Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lake Michie, NC - Our First Kayak Adventure!

09/07/09 - Lake Michie, NC.

Monday, September 7, 2009: My wife Rachel and I got "motivated" to try out our Mainstream Escapade tandem kayak. We purchased the kayak "used" from our church's yard sale held in the summer. We paid only $50.00 for it! I checked both used and new Mainstream Escapade prices on the Web and the prices ranged from $400.00 - $600.00 dollars! We got a bargain!

The day dawned overcast with temperatures in the low 70's - a perfect day for kayaking.

I had previously purchased an "Extend-a-Truck" - a height adjustable extension bar that supports up to 350 pounds and a full 4-foot wide load. It installs with a standard Class III receiver hitch and gave my truck the little "extra" support needed to haul our kayak. I secured the kayak by its bow with a rope attached to the truck tie downs and the stern was secured to the Extend-a-Truck bar with bungee cords. I attached the red caution flag to the rear of our load and we were off to Lake Michie.

A little background on Lake Michie:

"Lake Michie is a reservoir in central North Carolina, within the Neuse River watershed. The lake is located in northern Durham County near the town of Bahama. Fed principally by the Flat River, Lake Michie is the primary reservoir for the city of Durham. The reservoir dam was completed in 1926. In addition to retaining drinking water for the city, the concrete and earthwork dam, built between 1924 and 1926, supplied hydroelectric power to Durham until 1960, when the generators were removed." - Wikipedia

We arrived at the Lake Michie recreational area mid morning and spoke with the friendly Durham employee who was on duty at the boat house and dock. Unfortunately, we learned that our first kayak adventure was going to cost us $3.00! Boat users at Lake Michie have to purchase a "Lake Michie User Permit" to utilize the lake. So, depending on whether your boat is motorized (gasoline or electric) or classified as a "non-motor boat launch" (kayak or canoe) will determine your permit cost. It is also a "pay-as-you-go" deal so EVERY time we want to launch into Lake Michie, we get to support Durham! Oh well, small price for freedom?

We unleashed our kayak from my truck and lugged it down the boat ramp to the water. Our Mainstream Escapade only weighs 65 pounds, so two persons can easily handle it for short distances. Actually, when we came back into shore, the light bulb went off in my head, and I smartly backed my truck down the boat ramp. From there, it was a simple matter to lift the kayak a few feet over the truck tailgate and slid it onto the bed. Piece of cake... and we looked like we even knew what we were doing! ;-)

How do I even begin to describe our two hours on Lake Michie that morning?

One motor boat launched just prior to us leaving the shore, but he quickly sped off down the lake, leaving my wife and me to ourselves on the water. It was so peaceful and quiet. The only sounds made were our oars dipping below the surface. It was overcast, but occasionally the sun would poke through the clouds, throwing glittering light that danced off the water. There were light gusts of wind that would throw spray from our churning oars into our faces and the water would drip down onto our clothes. Now I know why some kayaks are equiped with splash guards! ;-) We saw several herons up close and personal plus some small birds that nested in tree branches that hung over the shore line. I made the mistake of not packing our digital camera - will not be making that mistake again! We circled around a small island overgrown with tall weeds and several gnarled trees, but not finding any kind of beach or clear area to land, we kept on going. Felt a little like Tom Sawyer remembering some of his adventures on the Mississippi River.

We paddled down the lake and entered Mangum Creek. We followed that waterway until it narrowed to a 15 foot wide "ditch" with beautiful lush grass on either side. Our keel scrapped bottom a few times, but we managed to turn around and head back out to the open water of the lake. A few more pulls across to the opposite side of the lake and then hugging the shore line we paddled back to the boat house.

We maybe covered 1/4 mile? Based on the rough hand drawn map we picked up at the boat house, it is 2.75 miles from the boat house to the dam. So, there is lots of Lake Michie to explore!

So, the Lake Michie adventure was a great start to our kayaking fun. Looks like we caught the "kayak bug" and will be back on the water soon!

Anyone paddled Lake Michie? How was your experience?

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