Saturday, August 24, 2013

Paddling Kerr Lake and a "water rescue" of sorts!

  Location: Kerr Lake, Clarksville, VA. Temperature: 80F Wind: Light  Conditions: Mostly sunny

Rachel and I were visiting family this past weekend in Clarksville, VA. I "just happened" to also take our tandem kayak in case an opportunity presented itself for a kayaking adventure! The town of Clarksville sits on Kerr Lake, a reservoir created lake that boasts over 850 miles of shoreline and covers nearly 50,000 acres. Was there ever a doubt we would NOT go paddling?  ;-)  Click on the photos to enlarge.     

 We decided to launch from the Occoneeche State Park located across the lake from Clarksville. After paying a very reasonable $3.00 (USD) for park admission, we drove a short distance and put in at boat ramp #2.

We heard laughter as we paddled into the main body of water, and spotted these two kids doing what kids have done for centuries at the lake shore, looking for rocks and assorted treasure in the shallow waters.

The building tops and smoke stack of the Mecklenburg Cogeneration Facility poke above the treeline. The cogeneration plant is a two-unit, 130-megawatt coal-fired facility that supplies electricity to the surrounding area.

One of several cottages that visitors may rent during their stay at Occoneechee State Park. The obligatory rope swing dangles from a tree by the water's edge.

The Swamp Rose Mallow or Hibiscus Moscheutos growing near the lake shore.

A solitary bush with a precarious foothold.

The Occoneechee State Park side of Kerr Lake was littered with huge tree debris and rocky shorelines.

Striking reflections of tree trunks in a quiet and still cove.

Rounding a point, you can see both the new by-pass bridge (foreground) and the original business Highway 58 bridge (background). Click on the photo to enlarge.

We spotted this 20 foot + tree trunk floating in Kerr Lake. The current was drifting it out to the main channel, where in the distance, boats were racing past our position at high speeds. The tree was an extreme navigation hazard and had to be removed.

Thankfully, I carried a tow line in my dry bag. We maneuvered our kayak along side the floating tree trunk. I was able to wrap and secure the line around the approximately 1 foot diameter trunk. Than, with Rachel paddling from her front seat, I was able to hold onto the tow line and we slowly paddled for the shoreline.  

Here, you can see the length of tree trunk compared to the kayak. Our kayak is 13 feet long and the  tree extended several feet beyond our boat. It took both of us to wrestle the water-logged tree onto the shore and out of the water line. Our good deed for the day!

Rachel and I had a great time paddling on Kerr Lake. The temperatures were mild, the humidity was low, and it was an all around gorgeous time to be on the lake! Hope to return often to explore Kerr Lake!

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Paddling at Hickory Hill (Falls Lake) after nearly a year absence!

 Location: Hickory Hill (Falls Lake), Durham, NC. Temperature: 80F Wind: Light  Conditions: Mostly sunny

Saturday found me with a paddling "itch" and the need to really "scratch" it!  ;-) Rachel was tied up with some work at our house, so it would be a solo adventure for me. I decided to put in at the Hickory Hill boat ramp on Falls Lake. It had been nearly a year since I had last paddled this section of Falls Lake and it was time for a return visit! Click on the photos to enlarge.

I spotted a couple of trucks with trailers in the Hickory Hill parking lot, but I essentially had this area of Falls Lake to myself. Humidity levels were high, but a constant breeze keep me cooled off and was much welcomed!

A short time into my paddle and I spied this lone anhinga or "snake bird" perched on a dead stump.

A short time later, I came across this colony of anhinga, on a small island in Falls Lake. I counted (at least) nine birds in this photo.

A lone heron keeping an eye on a small yellow kayak approaching.  I am always amazed how large fowls are able to cling to the smallest of perches. The diameter of that dead tree is only a few inches.

The remains of a concrete retaining wall or dock? Metal re bar juts out of the broken concrete, that is also splattered with bird droppings.

A serene view overlooking a quiet and still Falls Lake.

The remains of a tree, little more than "skeleton" remains, hollowed out by erosion and insects.

Falls Lake on a summer morning.

The Red Mill Road bridge crossing Falls Lake.

Recent heavy rains have submerged entire rows of trees.

I landed on a small island for a bio break and to stretch my legs.

The small island, no more than 50 feet in diameter, was swampy and water logged.

Small minnows swam in the couple inches of lake water that covered much of the island.

A "no wake" buoy lays discarded among the reeds at the water's edge.

This area of the island was covered with sticky mud that bubbled and "squished" when I walked across it - in my water shoes of course. I also encountered a few swarms of biting flies. Not the most pleasant place to linger. 

However, even here, on this swampy island, I was able to find beauty!

A monarch butterfly in all its glory!

It was a fun and relaxing paddle at the Hickory Hills area of Falls Lake. I am always thankful for my paddles since I am able to see and experience nature up close and personal - something that folks who venture out on our lakes and waterways in motor boats will never see. Until next time!  :-)

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