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!