Although the Adirondacks did get some rainfall, it was really only just enough to get everything wet. The Catskills on the other hand got a deluge. My husband sent me a picture of the Eastkill creek that runs through our property, and my eyes popped out of my head when I saw it. The whole creek bed was full, not flood stage over the banks, but close. Although it was just a photo I could hear in my mind the roar of the rapids as the chocolate milk colored water surges over the rocks in its hurried urgency to get downstream. I can see wooden debris floating in the torrent, bobbing chaotically in the frantic current. I can smell the distinct odor of wet earth, fertile and musky as the inundated ground overflows adding its muddy contributions to the cataract below. I feel the ground rumble and vibrate as rocks are tumbled along the stream bed with the powerful push of the roiling boiling waters. Understanding the true power of water is an awe inspiring experience.
So the sky dawned overcast, drizzly, and grey. I stayed snuggled under the blankets in the tent listening to water drip onto the tarp and watching it drip from the trees for an hour or so before actually getting up and out of bed. Then I only got up because I had to pee. That was a cold and wet endeavor. And then I climbed right back under the cozy blankets. I read for a while and daydreamed, but finally hunger drove me out of my snugly cocoon and down the hill to find food. It may be a rainy day, but the water is just dripping not really raining. It isn’t the kind of rain that brings the river up, but it is the gentle kind of rain that gives everything a needed drink. After bumming around for a while, I decided to go for a rainy day paddle out on 13th lake. I had the whole lake to myself. The mountains were obscured in the swirling misty low clouds and the sky and lake reflected each other’s steely grey demeanor. The air wasn’t too cool once I was paddling and I was comfortable wearing just a bathing suit, but of course I have paddle clothes with me in a dry bag as well as munchy food which I munched on while I explored the shoreline. I took a couple of hours to slowly paddle around the whole lake, looking a flowers, insects, and birds. All in all is was an excellent way to spend a rainy day.
Another hot hot humid day in the Adirondacks. Another trip to Thirteenth Lake with an inner-tube. Solo this time. This place is like a dream world. Blue-grey water stretching to the horizon where it meets hazy blue- grey mountains. Dusty blue sky with wispy white cloud shards and a brilliant blinding hot white sun shining down. Green mountains towering along the sides of the lake and wetlands meeting forest along the shoreline. Sandy bottom gives way to deep water, warm at the surface but cools along a gradient as you dive down into the green abyss. I lay beneath the water looking up at the shining reflective surface, a mermaid in a mermaids world. Silver sparkling air bubble swiftly rise from my lips in a darting and twisting line. Out of breath I swim to the air, break through in a rush and gasping. Shake the water from my hair and lazily swim to the tube, clambering back on in a most ungraceful manner. I doze as the sun sets, shifting light rays steaming from behind the western ridge. Chilled I swim to shore to rejoin reality. Rocks and pebbles dig into my feet as I dry off on the sand beach gazing across the lake to the misty blue mountains, breath deeply. This is what summer is all about.
Our second night camping on Lake George was up at the Channel Islands located in the channel where the lake splits into two forks that fill in either side of a mountain ridge. My site is somewhat removed from the campers and I get to hike through the woods, across the island, and over a small rise to get to their sites. Its a very Nice arrangement. These kids are actually really good about keeping the noise level down, but in all honestly it is very relaxing to swing in a hammock overlooking a private cove filled with deep crystal clear water with a white sand bottom . Yes, I did take advantage of that unusual opportunity and went swimming a number of times! The group had a blast at this campground, They canoed around several of the islands, went cliff jumping, and thoroughly explored our island. So in between swimming and watching kids fling themselves from a cliff, I was fiddling around with my boat and some gear (some stuff got somewhat damp from motor boat wakes crashing over my hull out on the lake), I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. Turning my head I saw a dark furry animal that at first I though was a squirrel. But something was off. It was darting around and I couldn’t get a good look at it in the half light under the trees. Then it disappeared. Later I briefly saw it again, definitely not a squirrel, but what? Even later, while reading in the hammock, I saw it a third time. This sighting was more prolonged and substantial. It didn’t know I was there and was taking its time to investigate the campsite. Another small animal habituated to people and know that even if we don’t actually feed them, we tend to leave lots of crumbs around. It’s a mink. A small mink, whose coat is matted and has bare patches, so its not particularly healthy. But it seems to be acting normal and I watch it for a long time. Eventually it duck down into a hole between some tree roots right at the water’s edge. Pretty cool, my own private campsite, swimming cove, and wildlife viewing area. It doesn’t really get better than this!
