Category Archives: Camping

Weekend Outing: Burnham Point State Park, NY 8/15 to 8/17/08

This will be my second outing in the month of August 2008, and it should be interesting. I am planning to camp on the shores of the St. Lawrence Seaway at Burnham Point State Park. This is a little bit downstream from Long Point State Park.

This is the route I have planned:

burnhampt.png

Overall this should be a nice 9.5 mile outing for an afternoon. It offers the option of heading upstream to Cape Vincent to hang out for a bit if I get an early start.

Once again I’ve planned this route so the outgoing leg is to the west against the wind and current and the return leg follows an easterly course to the campground.

It’s tough to see on the posted graphic, but I shouldn’t have a problem with any lakers. If I keep close to the southern shore the water should be too shallow for their draft. I figure any lakers I see should be at least 1/2 to 1 mile north of my planned route.

Burnham Point is also an interesting state park because the sites on shore do not have any vehicle access. Campers have to hike their gear in. This should be a good stepping stone to later camping adventures involving more strenuous hikes with gear or situations where I won’t have easy access to my car.

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Weekend Outing: Long Point State Park, NY 8/8 to 8/10/08

So this fine year 2008 hasn’t worked out quite the way I planned it, but things are still going pretty well. That said I present my next weekend outing up at Long Point State Park here in the 1000 Islands region of NY State:

longptny1.png

This route takes place within the sheltered waters of Chaumont Bay and it is about 9 miles in length. The first, upwind leg takes me west near the shore. The returning downwind leg brings me back east to my campsite.

The protected nature of Chaumont Bay should mean that I don’t have to worry about dealing with Lakers or their wakes! I’m also hoping it gives me some respite from the westerly winds that are typical of the Great Lakes region.

Hopefully the weather holds out for me!

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Trip Report: Little Traverse Bay, MI, 7/1/08

Sorry about the long period between posts. I’ve been busy starting my new position at work and on the road. Fortunately, I was able to get on the water a couple times while I was in Michigan.

My first outing on the water was between the beach at Petoskey State Park and the waterfront of Harbor Springs, MI. This route is seen in the plot below:

LittleTraverse.png

Note that this route does not show the return leg. This is because I lingered in front of Harbor Springs too long to make some adjustments to my cockpit coaming. This lack of movement caused my GPS to shut down, and I failed to notice. The roundtrip was about 8.2 miles in length and took about 3.5 hours.

Some of the notable points during this journey:

    Petoskey State Park to Harbor Springs, MI:

  • The initial northward leg wasn’t too tough
  • However, I did forget to don my paddle leash from the outset, d’oh!
  • Turning west I faced a breeze of about 5-10 kts. This would eventually strengthen to 15-20 kts as I reached Harbor Springs.
  • The Cooper did very well paddling into swells and waves I made at about 3 feet. The skin-on-frame design slithers over the waves easily.
  • Two waves in rapid succession were a challenge, but this would be true regardless of kayak type. The Cooper did fine when the second wave broke over the bow deck.
  • Thank goodness I was able to hop out near the public boat launch in Harbor Springs and resecure my cockpit coaming.
  • The return leg would prove much more interesting.
  • On the return leg the wind and waves originated from the SW
  • Again the Cooper did well in 15-20 kt winds and 3-4 foot swells.
  • The key to not capsizing in such conditions is rolling your hips into the oncoming swell. The lower center of gravity provided by the original seat is also of great help providing stability in these conditions.
  • Another simple, yet key modification, of the original Cooper seat is the addition of a Seal Line Discovery Kayak Seat Cushion. Let about 1/2 the air out and you have a massive improvement in seating comfort!
  • The leecocking of the Cooper did get a bit annoying. I really need to install my rudder one of these days.
  • If I had a track of the return leg it would show I cut across the “corner” present in the outgoing leg. I did this to shorten the period of time I was getting pounded by waves
  • Upon arriving at Petoskey I had to turn the Cooper so the bow was pointing W/SW, into the waves. Trying to ride the waves into the beach is a recipe for disaster.
  • I timed my exit from the boat almost perfectly, but the bottom was a foot deeper than I thought! Fortunately, I was able to get my other leg out of the boat and get away with a little hopping around using my paddle and the kayak for support.
  • After that I got washed up on the beach and I stowed my kayak near a Hobie Cat. The next morning I would find the cockpit full of wind-blown sand. ALWAYS turn your boat over if you’re going to leave it assembled overnight!
  • I celebrated my expedition with a delicious 1/2 lb. perch dinner straight from the Great Lakes and prepared by my friends at Scalawags. I washed this awesome grub down with a couple bottles of Bell’s Pale Ale.
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Projected 2008 Outing: Bear River, Michigan

For the next entry in my series of proposed outings, I present the Bear River!

