Fall Stream to Vly Lake – Adirondacks

A nine mile paddle is always a wee bit tiring, but add some hefty dashes of wind and current and it makes for a collapse-into-bed experience! Was it worth it?  Absolutely!

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Fall stream was recommended to me years ago when I contacted the local ranger to ask about a different river.  He quickly understood the type of paddle I adore – small, meandering, and quiet. “How about Fall Stream? Have you done that one yet?”

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It was time to revisit this paradise and even though the leaves of summer weren’t to be seen, it was even more beautiful than I remembered! The gentle meandering made for glimpses of far mountains interspersed with closer views of sentinel pines and spruces.

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The evidence of beaver engineering were everywhere with lodges in abundance and a couple of big projects going on! Interestingly, the lodges were much higher than those near home and many were still clothed in their winter mud more than their summer, peeled bark look.  My guess is that the much colder weather in the Adirondacks means more insulation!

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I was growing a bit tired by lunch time as I hadn’t felt very fit in the morning with a nagging throat issue.  We floated in the crook of a meander and shared some cheese and crackers and cashews. I knew it was important to Peter to get to Vly Lake and I was trying to be a sport about it, but my resolve began to melt when we headed into a pretty stiff wind for the upper section.

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The view at Vly was worth the effort though with diamonds dancing on the water’s surface.  We spent a few minutes enjoying our accomplishment and then headed back with appreciated assist! Our lunch spot came up in what seemed like minutes and then the wind died and we were back to paddling.

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I had that familiar moment when the sun changes angle and I think, “Huh? Already?” or some such profound thought! The day was passing and now heading toward evening. How long had we been on the water?

When I’m paddling, I don’t often think about time until the sun’s angle nudges me and somehow I’m always surprised. Can it be that I’m still on this earth and tied to the kind of destiny that contains sunrises and sunsets? Part of me must be convinced I’m already in heaven in an endless day of joyful beauty that stretches into eternity. It’s always a bit of a shock to realize that there is mundane things to think about like is there enough daylight to get to the take out and what will we do for dinner.
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Thankfully, we have plenty of daylight at this time of year and dinner was at a restaurant we had enjoyed on a previous trip.  Then it was time to fall into bed: stiff-muscled, exhausted and happy with the kinds of visions that didn’t include sugarplums and fairies, but did have the gentle sounds of water dripping off the end of my paddle.

 

Swift River, Massachusetts

 

Great Swamp – Pawling, NY

It was a fine Saturday in Pawling, NY. The river had been recently augmented with .86 inches of rain creating spring- like water levels on February 28th. Peter, Christian, and I were excited to paddle a reach of the Swamp River that is inaccessible during most of the year. As an added bonus, the temperature was hovering around 60 -time to go!

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We put in on Corbin Road in Pawling – a first for us and what a beauty! Once through the difficult phramites section with some quick and fun water, we enter a section with long meanders housing mallards. They fly in an explosion of strength, straight up from the water, in the same way that’s captured people’s affections for millennia. Their quacks are augmented with the clicks and chatter of blackbirds and pileated woodpecker drums.DSCN9632

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As we pass under the bridge at River Road, our usual put in, we are faced with one of the most lively runs in the Great Swamp.  With banks barely wider than our blades, the swift water moves us along at a decent clip, while we spy emerging skunk cabbage on the banks.

DSCN9627Once through that channel, the river opens up and the views become Adirondack-like with boulders and hemlock reaching down the embankment. We enjoy looking at the flora clinging to the boulders, seemingly unaware of their precarious position.
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Spying the Appalachian Trail boardwalk up ahead, we are surprised to see that the area is dammed up with a large beaver lodge, new this year. 

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This brings us to a huge phramites area.  If it weren’t for knowing how invasive this non-native is, we could enjoy it’s beautifully swaying reeds more readily. This plant is taking over wetlands at an alarming rate in the process dispossessing cattails and other essential food and shelter sources for indigenous birds and mammals.

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We also have our most difficult area to get around at the end of this section with the phramites root sections clogging the channel. We portage over a fallen tree and rock our kayaks over a couple of other obstructions.

We came to the bridge at Old Pawling Road, where we usually pull ou,  but in our enthusiasm thought we’d paddle all the way to Wingdale, another couple of miles. We hadn’t realized the first section was so long. Tired, with light dimming, and some apprehension, we paddled on. This brought our total up to about eight or nine, rather a long one in the Swamp.

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The last section narrows down a bit with a large tree obstacle to deal with and then it’s the land of turtles with an exciting section where I saw a green heron three years in a row.  One of my favorite birds, it flies as if auditioning for a Disney movie.

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Multiple channels mostly created by the beaver with snags providing cavities for nesting birds, The bluebirds and red-tailed hawks love this section of the swamp and we see both. The ridge to the west always makes me think of bob-cat since it looks like a prime area for them with its long views and rocky crags.

We’re paddling through paradise!

NE Paddlesport & The Exeter River

Back from a whirlwind weekend in New Hampshire, Peter and I are happy with the great connections we made at the NE Paddlesports Show and with the peaceful paddle on the Exeter River.

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Some of the manufacturers we stopped to talk with were Seals Spray Skirts, SealLine Dry Bags, NRS, andAqua-Bound. We especially enjoyed speaking with Ed Vater of Aqua-Bound. I’ve personally used their paddles for the past 12 years and have been very happy with them, especially my Eagle Ray carbon fiber. He took quite a bit of time giving us a run down of some of his favorite rivers. He included invaluable insider information and tips likes the best time to paddle the Congaree in South Carolina,  (February – no insects, sluggish alligators) and the Buffalo River in Arkansas (not spring break).

We were a bit stunned with how many requests various manufacturers get for gear, 200-500 per month seems pretty common. We’d love to get sponsored by those companies that we already use and love! In the meantime, to rest from too much indoor activity, we turned our attention to the Exeter River.

DSCN0259After boon-dogging for the night, we headed out under cloudy skies and 50 degree temperatures.

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The Exeter is a meandering river with multiple ox-bows in the process of forming. A variety of deciduous trees – oaks, red maples, birch, shag-bark hickory among others and evergreens like the red and white pine and glorious hemlock line the shores along with emerging grasses.

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Exploring in all kinds of weather should be on everyone’s paddling list!  The peacefulness of an overcast or rainy day is a special pleasure. Dressing in layers as you normally would in colder weather with rain jacket and either rain pants or a spray skirt will be enough for most rainfalls except the most drenching.

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Eventually the rain started  enhancing the beauty of this quiet kingdom….
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