Chesapeake's Paddle for the Border - May 5, 2018
In early spring, hundreds of kayakers and canoeists from across the East Coast launch their vessels into the Dismal Swamp Canal's cool, calm waters. The historic waterway serves as the backdrop for Paddle for the Border, an annual 7.5-mile paddling excursion to the Virginia/North Carolina border.
The event celebrates the canal's rich history, which dates back to 1763 when George Washington's land company first surveyed the swamp before commissioning the waterway's construction. In the 19th century, the canal's dense wetlands provided refuge for slaves traveling the Underground Railroad before continuing their journey north.
After enjoying a traditional pre-launch breakfast, paddlers embark on the leisurely three-hour journey. As paddle blades cut through the canal's peaceful waters, Mother Nature steals the show. Native strands of the majestic Atlantic white cypress line the wetland's banks. Deer, river otters and the occasional black bear romp in their natural habitat as migratory, neo-tropical birds pass through the Atlantic flyway on their seasonal pilgrimage south.
Interested in rowing? Like spring's much anticipated arrival, enthusiasm for Paddle for the Border begins building in January when registration opens. The event is limited to the first 300 participants and fills up quickly due to its popularity.