Monday, November 30, 2009

Return to Flat Creek

11/29/09 - Flat Creek, Henderson, NC

Howdy! :-) I had a choice to make this past Sunday - either rake leaves or paddle. I contemplated that decision for an entire micro-second and decided to... paddle! Imagine that! ;-) I returned to Flat Creek (scene of my paddling adventure 9 days ago) and decided to paddle east up the waterway. It was an "extra" beautiful day, sunny with temperatures in the upper 60's F and a light (less then 5mph) breeze - one of those "jaw-dropping" and rare gorgeous days in November!

Parking lot at Williamsboro Wayside. Note that the water levels have receded from 9 days ago. Now, all the posts are "high and dry." It also appears that Henderson town maintenance workers have built a low rock barrier at the end of the parking lot.

My put in area. I had to scramble over the rock barrier carrying the 65lb kayak. It was a little more difficult then last time to launch!

Paddling east up the creek I saw a number of floating docks with nice "sitting areas" at the dock ends.

While water levels were lower, I still encountered numerous forest areas that had been reclaimed by the creek. I was able to paddle between the trunks.

Again, many floating docks were "islands" that required owners to use boats to reach them! Here is a dock ramp that leads underwater!

I saw elaborate docks that could accommodate several large boats...

... and more modest ones too.

There were many large and impressive vacation / year-round homes on Flat Creek.A nice 30ish footer sailboat moored to a boat house.

Note the elaborate cradle gear to put in / take out boats.

I paddled down a small cove and discovered these "at rest" kayaks. How sad! :-(

Upon closer inspection, I spied my friends - the "Great Outdoor Provision Company" logo on the bow!

As I moved farther eastward, hugging the north shoreline, I saw erosion on the "weatherside" of the creek.
The cloud formations were spectacular!

It was also a great day for flying! Note the single engine airplane (lower right). You can click on the photo to enlarge it.

A couple of "beauty" shots! Enjoy! :-)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What Are You Thankful For?

As we celebrate Thanksgiving (here in the United States), be sure to take time to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for. Have a safe, happy, and blessed time with family and friends!

- Mike

Monday, November 23, 2009

Flat Creek Paddling Adventure

11/20/09 - Flat Creek, Henderson, NC

Hi everyone! I took a much deserved day off from work on Friday and decided to do some paddling - imagine that! ;-) This trip I traveled 40 miles north on I85 to the small town of Henderson. It was another beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the low 60's F and a light (less than 10mph) breeze.

My original destination was Satterwhite Point at Kerr Lake, but after crossing a small bridge in Henderson and sighting some "good looking" paddling water, I took a right off of NC Route 39 at this interesting sign.
I found myself on a short dirt road that led to a small parking area among the trees... I had discovered Flat Creek!

This region had experienced heavy rainfall and the water levels were very high. Large forest areas were submerged and I encountered numerous floating logs and other debris during my paddling on Flat Creek.

Here is where I put in. Half the parking lot was under water. Apparently, the parking lot extends to the end of these posts!

Here I approach and pass under the NC Route 39 bridge that crosses Flat Creek.

"Caught" this White Heron in my camera lens sitting on a tree stump. I drifted and he allowed me to get quite close before flying off. I believe I sighted him several more times during my paddling trip.

Remnants of Autumn hanging on. A splash of color in a landscape that is increasingly more barren and grey as the winter months approach.

I encountered numerous homes and cottages along Flat Creek, many with very elaborate and expensive docks. Here is a boat shelter with electric wench for putting in / taking out motor boats.

Some owners keep their pontoon and cruise boats in the water year round. The high water levels caused many of the dock structures to become more like "wooden islands" with persons needing to use boats to get to their docks!

It was a beautiful day! Great cloud formations!
I landed in a cleared area to stretch my legs and...
... discovered a small picnic area. Great place for a picnic lunch, especially in the summer!
Back to the put in area. Another fun paddling adventure! :-)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Complete Sea Kayaker's Handbook - Review

I've started my research into sea kayaking and discovered this wonderful book by Shelley Johnson - The Complete Sea Kayaker's Handbook.

As the book jacket states, it is a full-spectrum guide to boats, gear, strokes, sweeps, draws, rolls, exit and rescue techniques, navigation, rules of the road, surf, currents, wind and waves, fog, food, maintenance and repair, camping, and expeditions.

What I like about Johnson's book is her conversational style and approach to the sport of sea kayaking.