BearRiver.png

The total length of this planned route is about 12 miles from Walloon Lake to the bend just before the river enters Petoskey proper. There are a few things to keep in mind about this proposed route, and I need to try and research them before I get there in July!

    Bear River, Michigan Pointers:

  • Overall Journey Length should be about 12 miles.
  • This distance should be manageable since it will be with the current.
  • From the internet it is unclear if the Bear River is navigable by kayak over its entire length. 24k topo maps don’t do much to clarify this either.
  • It’s also unclear what type of boat traffic I might have to share the river with in the summer.
  • Regardless of the level of boat traffic an early start is warranted.
  • I plan to get fished out before entering Petoskey because it is more likely there will be an open area to knock down the Cooper.
  • The other reason for not paddling to the mouth of the Bear River is that area has some Class II/Class III rapids. The Folbot Cooper is a very capable sea kayak, but at 16’6″ it is unsuited for that type of use!
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Projected 2008 Kayaking Outings, Part I

The first outing I’ve planned for 2008 is something that I’ve wanted to try for a while. The plan is to camp out in the Dunes at Petoskey State Park in Petoskey, Michigan.

This should serve as a great jumping off point for paddles along the coast of Little Traverse Bay to the marinas at Harbor Springs and Petoskey, Michigan.

The projected routes are shown in the image below. Both of them are about 7 miles long, roundtrip:

2008_petoskey.png

The only concerns about these two tracks are the appearance of whitecaps or excessive boat traffic. Docks or some kind of landings should be available at the midpoints of both routes.

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Summer 2007 Kayaking Recap: Lake Champlain, VT: Part III

My final venture into Lake Champlain this summer was a circumnavigation of Savage Island. The journey was undertaken on August 29th, 2007 and the entire trip was about 7.92 miles in length. The GPS track of this journey is shown in the graphic immediately below:

vt_track3.png
    Lake Champlain, VT, Around Savage Island, 8/29/07:

  • The first part of the journey was an easterly sprint across Lake Champlain to the southern end of Savage Island.
  • Once the southern tip of the island was reached it was time for a water break and half an energy bar.
  • Several interesting details were visible on the eastern side of the island, which is private like Fish Bladder Island.
  • There appears to be a working sheep farm on Savage Island.
  • A manor, possibly a summer home, was also visible.
  • As I reached the northeastern corner of the island I was able to watch a plane land and takeoff from the landing strip.
  • I also encountered a sailboat at anchor off the northern tip of the island.
  • At this point I stopped for more water and the remainder of my energy bar.
  • The kink in my track off the northwestern point of the island was due to a line of barely submerged rocks. I thought there was going to be an opening with enough draft to let me through. This wasn’t quite the case!
  • This line of rocks was the resting point for a massive flock of gulls
  • The southern passage in front of the island’s western shore was unremarkable. The items visible on the eastern side were masked by trees.
  • The return westerly sprint to the boat launch was uneventful…unless you count the seaplane that was practicing takeoffs and landings in front of the state park! Uh, WTF dude?!
  • I wanted to make it around yet another island while in VT, but I was too fatigued during the day following this paddle. The next day it looked as though it was going to rain torrents all day, so I broke camp and headed back to Rochester!

    That concludes the recap of my summer kayaking journeys for the year 2007. I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about them, and I hope to have more to present later in the year 2008!

    Feel free to drop any comments or ask any questions!

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Summer 2007 Kayaking Recap: Lake Champlain, VT Part II

The next thing I should mention about my Folbot Cooper are all the great compliments I receive from other paddlers and people I meet at the boat launch.

