Monday, September 28, 2009

Paddle # 47 of the Year.

Once again, calm weather prevailed on the lake. As I was putting the boat away, I could see a breeze beginning and was tempted to head out once again, but with the luck I've been having, my presence on the water would return conditions to calm once again. I finished putting things away and drove home. As you can see from the photo above, the leaves are beginning to turn. Not many scarlet colours out yet, but the browns and yellows are coming along. Hopefully it won't rain too much this week and the reds will break out. We haven't had a really good fall colour display for a few years and I'd like to go out for a paddle in the blazing glory. Bring it on!

Before leaving however, my eye caught this little fellow. I didn't flip him (her?) over to check his tummy, but I'm assuming he's a ring neck snake which has a distribution from Nova Scotia to Mexico in eastern North America. I never saw the colour of his tummy which ought to have been red to yellow. I should have checked because now I'm curious to know if my identification is correct or not. I must take more time to see life's details!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Serenity Paddling

When I bought a new kayak this spring, a Maelström 'Vaag', it was with some wind and waves in mind. The boat's rocker just begs you to take it out when conditions tend towards the rougher end of the scale. However, if this past summer has impressed me with anything, it has been its calm weather if nothing else. At least, this has been true on the days I've gone for a paddle. Only one day in Newfoundland, interestingly out of a place named 'Happy Adventure', was there much wind to speak about. That was a fun day where the Vaag really got to show its stuff!

The photo above was taken the other day on my local lake. As usual, it's rather calm... Paddle number 46 for the year and still little wind, no waves. I'm not getting rid of the Vaag, however!

Yesterday, my daughter had her university convocation ceremony. That's both my children finished their education and out in the world. I can now paddle with an increased sense of serenity knowing much of the job of child raising is behind me. I'm so proud of them both!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Beaufort Trail Ratings

I don't want people to think I'm a very knowledgeable hiker. I have no serious ambitions to hike any of the world's big trails, but I do enjoy getting out for a few days of walking. I do believe that hikers would benefit from better descriptions of what lies out there along their intended route. At sea, we have the Beaufort Wind Scale. What do hikers have?

Hiking trails have a high variability of conditions along the way. What might begin as an easy walk can suddenly turn into something quite different. Here are a few Beaufort style suggestions using photos I took when in the Moosehead Lake area last week. What do you think?

Trail Condition 1
Trail is like a mirror with few, if any, ripples.

Trail Condition 2
Trail broken by some surface roots, but remains more or less even, with some increasing slope.

Trail Condition 3
Large roots in trail, rock outcrops beginning to appear, increasing slope and unevenness, scattered hazards, few handholds.

Trail Condition 4
Trail heaps up, short vertical rock faces begin to appear in places along route.

Of course, this is a bit 'tongue in cheek' and not fully expanded, but a fun exercise nonethless.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hiking Moosehead - Gulf Hagas

High winds kept me off the water for several days during my stay in the Moosehead Lake area. I had been aware that winds could stir up the lake, so brought along my hiking gear to take advantage of some of the great walks available in the area. Today's post shows a few photos from the eight mile Gulf Hagas trail a few miles east of the lake. I took the loop which begins at the head of the Pleasant River gorge, follows the Rim Trail down to the entrance of the Gulf Hagas Brook. From this point, I followed the Pleasant River Trail back up to the parking area where I'd left the car.

The trail itself varies from a smooth path at the start to quite rough, but well marked. Every now and then a side trails leads out either to an overlook of the gorge or in some case, down the gorge wall to the river below. These side trails can get quite interesting as the photo above suggests!

Apart from the rugged slate walls of the gorge, the views offer vistas of several waterfalls and cascades. Here is a typical view of one where the canyon walls have widened more than usual and the river formed a small pond...

More typically, the rock walls are fairly close together and only fleeting glimpses of the churning river can be seen far below.

The hike took me most of the afternoon, about six hours in total. I was gratified to see a couple of dozen fellow hikers along the way. One young lady even carried her young child with her in a backpack. A bit risky perhaps, given the roughness of the trail, but to see this young child out being exposed to nature made my day.

