The last night of our kayak camping trip got rained out, which wouldn’t have been so bad if I wasn’t sick on top of it. We have camped in the rain many times before. The other odd complication was the lean-to we were using was scheduled for demolition so we had to pack up and move camp anyway. My friend called a friend, and we stayed there the last night. The house was on the shore of First Lake in Old Forge, very nice. We had a huge delicious dinner and were playing a bean bag toss game outside by the lake when the sky opened up and poured freezing cold rain so hard it put out the bone-fire! After being chased inside, we decided to cut open a watermelon my friend had brought. Still crisp and bright green on the outside, dark red, and gushing juice on the inside. Sweet, sweet watermelon, you are another fruit I miss in the long dark cold winter months. But right now, right here, I slurp this tantalizing melon, cherishing its flavor for maximum enjoyment.
The day started off rough. I am coming down with a cold, all the usual symptoms. Last night, after paddling over to the island in the middle of Raquette Lake, and then setting up camp in the dark (night comes earlier now and I ran out of daylight), I had a hard time getting the fire started, everything is damp from all the rain, and it was very smokey. But I know (unfortunately) my sore throat isn’t from that. Although it wasn’t very cold last night, I kept the fire going to comfort me and maybe dry out the fire pit and surrounding area, so I am very tired as well. My friend will be here later today, so I took my time in making and eating breakfast hoping that lots of good food would make me feel better. I am drinking lots of hot tea as well which feels good in my throat. The water comes from the lake, and I bring it to a rolling boil before using it. I had just turned the flame off on the stove and picked up the still boiling pot when some of the water sloshed out and fell on the top of my foot causing a second degree burn. UGH! By the time my friend showed up all I wanted to do was curl up in a little ball and sleep for several days.
But this is the only time we have together, so with some encouragement on her part and some resisting on mine, we decided to paddle up Brown’s Tract. I haven’t been up it yet and although she had found the entrance last year, a beaver dam kept her from exploring the creek. Of course, it was enchantingly beautiful and exquisitely peaceful. The water in the creek was is brown with tannin, but clear and cold, so I was able to, several times, keep my still painful burn blisters submerged until my foot grew quite cold. The sky was low and heavy with turbulent grey rain clouds which rained off and on, the rain itself being gentle and hesitant. The weather kept most others off the lake and we had Brown’s Tract wetland to ourselves. We paddle quietly up the twist and turns, taking pictures of the last wetland flowers and the first bright red colors of the season all to ourselves. We saw several birds trying not to disturb them as we silently glide by. A few hours later, after crossing several beaver dams and having come up to another we decided to turn around and head back. Evening is coming and it looks like more rain. I definitely will come back and explore this place some more. It is worth the visit!
My sister and I caught the out going tide this morning, kayaking down the south branch of the Santee River in South Carolina. Our trip started out in an alligator inhabited swamp, then we paddled about 10 or so miles out to the ocean. As we paddled downstream, we watched the wetland flora and fauna change from fresh water through brackish to salt water. It brought back countless childhood memories of boat trips in Florida every weekend from freshwater creek boat ramps to ocean beaches. This was the first time my sister and I had kayaked together and the first time for both of us to paddle tidal currents to the ocean surf. So even without the eclipse we were both having an adventure of a lifetime and we were having it together! This is an amazing achievement for two women who never really got along too well as siblings. Maybe we have both grown up. So we made down to the mouth of the Santee where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean, the tide was roaring out past the tidal sand flats and into the surf. We beached our kayaks on a tiny sandbar out in the middle of the various channels with a 360 degree view of the horizon. We ate our picnic lunch, went swimming in the surf, walked around looking for shells, and laid down on our beach blanket and waited for the eclipse. All I can say is it was one of the most amazing, exhilarating, fascinating, phenomenal experiences ever! As the moon crept in front of the sun, the sky darkened like a sunset, but the darkest part was in the middle of the sky, the brightest stars even appeared. All around the horizon was the twilight sunset sky, colors and all. Distant storm clouds became noticeable and their arching lightening show startlingly visible. We saw the corona in all it’s magnificent glory during totality and that diamond ring sparkle effect as totality ended. As the sun came back, we realized that the tide had turned and was coming in fast! Our tiny sandbar island was disappearing. We jumped into the surf to wash off the sand and then threw everything back into the kayaks and buckled everything down. By the time we climbed into our seats the sandbar was gone and we had to surf the surf back upstream a little ways until we were back in the Santee river. We actually floated on the tide all the back to the boat ramp. It was the most beautiful thing my sister and I have ever done together!
