Posts for the month of August 2010

Kayaking: Harriman Reservoir

I was in a bit of a hurry, but I wanted to go somewhere different, so I drove an hour and a half away to Harriman Reservoir in Vermont.

I paddled past the glory hole and dam, keeping a safe distance, of course. (picture taken by a different Cory, not me)

I also spotted a rope suitable for swinging into the water at a great height, made somewhat more dangerous by rocks below. No one went anywhere near it when I was there.

Overall, this was surprisingly like Somerset Reservoir. That was a pleasant surprise. For some reason, I thought it was much more developed. Better than the one I saw at Somerset, I saw TWO bald eagles this time, soaring overhead for almost a minute. But no otters.

GPS data later. It was mighty windy, and the wind somehow always seemed like it was against me. I didn't travel the full length of the reservoir, but about half and back was still tiring. There appear to be nice parking areas on either end. This would be a great place to park cars at either end, paddle one way, and get a ride back.

Update: Here's a map and data.

View Harriman Reservoir in a larger map

Kayaking: Mohawk River

I left My Tracks recording GPS data for the drive home, so the map this time is slightly less awesome. I hand-edited the data and gave it back to Google Maps, but it insists on breaking it up into multiple pages of directions, and the last bit of the trip is missing from the embedded map.

View Mohawk River in a larger map

This was where we launched (photo taken after we were done). I met Anton in a small parking lot nearby, and the first thing I heard was, "that water is VERY green!" The water was very green.


This little man-made area was very neat. Everything except the water seemed to be basically in good condition with a video game style "nature overtaking man-made structure" aesthetic to it. I'm sure it was intentional. I later learned that it was Clute's Drydock, formerly used to repair and construct barges.

So we took to the water thick with duckweed, and I arbitrarily chose a direction. This is what happened:

We ended up turning around, and the water cleared up a bit. Enough to paddle. We made it to the Mohawk River but not before "paddling" through another area of seaweed.

The Mohawk River was busy with people pulling people on tubes with boats, fishing, swimming, and doing whatever else it is that people do on boats that aren't paddled by hand.

Here's roughly how the bit of our trip on the Mohawk River went.

  • "Which way should we go?" "Against the wind."
  • Anton inspects an old twisted up aluminum rowboat.
  • "Oh, that's an island? We have to go around it!"
  • We go under the I-87 bridge.
  • "I think the wind changed direction. And the current is strong in the wrong direction."
  • We explore a marina.
  • We turn around and head upstream.
  • We pass a nice area to stop and take a break but opt to move on since there are a bunch of people around.
  • We pass some ducks sleeping on a rock.
  • Anton disturbs all of the ducks.
  • We paddle for a while until we find another place to take a break.
  • A boat with a Canadian flag zooms by, making waves that get me wet and throw my kayak into some rocks as I'm trying to dry it out.
  • We head back to "Duck Rock."
  • Ukulele.
  • We head back and head home.

"Duck Rock":


Kayaking: Saratoga Lake

Saratoga Lake is technically the first place I ever kayaked though only briefly in a recreational kayak. At over twelve miles around the perimeter, I knew it would be some great exercise and leave me exhausted.

I started from Saratoga Lake Marine Park, which is a state park, which means it cost me $8 to park there. It was mostly empty on a Friday.

View Saratoga Lake in a larger map

The most peculiar part of my trip was a giant orange boat with a conveyor belt which constantly carried seaweed up into a big storage container.


I didn't get a good picture of it from the front for predictable reasons, but I did find an article that explains what was going on. It turns out they have to mow the seaweed.

It was a beautiful day. There was only a gentle breeze, and save for ripples from boats zooming up and down the lake at high speeds, the water was quite calm. There were bunches of people fishing and houseboats packed with people and some swimmers. This is what goes on most of the time when I am at work?

Kayaking: Lake Lonely

Lake Lonely was rendered poorly named by the Canadian tools programmer / ukuleleist following me around in a canoe.

We launched from a boat launch at the intersection of Crescent Avenue and Poe Road, each paying $5 for access and being warned that they close at 5:30pm. Anton considered enough to ask what happens if we don't make it back in time, and the attendant / owner was basically speechless, much to my amusement, before he finally came up with something about towing vehicles.

We took a spin around the lake, admiring some of the gigantic houses as well as the deteriorating shacks along the eastern side. Exploring some of the streams on the northern side, we found ourselves in the middle of the nearby golf course, each bringing back some souvenir balls retrieved from the shallow water. Having exhausted that direction, we turned around and head down the stream toward Lake Saratoga, reaching the fork before we had to turn around.

View Lake Lonely in a larger map


Kayaking: Somerset Reservoir

This was by far my most epic kayak adventure. First off, I couldn't decide where to go. I've found plenty of sites of people listing places around here, and I've had some success looking at maps for nice-sized lakes and then reading up on how to get to the water, but I couldn't get everything to align for this trip. And the weather reports were generally nice but predicted some rain and wind.

View Somerset Reservoir in a larger map

This was a two hour drive to an undeveloped lake in Vermont. The driving was about an hour not on highways but on 40-55mph roads, half an hour through villages, and then half an hour on a dirt road that I wanted to be rallying on the entire time.

The "caravan menace" was in full swing:


All I can say is that this place was beautiful.


I mean, really beautiful. The only signs of civilization I saw the entire time were the cleared ski slopes of Mt. Snow off in the distance, which guided me back to my starting point, a dam by the boat launch, and just a few other people in small fishing boats, canoes, and kayaks.

I saw wildlife!

/share/kayak/somerset/eagle.jpgThe first thing that really floored me was a bald eagle which flew almost directly overhead. I wasn't expecting that. So much so that I didn't get my camera out in time. But I got a nice view of it from underneath.
/share/kayak/somerset/otters.jpgMy second real surprise was a group of otters, popping their heads out of the water in full Whack-a-mole fashion. They were probably about ten feet away when I first noticed them. Did I accidentally invade where they were swimming? They certainly weren't scared off by me. They continued alternately poking their heads out of the water and swimming under for quite some time as I tried to maneuver to give them some room and get my camera ready, but I failed to get any shots of them. Those guys were my favorites.
/share/kayak/somerset/bear.jpgAfter I thought everything was all done and I was headed home, a relatively small black bear crossed the dirt road in front of me.

In the end, the weather worked out perfectly. It was about overcast about 50% of the time and sunny the rest. The wind was gently against me half the time and then helped carry me back to where I started. I had some trouble getting water out of my kayak as I turned around at the far end, but I managed. I need to read up on how to do this right in the future.

As excellent as this trip was, I'll probably tone things down in the future. I wasn't ready for the workout I got, not that it was bad to get it. The rest of the kayakers all stayed in the southern half of the lake from what I saw. I saw some rowboats paddling around near the far end, but I suspect they got out there with motors. Though maybe I'll see a loon next time?