The trail has a link to the famous Appalachian Trail, so can be taken as a side loop from there. In fact, an alternate route is to begin the loop from the parking area at the bottom of the gorge, head up the Rim Trail and return by the Pleasant River Road Trail, reversing the route I'd taken.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Moosehead Lake, Maine - Part 2

My paddling adventures were interrupted for a few days by high winds which churned up the lake especially in the longer reaches. I wondered whether the lake was relatively shallow to produce so many whitecaps. Certainly there are many shoal areas, well marked for the power boater and sea-plane operator.

When I did get back on the water, it was to paddle around Mt Kineo, an island right at the narrows of the lake, between the 'head' and the 'antlers'. This interesting place was well known to the Native Americans as a source of stone for making weapons. It was also something of a meeting place and perhaps a treading center. Chert from as far away as Nain, Labrador has been found on the mountain as proof of this trading activity.

Starting at the public launch in Rockwood, I paddled across the lake towards Kineo. This attractive house with the cliff of Mt Kineo in the background got my attention.

There is a narrow isthmus on the east side of Kineo linking it to the mainland and providing road access of a sorts. I say that because the secondary roads in this area tend to be unimproved dirt logging roads when can be quite rough in places, best traveled by truck. The small bay on the south side of the isthmus is protected by a rocky bar and can be quite shallow in places. I made a short portage across the road, and once on the north side, I found a nice gravel beach where the waters deepened quickly.

It is from the vantage point of this bay that the cliffs of Mt Kineo really become quite dramatic. In places, one seems to be under their high cathedral-like over-hanging rock faces. It's as if one is entering an alcove. It was difficult to photograph, but very inspiring and awesome.

After a quick lunch, I continued around the island, the north side of which is typical of the many islands of Moosehead Lake: rocky shores, backed by dense woods, with little or no beach.

On the northwestern tip there was a lovely campsite on a piece of open level ground, the first I'd seen.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Moosehead Lake, Maine - Part 1

For years Moosehead Lake has been on my list of places to paddle and why not? The name of the lake alone draws one to it. The whole place seems to be the home of the moose cult. Finally this past week I had the chance to visit. Here's what I discovered...

The lake can be said to have two parts: the head and the horns, if you like. As the lake is large, I spent my time mostly in the southern 'head' section. In this post, I paddled around Sugar Island, the largest of several islands in the lake. It was mostly devoid of cottages, although there is a light sprinkling of them here and there. There are also several wilderness campsites, especially on the eastern facing shore.

The first day was perfect, sunny, cool and calm. The views are typical of what Moosehead Lake has to offer, rocky shorelines, crystal clear water surrounded by miles and miles of forested hills. Now and then mountains burst up and dominate the skyline with their changing fall colours.

Now and then something catches your eye as you paddle along and you have to swing into shore for a closer look. Here are a pair of seaplane floats, mysteriously hauled onto the beach. What happened to the plane they once supported?

The beaches tend not to be that kayak friendly as you can see from this photo of my lunch stop. Just off the shore commonly are large boulders lying ready for a bite of your gelcoat and sandy beaches were very uncommon. Still the cool, clear, weedless water was a delight to paddle.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

All Mine, Almost...

The lake is a much quieter place these days. Many people have either closed up their cottages for the season or headed back to town, coming out only for the weekends. I like a quiet lake. It's all mine.

Or it was until this gull decided to try and grab an apple core off my front deck. I'll have to be more careful where I leave stuff...

Then as I was putting the boat and gear away in the boathouse this afternoon, this sculler slipped quickly by. He's new. I've never seen that boat on the lake before, but it's the kind of boat I don't mind sharing the lake with.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Driving To The Put-in

Fall is in the air, especially early in the morning these days. Naturally, northern paddlers are thinking about how they'll make it through the winter. Some folks in Newfoundland have been toying with pushing the Labrador Current offshore a bit and bringing in the warmer Gulf Stream. Others prefer pushing the whole place farther south for the chilly season.

Myself, I'm thinking of hitching up the mini-trailer when the time comes and heading to warmer climes. With that in mind, I came across this photo of the mountain road situation in Bolivia. Not for the faint of heart, to be sure! It's probably why we don't hear much about Bolivian seakayakers. There's still inching their way down the road to the put-in...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Paddling Days

A few years ago at this time I got it into my head to paddle every day for 100 days. This year, I've been thinking that I'll be lucky to get in 50 paddling days for the whole year! At first I began to wonder if I was slowing down, getting old or even worse, was I getting lazy...?

