for 8 hours, just a little less than I had figured for this trip. The biting flies hurried my loading and I was ready to roll by 7:45. At least the mosquitos were not a problem here at this time of day.
On the drive back toward Chestertown, I stopped to take these pictures of the historical one room school house and chapel on the side of the road. Here the mosquitos were out and I did not tarry. I got back home just as the predicted thunderstorms arrived. I pulled into the car port as the first drops fell. It had been a hot day for a long paddle, but I had now covered Langford Creek.