Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Long Pond and Round Pond, part one

Well, we haven't kayaked since Nicks Lake, but this summer we got in a few paddles, despite my inability to blog about them. So I'm going to go back and tell you about one such place-- Long Pond and Round Pond near Croghan, NY.  By the way, I have realized that it might be helpful to list the nearest town for these kayaking locations, making them a bit easier to find if you're interested in going.  Of course, the best way to pinpoint any place I've blogged about is to go to my website, Quiet Kayaking in New York State,   Choose "map" in the left column menu and you will find locations marked and identified.  Be aware that I'm not quite caught up to our trips-- I think the Kunjamuk, new for us this year, is not marked yet.

Anyway, here is a photo of Long Pond to start off the blog with an "ahhhh," as in, "this is a beautiful and peaceful place to kayak."

This pond is one of two areas which one branch of the Oswegatchie River flows through (Round Pond being the other, which is connected to Long Pond.)  The photo above was taken from an area near the put-in, looking "up" the pond.  There are a couple of houses/camps near the put-in, then there is a stretch without buildings on either side, until you near the FFA camp property.  We kayaked here on a June weekend when there wasn't any activity at the camp.  But if you go in the summer, be prepared for campers and canoes, a few motorboats from those who have private property on parts of the pond, and even from a seaplane that is sometimes on the pond. (At least until it takes off, that is!)

Even though this can be a busy place and the few motorboats are noisy, it is one of our favorite destinations.  We always go early in the morning.  If it's a warm and/or summer weekend morning, we usually get off the water by 10:00.  That seems to be when things get humming, and we like the peace and quiet.  We have not paddled here in the fall, but that would also be a good time to go.

This is the put-in.  As you can see, it's our kind of entry-- gradual and sandy.  The access to Long Pond is on a dirt road but it is well-maintained/graded in the summer, and it's only a few miles off a paved road.

There was a slight breeze on the morning we paddled here, making the reflections just a bit rippled.  Usually it is very calm in the morning.  At the end of this post, I'll show you how great the reflections can be-- I have some nice photos from a paddle here a few years ago.

There is an esker between Long Pond and Round Pond.  We got out for a walk along the trail crossing the esker for a view of Round Pond.  Here is the trail:

We hadn't stopped here before, so we enjoyed Round Pond from a different perspective.  It's more sheltered than Long Pond and except for some cabins that are part of the FFA camp, there are no buildings along its shores.

It's easy to see that Round Pond is more protected from the breeze just by looking at the water in the photos above.  Round Pond is very peaceful.  We stood looking at the view from the esker for a few minutes, happy to be able to feast our eyes on this kind of beauty in nature.

Then it was time to get back in our kayaks on Long Pond.  Here is a shot looking back the way we had come.  One of the best things about Long Pond and Round Pond is the number of  easy exit/entry spots for a short walk or to eat your lunch. 

Another "thing" we like about this destination is the footbridge.  It's part of the FFA camp, but kind of fun to look at and to paddle under.  Here it is, on the left of this photo as we approached it.

And a closer look at the bridge after we'd paddled underneath it.  Yes, we did!  It isn't very far above the water, but near the end on the right of this photo, it's a bit higher.  We did have to lean back as we went under, but it wasn't a problem at all.

So we are now on Round Pond.  Here are a couple of reflection shots from that day:

And here is a photo of the path we had taken from the other side of the esker.  It looks much more overgrown from this side than it actually was (if you look earlier in this post you will see the clear, pine needle-strewn path.)

Round Pond is probably about a third of the size of Long Pond, but the footbridge means the few motorboats on Long Pond can't get into the smaller pond.  That's just fine with us!

Along the shores of Round Pond were some purple wildflowers whose name I can't remember (darn it!) Do you see the butterfly among the leaves of the flowers?

I enjoy taking reflections of clouds on the water.  This shot also includes Dick in his red kayak on the other side of the pond, waiting for me.  I wanted to paddle the shoreline in case there was something interesting (like the flowers and butterfly) to capture with my camera.  His shoulder was a bit sore, so he paddle straight across and waited for me to join him.

The serenity of this area draws us back many times.  I think we've paddled here 4 out of 5 years because of the feeling we get when we're on the water here.

