Category Archives: Nature

Paddlefest Day 3: Another Post Why the Folbot Cooper is Insanely Great!

I didn’t stay out too late on Friday, May 16th because I knew that I had a huge day of paddling ahead of me on Saturday, May 17th. I’ve already posted my planned route for the Fulton Chain Lakes, but in this recap I will post the route I actually paddled. Here it is:

fulton_chain.png

This route took me from the beginning of First Lake in Old Forge all the way up to Third Lake, about two-thirds of the way to Inlet, NY. The total distance for this paddle was just under 10 miles, and the total time on water was 3.5 hours.

Some high and lowlights of this outing:

  • Once again, I can’t stress how awesome the FoxWorx Vixen feels in the hand! No blisters and only modest chapping!
  • The Folbot Cooper is an incredible boat! I was easily able to cruise at 3.5 to 4 mph for the bulk of my 3.5 hour journey
  • The river to First Lake is pretty calm and sheltered, but there are some random rocks sitting in the channel.
  • Crossing the open waters of First Lake to the northern channel by DeCamps Island was pretty uneventful except for the jet skier that fired up when I was halfway there.
  • Second Lake is nice, much less built up than First Lake. I was able to get some very nice shots of Bald and Sugarloaf Mountains immediately to the north.
  • I made it into and around the southern end of Third Lake. There is some pretty troubling treefall in this area. Folding kayakers need to be really careful in this spot.
  • I thought about going farther up Third Lake, but some weather was rolling in so I thought I’d head back
  • I had to deal with some pretty nasty winds during my paddle from DeCamps Island and past Dog Island. Made pretty good headway in the Cooper though.
  • Dog Island is more like a sandpile rising from the depths.
  • More wind picked up as I paddled north and turned west to head back to Old Forge.
  • Made it back to Old Forge just before the rain!

Overall the Cooper handled superbly during this outing. Almost 10 miles in 3.5 hours and the boat tracked true the whole time. I have to say that the improved fit of my new PFD and better hand feel of the Fox Worx paddle also contributed to the pleasurability of this outing.

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Paddlefest Day 2: Friday AM High-End Boat Demo

On the morning of Friday, May 16th at Adirondack Paddlefest the kayak company reps in attendance offered a high-end boat demo from 9 AM until noon. I scarfed down my excellent complementary continental breakfast from Riley’s Place at the Water’s Edge Inn and headed down to the Old Forge public beach around 10 AM.

I spent about 2 hours paddling some excellent composite boats made by Current Designs and Boréal Design.

I paddled three Current Designs touring kayaks, the Caribou, the Cypress, and the Solstice GTS.

All three of these boats were excellent in different respects. The Solstice GTS was 17’7″ and had a North American style hull design. The Cypress was a British style hull and measured about 16’9″. The Caribou was a Greenland style hull and measured 17’8″. The Caribou was probably the most efficient of the three boats, and it sliced through the water with ease. The Cypress was slightly less efficient that this, and the Solstice GTS was a little less efficient than the Cypress. The Solstice was probably the most stable of the three boats.

I really have to rave about the design of the Current Designs rudder footpegs in the Solstice GTS. Kudos to whoever came up with the idea to make the footpegs tilt to control the rudder. The major reason I tend to shy away from rudders in general is because I’m a huge fan of solid footpegs to maximize my power transfer to the boat. However, rudders are indispensable when facing strong currents and winds. Current Designs’ footpegs give you the best of both worlds with very little compromise! I also like the extra-wide rudder retaining jaw because I am one of those people who can never seem to get their rudder dead center before retracting it.

The Boréal Design boats that I paddled were also excellent. The first Boréal boat that I paddled was the Fjord. The Fjord is a good solid boat that would suit anyone trying to elevate their paddling skills or looking to go on a short overnight or weekend expedition.

The second Boréal boat I paddled was the Ellesmere. You can tell an incredible amount of work has been put into this hull design because it slices through the water in a truly supernatural manner. The secondary stability of this boat is also superb, and it definitely reminded me that I need to be integrating far more balance and core work into my fitness routines!!!

That’s about all for now. Time to go look at the retail area and play with my brand new Sigma wide-angle lens! Some lunch would also be excellent about now!

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Paddlefest: Day 1

I took May 15th and 16th off from work in anticipation of getting into Old Forge, NY early for the 2008 Adirondack Paddlefest.

I got a somewhat late start out of Rochester. I didn’t get on the road till about 5 PM, mainly because I wanted to workout and I am fairly lazy about packing. Haha. Thankfully rush hour to the east was manageable, and I was able to make good time blitzing down the NYS Thruway from Rochester to Utica. I rolled into Old Forge and arrived at The Waters Edge Inn around 8 PM.

So far my extremely nice room has been well worth it! Here is the view from my balcony:

old_forge_view.jpg

I managed to score an excellent burger for a late dinner down the street at Slicker’s Tavern. Nice place, excellent service. I will probably manage to make my way back there at least once more before Paddlefest is over.

Slicker’s was full of factory reps and the owner of Mountainman Outdoors who pulls this whole show together. I managed to make contact with the gents from Boreal Design and a few others. Should be a good start to the weekend!!!

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Adirondack Paddlefest Update

Hello all!

Sorry about my delinquent update schedule…I’ve been a little busy and I’m also finally over some illnesses.

I am happy to report that I’ve booked a lakeside room at the Water’s Edge Inn in Old Forge, NY for the Adirondack Paddlefest weekend.

Right now my tentative plan is to drive up Thursday afternoon and check in.

Friday morning I plan to attend the high-end boat test paddle. I plan to spend the afternoon exploring the Fulton Chain Lakes in my own folding kayak.

