Sunday, May 26, 2013

Red Lake and Indian River May 2013

Last weekend we were able to get in a paddle at Red Lake.  It is a small lake with an outlet to the Indian River.  Red Lake is north of the little town of Theresa, NY in Jefferson County (west of the Adirondack Park.)

As you can see, it was a pretty day for a paddle.  Brody is keeping an eye on that red kayak ahead of us!  He doesn't want his daddy to get too far away.

The road to Red Lake leads to a parking area and a boat launch.  It is a gradual grade and is used by both car top carrier boats as well as motor boats.  There is a swampy area to the right of the put-in which means lots of mosquitoes this time of year.  There were enough of them that we worked double-time to get the kayaks off the car, gear stowed (oh, and bug spray applied, incuding Skin-So-Soft all over Brody) and the kayaks in the water. 

Once on the water, there was a slight breeze most of the time.  When it died down, the bugs hovered, but luckily the soft breeze picked back up within a few minutes.

Cliffs march along the eastern shore of Red Lake for most of its length.  There are a few houses and camps above the cliffs, but none in the area where I took this photo.

This photo of my husband will give you a better idea of the cliffs.  They rise quite high on the right, and although it looks like there is a break in the cliffs before you see the rocks on the left, the cliff does continue on behind the trees close to the water.  I would say they are about 50-60 feet high in most areas.

Here is a view of the lake looking toward its northern end where there are no cliffs.  We did not explore that area on this trip, but we did on a paddle we took in 2008.

 In 2008, we paddled Red Lake in October.  This is the northwestern part of the lake:

Again, looking north, Brody is checking things out.  There were a number of fisherman on the lake on this day.  All of the boats were smaller fishing ones, so we weren't disturbed much by their noise.

Here is a close up of some of the rocky banks of Red Lake.

We at our lunch drifting in the middle of the lake to avoid the worst of the flying insects.  We shared our wraps with Brody-- he was very appreciative and I got lots of kisses on the nose in thanks!

Along the cliffs in the fall, we saw a brilliantly colored tree (probably a sugar maple-- not positive though.)  It looked as if the tree was painted onto the cliff.

After lunch, we decided to head along the outlet which leads to Indian River so that we could paddle for a while on the river.  Here is the outlet which is on the western side of the lake, just north of the put-in which is a bit to the left of this photo.

Although we didn't see many birds other than red winged black birds, we heard tons of them. I wish I was able to identify them all by their songs.  This must be an area where the birds stop to rest before flying over the St. Lawrence River (less than an hour from this area as the crow flies) because as we were driving down the road to the lake, we met a group of bird watchers, all sporting binoculars, and being led by a (presumably) knowledgeable guide.

Brody has his ears up and turned as he tries to figure out where the bird song is coming from.

Another shot of the outlet as we head to the Indian River:

Once on the river, we saw a few more birds such as a great blue heron, and the bird that Brody has noticed:

A turkey vulture.  He was eating something along the bank of the river.  As we approached, he flew to a nearby tree and waited for us to go before flying back down to finish his meal.  Turkey vultures are pretty big birds with a wingspan around 6 feet, yet they can weigh as little as 4 or 5 pounds. 

Here is a pretty shot of the river-- there was a current, but it was barely noticeable.

Here is what the river looked like in October 2008:

And that year, we spotted a green heron on some dead wood just as we entered the outlet, on our way back to the lake:


 I was able to get quite a few photos of the heron.  He moved with stealth as he hunted either fish or frogs in the water.  We enjoyed watching him make his way across these branches.

Although there are motor boats on Red Lake, we found the fishermen polite and very willing to slow down to lessen their wakes as they passed us.  Many were very impressed with Brody as well!

I would have had more photos to share, but for the first time on a kayaking trip, I left the memory card out of the camera!  Despite changing the photo size to allow more photos, I still wasn't able to get that many.  I blame the problem on the fact that the computer I now have, a reburbished one with lots of memory, has a slot for the SD card rather than using a card reader-- very convenient-- but easy to leave the card in the computer!

I will leave you with this photo of Brody and the outlet.  He has a little bit of a sad expression on his face because I was calling him a "little turd."  He did not want to turn around and show me his face! He finally complied!

I hope you have all been able to get out and paddle over this holiday weekend.  Unfortunately it has been very cold and rainy here in northern New York.  We broke 50 late this afternoon and it's looking up for tomorrow.  So, wish us luck-- we may just get a paddle in before the work week begins.

Happy Kayaking!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Francis Lake 2013, Part Two

Time to finish describing our first paddle of the 2013 season on Francis Lake.  It was almost 2 weeks ago already.  The weather did not cooperate last weekend with rain and wind.  This week we have snow on our deck one morning and we've had frost 3 nights in a row!  It's supposed to warm up later this week.  I sure hope so!

I left off last time with us paddling out of the eastern lobe of the lake beyond the esker.  It was time to head back to the put-in/take out. On the way, I stopped for photos of course.

I found the contrast between the dead, dull tan/brown grasses and the vibrant green pine needles along with the blue sky intriguing enough for a quick shot as we passed by.

Here is Brody keeping an eye on his daddy who is too far ahead of us in Brody's opinion!

I took these next two photos using a setting on my camera which gives everything a bit of an unnatural color vibrancy.  It turned reds to orange, but deepened the trees reflections in the water in the photo of Brody.

On the photo below, it turned the dull browns and tans of the grasses on the bank a bit more interesting in color as well as making the sky and water even more vibrant than they already were.

As my husband paddled on, I changed the settings again for a sepia-toned one of him:

And then a black and white of the trees:

Pretty soon I had almost caught up with him and thought this image as he waited for me was worth capturing!  You'd think he was trying to hide, wouldn't you?

