Thursday, November 29, 2012

Seneca River and Onondaga Lake, Liverpool, Part Two

Welcome back for the second half of my blog on the Seneca River and Onondaga Lake.  October and November have been a busy months and I am sorry for not finishing out this location sooner.

 But the last few months have also been wonderful, since my husband and I welcomed the arrival of our first grandchild!  We couldn't be happier to be enjoying our new roles as grandparents!  We live across the country from him, but we've already made a trip to see him (and his parents-- can't forget them!)  Anyway, between that life changing news and other family issues, I'm just getting back to the blog. 

We have kayaked at over 37 different places since we started kayaking, so if you check out my blog posts, you'll see that I still have plenty to write about over the long, cold winter here in Northern New York.  Hopefully it will help those of us in the north get through the dark and cold winter!

So, back to my description of Seneca River and Onondaga Lake.  We paddled here in September with friends and found it to be enjoyable despite so near to Syracuse, the NYS thruway, and a lovely public park.

We paddled here with friends on a beautiful September day.  As I mentioned in part one, this is not our usual choice for a paddle, but we were pleasantly surprised.  Here is Brody as we approach an island on Seneca River.

 A tree in the water as we paddled along made a good spot for some ducks.

Unfortunately, I wasn't ready for them when they decided to take off!  Here is the only shot I managed:


Here is another pretty view of the river as we headed around the island:

A great blue heron flew into a backwater area, so we paddled in to see where he went.  We found him in a tree, far from the water, and interested in something off in the trees.  He didn't pay any attention to us at all.

Our friends in their canoe hung back as we paddled back out of the swampy area.

Here is Brody, checking the bushes for ducks as we passed by...

He kept scanning the area, sure there were more ducks to be found.  There were!  I wasn't fast enough with the camera, but our paddling out of this set-back disturbed 4 or 5 ducks.  I am not sure what kind they were since they startled, flew out of the reeds and behind me in a matter of a second or two.

Hmmm..... I just found out that I've used up all my storage space for photos!  I should have paid more attention, I guess...  This is not a good thing, since this has always been, for me, a photo-blog.  So.... I will have to look into the storage purchase option as well as resizing photos before uploading them.   Lots to think about. 

I would prefer to finish this blog and start out fresh next time, with photos and all ready to go.  So, let me describe the rest of our trip on the Seneca River without photos.  Once I get the storage thing figured out, if I have a few awesome photos left from this description, I'll go back and add them and let you know in case you're interested.

We took a clockwise paddle around an island on the Seneca of which the Erie Canal is part of.  There are old dock pilings in a few spots, lots of ducks, some seagulls, some cormorants, and many great blue heron.  A few set backs with vegetation were perfect for turtles hanging out just beneath the surface and for the water birds to congregate.  We explored a few of these as we paddling around the island back toward the park.

Once back to the spot on the river where we put-in, we got out, packed up, and headed just down the road, in the same park, to have a picnic.  The park is very pretty with views of both the river and the lake, depending on what table you pick.  There are also very well-kept bathrooms.  (A big plus!)  I took more photos of the park's trees, a boat on the river, and a few of Brody.  He was very entertained by the squirrels racing across the park's neat grass and running up the trees.  We all got a kick out of him as he stood as stiff as a statue, yet shivered, since he wanted so badly to chase those squirrels!  Our friends cooked yummy burgers on the table-side grill and we shared dishes we'd each brought from home in our coolers. 

If you're ever in the area, I was suggest you give this paddle a try.  You may be just as pleasantly surprised as we were at the natural beauty in such a populated area.

I can't say "Happy Kayaking" to my fellow northern paddlers, but I will close with a "Happy Autumn."  It's already winter here, despite the calendar-- We have about 4 or 5 inches of snow on our lawn as I write this.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Seneca River and Onondaga Lake, Liverpool, Part One

Well, it looks like paddling in Northern New York may be at an end....  all of our maple trees have shed their leaves and we had a significant freeze last night (and another expected tonight.)  We are still hoping for one more chance to get out on the water but we may not get it.

I have other locations to blog about over the cold northeastern months ahead, but wanted to tell you about an unusual (for us) kayaking location.  It was actually our last paddle in the middle of September. We joined our friends with their canoe and one of their dogs to paddle out from the Seneca River at Long Branch Park in Liverpool.  We paddled down to Onondaga Lake from the put-in.  This is an area with many people, a city-scape, and the NY State Thruway overhead... and yet, it was beautiful and even peaceful at times.  We knew our friends wouldn't steer us wrong, but we were very pleasantly surprised by the beautiful, natural surroundings amidst the hussle and bussle of Liverpool and nearby Syracuse.

