Friday, June 24, 2011

Quick and Enjoyable Friday Paddle on Beaver Dam Lake!

6/24/2011 - Beaver Dam Lake, Wake Forest, NC

I had trouble sleeping Thursday night... one of those nights when your mind is racing with all kinds of thoughts and refuses to quiet down. I ended up taking a sleeping pill (which I hate to do)... because in the morning I'm still dopey from the drug and feel out of sorts. So... that's what happened, and on Friday morning I found myself... not myself... because of the after effects of the sleeping pill. I really struggled to get going... and with a busy weekend schedule looming before me with no paddling time... and looking at a light Friday work routine for me... I decided that a late morning paddle was just what the doctor ordered to shake me out of the doldrums! Rachel was taking Friday off... and was willing to accompany me on my paddling adventure. I was feeling better already! ;-) I quickly loaded the tandem Escapade into my truck, packed the rest of the gear... and by 11:00 AM Friday morning Rachel and I were heading down Highway 50 to Beaver Dam Lake for a quick paddle. Temperatures were in the low 80's with high humidity, partly cloudy skies, and a stiff 10 - 15 mph breeze out of the west. Not too shabby paddling conditions.

Me, the Durhamblogger, getting ready to put in at the Beaver Dam boat ramp.

New "don't litter" sign near the boat ramp. The sign might be working? Beaver Dam Lake is one of the cleanest and most litter- free lakes that I have paddled in North Carolina.

Turtle sunning itself on a dead tree limb. We were able to approach quite close to the reptile before it slide off into the water.

This egret also allowed us to get very close to it. Maybe because there were few persons and boats on the lake at this time of day... the wildlife were not spooked by our presence.

Rachel caught these interesting water reflections in her camera lens.

Suspect that this pile of dead branches and vines is a beaver den. It was located in the same cove we spotted "Bucky" the beaver back in May.

Nice scenery looking out of a quiet cove toward the main lake body of water.

Park officials removed the dock planks after Memorial Day weekend, leaving only the pilings. I assume that a new dock will be constructed here using the existing pilings.

Back at the Beaver Dam Lake boat ramp.

Backing down the ramp for kayak and wife "retrieval!" I was going for what I like to call "dramatic" photo shots... and I think I pulled off an interesting one?

Rachel and I had a great "quick" paddle at Beaver Dam Lake. Fighting a steady 10 - 15 mph west breeze added to a more vigorous workout for us... and the paddling was a tremendous help for clearing my head and getting the old blood pumping strong! Who says "quickies" can't be fun? ;-)

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Paddling - There's Always a First Time!

I love introducing folks to the joys of paddling and I was thankful that I had the opportunity on Friday! Rachel and I attend Greater Works Ministry and our pastor Gracie and her sister Mary both had expressed an interest in paddling. Carol, another mutual friend, had done some canoe paddling, but she also wanted to get time in on a kayak. So, this Friday, I took a half day off from work... picked up some chips and drinks from a local grocer... ten Chick-fil-a sandwiches (yes, these folks have healthy appetites!) ... bag of ice... and loaded both kayaks (Escapade tandem & Liberty 13 single) into my truck. A short drive down Highway 50 and we all met at one of my favorite haunts - Beaver Dam Lake for an afternoon of paddling and fun! Friday afternoon, temperatures were in the mid 80's, slight breeze, partly cloudy and high humidity... pretty nice paddling conditions.

Carol, Mary, Rachel, and Gracie, getting ready to test the waters.

I demonstrated how to handle and stroke with the to get into and out of a kayak... staying together with your paddling strokes in a tandem kayak... and a myriad of other tips and advice I've picked up since getting "serious" about kayaking two years ago. Here Mary and I get ready to put in the tandem.

I decided Gracie would be more comfortable in the rear seat of the tandem and had her do a "dry run" while sitting comfortably on land! ;-)

Rachel and Gracie stroking nicely together. Gracie, Mary and Carol caught on to the paddling basics quickly and shortly all new folks were skimming across the calm waters of Beaver Dam Lake like pros!

Mary and Carol preparing to land and take out at the boat ramp.

For Gracie and Mary, it was their first time ever in a kayak and they were both excited and a little apprehensive. But, in just a short time, they settled down and began to enjoy themselves on the water. I was excited to play a part in their introduction to the great sport of paddling and judging from their comments to me... this will not be their last paddling adventure!

