Sunday, March 13, 2011

Payne Lake, part one

Hello and happy almost spring!  Here in northern NY, we still have more than 2 feet of snow on the ground, but the ice on the rivers is breaking up, the melted snow rings around the tree trunks are getting larger, and the chickadees are singing their warm weather song on mild mornings... so, I think we might actually get some temperatures above the 30's eventually!

In the meantime, I'll write about another flat water paddling location we visited.  Payne Lake is in the northwest area of New York, not far from the St. Lawrence River, and near the town of Oxbow, NY.  The lake has a couple of great features including a sandy, gradual put-in, marshy areas on both ends, cliffs on one side and rocks with a tiny cave on the other.

NOTE:  There is at least one other lake named "Payne Lake" in NY state.  It is in Lewis County, 10 miles east of Lowville.  This blog concerns the lake in Jefferson County.

This lake has a DEC maintained boat launch area with a parking lot and a place for fisherman to cast from the shore.  Unfortunately, no outhouse.   Here is the put-in:

Here is a view of some of the cliffs from the put-in:

We paddled here in the summer with friends of ours, Karen and Gary, and had a great day!  We began our trip by paddling left-- south-- from the put-in and paddled in a clockwise direction around the lake.  Gary is on the left, Karen on the right in the photo below:

Our first wildlife encounter was with a Great blue heron in the marshy area on the southern end of the lake.  He's in the middle of this photo, flying away.  He was intent on fishing and wasn't very bothered by us as we paddled by, but as I floated to take his photo, he got nervous and took off.

This end of the lake is fairly shallow with lots of plant life, particularly water lily pads.  Actually, the depth of water in this lake only goes up to 15 feet, so it's pretty shallow compared to many lakes in the Adirondacks.  (This lake is NOT in the Adirondacks, where we do most of our paddling.)  In the photo below, everyone's ahead of me as we near the bottom/southern tip of the lake.  My husband is in the red kayak.

Even though I tipped the camera on this one, I really love the colors, so I'm including it:

Here is one of the beautiful and sweet smelling water lilies we paddled by in the southern area of the lake:

As we turned and began paddling north along the west side of the lake, the cliffs loomed large and imposing-- drawing our eyes up as we kayaked along:

I am looking for a photo that gives you a better idea of the height of these cliffs, but I haven't come across one that really illustrates it the way I'd like.  I may find one later....  But anyway, they are high.   Ahh... here we go.  This photo will give you a bit of an idea:

From the perspective of the water, the cliffs seemed at times to be leaning over us as we paddled beside them.

During this part of the trip, we spotted a loon out in the middle of the lake.  Even with my lens zoomed, my photos were too far away, but we always enjoy seeing the common loon on our paddles.  They're beautiful, both in looks and in voice, and their diving skills are amazing!

One of my favorite shots of the day is of the cliffs and the sky:

And here are two others that I like as well:

We were nearing the end of the cliff area when I took this photo.  It's a bit dark, but I like the composition, and I love the sky.

Here is another photo of Karen and Gary enjoying the beauty of Payne Lake.  I am forever taking photos of everyone's backs... one of these days I'm going to have to lead the way so that I can turn around and snap some pictures of people's faces!

This is my husband in a little opening in the cliffs.  This is not the tiny cave I mentioned earlier.  It is on the east side of the lake and we'll get to it later.

We have almost reach the northwestern corner of the lake, as shown in this photo featuring Gary and my husband, Dick.

And here is Karen (yes, from the back, again) with her floppy hat that matches her kayak.  Isn't she pretty in blue?

The weather was absolutely perfect the day we paddled Payne Lake.  It was warm and sunny and there was not much of a breeze.  We did not have bugs to contend with, and for some reason, there were hardly any boats on the lake.  Motor boats are allowed up to 10 hp, but we didn't encounter any during our time on the water.  I imagine this lake can get busy at times, but it was quite serene while we were there soaking up the peace and beauty around us.

I'll be back soon with part two of Payne Lake.  And maybe by then, those of us in northern NY will be able to start thinking about readying our kayaks and canoes for another wonderful season!

I'll leave you with one more photo of Payne Lake to tide you over until part two:

Please feel free to use the comment buttons to express your opinion if you don't feel like leaving a comment.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Massawepie Lake, part two

Welcome to part two of my blog on Massawepie Lake.  We left off with our stop at the trail to Pine Pond.

Here is a photo of that well marked trail on the west side of the lake, on one of the fingers that extend out to the west:

Along the trail, we saw a burl on a tree, and of course I had to take a photo of it:

Here is a close-up of the burl:

As I mentioned in part one, the trail to Pine Pond was uphill from Massawepie Lake, but it wasn't real steep.  Though, keep in mind, we were not carrying our kayaks.  We didn't care to "pond hop" on this day, so we left the kayaks on Massawepie and took a walk up the trail to tiny Pine Pond.  On the way, a plant caught my eye, so I snapped a shot.  I love how the red berries and dark green, glossy leaves stand out against the reddish brown of the pine needles and earth.

Here is one shot of Pine Pond:

We saw a frog in the shallows at the edge of the pond when we went for a closer look.  He is doing a good job with his camouflauge!

And here are a couple of mushrooms near the trail at Pine Pond:

Here is my favorite photo of Pine Pond.  It seems to have "mood" to it-- I think it expresses this pretty little pond perfectly-- serene, wild and beautiful.  What do you think?

After our short walk and our visit to the pond, we headed back down the trail to Massawepie Lake where we had left our kayaks:

Usually when we stop to stretch our legs, we find a place to sit and eat our lunch.  But I don't think we did on this day.  Since we got a late start, I think we may have eaten our picnic lunch on the way, or before we got on the water.  At any rate, this would be a nice place to have a drink and a snack or your lunch.  Just pull up a log and have a seat!

