Kayaking the Cuyahoga

Oooh, I’m excited. Next weekend I’ll be kayaking the whole length of the Cuyahoga from Kent, Ohio to Downtown Cleveland — a length of 50 miles in two days, with an overnight camp in between.

The trip is organized by the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, “to promote the river as a shared regional asset for education, recreation, and sustainability.” It’s also to bring awareness to their new masters program in landscape architecture — the first degree program of its type to be offered in Northeast Ohio.

I kind of invited myself on this trip, and I’m lucky they’re letting me come! I’m hoping to be of some use by blogging or writing about the journey.

The Cuyahoga means a lot to me. I grew up in Brecksville, a suburb nestled along its banks. In high school, I fell in the river during a canoeing trip with a friend. We didn’t have life jackets, and we had to swim against its fast, polluted current to get to shore. It was rather traumatic.

And then of course the river holds such a prominent place in the history of Cleveland. It burned a bunch of times in the 20th century, including the most infamous occasion in 1969. (This 1969 fire inspired the U.S. Clean Water Act, though it was far from the worst fire on the river.)

I’m a little terrified, since I don’t know how to kayak. At all. But I’ll be taking an all-day lesson this weekend, so that should help!

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