Sunday, May 30, 2010

Return to Beaver Dam Lake

5/30/2010 - Beaver Dam Lake, Wake Forest, NC

Memorial Day weekend was not suppose to be any paddling for me. I had so many planned "non-water" family activities... that paddling was not even on my radar scope. But instead, I got in two paddling adventures... both at beautiful Beaver Dam Lake! :-) Where there is a will, there is a way? And this time, Rachel was able to join me! Early Sunday morning was overcast with temperatures in the low 70's. Unfortunately, there was a park employee manning the entrance booth and I had to pay $6.00. Oh well. There were a few cars and trucks in the parking lot, but it was still pretty deserted, especially for a holiday weekend.

Put in was at the Beaver Dam Lake boat ramp. I swiveled around and took this photo of the put in area as we paddled SW. There was an early morning breeze on the lake and we encountered a little chop.

Rachel in the front seat.

We paddled SW until we came to the dam that separates Beaver Dam Lake from Falls Lake. It is an earthen dam approximately 25-30 feet tall reinforced with concrete. These concrete "shingles" in this photo help control erosion and allows water to drain off the dam and back into the lake.

This is a fishing and observation walkway that crosses the entrance way from Beaver Dam Lake to Falls Lake. Beyond the walkway, boats with gasoline-powered motors are allowed.

We spied this dead tree stump with new growth sprouting from the top.

Beautiful Beaver Dam Lake!

I spotted my "crop duster" bi-wing plane again. However, I learned that it is actually a sight seeing airplane from a nearby airstrip.

We also saw this hawk perched in a dead tree on the shoreline. When we first spotted the bird, we thought it was a bald eagle because of its white head... but it proved to be a false alarm.

We came across several yakers who were fishing. I understand there are large catfish (disambiguation) in these waters.

We met a young couple from north Raleigh. They talked to us about their paddling adventures in Beaver Dam Lake and white water rafting on the Snake River.

We paddled up this scenic cove.

Water levels were high and many trees were submerged.

The park maintains several "hatching boxes" for water fowl.

We looped around and headed NE, passing the put in area on our left. By this time, many more yakers had arrived and were preparing to put in.

Saw many more kayakers on the water, enjoying the day. We paddled a 1/4 mile or so NE. I showed Rachel the Old Weaver Trail bridge in the distance. We decided to turn around and call it a day.

Back at the put in area, I spied these twin Perception kayaks waiting their turn to launch.

Many families were also getting ready to put in. Paddling is a sport that may be enjoyed by everyone!

Another great morning at Beaver Dam Lake! Rachel wants to return soon... and investigate the NE corner of the lake in search of bald eagles. I think I'll be coming along for that paddle too! ;-)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Beaver Dam Lake Paddle - Excellent!

5/28/2010 - Beaver Dam Lake, Wake Forest, NC

Howdy from the kayak cockpit! Thursday afternoon, my boss sent an email to our department, instructing employees to take off "early" on Friday to get a jump start on the Memorial Day weekend. Well, my interpretation of "early" was about 7:30 am Friday morning as I pointed my truck with kayak toward Beaver Dam Lake! ;-) Robert, who I had met during my recent Lake Holt paddle, had suggested Beaver Dam Lake to me as a good paddling area since gas motors were prohibited here. The weather Friday morning was 68 degrees, sunny with a slight breeze... excellent paddling conditions. There was nobody manning the booth at the entrance to Beaver Dam Lake, so no cost to put in! I met two nice young ladies, who worked for the park, as I was checking out the put in area. We chatted for a while about the lake bird and wildlife... I gave them my Durhamblogger "business" cards... and asked that they check out my blog.

Near the boat ramp, I saw this sign. Could not agree more. Always wear your PFD!

Beautiful view looking NE from the boat ramp.

I arrived at Beaver Dam Lake around 8:30 am. There was only one other guy here and the parking lot was pretty deserted. I love it!

Put in at the Beaver Dam Lake boat ramp. There are two boat ramps located here.

I paddled NE. I wanted to investigate the swampy area of the lake. There had been reports of bald eagles in that area.

I saw several elaborate fishing and observation docks built along the shoreline. Many of these structures had deck lights.

Approaching the Old Weaver Trail highway bridge, about 1.5 miles into my paddle.

On the underside of the bridge, were many mud pellet nests made by the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) I saw a dozen or so Barn Swallows diving and swooping under the bridge.

The water level at this point was approximately 12 feet deep.

I spied these colorful flowers growing among the rocks on the side of the Old Weaver Trail bridge.

About .5 miles beyond the bridge, was this "strange" forest submerged in the waters. Had to be careful as I poked around the tree branches since much of this "forest" was hidden beneath the surface.

I encountered many lily pad fields floating on the water. These fields became more numerous and thicker the farther I paddled NE.

Here I captured a heron taking to flight. The bird had just dove from a tree perch and snared a fish. I watched as he enjoyed his morning "breakfast"... then took this photo as the heron decided I had paddled close enough.

