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!