Once we were back on the water, we headed straight for the put-in.  The wind had picked up and we were ready to get off the water.

In the car, we decided to drive south on the camp road, knowing we'd be able to see one or two more of the ponds in the area.  We followed the narrow dirt road and it seemed as if we were driving on the ridge of a very large esker.  It was sandy and both sides fell steeply away.  The short drive was worth it as we came to Horseshoe Pond:

Although we didn't get our kayaks out and paddle here, it's easy to see why someone might want to.  The put-in requires a steep downhill walk (uphill when you're getting out) but it may be worth your while.  This next photo will prove it even more:

There is also a put-in for Boottree Pond, which we didn't visit.  And in the area are three other ponds, though my information doesn't show any access to these:  Catamount Pond, Round Pond, and Long Pond.

It is a beautiful area, and a great place for a Boy Scout camp.  I will leave you with one last photo of Horseshoe Pond.

I hope you've enjoyed the photos of Massawepie Lake and some of the ponds surrounding it.  Please use the "reactions" buttons to let me know what you liked about this blog post.  Thanks, and keep thinking spring!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Massawepie Lake, part one

This is the first photo I took of Massawepie Lake, facing west from the put-in on it's eastern shore.  We did not arrive until the late morning, so the ripples you see are due to the slight breeze.  (If you're a kayaker in NY state (maybe this is true everywhere?) or you've been reading this blog, you know that winds pick-up as noon time approaches and the atmosphere heats up, then die back down toward evening.)  This lake is owned by the Otetiana Council of the Boy Scouts of America, along with the adjoining ponds of Catamount, Round, Long, Horseshoe, Boottree and Pine.  The lake is also the source of the Grass River.  Because the Boy Scouts use this area, it is CLOSED to the PUBLIC from the LAST WEEK in JUNE to the LAST WEEK in AUGUST.  So, if interested in paddling here, go early in the season or late in the season. The lake can be reached via Route 3, about 12 miles west of Tupper Lake.

When we paddled here in September of 2009, there was a sailboat of some type out on the water near the northern part of the lake.  This is one of our favorite types of lakes-- the ones where no gasoline motors are allowed!

I hadn't yet realized that a photo of the put-in area for each place we paddled was a good idea, so I don't have one for Massawepie Lake, but it's a sandy area and I do not remember any problems at all with our entry.  By the way, is anyone as intrigued as I am about the lake's name?  It sounds perfect for a boy scout camp-- think of the camp songs using that name!  The Adirondacks does have some interesting names, a lot of them seem to be people's names or describe the lake or mountain (Nicks Lake, Whiteface Mountain) but this one could be a Native American name... if I find out anything I'll let you know (or if YOU know, then let ME know!)  Ahh.... Inquiring minds like mine just can't let a question like that go.  Thank you Wikipedia for the info:  massawepie is Iroquois for "the beaver's lake."  There-- don't you feel better?  I do!  (Except all of the 4th graders in NY state probably already knew this!)

The lake is practically surrounded by hemlocks.  I believe this photo is along the eastern shore.

Here is my husband as we head into one of the nooks and crannies at the south end of the lake.  Did I ever mention how the bright, late morning and early afternoon sun is not too conducive to good picture taking?  (At least with my point and shoot.)

Here is a photo of the western shore, just across from the camping area on the lake.  It looks like there is a clearing in the trees.  We could imagine the boy scouts canoeing across to this pretty spot for some kind of gathering.

One of the most interesting places for us was the southwestern part of the lake where there was tiny island, a couple of peninsulas, a footbridge, etc.  Here is the approach to that area:

And here is one of the peninsulas-- or maybe this was the island-- sorry, it's been too long for me to be positive.  But isn't it gorgeous?  And notice that the water is much more calm in this protected area.  The second photo is another of the peninsulas in this area near the Grass River.

This is a pretty shot taken looking north, I think, from the southern area of the lake:

Here is one of the "dead end" areas near the Grass River.  We were on our way to check out the river.

This is the footbridge over the Grass River.  You can carry over this bridge and float down the river as it leaves Massawepie Lake.

 Here is a close-up of the bridge which shows how shallow and plant-filled the river is as it flows out of the lake.  We decided not to paddle down the river.

One more shot of the Grass River flowing out of Massawepie Lake:

And a shot I took of the footbridge's boards.  I like the grain, the space between the boards, and how the nails are sticking up a bit.

Once we left the footbridge and the Grass River, we paddled up one of the fingers of water that I knew, by my paddling map, would lead us to a trail to Pine Pond.  Here is a photo of the "end" of that finger, before we got off the water at the trail:

As you can see, there was still a whole lot of plant life in the water in September.  We took out our kayaks at the Pine Pond trail and left them for a very short walk to the pond.  Here is the well marked trail:

There are a few places on Massawepie Lake that will get you to trails leading to some of the ponds surrounding it.  This is one, to Pine Pond is on a western "finger" of the lake and there are trails to Boottree Pond and Horseshoe Pond as well on the southern shores.  We like to stretch our legs, but putting in and taking out at multiple spots is not our idea of a great paddling day.  However, if you like that type of thing, this is a perfect spot for it.  (There are many others with lots more mileage, both on the water and the carries, further north--St. Regis Canoe Area and Fish Creek Loops to name two, where we haven't yet been paddling.)

The trail to Pine Pond is short, but uphill.  Since we weren't taking our kayaks, it was a pleasant way to stretch our legs.  It's a tiny but pretty pond and I'll end part one of Massawepie Lake with a photo of it:

Keep thinking "spring" and maybe we'll make it happen sooner.  I can't wait to be back on the water.  How about you?