Here is the put-in at Long Branch Park.  The dock is made of floating plastic cubes.  Very different from the docks in the Adirondacks!  It works great, of course, and will last for a long time.  To the left of this area is a shallow spot big enough to launch a kayak.  My husband chose that route rather than the dock.

It was a gorgeous day for a paddle.  We were a bit concerned about the temperature and the wind when we started our trip to Liverpool, but by 11:00 it was warming up nicely and the wind had let up from its steadiness to some stronger breezes occasionally.

The clouds and the breezes when we first got on the water caused the day to alternate between bright and dark, as this photo shows.  The bridge is just one of three that we passed beneath on our travels that day.

Here are our friends and their sweet dog, Uma, paddling onto Onondaga Lake.  You'd never know you were looking off toward west Syracuse in this view, would you?

Here is Brody, probably checking out Uma in the canoe at this point of our paddle.  The trees in the background are on the northeast side of Onondaga Lake and are part of Long Branch Park which extends along the lake on that side nearly all the way to its end in Syracuse.  The park is beautiful with lots of shade trees and picnic tables as well as restrooms.

We didn't paddle long on the lake due to the breezes.  As you can see in the photos, the water was rough enough, along with the wind, to make paddling a bit of a chore-- depending on which direction we were facing.

Onondaga Lake was once very polluted due to some manufacturing and/or chemical plants that dumped into it.  For years there has been a clean-up effort going on.  It is taking time, but improvements are evident. 

We turned around and headed back toward the river, facing the park as we did so.  Brody caught sight of something on land.  It's difficult to see it clearly in this photo, but it's just to Brody's right along the shore.

Yes, a Great blue heron.  He patiently allowed me to photograph him, as long as I didn't get too close.  Brody was intrigued, as usual, but by comparison, ducks aren't this still so I think he got bored with the heron.

While I was taking heron photos, everyone else hung back waiting for me.  When I turned around and paddled back toward them, the scene with the water, clouds, blue sky and sunlight was so gorgeous, I naturally took a couple of shots:

Once again, it's tough to imagine that the city of Syracuse is off in the distance at the end of the lake...

We headed upstream on the Seneca River with Long Branch Park on our right.  Here is an example of the beautiful grounds of the lakeside/riverside park.  A bench is just waiting for someone to come along and relax for a few moments while watching the activity on the water.

Great blue herons are in this area in abundance.  I lost count of how many different ones we saw that day.
Here is one, thinking about his next meal:

And here is another, framed by some branches:

We passed under one of the bridges and Brody looked startled at the noise of vehicles overhead.  We had both forgotten that traffic existed just above us!  Here is my husband, ahead of us on the river:

We saw lots of fishermen on the Saturday we paddled here.  Some in boats, some on shore.  I learned that tripods are used for carp fishing because it takes them a long time to determine if something dangling in the water is safe for them to eat.  So, the pole is set on a tripod, then when the carp finally bites, the fisherman gets up from his chair and grabs the pole in order to wrestle with these big fish who put up a fight on the line.

Just looking at all the greenery from only a month ago makes me sad.  Kayaking season is coming to an end and I wasn't ready for it to be done yet!  Join me here soon for part two of Seneca River and Onondaga Lake.  And wish us luck that we'll be able to squeeze one more paddle in before putting the boats in the shed 'til next season.

Thanks for reading and Happy Kayaking!

Friday, September 21, 2012

North Branch of the Moose River, Part Two

Time to finish up my description of our paddle in August on the north branch of the Moose River, paddling upstream from the North Street put-in.

As we paddled around the next bend, we came to a quiet area of the river.  The banks are quite high with the water level being lower.  The outside bend in the river at this spot had a bank of clay.  I was intrigued by the patterns made by the layers of clay.  There were gaps throughout the layers.

And near the water's edge, there were broken pieces of the earth.  I know it looks like shale or some other thin layered rock, but it is the consistency of clay that is beginning to dry out.  I tried to bring a piece home to see what it'd end up being like completely dry, but it crumbled in my kayak and all I ended up with was mud!

With another bend in the river, we came upon this hawk on a dead tree.

Below is my best photo out of six shots of the hawk.  Based on its call, I was guessing this bird is a northern harrier/marsh hawk, but after checking some of my other photos of the bird, I'm leaning towards red-tailed hawk.  Juveniles of almost any bird are difficult to identify, so if someone knows what this bird is, let me know!  I have limited knowledge and a Northeastern United States bird identification book to base my guess on so I am not 100% sure of this identification.