Since doing the 100 consecutive days, I've continued keeping a log of each paddle I go out on. Today I was out on #42 for the year. Checking into my records for previous years, I find I'm actually a bit ahead of where I usually am for this time of year. Questioning fellow paddlers, it turns out I'm ahead of many of them for days paddled in 2009, but to be fair, most of them have regular day jobs and I don't.

So if I'm getting old and slowing down, at least the data doesn't reflect it. Yet.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hot, Flat and Wait, What's That?

I've been trying to read Thomas Friedman's latest book, Hot, Flat and Crowded. Not an easy read given the implications he's suggesting about our collective inability to comes to grips with what we're doing to our precious planet.

A couple of days ago, refreshed from a glorious long weekend playing around on a secluded lake, with good friends, I happen to pass this interesting scene. At first nothing appeared out of the ordinary, until my eye caught the green roof over the patio bar. A living roof! Sown with what seemed to be wild-flowers! Mr. Friedman would have been proud. Green roofs won't save our world from devastation, but they're a bit like a finger pointing in the direction we need to be going. Like a sun-roof on a Prius, like the electric panel on my camper, like providing some serious health care for our planet... well you get the idea. I hope.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Paddling Mysteries - Part 2

Obviously when one is kayak camping in a park setting, one expects now and then to discover stuff left behind by previous occupants. Still, this forgotten item makes one wonder. A pair of small child's shoes. Not just forgotten, but carefully placed beside the fire-pit. What could it all mean? There's perhaps a story here. A mystery story...

Were they placed there by a parent and then in the rush to leave, they were forgotten? Maybe, but how many pairs of shoes would a parent bring? More than one? Not likely, meaning the child was barefoot on departure. Did no one notice? Didn't the child say anything, especially back at the take-out, which wasn't that far away, but required a 500 meter hike to the car? Seems odd to me when a short paddle could have retrieved the shoes.

In any event, we 'fixed' the mystery by taking the shoes along with us. They'll be shipped with some similar items to an organization in Cuba that provides second-hand clothing to wealthy tourists or whoever else needs them.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Paddling Mysteries - Part 1

One of the things about going kayaking is the frequency that mysterious thing happen. Take last weekend, for example. In the photo about a bunch of us are at the put-in getting ready to launch. We've just lugged our boats and gear in a half kilometer from the parking. For some reason, one of our troop found it necessary to have a relaxing lay down in a nearby canoe while the rest of us loaded up our boats. Can you see the head and knees showing just above the gunnels? Well, to me, it's perfectly clear who is going to be the last person launched and ready to paddle off. Or is it?

Here's the scene a bit later. Note which boat is already in the water. Note who is in that boat. Take a close look and see if you can tell which person it is. How could this have possibly happened? Well, that's one of kayaking's little mysteries, isn't it?

I'll have another mystery for you on the next post. It's even more curious...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labour Day Echos

Taking advantage of a run of beautiful end-of-summer weather, a few friends and I hiked and trolley'd into Joeperry Lake in Ontario's Bon Echo Provincial Park last weekend. It was a memorable weekend of calm, sunny weather, good food and laughter that went right down to the soles of our feet.

The picture above is of one of our sites we'd booked. We stopped briefly to check out it's virtues, but found it lacking somewhat. It did have a pair of child's shoes carefully and mysteriously placed by the fire, but that wasn't enough. It's 'sanitary facility', a thunder box, was ancient, well used and nearly to the point of over-flowing. We paddled on. We're glad we did.

I'll write more on another post about our final destination and some of our adventures, but skipping ahead to the last day of our visit, we paddled out on Lake Mazinaw to its famous cliffs. They extend for about 1.5 kilometers in a more or less straight line, often reaching heights of 100 meters over the water.

Scattered along the base are nearly 300 petroglyphs painted onto the rock in a reddish hue. The one in the above picture, I believe, has been used by the Canadian Canoe Museum as its logo. Why they were made, how, when and by whom exactly is a mystery. The high traffic on the lake, including the presence of rock climbers makes me wonder how much longer they will be visible. I felt most of them had faded since my last visit in the early 2000's...