Saturday, November 10, 2012

Late Fall Paddle at Hickory Hill on Falls Lake!

 Location: Hickory Hill, Falls Lake, Durham, NC. Temperature: 50F Wind: Calm Conditions: Mostly Sunny 

Saturday was one of those rare days in November, when the temperatures would climb to a balmy 65F, after a cold start in the mid-30's! Fantastic paddling conditions and the Durhamblogger was NOT going to waste such a "gift!" Unfortunately, Rachel was feeling under the weather and was not able to accompany me on this paddling adventure. I decided to strike out for Hickory Hill,(Put in was location #16 on the map) an area on Falls Lake and paddle in a section of the lake that I had not paddled since the summer of 2011. It was time for a return visit! Reminder - click on the photos to enlarge.

 Water and wind conditions were calm, that made for an easy paddle. In the distance, I heard  rifle fire several times during my paddle. Deer season was in full swing and hunters were in the nearby woods. I felt a little small and vulnerable in my kayak!

Just after put in at the Hickory Hill boat ramps, I spotted this lone tent and plastic chair perched on a large rock that jutted out into Falls Lake. Based on the fish nets and tackle that were scattered about, it most likely was a fisherman's camp site.

I liked the landscape colors, exposed tree roots, and lines of this rock formation!

A "splash" of Autumn colors decorated this lonely peninsula.

A clump of dead trees and bushes served as a roosting area for a flock of Anhinga, also known as Snake Birds.

Several ducks, geese, and Anhinga bob on the calm surface of Falls Lake. In the back ground, the U.S. Interstate 85 twin bridges.

New growth in a dead tree stump brings the promise of Spring and warmer temperatures in a few months.

A solitary Anhinga stands like a sentinel on the waters of Falls Lake.

A man-made stand for an Osprey nest, but...

...nobody was home.

I saw several instances of severe wind and water erosion effects on the shoreline trees.

This tree root bulb is held upright by a slender root tentacle attached to the bank and another that provide a precarious anchor to the ground. It will soon topple over to join its fellow dead tree companions.

Several large "man-sized" boulders scattered about on this shoreline.

I rounded a bend, in a quiet cove, and spied these two hunters laying out duck decoys. One of the guys waved to me and I noted the powerful-looking rifles slung over their shoulders. That picture, was enough for me to "decide" that it was time to turn around and retrace my paddling steps out of the cove! So, between the hunters shooting at deer in the nearby woods, and these two hunters on the lookout for ducks, there was more than enough hunting going on at Hickory Hill for me!

As I made my way back out to the larger areas of Falls Lake, I heard a loud and large engine rev up. At first, I thought it was an eighteen-wheeler down shifting on I-85. But, suddenly a bi-wing aircraft rose above the distant tree line and came over Falls Lake. I had forgotten that there was a small dirt landing strip located near the lake. For the next half hour, I got to witness a mini-airshow as the pilot of the bi-wing aircraft performed somersaults and barrel rolls a few hundred feet above my kayak! Great fun to watch it!   :-)

Again, it was a gorgeous and rare warm day in November! A few wispy clouds, dead calm water, and pretty much empty Falls Lake, made for an enjoyable and relaxing paddle! Now, if only the hunters would move on to another location, than "all" my stress levels would have been lowered!

In a large cove located in the north-west corner of Falls Lake, I encountered hundreds of water fowl bobbing in the water. I attempted to paddle closer to the birds, but as I got within 100 yards or so, many of the birds took to flight. I captured that encounter in this short video.

Once, back at my put in / take out area, I loaded my kayak into the back of my truck and took a final look out the back window. My NCSU sticker is proudly displayed in the middle of the window. I can't help, but think that this paddle may be the last one of the season for me! I am rather reflective and a little sad as I pull away from the boat ramp and head back to my home.

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  1. Beautiful paddle. Super pics! November is hunting season. I don't blame you for turning back at the sight of hunters. It makes me nervous too, especially when I paddle past decoys! We have so much to look out for. So do the ducks!

    Cheers from Canada. We had an incredibly warm day today in the National Capital Region.

    1. Hey Peggy! Hunting season brings a lot more dangers to paddlers and other folks who may just be out enjoying the great outdoors! I guess, in one way, it's a good thing that my paddling season will end in a short two weeks.

  2. Good to see that you were able to get out and take advantage of nice weather. If nothing else, fall paddling is more solitary and peaceful (except for the hunters, of course!). Luckily deer season hasn't started here yet.

    It is difficult to put the kayaks away for the season. I even let my wife schedule a trip for us to Florida in December (not something I usually care to do) for an excuse to get more paddling in. See you on the water!

  3. Beautiful! I figured you'd be going out this past Saturday because it was very nice outside in Wilmington but I travelled to Greensboro for a dance convention so I was unable to enjoy the nice weather here! But anyways your pictures are beautiful and I can't believe someone is camping right next to the water, thats gotta be chilly at night!!!! The trees are so cool, espcially the one where you can see the roots! I'm sure you have a blast! I can't wait to see you Thanksgiving and hear all about your wonderful kayak trips =)


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