Sunday, January 30, 2011

South Pond, part two

If you are interested in birds, please go back to Crooked Creek, part one for a correction on my bird identification.  What I thought was a spotted sandpiper is a bird rare to NNY-- a Red-necked Phalarope.
Thanks to a fellow birder and blog follower for the information.  I appreciate it!

Welcome back to South Pond!  Do you feel the warm July breeze when gazing at the photos?  If I close my eyes and visualize, I can almost smell the lake water and the pines...  hurry up summer!

Below is a photo of the island (on the right) we stopped at to stretch our legs and eat lunch.  Behind the boulder is a shallow area. It's mostly rock, but the water is shallow and we were able to land here without a problem.

There is a very nice campsite here although the flat area for a tent is quite small.  Pine needles blanket the ground and there are boulders here and there, such as this one:

Often we see mushrooms when we take a kayaking break to stretch our legs.  It makes sense because we are usually in the woods during these breaks.  We've seen some interesting ones, mostly it's their colors that attract me.  Here is a very bright one.  I know nothing about mushrooms, but I wonder if it's vibrant color is a warning to not eat it?  Probably not, since I know some poisonous ones are white... hmmm... if you know what kind of mushroom this is, let me know.

We took a walk along some paths through the island, checking out the lake from different vantage points.  Although there are a lot of trees, the sun filters through the pine needles giving everything that speckled look that is so interesting to the eye.  We even found the "potty"-- someone had brought a toilet seat and fixed it over a hole in the ground.... you never know what you might find!   Here is an example of the sun coming through the trees on the path:

After our walk on the island, we ate our picnic lunch at the campsite, using the handy log stools someone had provided.  There was even a crude table for us to place our cooler on.  The day was peaceful and we both felt that if the day were any warmer, the sun any hotter, we might have taken a nap right then and there.

After paddling along the backside of this island, we turned and headed east-northeast.  Here is a photo of some of the islands, looking in that direction (I think!)  I'm pretty sure the one we stopped at is on the left.   But, it's been a year and a half, so I may be wrong.

By the time our morning was edging into afternoon, the wind had picked up a bit, as you can see by both the photos above and below this text.  Clouds blew across the sun at times, giving a blue-gray look to the water as well as the mountains in the distance.  (This view is pretty much looking east, I believe.)

Here is another with the hazy clouds covering the sun and the wind causing ripples on the lake.  The mountain is Blue Mountain.  See my blog posts of Lake Durant and Rock Pond for a few more photos of Blue Mountain, looking at it from a southerly direction.  Here is the link to part one:

Below is a photo of my husband.  His hips bother him, so throwing his legs out of the kayak once in a while changes the pressure on his hips, giving them a break.  We do this all the time, but I can't say that it's "safe" with other kayaks.  Test this out in warm shallow water before trying it elsewhere-- we have wide, extremely stable kayaks, allowing us to do a bit more moving around and repositioning than some other kayaks.

Anybody recognize this shot?  First one to comment correctly on why they recognize it will get their name (if they wish) and a "Congratulations!" in my next blog post!

We cut off the southeastern corner of the lake and headed back toward the put in as the water rippled and the breeze picked up.  It had been an enjoyable morning and early afternoon.  We were so happy to have seen the osprey and spent a lot of time watching him/her.  We felt that it was a great kayaking day.  And before we got back to the put-in it got even better:

A loon!  We hadn't seen him or her all day as we paddled around South Pond, but it suddenly appeared near us.  They are master divers and swimmers, able to hold their breath underwater for many minutes at a time in search of some fish to eat.  We watched this one and with the zoom on my camera, I got a few shots.

The photos aren't great due to the lighting, but they're a great reminder of our day on South Pond, and how lucky we were to have seen not only an osprey but a loon as well!

As we trudged up the hill, sliding our kayaks along the pine needle path, we were so buoyed by the sight of the loon as we were ending our paddle that the climb didn't bother us a bit!

