I had the pleasure to guide the Chicago chapter of the Outdoor Afro club. A group that inspires and connects African-Americans from Chicago to nature. They are part of a national organization that does the same thing throughout the country. We paused halfway through our canoe outing down the Little Calumet River for a group canoeing GoPro selfie.
Group canoeing GoPro selfie
I was in front of the lead boat and put my GoPro on the time lapse photo option and chose to take a picture every two seconds. Then I got the selfie stick and raised it high to try and get all 24 of us in the shot.
Unfortunately, I was unable to get a few of the participants in. The canoeists in the front of the boat right next to me did not fit in. Next time I will have to inch forward of everyone else in the caravan to make sure all can get in.
Paddling the Little Calumet River
The trip with the Outdoor Afro Chicago group was sponsored by the Alliance for the Great Lakes and the trip was guided by the volunteer guides from the Friends of the Chicago River. It was three great groups enjoying a beautiful fall day on the Little Calumet River as it meanders through the Kickapoo Woods Forest Preserve. It was a little cold and crisp, but once we started paddling, everyone warmed up.
We were all really impressed how quickly the group learned to canoe. For many it was their first time paddling. Steering a canoe can be tricky. It is not as easy as a kayak. There was a lot of zigging and zagging in the beginning, but by the end everyone was paddling like pros. I was the sweep, meaning the designated last boat, and we had to paddle hard at the end to keep up.
I have often wondered why I do not see many minorities and especially black people enjoying the outdoors. I was pleased to find there is a vibrant organization in Chicago and nationwide with a goal to change that fact.
We started our trip from the Forest Preserves of Cook County boat launch at 1500 Jackson Street right from Ashland Street after exiting I-57. On a weekend, it is easy to reach from the north side of Chicago in 45 minutes. We finished at the boat launch in Kickapoo Woods and then turned around and paddled back. The current is not that strong, especially in October, so no one had trouble paddling upstream on the first part of the trip.
The great part of this stretch of river is it is a perfect mix of urban and outdoor. At the beginning of the paddle we go under several bridges both car and train. There are also a few houses along the river. Next moment you are in the woods with egrets, kingfishers, and herons flying overhead and you forget you are in the Chicago area.
It was a great way to end the paddling season. I look forward to next year for another Chicago River canoeing season and more great partnerships like we experienced on this day.
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