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!


  1. Feels great to be back on the water in warm weather, doesn't it? Have a fun safe summer.

  2. Hey Ang! Glad to see you back on the water - after a long break!

    1. Thanks, Mike! It has been a long time between paddles. I'm glad to see you've been on the water a number of times already. Enjoy!