We saw beautiful scenes like this all day long:

There were a couple of beaver dams across the river at various spots.  Neither were a problem to negotiate.  Below, Brody watches as my husband paddles over the low end of a small dam.

We'd been paddling upstream for over 2 hours and decided it was time for lunch, even though it wasn't quite 11:30.  We found one of those sandy areas to pull our boats out and spread a towel for Brody to relax on:

This is how he became "Beach Dog" for the day.  He really enjoyed his time on the sand, soaking up the rays!

This view is looking back downstream from the "beach" where we ate our lunch.

And here is a close-up of a cardinal flower.

Brody, looking cute, as usual!

And, the photo which proves he really is "Beach Dog" at least on this day.

We talked with a number of paddlers who were going downstream from the Rondaxe Road put-in.  This is another popular put-in site for those being shuttled.  We asked how long they'd been on the water, hoping that maybe we were almost to the bridge.  Unfortunately, no one had a good idea, but guessed it had been close to an hour.  Because of this, we decided not to venture much further upstream.  We knew if it took them an hour to paddle downstream, it'd take us longer to reach the bridge paddling upstream.  So, we headed back the way we'd come after our nice, relaxing time on the beach.

The sky was so blue that day.  I kept glancing up at the brilliant white clouds and the many shades of green in the trees against that blue sky:

The pattern of these leaves against the sky also drew my attention:

Further downstream, I turned Brody around for a photo and he kept turning away as he usually does when I have the camera up to my face.  I tried to hold him still and scolded him a bit for not cooperating and this is the expression I got out of him-- sad, isn't he?

Along with a few beaver lodges, there were also places with fallen trees and branches which caught many items that were floating on the river's surface.  I saw this white feather (a duck's?) and wanted a shot of it among the branches.  I think the photo ended up looking a bit abstract with the different angles of the branches, the dried grasses and leaves, etc.

What do you see in this one?  We saw either a mouth, or a funny creature face, almost like what people do with their thumb and index finger to make a mouth and draw on eyes (and in this case, a nose too.)

 Brody actually faced me and I was able to get a nice photo of him... except he was mostly in the shadows...

Near the bank of clay on the way back downstream, we stopped so that I could photograph these plants.  I'm not sure what they are, but my husband named them "Adirondack Palm Trees."  I thought they reminded me of some Muppets character with crazy '80's hair.

I like this photograph because there are clouds in the upper left and lower right of the frame as well as dark green and light green in other parts of the photo, giving it an almost patchwork look.

Here are two hawks.  We are guessing that one is the patient one that allowed me to take a number of photos of him/her.

Here I am with Brody in a calm area as we paddle back to North Street.

Another typical scene along the Moose River's north branch:

Uh, oh-- I lied!  I have more dead tree photos-- we passed them on the way back and this time the sun was shining on them:

We were almost back to the North Street put-in when we met up with some more black ducks (or the same ones... who knows?)  Brody was naturally as interested this time as he had been earlier.  I was able to get this close-up once Brody got out of my line of sight!

Here he is, once more, guiding our way down the river, always on the look-out for all things interesting to his doggy eyes and ears.

Our paddle back was just as enjoyable as it was on the way upstream, maybe just a tad better since we were going with the current.  At each bend, we wondered what we'd see beyond.  It was a perfect day for a paddle.  We enjoyed it and so did Brody!

I'll leave you with one last photo of the north branch of the Moose River with some cloud reflections.

Thanks for reading and happy kayaking!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

North Branch of the Moose River, part one

Hi everyone!  I'm starting off with what is now a familiar to sight to any of you who have been faithfully reading my blog:  a photo of Brody, leading the way.  This time, upstream on the North Branch of the Moose River.

Before I get started with my description of our paddle, I want to say hello to some people we met on Francis Lake over Labor Day weekend.  None of us exchanged names, but I'd like to say it was great talking with a some guys who live in Maryland and who have paddled the Adirondacks since the '70's.  They were thinking of camping either on Soft Maple or Francis Lake and wondered if we knew of any campsites at Francis.  There is one that we know of, on the esker that I have mentioned in my blogs about Francis Lake.  I'd also like to say hello to two women, one of whom had their dog with them.  Once I introduced Brody, one  women knew I was the one with the kayaking blog!  It seems Brody is famous and has become my Kayaking Embassador!  If I wouldn't have pulled Brody out of his booster seat to introduce him, I would never have known I was meeting someone who follows my blog!  We enjoyed talking with them and wish them lots of happy paddling in the future.

