Audrey Egelston, owner of Down by the River Kayak Rentals, says she can offer the “best of both worlds” when she begins guided kayak tours along the Mohawk River this August. On each two-mile long tour, which will begin at the boat launch on Gilliland Ave. in Amsterdam, kayakers will encounter the urban scenery of Downtown Amsterdam, Riverlink Park and the pedestrian bridge, as well as the natural beauty of the Mohawk Valley as they travel west.
Egelston recently announced her new kayak rental business and is currently accepting online bookings for tours through the month of August. She has already scheduled eighteen tours and said the response from the community has been positive.
“I’ve had quite a few phone calls and emails and people have been really encouraging about it,” she said.
She also credited the Small Business Administration in Albany for helping her form a business plan as well as Danielle Whelly of the Montgomery County Business Development Center for her assistance in getting started.
Egelston said that she has been kayaking with family members for years at various locations around the Capital District and Adirondaks, but was was drawn to the relative peacefulness of Amsterdam’s boat launch.
“It’s definitely an untapped location,” she said. “When we first came down here, it was like wow, this is so quiet, there’s nobody down here, it’s just really peaceful.”
Each tour will last approximately one and a half hours, beginning and ending at the boat launch in Amsterdam. Two different tours are offered on the website: a “Testing The Waters” tour and a “Sunset Paddle” tour. Egelston said that beginner kayakers are welcome and she will teach the basics to anyone who needs it.
“Everything is geared for beginners,” said Egelston. “If you haven’t gone kayaking before, that’s fine.”
“My 78 year old granmother is kayaking, so anybody can do it,” she added.
When asked about her outlook on the city’s economy, Egelston said, “I think there’s a lot of potential here…whenever I’m at the Spring Fling or one of the concerts at Riverlink Park, I have this feeling that everyone in this area is ready to have a good time, and sick of having to drive to Saratoga or Albany to do something fun.”
“I’ve had friends that aren’t from the area come down here before, and when they see what it looks like on the South Side with all the cool little restaurants and the nice streetlights and the bridge going in, they see the potential of Amsterdam. So if we can get more people down here that just helps,” she said.
Originally from the Town of Glen, Egelston currently resides in Amsterdam and works full-time for Fulton Montgomery Community College. Her proximity to the Mohawk River is one of the things Egelston says she values about living in the area.
“I can leave my driveway and be on the river in 10 minutes. That’s really something that’s special to me and really makes me love living here,” said Egelston.