Out for Adventure

Photo Essay, Carroll County Times, August 9, 2009

By Ken Koons

KayakingHarlean Liebno shoots rapids on Antietam Creek in Washington County. Liebno is a member of the Yakers Kayaking Club, a group of women who get together and kayak a few times a year.

KayakingAnnette Dietrich, JoAnn Hunter, and Joanne Neil load up the boats after finishing a trip on Antietam Creek.

Dot Sumey, JoAnn Hunter, and Harlean Liebno carry the boats to the starting point on Antietam Creek.

KayakingAnnette Dietrich and Joan Berends help Dot Sumey as she gets in her boat as Sumey and JoAnn Hunter begin the trip on Antietam Creek.

A heron flies as the kayakers pass by.

Documentary Film, Carroll County Times, August 9, 2009

By Ken Koons

Watch on Youtube.

Article, Carroll County Times, August 9, 2009

By Brandon Oland

If the weather forecast is appealing and area creek and river levels are just right, Joan Berends, of Manchester, will start planning a kayaking adventure.

It might be a trip down Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg with the chance to pass underneath a historic Civil War-era bridge.

It could be a journey down the streams of Gunpowder Falls State Park in northern Baltimore County.

It could be a trip along Catoctin Creek in northern Frederick County. Berends is a member of the Yakers Kayaking Club, a group of about 15 women who get together a few times each year for adventures on the water.

It's an informal group, Berends said. The Yakers women don't hold regular meetings, but they do have an unofficial motto.

"No wimpy women," Berends said.

Men are allowed to tag along, with a catch.

"The rules are he can't boss us around or he's out," said JoAnn Hunter, a Yakers Kayaking participant from Manchester.

The Yakers women are a fun-loving crew of experienced kayakers who revel in the opportunity to paddle down bodies of water, take in the scenery and maneuver through small rapids.

The group organized about 10 years ago, after Piney Run Park in Eldersburg began offering kayak lessons.

The kayakers were seeking other bodies of water other than the lake at Piney Run.

Yaker Dot Sumey, of Sykesville, said the group started with four women and grew as more people took kayak lessons and were looking for chances to hit the water.

Eventually, Sumey said, the group settled on the name Yakers because "when a bunch of women get together, they do as much yakking as kayaking," she said.

Every trip includes surprises. Hunter said she has spotted blue herons, turtles and black snakes during her kayaking daytrips.

During Hunter's last kayaking journey down Antietam Creek in June, she spotted a mother wood duck bobbing on Antietam Creek with a gaggle of baby ducks following behind.

Hunter said new members are welcome, but members should own a kayak to participate fully.

Kayakers should have some experience. Hunter said getting lessons at Piney Run Park is a good way to learn.

Those new to kayaking should then try their luck on a river without rapids.

At that point, they might be ready to join the Yakers for future adventure.

"You can't take a person out for the first time and stick them on a kayak on a river," Hunter said. "It will do them in."