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One Last Kayak Trip

October 23rd, 2009 at 11:19 am

With temperatures expected to reach into the low 70s yesterday, I knew it could be one of my final chances to take Little Minnow out for a fall foliage cruise. So I set out yesterday and put in on the lake at one of my hometown's boat launches.

I've learned from experience that one can look mighty foolish getting into a kayak in shallow water, only to find yourself unable to move because the hull of the kayak is wedged on the water's bottom. Unless you have a boating companion who can push you out, you really need to wade into deeper water so the kayak is truly floating before you get in. So, because I knew I would get wet, I wore a pair of sweatpants with those elasticized cuffs on the bottoms. I scrunched them up to my knees before wading in. I was expecting freezing cold water, but in truth, the air temperature was so warm it didn't bother me.

Once on the lagoon that leads out to the lake, I can only say the view was exquisite. It reminded me of a John Denver song.

Like a night in the forest
Like the mountains in springtime
Like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert
Like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses

The lake really did fill up my senses. A warm breeze riffled through low hanging tree branches and sent cascades of leaves floating down to the water's surface. That's what I heard, too...the wind in the trees and acorns raining down, some of them plunking into the water. Even the air seemed incredibly fresh and clean.

Once through the lagoon and on the lake, I decided to head south toward the dam, hugging the shoreline. The rhythmic sound of my paddles dipping into the water put me in a meditative state as I gazed upon the birch, beech, hemlocks, maples and mountain laurel with their impressionist-like palette of rust, gold, rose, red and amber foliage.

One or two motor boats made a few passes down the middle of the lake, creating broad swells that smacked against the banks of the lake. I thought it ironic that these same boaters, who evidently enjoy being on the water as much as I do, could be so disrespectful of the environment. There was quite a bit of floating debris, all of it plastic. I fished out about a dozen objects ranging from a motor oil bottle to bait containers, along with the usual food and beverage containers.

When I neared the dam, I turned round and headed back from whence I came. I considered crossing over to the other side of the lake, but in truth I was afraid of getting mowed down by one of the motor boats patrolling up and down. Kayaks are low-lying boats and I doubt you'd even catch my profile in the bright sun, doing about 30 mph, until you were practically on top of me.

So I contented myself with the same view, only in reverse. It was a picture-perfect day, so no regrets.

The cost of a kayak, roof rack, life vest, paddle, anchor, and assorted pulleys and ties about 5 years ago? About $1,500. Two-and-a-half hours out on the water in late October? Priceless.

How Green the Water Looks From the Cockpit of a Kayak

August 24th, 2009 at 10:19 am

I was really waffling on how to spend my last day at home. The weather, as I've mentioned, has not been cooperative, but today is a decent day and not as humid as it's been.

I was torn between kayaking, bike riding or tackling my "to do" list.

After reading MonkeyMama's post, i decided to do the kayaking. I've only been out once this summer, and I'd been wanting to go on a quiet weekday when I knew I'd have the lake to myself.

I was out for 2.5 hours and got another good upper body workout in. Only three boats passed me; otherwise, complete solitude. The sound of my paddle dipping into the water becomes rhythmic and so relaxing. Still, I could feel my stomach muscles tightening as I put some "oomph" into my paddling.

Saw 5 great blue herons. (It's possible some were the same bird.)

Emerald green waters

Rocky shoreline

A Good Place to Be in a Heat Wave

August 15th, 2009 at 08:06 am

Day #1 of heat wave....I decide to take the kayak out, alone, for the first time in about 2 years.

Although it's not my favorite spot, I went to the closest put-in spot in my town. I headed for the town boat ramp on Lake Lillinoah, about a mile or so past the state boat ramp on the same road, same body of water. They call it a lake, but it's really just a very wide river.

When I arrived at 7:50 a.m., the gate was closed, causing me to do a u-turn back to the state boat ramp a mile down the road.
There were about a half dozen vehicles and empty trailers already in the parking lot.

I unloaded the boat and pushed out into a channel that opens into the lake after about a half mile.

Today's the first day of at least a week-long heatwave with temps in the 90s, so I wanted to get an early start, and in fact, the fog was still overhanging the water, so much so that I worried a powerboat bearing down on me might not see me.

I hugged the shore and entertained myself by looking at all the houses.

Some are quite grand.

And some homes can't even be seen from the lake.

I startled a great blue heron on the dock (at right) who silently took wing when I came too close.

The first hour of my journey was calm and quiet, but 9 a.m. seemed to be the magic hour when a jet ski as annoying as a high-pitched, buzzing mosquito buzzed around. Mostly, there were just people fishing from their boats.

I went as far as the bridge, then turned around. I didn't want to overdo my first kayaking trip in a while, even though it's wonderful upper body exercise for me.

I made it back in half the time, due to the current.

There were more people unloading boats in the water, and an older man with his own kayak offered to help me get my boat on my car. Since I'd been paddling for a few hours, I was tired, so I said yes.

I enjoyed it so much that I hope to go again next Friday (a day off) when I think it might be quieter on the water. And I want to leave from the town boat ramp, about a half mile further north, so that I can paddle beyond the bridge. I'll have to call Parks & Rec to see when they open that gate up on a weekday.

And maybe I'll pack a simple lunch of some sort.