The beauty of the swamp!

There was also beauty above! Great cloud formations.

I am getting within 200 yards of "as-far-as-I-can-paddle" in this swampy area. Note the lily pads and growth becoming much thicker.

I saw this larger lily pad species. Much of the plant remains below the surface.

A roadway of green.

I came across several areas where this colorful flower was in bloom.

Swamp plant life becoming very thick and tangled. Not much clear water to paddle and each time I stroked, my paddle blades snagged on underwater growth.

Here, some large growth trees provided much appreciated shade. I enjoyed a quick snack and water break. It was approaching late morning, and the temperature was climbing into the low 80 degrees. Getting hot. I also reapplied my sunscreen.

On my return paddle, a bi-wing crop duster airplane , checked me out. The aircraft came up over the trees along the shore, passed directly over my kayak at a few hundred feet, and then disappeared in the distance. Click on the photo to enlarge.

On my return to the boat ramp, I met a nice couple -Kathy and Dave from Ohio. Kathy was explaining to me how proud she was of her husband being willing to try camping and other outdoor activities like paddling. They had a rental kayak and were going to give it a "go" for an hour or so.

I helped them put in. They were a little unsure of themselves at first, but I soon saw them paddling like pros down the lake! I'm sure they had a good time on the water! Safe travels back to Ohio guys! :-)

And so ended one of the best and most memorable paddles of the season for me! It was a perfect day for being on the water and I paddled about 6 miles. Good workout for me. My only regret is that I never spotted the bald eagles that nest near the swampy area in the northern parts of Beaver Dam Lake. But there is always a next time!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Durhamblogger Visitors - Thank You!

Howdy everyone! In just nine months since starting my blog, 2000+ visitors from 33 countries have stopped by Durhamblogger! Wow! :-)

Visitors - Please leave a comment about yourself... and let everyone know what country you are in! If checking in from the United States... leave a comment about yourself and the state you live in!

I am humbled and grateful for all these wonderful visits... and look forward to welcoming more folks here in 2010!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Great Paddle at Lake Holt!

5/23/2010 - Lake Holt, Butner, NC

Howdy! It was not a promising start for Sunday morning with skies being overcast and dark. After 8:00 am, the rains came and at times were very heavy. I was anxiously scanning both the radar and hourly forecasts, for a break... and by 9:30 am the rains stopped... by 10:30 am the radar showed clear... and a little after 11:00 am I was on the road to Butner with my kayak in the back of my truck! :-)

Put in was at the Lake Holt boat ramp and cost only $3.00, a much more reasonable fee then what was charged last week at Lake Rogers - $6.00! Water levels were very high because of the recent rainfall. In fact, water levels were so high, that the boat ramp was submerged under water and water was lapping into the parking lot.
It was dead calm at put in. The lake water surface was like a fine sheet of glass. There was not a ripple stirring the water. I had never seen the lake waters so calm.

Saw some folks fishing near the boat ramp. They told me the fish were not biting today.

Again, calm and very humid conditions. The sun would occasionally break through the cloud cover and reflect off the water.

Spied two turkey vultures feasting on an animal carcass that was hidden from my sight in the bushes below. Some things are best not seen... or smelled? I did not investigate any further.

I paddled up a small inlet to get a view of the dam spillway... and yep, there was a lot of water "spilling" over it. I heard the rushing water at least 200 hundred yards away before sighting the spillway.

Beautiful view looking back up the inlet toward the larger area of the lake. There was a fishing tournament underway at Lake Holt over the weekend. Can you spot the fishing boat in this photo?
Once in a while, blue sky would peek out from the cloud cover. But, I kept an "eye-to-the-sky" because the forecast called for thunderstorms developing by early afternoon.

I had the pleasure to meet a nice fellow named Robert during my paddle. He was an interesting man... and we had time while we paddled, and floated together to solve most of the world's problems. If we had only a few more minutes... they all would have been solved! ;-)
I commented on Robert's boat and he explained to me that most of it is his design! The two pontoons were added to improve stability and allows him to walk from bow to stern without the boat tipping over. Robert not only shared his wisdom with me... but also an oatmeal raisin cookie from Subway... yum! Thanks Robert! He gave me lots of suggestions on other water areas to paddle. I thanked him and asked that he comment on Durhamblogger and leave some of those great paddling ideas here too! I hope to run into him again on the water soon.

One sad note to my paddle. Near the end of my outward bound trip, I came across this "thing" half submerged and rusting by the water's edge. I don't know what this "thing" once was... but I do know that it does not belong where it is now. Sad how some folks think nothing of polluting our waterways.
But all and all... it was another great day on the water. There are no two ways about it... I would rather be paddling! :-) Talk to you all again soon.

P.S. My new paddle was wonderful... light weight, yet strong! It will help to reduce fatigue on any length paddling trip.