I plan to blog on another location within a week or two, so come back and check it out.  Thanks for reading.
And all of you who kayak or are planning to this year, keep dreaming of warm weather and sooner or later, it will happen!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

South Pond, part one

If you are interested in birds, please go back to Crooked Creek, part one for a correction on my bird identification.  What I thought was a spotted sandpiper is a bird rare to NNY-- a Red-necked Phalarope.
Thanks to a fellow birder and blog follower for the information.  I appreciate it!

Hello and "happy" winter!  I suppose I shouldn't grumble... I live in Northern New York and when it gets down to 27 below zero, it's not much of a surprise.  That was Monday's temperature at 7:00 a.m. (January 24th.)  Our attempt to kayak at Moss Lake- my last blog post- was the end of our kayaking season.  Now I feel like we're more than halfway through the no-kayaking season.  I hope I'm right!  I promised to blog about locations we've been to in the past over this winter but the holidays, visiting family, and my commitments to some community music groups have once again wreaked havoc on my good intentions.

I will try to give you a taste of what will be in store for all of us once the snow and cold temps. have left and the sun is bright and warm, the leaves and grass green....

 This is South Pond, looking south-southeast.   Blue Mountain is in the background.  The July 2009 morning we paddled here the day began with very calm water and only a few boats on the water.  Most of the land surrounding South Pond is part of the Forest Preserve or is state land.  There are some homes on the north-northwestern shore and the islands have some bare campsites.  To get to South Pond, drive north on Route 30, about 6 miles from the town of Blue Mountain Lake.  The parking area and South Pond are on the west side of the road.

There is one important disadvantage to paddling here, but we felt it was worth it. The trail down to the water is a very steep decent from the unloading area (you have to park down the road a bit after taking your kayaks or canoes off.)  The trail is smooth, but it's quite a ways down to the water.  My husband's red kayak is a bit more than halfway to the water (the light color behind the trees.)

One other thing to be aware of is the large submerged boulders.  We did not scape bottom on any of them since we knew to look for them.  Most, if I remember correctly, were on the northern shore area.  Submerged boulders are not that unusual for Adirondack lakes, so this is really not a big deal and isn't much of a problem for flat water paddlers-- I just wanted you to be aware.

We traveled counter-clockwise along the shoreline from the put-in.  There are several houses in this area and any traffic on Route 30 can be heard in this area, but it didn't take long for the noise to fade as we paddled along.  Here is a photo of the northern shoreline area:

The lake is sort of triangular shaped with a few islands on its wide southern area.  Its size isn't much more than 1 mile wide along the southern side, but almost that long from the northern points to the southern shore, so it's not tiny.  One of my guidebooks says that wind can be a problem.  By the time we got off the water, some waves were forming, but most of the morning it was, if not smooth like the photo above, then just "ripple-y."

The photo below shows some of the northwestern shore.  This is where the houses were located.  Luckily, thick woods kept the man made structures partially hidden.

Here is a shot as we approached the southern shores.  The islands, from this point of view, looked like part of the shoreline to us.

Continuing our paddle toward the south shores of South Pond, we looked up in a tree whose top had been sheared off and saw an osprey nest.

If you look closely, you will see an osprey in the nest.  We watched him/her for a long time, hoping to see the fisherman grabbing his lunch.  But, no such luck.  We were able to get a few photos though, as it flew to another tree and perched there.

Here is one I cropped.  It's not real clear, but gives you a better idea of their shape and markings.

One of the best parts about flat water kayaking, other than the peacefulness and the relaxation we enjoy, is the opportunity to see wildlife such as the osprey.  We always feel like we "hit the jackpot" when we are fortunate enough to observe animals and birds in their habitat as we paddle along.  Even if the only wildlife we see are Canada geese or black ducks, we can't help but smile-- it adds another dimension to our kayaking pleasure!

I'll end the first half of this blog on South Pond with a close-up of one of the islands.  We stopped here to stretch our legs and eat our lunch.  Next time I'll start with a few more photos of this island which included a campsite near the water.

Stay warm, pray for spring to come early, and I'll "see" you next time for part two!