People are endlessly fascinated by the assembly process, and their curiosity leads to all manner of conversation. Some onlookers are even eager to join in and lend a hand with the assembly process!

I also want to mention that the Cooper is a fantastic looking boat! The quality of the hull fabrics is so HIGH that the Cooper looks as good as or BETTER than most plastic boats in its price range! This was immediately evident when I loaded it on the storage rack next to other boats at Grand Isle State Park.

Getting back to actually paddling, my second outing from Grand Isle State Park took me on a circumnavigation of Fish Bladder Island. Great name, eh? I made this journey on August 27th, 2007. The GPS track of this journey was about 5.34 miles, and it is shown in the image below:

vt_track2.png

This paddle wasn’t too tough, and I think that getting into the water early, around 9:30 AM, made a heck of a difference. There are not many powerboaters out during that time other than fishermen. OTOH, one does have to watch out for the guys blasting all over the lake in their bass boats. Man they can move!

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Summer 2007 Kayaking Recap: Lake Champlain, VT Part I

First I should mention Folbot’s excellent lifetime warranty and customer service when it came to replacing the C-clip that was missing on one of my crossmembers. I was able to email Wanda and she shipped the parts immediately with no hassle! It’s greatly reassuring when a company stands behind its product like this!

My earlier posts regarding Vermont basically covered my camping experience there and how my camping gear functioned. This post is the first of three detailing my on-the-water experiences in Lake Champlain, VT while camped at Grand Isle State Park.

The plot below shows the route I followed in a northerly direction from the boat launch at Grand Isle State Park. It basically passes by a couple bays and stops just short of Hyde Point. I paddled this on the afternoon of August 26th, 2007. The total length was about 6.77 miles:

vt_track1.png

Cooper Bay and Pearl Bay were interesting to paddle across, and there were several intriguing rock formations just north of the boat launch. The unnamed point where I finally turned around was also an interesting bit of scenery. I would present some pics, but unfortunately I lost them when I foolishly downloaded them from my camera to my hard drive. Oh well….

The boat traffic was surprisingly light, and again the Cooper performed flawlessly on this venture. I should also mention that Fish Bladder Island is a private island, and the islet off the north end of the island is actually linked to it via sandbar. This is due to the lower water levels we’ve recently been experiencing in the Great Lakes basin.

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Summer 2007 Kayaking Recap: Indian River, Part II

After my run to Mullett Lake on July 6th, I decided to paddle southwest towards Burt Lake on July 7th, 2007. This trip was about 5 miles in length, and the track is shown on the screencap below:

To_Burt.png

The nice thing about this trip was that the return from Burt Lake was WITH the current, and as a result it saved me a bit of work.

Once again I have to praise the performance of the Cooper. It is surprisingly nimble and quick when one needs to make a U-turn in front of a fairly trafficked channel mouth. There is simply too much boat traffic present to venture into the lake during this time of year!

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Vermont – Gear That Worked, Gear That Didn’t…

So this is a quick recap of the gear that worked well for me in Vermont and gear that didn’t live up to it’s promise….

Gear That Worked:

  • GermX: 62% ethyl alcohol suspended in a gel. Awesome for sanitizing your hands before taking your contacts out in your tent!
  • Campsuds: A nice biodegradable detergent you can use on your hands, hair, dishes, whatever without worry.
  • Gerber Entrenching Tool: Great for burying the sh!t your neighbor’s dog takes next to your tent first thing in the morning!
  • Folbot Cooper: Great, great boat. Outpaddled and outshined every hardshell kayak I encountered on Lake Champlain.
  • Sea2Summit Cordura Stuff Sacks: Great for organizing all those small but essential items and tools!
  • Weber Portable Charcoal Grill: Fantastic for car camping! So much easier than cooking over the fire or dealing with a gas grill!
  • Harmony GPS Drybag: Great at protecting my GPS receiver while allowing easy access to the controls at anytime.
  • Nalgene 1L Bottle: Duuuuuh!

Gear That Wasn’t So Great:

  • TrailSling: Great to sit on…if your only seating option is jagged rocks for miles around!
  • Creekside Hammock: Not bad, but way too easy to knock the fabric sheet off the hangers and fall out!

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