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Paddling Again on Lake Michie

6/11/2011 - Lake Michie, Durham, NC

Early Saturday morning held the promise of a beautiful day. Temperatures in the low 70's, sunny, slight breeze and low humidity... all the ingredients for a great paddling adventure! Rachel's back was talking "back" to her again... and unfortunately was unable to accompany me kayaking this day. I decided to return to Lake Michie. My last paddling trip to Lake Michie had been nearly a year ago and it was long overdue for a return visit!

Put in at the Lake Michie boat ramp.

I headed west on the lake. Here I approach the Bahama Road bridge.

Barn swallows have built their mud nests under the bridge.

Spotted several turtles basking in the sun...

... and herons striding along the shoreline.

The remains of an old pier that had collapsed and fallen into the lake.

Impressive and beautiful rock formations that were...

...defaced by spray painted graffiti. Message to "Kevin 03" and other jokers who destroy nature - leave your spray paint cans at home!

More magnificent rock formations that...

somebody decided made a great place to empty out a carton of cigarettes. Whatever you carry into the wild, you take out when you leave. A "successful visit" to the wild is one in which there is no trace you had ever been there! Don't litter folks!

No. It's not a Christmas tree ornament, but one of about a dozen "lost" fishing lures and lines I came across tangled in the trees and shrubs along the Lake Michie shoreline. This discarded fishing tackle can be hazardous to all wildlife and I try to remove it (I carry a multi-purpose tool and garbage bags in my kayak) whenever possible.

Discovered this small culvert under Bahama Road and was able to "squeeze" through it. Unfortunately, I was stopped when my kayak's bottom ground up in shallow water on the far side. I had to paddle "backwards" (was unable to turn around) to return to the deeper waters of the main lake.

A small island located on Lake Michie.

I paddled down a small cove and came across this canoe that had become trapped and was crushed by the weight and bulk of these dead tree trunks.

Here is a "zoomed out" photo so you can view this massive log jam! The canoe location is the red circle. Speculation is the canoe either slipped it's mooring line, or was washed down the lake during a heavy rain storm. In either case, it looks like this may be the canoe's final resting place?

The next five photos are Lake Michie "beauty" shots. Enjoy!

It was a gorgeous summer morning on Lake Michie and a very pleasant paddling adventure!

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Summer Morning Paddle on the Eno River

6/05/2011 - Eno River, Durham, NC.

Sunday morning promised to be a great time for paddling. Come to think about it... just about "any" day or time is a good one for paddling! ;-) Our last visit to the Eno River had been back in May 2010... and with the boat ramp a short few miles from our house... there was just no excuse for not getting back out on the Eno! Sunday morning weather was ideal for paddling... temperatures in the mid 80's... cloud cover... light breeze... and low humidity. We got a pretty early start and arrived at the Eno River around 9:30 AM. Parking lot had about a half dozen trucks with boat trailers. We waited for the ramp to clear as two guys and a young boy launched their motor boat and than we put in.

Preparing to launch from the Eno River boat ramp.

Rachel in her customary front seat sporting a new Mti PFD. She liked both the feel and freedom of arm movement that the paddling PFD provided for her.

We headed west on the Eno River thinking we would avoid the majority of fishing boat traffic that can usually can be found east towards Three Rivers. We were wrong! We encountered several fishing boats, but thankfully the fishermen were either anchored or traveling at a slow speed. We had to keep an eye out for fishing lines... and not speeding water craft.

The water had come down a couple of feet as evident by the water level marks on this foliage on the river banks.

There was little to no current running, resulting in calm, mirror-like water and beautiful reflections on the water surface. Can you spot the fishing boat in this photo?

Mostly green foliage along the Eno River banks intermixed with beautiful white flowers.

This dead tree branch jutting across the river marks the halfway point for our paddle. Again, the water reflections were fantastic!

We spotted this muskrat swimming across our bow. I handed the camera to Rachel, and she took the photo. But no beavers on this paddling adventure!

We encountered trees on two separate occasions that had fallen across the Eno River, blocking "most" water craft from continuing west. Here, we managed to steer the kayak over the tree block in an opening no bigger than the kayak width. Our passage is marked by the red arrow.

Massive erosion and exposed root systems will soon topple these trees into the Eno as well.

Mature beech trees forming a white and green canopy over the Eno River.

On our return leg, we encountered a couple of kayakers enjoying a summer morning paddling on the Eno River! We enjoyed ourselves too!

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