Saturday morning I plan to check out random kayaks and accessories. I’m really hoping that NRS will be in attendance with the items I’m looking to pick up!

Saturday afternoon will once again see me put my own boat in the water.

Sunday morning I’m not quite sure what I will be doing. I plan to head back toward Rochester Sunday afternoon with a stop in Syracuse to visit a good friend.

That’s about all for now.

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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 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, MI, Part I

This the next post recalling my adventures during the summer of 2007. I spent the first half of the July 4th holiday week camped out at Interlochen, MI and I spent the second half of the week staying at the house I grew up in. Fortunately the river running by our backyard still had enough depth to allow me to float the Cooper and head out toward the Indian River.

A plot of my first foray into the Indian River is shown below:

To_Mullet.png

Note that the river meanders in a northeasterly direction between Burt and Mullett Lakes. For my first venture, I paddled toward Mullett Lake and back to our house on July 6th, 2007. The track shown is about 8 miles in length. The highlights of the journey were as follows:

    Indian River, MI, Towards Mullet Lake, 7/6/07:

  • I’m about 175 lbs., and even after adding a basic gear bag the Cooper’s draft was shallow enough to easily float in four or five inches of water!
  • Paddling downstream toward Mullett Lake was no problem. Even though the channel is full of powerboats one can easily cling to the reeds at channel’s edge.
  • There are also some nifty shortcuts through the reeds that powerboats simply can’t go.
  • In the direction of the current, keeping up with boaters was no problem because the Indian River is a no wake zone…unless you run into one of the more impatient types out there.
  • One of the best parts of kayaking is how closely you can approach waterfowl in a kayak.
  • Once again an energy gel proved invaluable at the turnaround point of my paddle.
  • Paddling southwest against the current was an entirely different story…stay off to the side and use the shortcuts through the reeds! Wait up for boaters if necessary.
  • Overall this journey was about 8 miles in total and it took me a little more than two hours to complete…not a bad day’s work!

I probably should’ve gotten out earlier to avoid some of the boat traffic, but in the end this was a great way to spend a sunny summer afternoon on vacation!

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More Trouble for the Great Lakes…

From our friends at the Globe and Mail comes a frightening new story regarding the current trend of decreasing water levels in almost all of the Great Lakes…

The Great Lakes disappearing act:
Government forecasters are projecting that Lake Superior, the largest of the five, will fall to its lowest level for September since modern recordkeeping began nearly a century ago. The amount flowing out of the lake at its outlet, the St. Mary’s River, has plunged too, and would have to rise by a staggering 50 per cent to reach the average of the past century.

Levels on Lakes Michigan and Huron are also sagging, Ontario is down, as is Erie – although the latter, the smallest by volume, has been the least affected.

What’s going on? While there is no scientific certainty about what’s ailing the Great Lakes – which together form the world’s largest interconnected body of fresh water – some fear global warming is at work, causing them to shrink.

Yikes. This is the last thing that needs to be piled on top of all the other issues affecting the region. Hopefully the manmade or natural cause of this depletion can be identified and remedied before things get too far out of hand. I’ve been following the water crisis in Australia, and I would hate to see that happen in the Great Lakes region!

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Vermont – Day Five

Let’s see what happened today…

  • Finally started taking advantage of my GPS route capabilities and plotted my way around Savage Island.
  • On my way to Savage Island I blew off a couple other kayakers who may have wanted to talk. Oh well. Their boats were on the rack when I got back.
  • Good grief people run fast and close in this lake! The seaplane buzzing around the boat ramp isn’t too reassuring either.
  • Super tired. Showered and decided to go into Burlington.
  • Burlington and South Burlington may rival Traverse City for the worst traffic and sprawl I’ve seen to date. Had to make a Michigan left on Dorset! Wow.
  • EMS in Burlington is HUGE! Wow. Somehow I managed to leave after purchasing a mere $4 in Clif Shot Bloks!
  • Oops, wrong turn on to US 2 East…away from downtown…
  • Came back to South Hero…hey my card works in the Merchant’s Bank ATM! Then it’s off to the grocery store up past Grand Isle State Park.
  • Wow, only $37 for groceries at this tiny store that included two Angus NY Strip steaks in the bargain!
  • Chatted with the neighbors…seems like a good guy. He went to Penn State so we talked college football a bit. May go over for a beer in a little bit.
  • Tomorrow I should be able to make it around Cedar Island and get to downtown Burlington. Then it’s off to Higher Ground to see Clutch and friends at 7 PM or so…

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Vermont – Day Four

Let’s see, what happened or was of interest today….

  • Simple tasks like applying a band-aid to a newly formed blister become a lot more challenging when you’re in the middle of a lake on your kayak!
  • Grand Isle State Park has some kind of staff lodging or year round caretaker living in a private home.
  • At least one of the staff here has a ’75 Camaro with open pipes and mudders for rear tires. Sweet.
  • In the not sweet category is the clown down the way who thinks it’s cool to play crappy R&B and rap on his car stereo. That’s not why we’re here dude.
  • Apparently if you have enough money you can buy your own island in Lake Champlain. Nice.
  • WTF is with all the “fishermen” that have 150-200 hp outboards on their boats now. That’s not fishing, that’s “Bombing around the lake like an a-hole because I didn’t catch anything in the first five casts.” Jesus.

No Lake Monsters game for me. I was simply too tired after two straight days of kayaking. I hope to get down to Burlington tomorrow afternoon and check out the scene. I will probably take a swing by Ethan Allan’s homestead. Now there’s a guy who knew when to keep it real. Let’s not forget that at one point Vermont was fighting Great Britain AND New York State.

Sounds hardcore to me.

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