And.... there he is, hanging out, waiting for me to quit fiddling around with the camera so we could finish our paddle!

There was a breeze but the sun was quite strong.  Brody is panting a little as he surveys the lake looking for geese, ducks or maybe a loon or two:

Approaching the put-in/take-out, we see the loons diving.  Brody is quite aware of them diving and surfacing.  I got a few photos but they were far away or were diving under as I snapped a shot.  They also have learned how to avoid us humans (and canines!) in our boats.  They dive and swim in the opposite direction that we travel in.  The next time we look for them, they are way behind us.

We are always happy to see loons on the lakes we paddle.  Our feeling is that the lake must be pretty healthy if the loons are hanging out there.  Hopefully, there will be a baby loon later this summer.

I'll end with one more photo of Brody.  We're almost back to land and he knows it.  He enjoyed his first paddle of 2013 and so did we!

Happy Kayaking!  Get out and enjoy if you are able!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

1st Paddle of 2013! Francis Lake, Part One

Happy Spring to all of my fellow Northern New York paddlers!  Our maple trees have just shed their leaf coverings and pale green leaves are emerging.  It’s been more than 2 weeks since all of our snow piles have melted—a big sign of improvement!  Saturday, May 4th was a perfect day for our first paddle.

We chose Francis Lake--a favorite because it meets so many of our best paddling destination criteria:  quiet--no motors allowed (except 10 hp electric ones,) an easy place to put-in, the chance for plenty of wildlife viewing, and varied scenery. 

We arrived about 11:00, which is late for us, but it’s still pretty chilly in the mornings and we didn’t want to bundle up, so we left later than we usually do.  Because of the lateness of the morning, we did not expect to see a lot of wildlife.  Luckily, that was not the case!

The photo above shows the dock and the fairly easy put-in.  The DEC will add another section to the dock later when the water level drops.  Getting in from this low dock isn’t difficult, but there is also a small area on each side of the dock where you could scoot into the water without using the dock. 

This is the path to the water.  It is about 60 feet from the parking lot to the dock.

The black flies were just starting to come out here in the woods, and the mosquitos were already out in annoying numbers.  But, once on the water, there was a slight breeze most of the time and we did not even need bug repellent.

The next photo is near the put-in area.  I like these boulders and they made a great foreground for my photo of the water.

Once out on the water, Brody remembered exactly what his role was:

Leading the way.  We think he enjoys kayaking as much as we do.  Not to mention, he was probably looking for ducks!

Francis Lake may not look that "special" from the view below, but it has some great areas to explore that aren't seen as you look at the lake from the put-in.

To the right of the put-in, down past the few camps and houses along the north-western banks is a set back marked with boulders and a rock island.  In years past, we've seen a loon on a nest here.  It's a shallow area where ducks and geese maneuver through the reeds that will grow up later in the summer.  We by-passed this area today since families owning camps or houses near here were fishing on the banks close to this area.

Overhead we heard a hawk's cries and looked up to see some type of hawk, we believe a Northern harrier (Marsh hawk.)  Within seconds, two others had joined him and they glided high above the lake in lazy circles as we paddled along.

We set out for our favorite spots on the lake which are located on the eastern side.  There is an esker where we sometimes stop to stretch our legs, eat our lunch or just to explore. And there is a lobe of the lake that is separated from the rest of the lake. We did not get out on the esker during this paddle, but here is a photo of it.  We are approaching from the west side.

The entrance to the eastern lobe of the lake is here at the esker.  We love this area because we've seen lots of wildlife here.  It's shallow and is full of lily pads, water lilies and reeds in summer.  This time of year, with a higher water level, we were able to paddle a lot more of the area than at any other time, even last year when we also paddled here in May.  As we entered the shallow area, a bald eagle flew by, heading in the opposite direction!  We both saw it clearly, but only for a matter of a second or two.  Not enough time to get the camera up and focused. It was almost as exciting as last year when we saw 4 bald eagles, because we never "expect" to see a bald eagle while paddling.  That made our day, right then and there.  We weren't ready to go home yet, but we would have considered the trip well worth it from that moment on.

Brody kept his Doggles on for a while, seeming to appreciate them in the bright sun.

We've seen snapping turtles in this shallow area in the past, and there are definitely beaver in the area.  Although we did not see any swimming in the lake, we had some pretty convincing evidence (other than their lodges) of their existence near the lake:

My husband and I were amazed at the size of the tree they had been working on. We wondered if they had a plan for the tree or were just gnawing on it.  It will be interesting to return later in the year to see if they finished the job, or if mother nature's wind has given them some help.

The water levels at Francis were higher than last year around the same time.  For the first time ever, we were able to paddle a large area in this eastern lobe that is usually either too shallow or full of lily pads, reeds, etc.  Although we didn't "see" anything else while exploring this area, it was still fun, just knowing we were paddling along spots that we hadn't before.

Once we turned back, this is the view heading out of that eastern lobe with the esker on the left int the background-- and Brody, of course.  This time facing me for a change!  

The sky was such a brilliant blue I kept looking up at it all day long.  When these puffy clouds lined up top to bottom I had to take a shot:

Here is Brody still in his preferred position, leading the way as I paddle. He's keeping an eye on his daddy who is ahead of us.  He sure enjoys taking in the sights and I enjoy snapping these photos of him. I just love the blues, reds and yellows in this photo:

Well, I hope everyone has been able to get out on the water, even those of you like me, who haven't had much warmer weather until recently.  Enjoy it! And please join me for Part Two in a few days.

Happy Kayaking!