By the light of the moon

Published 7:39 pm Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Hoffler Creek plans nighttime, eclipse kayak trips

Hoffler Creek plans nighttime, eclipse kayak trips

Kayaking at Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve is a unique experience, and the preserve’s season-ending weekends of kayaking will raise the bar on “unique.”

“Often, there’s an educational component to the paddle,” said Helen Kuhns, director of the Hoffler Creek Wildlife Foundation. During the outing, tour guides will discuss various aspects of the surrounding area and the wildlife that happens to pass by, she said.
A special “Sunset Kayak Tour” from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday will give participants the chance to paddle out to the mouth of the James River and watch the sunset, while birds and dragonflies fly hover and glide nearby.

The special event sets the tone for the weekend that will feature evening-themed kayaking opportunities.

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“Nighttime on the water is very different,” Kuhns said.

The nighttime theme continues as paddlers head to the preserve’s Lake Ballard during the “Full Moon Paddle,” scheduled that evening from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

While guests are out on the water they can’t see much, but they can hear, “(It’s) very interesting sensory-wise,” Kuhns said. “It’s very soothing and very calming.” As participants paddle out, they will also get the chance to see the moon reflecting on the water. The fun ends with a campfire and s’mores.

Sunday, however, will be the big night, with a “Lunar Eclipse Paddle” excursion set for 8:30 p.m. While participants are paddling out onto Lake Ballard, a lunar eclipse will be taking place.

“We want to make sure the lunar eclipse is at a certain spot when that begins,” Kuhns said. After approximately two hours out on the water, guests can come back to enjoy s’mores and watch the eclipse move into totality. Activities end at 11:30 p.m., though the full moon will not have reappeared by that time.

The excursions are a bit earlier the following week, with the final paddle of the season set for 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Oct. 3. The “Afternoon Paddle” will give participants a final chance to launch into Hoffler Creek from the preserve, to enjoy the cooler temperatures and to see some of the birds and other wildlife to be found in the area.

“We have so many different birds,” Kuhns said.

Registration is required to attend, and the tours cost $20 each for members of the park, and $35 for the general public, which includes the cost of renting a kayak. Participants can bring their own kayaks for a discount.