I will finish the description of our paddle on Long Pond and Round Pond in my next blog post.  For now, I'll leave you with the promised reflection shot, taken early one July morning a few years ago.  It's one of my favorites:

 Please use the "reactions" buttons below to give me feedback on this blog post.  Thanks and happy kayaking!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Nicks Lake, part two

Nicks Lake is fairly small in size but there are a few set-backs around its edges that offer a closer look at the woods surrounding the lake.  The nature trail circles the entire lake, so you will often be able to hear and sometimes see campground or day-use visitors walking along the trail.  Here is a view of the lake as we paddled around it clockwise from the bridge:

As you can see, the water is rippled.  It was nearing noontime and the wind had picked up just a bit, plus we were out of the sheltered area beyond the bridge.  Here is a zoomed-in view of the boat launch area from the water:


And a close-up of the beach area from the water as well:

Out on the water, I often seem to attract dragon flies.  I have lots of photos of them as they land on my knee, the front of my kayak, or in this case, the side of my kayak which is padded for carrying on your shoulder.  He/she is orange, but not real easy to see against the black of my kayak's padding.  Have any of you noticed dragonflies being attracted to your kayak?  Dick's kayak is red and he very rarely has dragonflies riding along with him.  With mine being yellow, I wonder if the dragonflies are drawn to the brighter color.  What do you think?

The next two photos show a tree that died and was blown down into the water.  The tree grew out on a point at a bit of an angle, and I was sure I remembered it when it was a healthy tree a few years before.  That's why I took these 2 photos. 

It's "bones" are sticking out of the water in this one:

Here is what this point and tree looked like about 3 years ago (but from the opposite side of the point):

Nicks Lake has rocks around its edges that are barely submerged, but there is one rock in a deeper area of the lake that sticks up.  It's big enough to get out on, but unless you're really agile and/or don't mind going for a swim if you tip over, I wouldn't advise trying it.  For us, the rock marks an area where we usually see a loon or a pair of loons fishing. 

We had been looking for a loon since getting on the water.  Whenever we kayak a location where we've seen loons before, we're always on the lookout.  We like to know that they are still there, still having their babies and fishing in the waters of whatever lake or other waterway we're on.  It makes us feel good, even if we have no idea whether it's the same pair of loons we saw on a previous trip.  We did see a loon, but he/she was busy fishing and never stayed long on the surface.  We lost it in the little white caps that started forming, and I never got a photo.  BUT  never fear, I have some great photos of a loon family from a paddle we took in 2007.  Here are a few of them:

If you look closely, you will see TWO loon babies swimming along beside momma (or maybe it is daddy!)
Did you know loons are able to stay underwater for up to 4 minutes?  When they dive down, they can surface a long distance from where they started, making it sometimes difficult to find them.  They are also very good at avoiding us-- we've watched them dive, then pop up many minutes later completely behind us.  They are not only aware of us on the water, but know which direction we're headed and purposely swim the other way.

We were about 2/3 to 3/4 of our way around the lake by this time.  The sun and the sky were still gorgeous and we were relaxing, enjoying the slight breeze and the rays of sunshine beating down on us.  The temperature was cool but the sun kept us warm enough that t-shirts were all we needed.  Here are a couple of photos showing the pretty lake with the hills which surround it:

And here is one of the campsites on the water (through the trees) which we passed by as we headed back to the boat launch. 

And this photo is of another campsite, not visible in the trees, but it shows how pretty the whole lake and campground area is.

I looked to my right as we paddled toward the take-out area and thought these clouds looked like smoke signals over the hills:

The dead tree in the water (photo below) used to stand on a point to the right of the boat launch (if looking from the water) and on top was a huge nest of branches.  We aren't sure what bird made its home there, but the nest was very large, so we guessed it could be an eagle's nest.  Unfortunately, sometime in the last 3 years, the dead tree fell. I don't know if birds have "back-up" nests like other animals do, but I hope so!

Well, we've made a complete circle and are back where we started from.  Here is Dick as we approach the boat launch.  Another campsite is visible on the left with a red kayak at its waterfront:

I will leave you with a photo taken a few years ago in the summer when the water lilies were in bloom.  There were no flowers when we paddled here in September, but in June and July you will certainly see many along the shallow edges of Nicks Lake.