Helping several ten to twelve year olds enter the water at Snake Rock without tipping their kayaks over, I notice the rock next the where I am squatting and holding a boat steady. There is a thick layer of large crystals, yellowish white in color and cleaving along flat planes, crumbling into the sand and plant growth next to the water. I realize this must be a calcite deposit. I know there is one across the river just down stream of here that I have not yet been to, but have been told about. I friend of mine showed my several quarter sized crystals she found there and they look just like the crystals by my feet. I exclaim in excitement and bring everyone’s attention to them, explaining what they are. Some kids thinks its very cool and collect some, others not so much… Each to their own interests! I love rocks. My yard has rocks in it form everywhere we go. I decorate the garden walls with rocks of all shapes, sizes, colors, dimensions, and characteristics. I know then names of some of them, but not others. Oddly enough, rock identification was not an aspect of geology class that interested much, although I find plate tectonic, earthquakes, and volcanism fascinating. I do not need to know a rocks name in order for it to speak to me, catch my eye, and sweet talk me into carrying it with me for the rest of the hike or paddle I am doing at the time. So now I have several nifty Adirondack calcite crystals hanging out in my herb garden.
Bright sunlight, fluffy bright white clouds in a bright baby blue sky, breezy, but not windy, perfect paddling temperature, we have stopped along the river for a picnic lunch, a group of high school senior girl scouts canoeing and kayaking a different section of the Hudson that yesterday’s trip through the gorge. They are loving every minute of it, laughing, talking, playing, enjoying their trip to New York state from sunny, hot southern Florida. As part of today’s lunch, we have watermelon I bought this morning on a food run. I cut through the variegated green skin, slice through the dark red fruit, juice runs over the table. With a crisp snap a piece breaks free. After all the girls have had their fill I take my first slice of watermelon of the season. The cool, sweet, watermelon flavor exploded in my mouth with the first bight. Sugary red juice runs down my chin as I noisily slurp it up. I greedily eat, crunching, slurping, and savoring. This is what summer tastes like!
This morning, I got up early with the sun, went over to a nearby state park and put my kayak in the water. Warm yellow sunlight pouring in from the eastern horizon, flowing out overt the lake like liquid happiness. I paddled quietly around the shoreline to see what I could see in the quiet morning stillness. Large catfish with swishing tails, rooting through dead tree branches in the shallows, large algae covered turtles swimming lazily near the surface, birds flitting between trees twittering morning greetings to each other, green and red lily pads and bright happy water lilies, the smell of campfire smoke drifting on unseen air currents from early risers in the camp ground, and then a family of mallard ducks. Mamma duck proud and watchful paddling slowly along the shore with seven little fluffy yellowish brown baby ducks paddling their tiny webbed feet furiously to keep up. I kept a respectful distance so as not to frighten the little family, but watched them paddle and feed for quite q while. Mamma kept her eye on the the whole time, but didn’t try to chase my off. Baby ducklings peeping for attention and mamma duck keeping them moving down the lake shore, learning how to be good little ducks.
Rainy wet day in the Adirondacks, we are herding 60 some odd high school senior girls from New York City down a slow moving section of the Hudson River. They are having a lifetime adventure and loving every minute of it! I am the sweep boat, making sure everyone is accounted for and goes where they are supposed to go. My long green kayak is sitting on a rock bar that juts way out on the inside of a meandering curve in the river. I had to run across the bar to the other side of an island to help a couple of canoes get unstuck and back on course. Walking back to my own boat on the ankle to knee deep rushing water I start noticing the cobbles I am traversing. Wow! So many colors, shapes, sizes, and crystalline structures! I start picking some up for a better look, and get totally absorbed in the amazing variety of rocks surrounding me. A few minutes later, back at my boat, I drop several large heavy specimens into a cargo compartment and hope they don’t shift while I’m paddling. Grey and white marble with green streaks corners smoothed round, egg shaped granite with sparkling mica, quartz with large sharp crystals. I send encouraging words to the girls floating by as I climb back in my boat to help to next girls stuck on the cool rocks!