We camped on a large island half way up the lake; a state camp ground with boat access only. Each site has a shared dock designed for motor boats, a picnic table, a tent platform, and a fire pit. We are spread out over 4 sites; girls, boys, counselors, and me. We all take our time setting up camp. I find the perfect spot for my hammock close to the water. I am gently swinging, vaguely reading a Discover magazine, watching with amusement as the teenagers cross back and forth between the campsites, setting up tents, deciding on tent mates, and generally just be their goofy selves. This group is allowed to have electronics, but they aren’t glued to them the way one might expect. These kids are actually forming bonds and friendships with each other. Its nice to see that in action. At some point I realize they are gathered in a group around something on the ground that has their rapt attention. I get up to go see, and find a Mama Duck and six fuzzy ducklings have come ashore and are careening through the crowd waddling and quacking and peeping soaking up the attention obviously looking for food handouts. I explain why we shouldn’t feed the duck and nobody does (at least while I’m there, wink wink), but those ducks hang around being cute and quackable for a long time. Eventually I convince the kids we should shoe the duck back into the water so they can go find food instead of learning to beg for it. This endeavor was a riot. The ducks apparently did not really want to go find their own food and seemed to think it was some kind of game when we tried to shoe them back into the water. This kept everybody entertained for longer than you would think possible. Wacky teenagers and silly ducks. Much later, after the camp fire had died down and all was quiet, I was swaying in my hammock listening to loons in the distance, and the slightest breath of breeze rustle through the leaves, I noticed a small yellow flash of light. I concentrated and gazed into the woods and realized that there were fire flies everywhere throughout the campsite. I fell asleep surrounded by their magical fairy lights.
My friend showed up today! After was got all her camping stuff shuttled over to the island lean-to, we took off across the lake to an area neither of us had paddled before. We explored some rock outcroppings, jumping and swimming. The rocks don’t see much human traffic and were covered with a thick slime or algae below the surface of the water that made them exceptionally difficult to climb back up on once one had jumped off, but we prevailed. We walked around and looked at the ruins of some old wooden structures off in the woods, maybe an abandoned camp cabin. There was a lot of rusty metal and broken glass around as well and neither one of us was wearing protective shoes, I was actually barefoot, so it wasn’t much of an investigation, but it was a nifty find. Then we paddled down the shore some more and found tucked in a small protected bay a narrow strip of white sand beach between the lake and a wetland boggy area. The water was warm and shallow near shore so we floated and lounged and relaxed in the sun. We took turns walking down the beach and back relishing in the solitude of the immense open lake, basking in the grandeur of the endless blue summer sky. We talked and laughed through the afternoon. After depleting all our lunch snacks, hunger motivated us back into our boats to paddle back to camp.
We heard the loons before we saw them, hooting and cooing to each other. Forgetting our hunger, we stopped paddling to look and found two striking black and white adults with red eyes and two fuzzy dark grey babies. The adults were taking turns diving for food. When one surfaced it would call out a warbling sound, the babies would trill, and the other adult would call back. After a while the adults split up each with a baby loon following. The diving and twittering peeping continued as the adults dove and the babies waited impatiently bobbing in the wind and waves. When they surfaced, sometimes the adults would be a fair bit off a ways from their offspring and then would make a louder cooing call to locate each other. We sat a watched this loon family for a long time. Eventually the loons came back together and the babies swam around each other in a playful manner, diving for a few seconds, then popping back up to the surface to squeak at each other. It was fascinating, exhilarating, and captivating to watch and listen to this family. I never loons made so many different noises. Later that night as we were falling asleep, we were serenaded by many loons out on the lake with their exquisite ethereal calls while laying beneath the thinnest silver sliver of a shimmering moon hanging low over the horizon.
After work I headed over to the boat ramp on Raquette Lake, pulled the kayak off the car, unloaded the car and then managed to fit everything into the kayak. Space Goddess strikes again. It even still more or less floats! It is not a far paddle to the best lean-to on the Big Island. Last fall, my friend and I camped here as well. We were the last people to camp in the old lean-to. It got demolished and moved the day we left it. The old one was falling apart and needed a lot of love. This one is beautiful. It didn’t even get moved that far from where it was, so that it still has the best view of the lake. I set up camp, hung my hammock, got dinner cooked, eaten, and cleaned up, and had a nice campfire going before it got dark. My friend will be showing up sometime tomorrow. I came out tonight to make sure we got the lean-to for the weekend. It is also probably the most used lean-to on the lake. As the sun set behind the distant mountains on the western horizon, I sat on a big rock next to shore to watch the glorious golden glowing show. At one point movement nearby on the water caught my attention. There was a mother merganser across my field of vision with a line of three baby mergansers paddling along behind her. I couldn’t see there coloring as they were silhouetted against the bright yellow light of the setting sun, but the shape of the female merganser is unmistakable. She seemed unconcerned over my presents as she glided past her babies bobbing and dipping in the calm water. I watched them until they went out of sight around a point of land farther down the bank. What a marvelous way to end the day.