Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Back To Loyalhanna - 10/10/2010

The inflow end of Loyalhanna is a maze of large and small coves and channels that branch out from the main creek that forms the lake. A lot of these areas are narrow and shallow and can't be easily navigated by power boats or even larger paddle powered craft. This is why I love Loyalhanna AND my light weight, low profile, 10 foot 4 inch kayak. I can get into places that a lot people don't get to see. I started a little later in the day than I did my last trip (10/2). I didn't begin my journey until a little after 4:00pm. I wanted to experience the sights and sounds of nature on and around the lake near dusk.

I took a different route than I did during my last trip. This time I followed the main creek channel and explored the coves that I encountered along the way.

The access to this area was narrow and shallow......

......but opened to a cove that was nearly 1/4 mile long.

As the sun started getting lower in the sky the creek channel became darker, but in the distance it opened out into another large, bright section of lake.

As you near the entrance to the open water, the main creek channel branches off to the left. In this area you have a choice of three different areas to explore. It was getting late in the day at this point, so I decided not to follow the creek any farther.

To the left is a large cove......

......and to the right is an osprey nesting cove.

A sign in an old tree stump advises you to go no farther into the nesting area.

At this time of the year, however, the ospreys are long gone.

The cove to the left starts out as a large open area.

As you paddle to the far end, though, it becomes very narrow. These tight areas are my favorite type of places to paddle into, and are why I'll probably never own a kayak over 11 feet long. I had to duck under the the low hanging branches, make some sharp turns around some submerged logs, and bounce my kayak over another log that was just under the water's surface.

Navigating that obstacle course was worth it though. It opened out into this beautiful secluded pond-like area.

When the lake water levels are at normal stage I doubt that this area is even accessible. I felt very fortunate to have seen it and spent a while in there, taking in the sights and sounds.

As I paddled back to my take-out area the sun was setting behind the hills. The sensory experience was amazing. The sight of the red sky reflecting on the water, the sounds of the frogs,hooting owls, and carp splashing on the lake's surface, and the smell of campfire smoke in the air made it hard to call it a day. Loyalhanna never disappoints me.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Loyalhanna - 10/2/2010

"Commonly we stride through the out-of-doors too swiftly to see more than the most obvious and prominent things. For observing nature, the best pace is a snail’s pace." ~Edwin Way Teale

I ran across this quote and realized how true it can be. A lot of my paddling trips are more about seeing how much distance I can cover in "x" amount of time rather than just enjoying my time on the water and really observing the sights and sounds around me. This trip on Loyalhanna was truly taken at a "snail's pace" and it was one of the most enjoyable that I've had in a while.

At first I wasn't even sure that I wanted to take the kayak out. I had worked until early afternoon, the weathermen were calling for rain later in the evening, it was chilly, and I thought that it was too late in the day to get much of a paddle in. I finally decided that I might not get out again for a while and the weather was beautiful right now, so I'd break out the cool weather gear and head for Loyalhanna.

As soon as I got on the water I could tell that this trip was going to be different. I had never seen the lake that flat and calm, the only ripples on the water's surface were created by my paddle. The reflections on the surface were amazing. The only noise I heard were the sounds of nature. I even enjoyed that "nails-on-the-chalkboard" squawk of the very annoyed Great Blue Heron that I seemed to be following (I'm sure that's what he thought,anyway). I explored every little cove I came upon and sat motionless for long periods just to get a close up of that annoyed heron, or to see if the deer I could hear snorting above the cliffs would come into view. As it was nearing dusk I saw my first "wild" owl and found out that they really are silent when they fly, but are very loud when they hoot. Loyalhanna is a special place if you take the time to experience it.

The water's surface was like a mirror reflecting the sky......

The only way to tell what was water and what was sky was by a leaf on the surface.

I almost hated to put my paddle in the water and ruin the picture.

There are a lot of interesting features in the cliff faces.

This heron wasn't happy and was very vocal, but he did let me get close enough for a good picture.

A natural terrarium in a recess in the cliffs.