Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Oswegatchie River near Star Lake, part two

In part one, I ended with a beautiful stillwater scene of the Oswegatchie.  The still areas are around sweeping bends in the river where the current flattens out.  In July, there are a number of spots along the river that are quite calm on the surface even with the current running underneath. 

I'll get back to our 2012 trip in just a few minutes, but wanted to share a few photos from our paddle in 2008.  All four of the following photos were taken then. 

Here is one with some pretty white flowering bushes (sorry I don't know what they are.) They seemed to be past blooming in 2012.

I mentioned that we did not see any ducks this trip.  I'm surprised since we saw many on our last trip.  Here is one of a momma black duck and her juvenile ducklings.

In part one I said that we had planned to paddle as far as High Rock but didn't make it.  In 2008 we did get as far as High Rock.  Here is a photo of the put-in area for High Rock's campsite:

 I know-- it doesn't look like a high rock at all.  But that's because my shot is just of the put-in area.  To the left, the rock rises.  There is a path around and up, leading to a flat area for a tent, and a clearing that looks back on part of the Oswegatchie just traveled.  Here is a shot from there:

No, it's not real "high" but it IS the highest going upstream, at least up to this point of the river.  So the vantage point is very nice, especially for looking back downstream.

OK.  Now back to my description of our 2012 paddle.  We stopped for lunch at campsite 42 which had a sandy bank area to pull our kayaks up on, and it looked like a decent primitive campsite, up from the water in the trees.

We sat on the grassy bank to eat our lunch.  It wasn't long before the deer flies found us.  (In the Adirondacks it seems like if it's not black flies it's deer flies!)  Brody was snapping at them constantly while we were swatting at them.  They weren't biting, just buzzing around us, doing a great job of annoying us while we ate.

When we began gathering up our picnic and reloading the kayaks, we had a visitor!  Yes, I jumped and probably made some kind of surprised and not-delighted noise when I saw this guy.  But, because I'm documenting all of our paddle adventures, his photo had to be taken.  So, here he is, Mr. Garter Snake.  He looked more than 2 feet long-- maybe 2 and a half.  He slithered right into the water and wriggled back and forth to the other side of the narrow river and up the other bank in a matter of seconds.  At least he didn't slither across my bare foot like the small one in my backyard did just a few days ago!


 Here is one of those inside curves with an exposed sandy bank.  This one looks large enough for a few kayaks to pull out onto, but the vegetation is just outside of the frame on the left and you would only be able to walk a couple of feet from the water.

Brody has his eye on his daddy in the kayak next to ours.  Whenever I try to get his photo, he completely ignores me. Treats work wonders, but I only have so many hands...

This tree amazes me.  Look how it's grown, despite it's angle.  It would be quite a tall tree if it were upright!  The river goes under the tree, so it's fun to look up at the sky from between the pine needles.

Below is a reflection photo.  As we headed back downstream we were pleased to note that in many areas of the river, the current would take us downstream without paddling.  But, steering was very important!  Then we'd reach one of these quiet spots and paddling was necessary.  We did so slowly, enjoying the reflections as we moved on.

The trip back downstream from campsite 42 took about half the time as paddling up.  Keep in mind that part of the reason was, of course, the current.  The other part of the reason is that I took less photos, and we were retracing our path upstream, so we'd seen most everything on the paddle up.  One of the best things about this up and back type of paddle is that you know where the rocks are (mostly) and you know which side of the beaver dam to paddle over, etc.

In the photo below is an example of the red cardinal flower that just seems to pop right out from the green vegetation.

And  here is is campsite 45.  It is the one closest to the put-in-- probably 2 miles or so upstream.  It looks like a good spot, with a nice area for pulling your kayak or canoe out.

We saw many butterflies long the river.  These yellow ones really seemed to like the Joe-pye weed.  I believe the butterflies are yellow swallowtails, but don't quote me on it!

Our trip up and down the Oswegatchie was almost at an end.  We found that there was more paddling than we remembered from our earlier trip.  My husband and I tried to figure out if we were just in better paddling shape in 2008 or if we'd really forgotten what a work out it was.  We've decided that the newness of our first trip probably accounts for the difference in our experience the second time.  But this is still one of the best places to paddle in northern New York.  It's in a wilderness area and there are no motors allowed.  Two great reasons to paddle the Oswegatchie.

I'll leave you with one last look at this gorgeous river, with half of our paddling party in the mid-ground, making their way back to the put-in.

Happy Kayaking!

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