"This book takes much the same approach to the sport as my own over the years. We'll gather information, only to poke and prod it, and question its very right to exist. Each section will start with information that makes no assumption of past knowledge. It will nurture your interest in getting started and answer some of those questions in a straightforward manner."

She also has insight into how most of us will read it as a reference book and not as a novel.

"As you read through the book, feel comfortable to bail out when you have enough information for you needs at that moment. This is a book to come back to. As you mature as a paddler, the information you need will mature, and you'll find it all here."

I also found useful the sidebars offering questions to consider, contrary opinions, and other information that complimented the specific chapter subject.

For example; in Chapter 1: Getting Ready, Johnson has a sidebar with great questions for beginner sea kayakers to ask themselves such as: What will I use my boat for? Do I plan to go most often on day trips from home or on longer, over-night excursions? Where will I do most of my paddling?

The book covers the basics and advanced information in a readable and practical guide. Her explanations and information are presented in a digestible style and format. It does not read like a text book, but more as a friend; who is passionate about sea kayaking, wanting to share with other like-minded folks. All in a short 281 pages! Johnson also includes an extensive 15-page resources section that covers books, magazines, videos, paddling clubs, organizations, associations, and paddling events.

It is an engaging read and gets a two-thumbs up from this kayaker! :-)

One final quote from Johnson on the nature of sea kayaking:

"Sea kayaking is a sport that engages both mind and body. It offers the simple pleasures of gliding peacefully through a quiet cove and the complex demands of responding to the interactions between hull and sea. It's an activity that rewards the miles of rhythmic, repetitious movement with sudden and unexpected delights, then confronts you with the intellectual exercise of navigating in fog. You'll never tire of this sport."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lake Rogers Paddling Adventure

11/07/09 - Lake Rogers, Creedmoor, NC

Hi everyone! :-) Well, I continue to "branch out" from my familiar paddling areas. This weekend I traveled a few miles northeast of Lake Holt to Lake Rogers in Creedmoor. It was sunny with a 5mph southeast breeze and temperatures in the low 60's F - a gorgeous day!

Put in was at the Lake Rogers boat ramp. There was no attendant on duty at the concession / rental shack... so no launch fees! ;-)
Spillway and dam. This is the "lake" side with the spillway located just beyond the three pillars. There is an approx. 20 foot spillway drop. I did not care to venture any closer in my kayak! There were a few cottages and houses located on Lake Rogers. Most appeared to be seasonal and primarily for vacationers and hunters.

In several areas, the water had reclaimed significant areas of forest. The trees had been reduced to stumps and in many cases were lurking just below the water level. I "bumped" into several as I followed the shoreline.Many large trees had branches that over hung the water and I encountered long trunks that were half submerged. Again, had to exercise caution as I paddled.I also encountered these "lone sentries" standing by themselves approx. 30 feet from the shore. I banged this tree trunk with my oar and it was very sturdy.
I was thankful for the sunny day. Too many weekends lately have been overcast and rainy.I came across six hunter duck blinds scattered around Lake Rogers. Thankfully, nobody was home at any of them!
I discovered this concealed row skiff near the shore. Hunters use these boats to get to the duck blinds and retrieve their bird "trophies" from the water.

I landed at one point to stretch my legs and...

... discovered an access road cut through the woods to the lake shoreline and the concealed skiff in the earlier photo. Hunters and fishermen use ATVs or small trucks to transport their gear on this road to the water's edge.
I got as close as I could to this pair of geese. They tolerated my presence for a time and when they had decided I had gotten "close enough," they took to flight. Here the male is airborne and the female is getting up speed to lift off and follow.
Northern portions of Lake Rogers were swamp-like with water plants and...
... islands of bushes. The water is very shallow and muddy here.

And now, some "beauty shots." You're welcome! :-)

Lake Rogers had the most "varied" terrain and wildlife of all my paddling areas to date. It was fun to paddle around the "next bend" and encounter such diverse scenes! I also sighted my first deer from a kayak. It was a medium size doe. She spotted me and before I could extract my digital camera from its water-proof bag, she crashed through the brush and disappeared. I drifted silently, without paddling, for several minutes in hopes of spotting her, but she remained well hidden.

During my 4 hour paddling adventure, I saw no other boaters or anyone else for that matter. It was only on my return leg to the boat ramp, did I see a group of kids running around on the playground equipment near the concession / rental shack. What a fun and relaxing time to get away from it all and just paddle!

Until next time... "Take life one stroke at a time." :-)