Friday, March 26, 2010

Crooked Creek - 3/21/2010

It was a beautiful day last Sunday (March 21) and I really wanted to go for a longer paddle. I asked Robbin if she had any interest in joining me, and to my surprise, she said yes. I was surprised because only a day earlier she told me that you wouldn't catch her in a kayak until she could go in shorts and a tank top. It did come with the condition that we would turn around when she got tired, though. We decided to go to Crooked Creek because the last time we were there we couldn't figure out what was lake, what was inflow area, and what was creek. There were little branches that split off the lake, and we didn't know if we where actually on Crooked Creek or a branch of the creek. We were going to retrace our previous route with the GPS unit so we could see exactly what was what.

When we started out we could see that the water level was really high in the lake. We had no idea just how high until we got to the spot where the creek feeds into the lake. The area was hardly recognizable as the place we had been to so many times last fall. Where there was land that separated the channels from the lake, and each other, there was now water. It looked like the Bayou.

The mouth of Crooked Creek where it feeds into the lake in September of '09.

The same spot on March 21. You can see from the mud lines in the trees that the water was once 10 feet higher than it is in this photo.

We had a great time paddling through the trees as we made our way up the creek. We were trying to recognize anything to get our bearings, but the only things that were familiar were the bends in the creek. We paddled slightly past the bend where we ended our Fall trip and turned around to head back.

When we got home I downloaded the data off my GPS unit to my computer so we could see where we'd been. This GPS stuff is great. I create a track log on the unit when we start out, then save it when we finish. We I get home I connect the unit to my computer via USB cable and a program named Garmin Basecamp pulls the information from the unit and saves it in a file. I upload the file onto a website named Garmin Connect and it plots the track log on to a Google map along with various stats. I can also add as little or as much information as I want about that "activity". Fortunately I can also share this. You can access the information about this trip by clicking on the title of this post or under the Garmin Connect Track Logs heading on the side.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The 2010 Paddling Season Begins......Finally!

It was a long winter, but the 2010 paddling season has finally begun for the Swanks. My cool/cold water apparel arrived from NRS and I was ready to hit the water. Actually that was my 2nd order from NRS. My first apparel order wasn't really very.....stylish, I guess that's a good way to put it. It was, however, a source of great amusement to my wife and everyone else she sent the pictures to, though. I'll get into this story some other time.

I've been wanting to try out Buffalo Creek in Freeport for a while now, but it's too shallow to paddle very far upstream. I'd been watching the creek for the past couple of weeks, since the melt off brought the water levels up, and decided I give it a shot last Saturday (March 20). The current had slowed and I wasn't looking for an all day trip, just something to get my rhythm back and try out my new GPS unit.

There are a few interesting things to look at on Buffalo Creek, some old bridges and rocks, but even with the water as high as it was, it narrowed and got shallow in less than a mile. I doubt that most of what I saw upstream would be accessible later in the spring when the creek level falls.

There were two sections of riffles that were a pretty good work out. I paddled through the first set a couple of times. The second set was the end of my journey upstream. The creek split around a small island. The current was too swift and shallow to get enough paddle in the water to power through. I could see that the creek got a little deeper beyond that point, but there was no way to portage around that section. The creek bank was too soft and I didn't want to walk in the creek and risk falling and maybe having to chase my kayak down stream. I tried to get around it by landing on the island and putting my kayak back in on the other end, but this ended with me almost going for a swim. I put one foot in my kayak and pushed of with the other. Before I could sit down, the current caught the kayak and spun it sideways and almost threw me in the water. By the time I recovered I was already through the riffle and back to point A. That wasn't one of my brightest moves.

I decided to head back at that point, I had accomplished what I set out to do. 1.) I got some time on the water at a place I had never been 2.) I got my paddling rhythm back 3.) I learned how to work my GPS 4.) I got the feel for my new paddling clothes, and most importantly 5.) I didn't get wet!