If you would like more information on kayaking locations in New York state as wells as kayaking tips, resources and links, please check out my website "Quiet Kayaking in New York State" at:   The information there is more "static" giving you descriptions and directions to locations, a map marking the places we've kayaked, and tips for kayaking, etc.  I only have full info in a few locations, but will be adding more this fall and winter, with my goal being to have information on every place we've kayaked in NY, and that number is more than 30 and growing.  Please also give me some feedback by clicking on the "reactions" below this blog.  I've just added this feature and I'm looking forward to knowing what you think of my blog posts. Thanks and happy kayaking!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nicks Lake, part one

Sunday's weather didn't look good, so we knew Saturday would be our only chance for a paddle last weekend.  We didn't have a lot of time and even less energy since we'd been playing cards with friends the night before.  The temperature was in the low 40's when we got up, but it was clear and looked like the day would be sunny but cool.  So off we went to Nicks Lake.  This lake is very near Old Forge, NY and is the site of a NY state DEC campground.  There were numerous campers, even on the 2nd weekend of September.  Note: This lake is not the place to go for a quiet paddle.  The campground is very popular.  It's a very nice campground, too, as you will see by some of my photos.  But, since it's near Old Forge and there is a campground on the lake, this paddle destination is for those times when you just want to get out on the water for an hour or two.  One of the best things about Nicks Lake is that there are no motor boats allowed.  Also there are the obvious advantages of a public area-- picnic tables and restrooms.  Here is the link for more info on Nicks Lake:
Here is a photo of the swimming beach.  You may launch from here but the carry from the parking lot makes us prefer to leave from the boat launch which is on the right before getting to this picnic/beach/parking area.

No swimmers on this day, since the temperature only reached 70 by the afternoon.  Here is a photo of the boat launch area:

This landing is used for fishing.  On both sides there is sand for an easy entry.  The only drawback is that sometimes it's shallow enough here that you have to walk your kayak out a bit, or scoot along to reach deeper water.  On this day, we scooted and reached enough water to float less than 4 feet from the shore.  Also, take note that you cannot park at the boat launch site.  You must unload your canoe or kayak, then park in the lot further down the road (where the picnic tables and beach are.) This is the view as we're heading out from the launch area:

We went left, toward a bridge which is part of the nature trail circling the lake.  On the way, we passed the beach area.  There is a lifeguard on duty during the summer months, a bathhouse for changing, and restrooms.  Also, there are picnic tables in the shade-- great for a hot summer day.  But today, those picnicking gravitated toward the few open areas with picnic tables, sitting in the sun to enjoy their lunches.

Here is a photo of the bridge:

This bridge crosses the inlet to the lake.  We have been to Nicks Lake many times but have not been able to paddle underneath the bridge and explore that area in the past.  Sometimes the water level is too low, other times, the water plants have made it impenetrable.  On this paddle, we got lucky!  We were able to poke around in this area for about 20 minutes, enjoying the lack of wind, the calm water and all of the reflections.  Here are some photos of that area:

Dick found the inlet's channel.  It's on the left side (east) of this protected area of Nicks Lake.

So we had to explore.  Even though we could see that we wouldn't get far...

We enjoy narrow waterways where we can maneuver around, check out the banks which are almost reachable on either side of us, and maybe see something new or interesting.  This was a swampy area, so we wouldn't be getting out, but it's fun to paddle through marshes and swamps.

Within a few minutes of entering the channel, official signs tacked on trees notified us that we were at the DEC's boundary.  We knew this probably meant we'd be entering private land, but there were no posted signs, so we went a bit further to see what was around the next bend....

Nope.  No "Posted" signs, but downed trees across the channel.... more effective than signs, right?   So, we turned around-- which was not an easy task in this narrow waterway-- and headed back toward the main part of the lake.  Here is a shot of the sun through a pine tree which I could not resist taking:

This is the view we had as we approached the bridge and the main part of the lake:

Surprisingly, we did not see any ducks in this wind-protected area.  Out on the main lake, we did see 3 or 4 black ducks.  They stuck to the shadows along the shore, being very camera shy.  We did not see any great blue heron or other wading birds on this paddle, but afternoon paddles in northern NY do not usually produce a great deal of wildlife sightings.  Also, afternoon is, in my opinion, the worst time for taking photos.  My camera doesn't take great photos in bright sunlight, so I'm always pleased to get a few that aren't bad during a midday paddle.

Since we've been to Nicks Lake a number of times, I have lots of photos.  All of the above were taken on our paddle of September 11th.  But here are a couple from previous trips.

A few years ago, Dick was making friends with some black ducks:

And here is the last one I'll leave you with for now.  I'll be back with more details on the remainder of our Nicks Lake paddle soon.  Happy kayaking!  PS-- please use the "reactions" area to let me know what you think of this blog post.  It's a new feature I just added to my blog.  Thank you in advance for your feedback!