GPS coordinates for the North Street put-in of the North Branch of the Moose River:
 43. 44.034 & 74.58.137
The North Branch of the Moose flows southwest north of Old Forge and ends up merging with the main branch of the Moose west of Thendara. There are a few places to put-in along the river's winding path-- at North Street and at Rondaxe Road.  In most cases you would use 2 cars or be shuttled by one of the outfitting companies in the Old Forge area such as Mountainman Outdoor Supply.  BUT if you are up for a bit of paddling (or maybe more if the water is not as low as it has been this year) you can do some kayaking or canoeing on the river without the need for 2 cars, and without paying anyone to shuttle you.

It's easy to find the North Street put-in considering it's right in the town of Old Forge.  Just follow the road out of town where it turns to dirt in less than a couple of miles.  There is development happening all along this street/road, but the homes are well off the road.  It is my understanding that some kind of arrangements were made so that the land developer would keep an area before the river undeveloped, wild.  It is my hope that it will be enough to allow this river--which is popular, but still a great wilderness waterway- to stay that way.

For this paddle, unlike others we've taken here in the past, we paddled upstream from the put-in.  The morning started off cloudy, as the photo below shows.  But there was bright blue sky peeking through the clouds and the forecast was for fair skies.  The wind was supposed to be blowing, which is why we choose a river for our paddle on this day in August, rather than an open lake.

The north branch of the Moose River is a twisting, turning, oxbowing, river with so many bends it's impossible to be sure which direction you're heading at any given time.  The big twists and turns create some large sandy beaches on the inside curves like the one below:

Where the sun happened to be shining, everything had a yellowish cast to it.  It was a morning of sunlight and shadows, and we never knew how long either would last as the clouds blew by above us.

Brody seems to be saying, "What?" as he actually turns to look at me while I have the camera ready, for once!

The photo below shows the kind of morning it was, with the clouds making everything dark once again.  The clouds blowing across the sun caused Brody and I to be chilled, but then the sun would make an appearance and we'd warm up really fast.  Luckily, the sun beat out the clouds by late morning.

 Brody is on alert!  Usually it's ducks that get his attention and that was the case on this day. They are on the dead tree in the water, and one has already left that perch, paddling in the middle of the photo.

By the time we got closer, all of the black ducks but one had left their perch and were moving upstream away from us.  This guy seemed inclined to trust us, and finished his grooming as we paddled by.  Brody watched him intently until we rounded a bend.

With the sun behind these dead trees, a photo (or maybe more) of their silhouettes was in order! 

I really like examining the shape of things, especially trees.  

And in this one, I didn't realize how the suns rays were "doing their thing" until I got ready to post this photo in the blog. 

OK, I admit it.  I took WAY too many photos of the dead trees... here are the last 2 you will need to look at.  Which do you like better, the reflection or the close-up?

The upstream paddling wasn't difficult, but we did have to paddle with regular strokes in order to move forward.  Most areas had a noticeable current, but there were some wide spots that had barely any current so we were able to take a break in those spots.  One of the best things about all of the exposed sandy banks (keep in mind that there would be smaller and less of these during a normal season of rain rather than this very dry one of 2012) is that they are great places for a quick stretch.  Brody's ready to take a short walk with me once I'm done with the camera.

We heard many more birds than we saw, but we got lucky and actually spotted this one in the bushes along the river, flitting from branch to branch. 

I got a better shot at him/her in the next photo, allowing me to identify it as a chestnut-sided warbler.  At least, that is my opinion, based on my very limited knowledge of bird identification!

Although we've seen these birds in the Adirondacks before, I was never quick enough with the camera to get a photo.  So, this was an accomplishment for me, despite the fact that he/she is partially hidden by the branch.

I took a lot of photos during this kayaking trip.  The sky turned out to be bright blue for the afternoon and the temperature was a bit cooler than it had been, making for a very pleasant day.  There was also a breeze that came across the river, cooling us, but not effecting our paddling much at all.

I have a lot more to tell you and show you about the North Branch of the Moose River, but for now I'll leave you with this slightly out of sequential order photo of Brody, taken further upstream where we stopped for our lunch.  Stay tuned for photos of Brody, who on this day we called "Beach Dog."  (Rather than his OTHER moniker of "Swamp Dog" which he received while swamping it on Limekiln Lake.)

Thanks for reading, and happy kayaking!