Thursday, June 21, 2012

South Inlet, part two

Welcome to part two of my description of our paddle on the South Inlet of Raquette Lake over Memorial Day weekend.  I had planned to give a general idea of the location of each place we paddle for those reading my blog who aren't familiar with the Adirondacks or Northern New York state.  I forgot in part one, so let me remedy that:  South Inlet empties into Raquette Lake's South Bay, and both are aptly named, being on the southern end of the lake.  It's about 2 miles from the put-in to the rocky area where you have to turn around on South Inlet.  If you were able to travel further south (upstream) you would eventually find Sagamore Lake, part of historic Great Camp Sagamore.  Raquette Lake is between Old Forge and Blue Mountain Lake on Route 28.

When the current is weak or negligible or we're on a lake and want to change positions, we'll stretch out our legs over the kayak, as my husband is doing here:

As you can see, the water is quite calm, the sky a pretty blue, and although there were bugs, none seemed inclined to bother us while we were paddling.

Brody seemed interested in the beaver lodge, so I approached it quietly,  and tried to listen for activity inside.  I didn't hear anything, and based on Brody's reaction, I don't think he did either. As you can see, he has already turned his attention to something else across the water.  I'm not sure what, but probably his "daddy" in the other kayak.

Here is a view of the calm water as we paddled upstream from the put-in.  Are you tired of Brody's butt?  Seems he's always in my view finder now and I'm not used to zooming in for a quick shot, but I'll have to get better at it.  Pretty scenery always gives me a sense of peace, and although I enjoy other types of photos, those of nature alone are my favorites.

Speaking of nature, did you notice I added a "Words of Wisdom" area to the blog?  I found a quote I love and placed it there.  I'll probably change it once in a while.  Right now it's John Muir's words:

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.  

 Let me know if you agree with John Muir's quote.  I really do.  I feel it when we're kayaking.  I feel relaxed and renewed, at the very least, each time we're on the water.  How do you feel when you're paddling?

The water lilies had not yet bloomed on South Inlet at the end of May, but here is a photo from a July paddle a few years ago.

We also saw only a few black ducks, but I believe they were there, among the grasses and reeds.  They are very protective of their ducklings and we saw a family moving their babies quickly out of the water and into the grasses as we paddled by.  Here is a photo of some black ducks from the paddle in July:

And one of a very friendly guy who came close to my kayak, also on the July paddle.

I have one more photo from a July paddle that shows a very pretty set-back filling in with lily pads.  When we paddled here in May, the area was not this pretty since the lilies were just starting.

I have to tease my husband each time we kayak here because of the great blue heron.  You see, great blue herons are very good at standing completely still, and often on one leg.  Their coloring is meant to blend in with the dead branches and grasses around them as they fish, particularly in the bright sun when anything that reflects the sun can seem light gray or white in color.  We do see a great blue heron or two whenever we paddle here.  But, my husband often sees something that he THINKS is a great blue heron.  Here is an example:

See that shape in the middle of the photos along the shoreline?  It could be a heron, right?  It might be...

Or not!  Oh, don't worry, I'm not going to lie and say I haven't thought I saw a bird that ended up being a piece of driftwood.  It's happened to me too!  I just enjoy teasing my hubby about it.  Thankfully, he's a good sport.  When we see something that is not a great blue heron, but looked like one from a distance, we call it "Dick's Great Blue Heron."  As in,  "Yes, right by that group of water lilies-- it's Dick's Great Blue Heron!  Did you see it?"

And here is a photo of an actual great blue heron, even though it definitely looks like it could be driftwood!

This is a photo of the same heron as he flew away:

Both of those heron photos were also taken in July, a few years ago.

**Well, as I was looking through my South Inlet photos, I found a few that will now make me eat my words!  Remember I mentioned never having seen a common loon on South Inlet?  Well, here is proof from my own photos that I DID see a common loon on South Inlet.

This loon is on his/her nest.  I have not yet discovered if they are "playing dead," (my guess) trying to get as low as possible, or if this is just how they protect their egg.  If anyone knows, let me know!  All I can tell you is that he/she is definitely alive.

So, there are loons on South Inlet, at least sometimes!  I can almost positively say-- but my mistake keeps me from saying "absolutely"-- that's the only time we ever saw one, and we've paddled here almost every year for 7 years.  (Though not always at the same time of year.)**

South Inlet isn't real wide, but it sometimes feels like a lake, only with some twists and turns.  As you paddle further upstream the openness closes in a bit and the water begins to look more like a river.

Around the bend, barely visible in the middle of this photo, is a take-out area that is also part of a trail that begins from bridge at the put-in.  The water cascades over rocks in what some call a waterfall, but I imagine a waterfall as something with more height and a top and bottom that are noticeable.  If the definition for waterfall is simply water moving over rocks, then this fits that description.  But of course, what really matters is that you cannot paddle upstream any further once you reach this point.

There are a couple of places on the northern banks to take-out if you want to stop for lunch or just walk for a few minutes.  The first area is along the bank where there are tree roots which you can use to scoot close to shore.  The next area is smooth rock, and then there is another indent in the bank that works well.  All of these are along the left side (if paddling upstream) and are close together.  Be forewarned:  the bugs can be bad here in the spring and sometimes even later.  Once we didn't get out, and twice we've eaten a hurried lunch.  But other times, especially in the fall, you can get out and walk along the water to an area with big rocks in the sun where you can sit and have a picnic.

Here is one of the put-in areas.  The trail is in the middle of the photo, running left to right.

This is what you will see at the end of your upstream paddle on South Inlet:

In this area, a flowering bush we call "Swamp Apple" grows.  I have no idea what the true name for this plant is called.  Whatever it is, it's very pretty, bringing a burst of color to the banks of South Inlet. 

Here is a view from shore after our quick lunch. The bugs were out in the forest and we hurried to get back on the open water where there was a slight breeze and many less bugs.

South Inlet is a great place to paddle.  Just pick the time of year, choose a day when there should be less people around (if you want solitude, that is) and go paddling!

Please leave a comment, particularly if you have any thoughts on the John Muir quote and/or how paddling makes you feel.

Thanks, and happy kayaking!

** marks the paragraphs correcting my statement about not seeing loons from South Inlet, part one.


  1. Passing on my Mother-in-law's delight at seeing Brody's adventures. She has a border collie and is very envious of Brody's calm nature.

  2. So glad she's enjoying the blog and Brody. We are very lucky with him. He has his "crazy" moments, but when we're kayaking, he knows what he's supposed to be doing. He began kayaking with us around 4 months old, so he's "used" to it. Her border collie might not be calm, but I bet she/he is beautiful and extremely smart!