Kayaking in South Carolina

Monday, May 9, Conway, South Carolina: Today was my first day on the water this season. The Waccamaw River winds through Conway; there’s a boat ramp on it not far from the cousin’s house. That’s where I started out. I opted to go upstream/current and up wind.

The dominant tree along the river is cypress; I’ve always loved these trees, with their knees and buttressed trunks.

There was one small creek that I followed until a sunken tree blocked my way.

And some of the cypress had very sculptural parts.

There were lots of very shy turtles – one small one was shy enough to get itself stuck between cypress knees trying to get into the water to get away from me! I went back and pulled it out, and it shoved itself off my hand and into the water before I could get a photo. Back out on the Waccamaw, the turtles were not so shy.

The other notable wild things were the spider lilies. I’ve seen them in Florida, but not here – they are spectacular wildflowers!

There were several of these little pocket beaches along the river.

I went up as far as downtown Conway, and the parks there, and turned around at the old Route 501 bridge.

This No Wake Zone marker was lying down on the job:

And this fern was growing in its own little garden.

I was out for a lot longer than I thought I would be for my first time out – about 1 3/4 hours. it was a perfect start to the season, with new places to explore, old favorites like cypress and spider lilies to see, and some great wildlife sightings. The best of those happened too fast to get out the camera: a Great Blue Heron flew in front of me – with a snake for its next meal in its mouth!

Kayaking Butte LaRose Bay, Louisiana

November 13, continued: My stopping place, after a relatively short driving day, was about half way across the southern part of Louisiana. Uncle Dick Davis Park is a small parish (county) RV park along Butte LaRose Bay, which looks more like a small river. There’s a boat launch, and that’s where I headed first when I arrived at about 3:15. By 3:30 I was on the water, enjoying the late afternoon sun. One side is very built up, with small houses; the other is mostly wild. There was a lot of bird life – many egrets, a few herons, several kingfishers, some cormorants.

And this cat was watching that second heron:

Catch that moon!

Paddling back into the setting sun made it hard to spot wildlife – or see much of anything, for that matter! But after a couple of hours on the water, and running out of daylight, it was time to get off the water and park the Roadtrek in a slot for the night. This place gets points for quiet; there was little road traffic after about 10PM. And level, with paved pads for the vehicles. There was more light than I like, but I recognize that not everyone likes total darkness, and some feel safer with a well-lit campground! And having a boat launch was a distinct bonus.

Roadtrek Roadtrip, Part 5: Wambaw Paddle Trail

Wednesday, November 3: I drove down to the Francis Marion National Forest on Sunday, spending three nights in the Elmwood Hunt Camp campground. After a couple of days sitting around, reading and knitting, it was time for a little more activity – and time to move on. I launched from Elmwood Landing, about a mile from the campground, and went upstream, riding a rising tide. When the tide was clearly going against me again (and I was hungry, and getting tired after a couple of hours) I turned and went back to where the Roadtrek awaited me.

Launching at Elmwood Landing

Some cypress knees are more ornate than others! But not found in New England, so I really feel far from home.

Even this far south, there is colored fall foliage.

Palmetto – another plant not found in Vermont!
Neither is Spanish Moss.
Southern bayberry, or waxmyrtle – so similar to what grows in New England.

This is where I turned around – looking upstream, then down.

This fungus looks so much like spray foam insulation!

When I returned to the launch, the water level had fallen significantly – I’m glad I wasn’t out any longer. When I launched, all of this mud was covered in water, which was still rising. The level gauge, as I left, read 5.10 feet; when I returned, it was unreadable!

Water level in the black

More Adventures in Northern Vermont

Tuesday, October 12: The afternoon activity of the day was to give our Maryland friends an opportunity to try out my inflatable kayak, and after doing so, they are now on a path to acquire one! Or two. We went over to Shelburne Pond, an area of conserved land, so that all the development one sees along the water are the farms at each end of the lake. Each of them took a turn, and then Chris went out for a longer paddle, while I sat happily with my knitting.

Then we went on to visit Champlaine Chocolates, in South Burlington, and a couple of wine and cheese shops, gathering goodies as we went. The chocolate company has a deserved reputation for excellence. On the way home, we went past a community garden full of dahlias –

the colors of which were echoed in the reflection of the sunset in the windows.

Kayaking the Williams River

Wednesday, October 6: After morning knitting group, my friend with the Oru kayak and I went out from where the Williams River joins the Connecticut. It was a glorious day – as you can see! We started off going around the cove between the rivers, where we saw this osprey:

There were lots and lots of dragonflies! The red ones clustered around me – probably because I was wearing a shirt with lots of reds in it!

There was not much wind, and a good day for good reflections.

Then it was on up the Williams River, to where the bridges are for VT Rte 5 and I-91. They are working on the interstate highway, and claim the channel is closed; there’s a rope across it, but clearly others are going on through. We didn’t; the water gets thin and rocky not far beyond.

Kayaking the Connecticut River

Saturday, October 2: My friend with the Oru folding kayak met me again at the same boat launch, at Springfield, Vermont. It was mostly cloudy with rare breaks of sun – raw and windy; almost immediately we saw this eagle chase another off that branch, but you can see how ruffled the feathers are!

The wind was much stronger than the current, so we started out going upwind, down current. Of course, after we turned the wind lightened considerably – but it was still much faster on the return trip! As we were loading up, another group arrived – four people, two dogs. I liked the color coordination!

Kayaking Little Lake Sunapee

The Outdoor Recreation for Seniors group is done kayaking as a group for the season – but I am not! Today’s outing was converted to hiking, because the long range forecast called for high winds. Another ORFS participant and I decided to go to a smaller lake anyway, and had a great time – despite it being mostly cloudy, and mildly windy.

There was not a lot of wildlife – we saw a couple of skeins of geese, and one shy loon.

Kayaking the Black River

Saturday, September 25: A friend and I met at the Hoyt’s Landing boat launch, Springfield, Vermont on this glorious fall day. As soon as I got in the boat, I peeled off the long sleeves – it was warm in the sun! We chose to go up the Black River; the launch is where it joins the Connecticut River. It is the season when leaves are beginning to turn, and the asters are blooming.

We saw several ducks:

and went up as far as the rapids below the waterfalls, where I grounded out and decided that was far enough! I might have gone a little further, but with the skeg on, I was concerned about getting hung up in the shallows.

Back under the old bridge:

and home again. As we returned, it was clear that Old Fort #4 was having some kind of reenactment – the cannons and guns were sounding like fireworks! We could see the smoke from their fields as we approached the landing. This is not a quiet place to paddle; with the interstate and two state highways, there is constant traffic. The munitions just added to it – and made the dog, left in the car in the shade, extremely nervous!

ORFS Kayak Pillsbury State Park

Tuesday, September 21: Another Tuesday, and Outdoor Recreation for Seniors is at it again. We convened at Pillsbury State Park, in Washington, New Hampshire for a gorgeous day on the water. The weather has cooled, so most started off with long sleeves – although many were shed by the time we rounded the far side of the lakes.

We had the greatest diversity of person powered watercraft – three different inflatables, including mine; a serious ocean kayak, a foldable Oru, a canoe, and all the average recreational kayaks. For contrast:

Also, note the wind turbines in the background. It always lifts my heart to watch them generating.

We ended the day overlooking another pond to eat our lunch and visit.