Posts in category kayak

Kayaking: Mohawk River #16

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WeatherPerfect
BugsNot too bad
Boat trafficMedium busy
DistanceProbably too far for my first trip this season
ArmsSore

Kayaking: Harriman Reservoir #11

I kayaked the Harriman Reservoir end to end (and back) again, but for a change I avoided hugging all of the nooks around the edge of the lake to save time and a bit of energy. It was very busy, but the weather was perfect.

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  • Posted: 2014-07-27 13:29 (Updated: 2014-07-27 13:30)
  • Categories: kayak
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Kayaking: Mohawk River #15

This was actually probably my least pleasant trip yet.

  • Lots of annoying boats out.
  • Beetles everywhere.
  • Sunburn. Oops.
  • Probably should have brought more snacks and water.
  • Super exhausted at the end.

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But all that said, I am happy I was able to do 20 miles on just my second trip out this year.

  • Posted: 2014-06-09 20:38 (Updated: 2014-06-09 20:38)
  • Categories: kayak
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Kayaking: Mohawk River #14

I went for my first kayak trip on May 11th, which seems to be about the same time as last year. I recorded about two hours of video, but it is pretty dull, and I am still trying to find something productive to do with it. The weather was good except that it was very windy. I felt like I came back twice as fast as I went out.

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  • Posted: 2014-05-18 12:20 (Updated: 2014-05-18 18:08)
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Kayaking: Mohawk River #13

My last trip of the year.

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Kayaking: Mohawk River #12

This is the first of two trips I forgot to post until now.

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Kayaking: Hudson River

I have been looking for a new place to kayak, and I finally caved in and decided to paddle on the Hudson River. The main deterrent has been that there are waterfalls and locks seemingly every few miles, at least in the section nearest me. I decided that I would probably be able to find a place to put my boat in around Lock 4 State Canal Park, and there was nothing in my way for well over ten miles to the North.

First I took a wrong turn and wound up in an Alpaca farm, which was right on the river. Next I walked around the lock looking for access to the water, but everything looked too high/steep to be able to get in and out safely.

I eventually asked the lock operator, who had just been chatting with a passing boat, and he gave me directions: "go past the battlefield. Across from the big barn with gables, you'll see the place that the locals launch their boats." It was further than he indicated, but I eventually found it.

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Overall the trip was fine. The river was a bit busy, and the area was mostly farmland. I may have to go back when I'm less tired.

Kayaking: Fish Creek #3

This was three weeks ago, but I forgot to post it until now. I don't remember anything notable except an alarming number of people stand-up paddle-boarding.

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Kayaking: Harriman Reservoir #10

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There were three notable things about this trip:

  • The traffic was full of jerks. On most of the way back, I was stuck behind an RV that slowed down to a third of the speed limit at the slightest turn.
  • The cell phone I use to record GPS data got pretty wet. It stays in a bag in a compartment of the kayak, but water got inside both for some part of the trip.
  • It rained on me for a good part of the second half of my trip in the kayak. I was just happy that it was a comfortable temperature and that there wasn't thunder or lighting.

Kayaking: Mohawk River #11

The Mohawk River has been my my go-to place to kayak lately, mostly because it is close and the sections between locks near me are just the right length to leave me exhausted.

I turned back a little bit earlier than I expected, at around 8 miles out instead of the full 10. I was a little sore, it was extremely warm and humid out, but a steady of rumble of thunder off in the distance was what finally convinced me.

Fortunately the trip back was uneventful, aside from some looming dark clouds. On my drive home it started pouring rain and didn't really stop until the evening.

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Kayaking: Mohawk River #10

I've been kayaking regularly but slacking about posting anything about it.

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This was a good ~20 mile paddle on the Mohawk River with a reasonably strong current, but I forgot to fully charge my phone, and it stopped recording data on the way back.

Jet skiers are obnoxious. I didn't see any particularly notable wildlife.

  • Posted: 2013-06-25 19:58 (Updated: 2013-06-25 20:00)
  • Categories: kayak
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Kayaking: Somerset Reservoir #4

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Somerset Reservoir was the busiest I have ever seen it. Probably mostly because I usually go on Fridays and this was a Saturday. I eventually managed to find parking and paddled around the lake. Normally I try to explore every little fiddly bit of the perimeter, but I cut some corners and hustled back, because it was pretty windy and relatively cold.

I think this might be a loon? I think I heard some loons.

  • Posted: 2013-06-25 19:57 (Updated: 2013-06-25 20:05)
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Kayaking: Stewarts Bridge Reservoir #4

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Kayaking: Mohawk River #9

I'm slacking.

Two weekends ago I didn't kayak, because it rained all weekend. Last week I went to the next section of the Mohawk River from last time. Data for that is here:

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I quickly realized I left the battery for my camera charging at home, so I have no pictures. There wasn't anything too out of the ordinary to capture, so I just paddled out and back.

It was another long trip, and I was pretty tired by the end as expected now. It was one of the hottest days yet this summer, but that's not much of a problem when I'm splashing around the water.

The past few trips I've had My Tracks calling out times, distances, and speeds as I record GPS data. I was going suspiciously slow on the way out, but I guess I made up for it on the way back. The current didn't seem very strong, and neither did the wind, but they must have been stronger than they seemed.

This weekend looks like a lot of rain.

  • Posted: 2013-06-07 12:39 (Updated: 2013-06-07 12:53)
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Kayaking: Harriman Reservoir #9

My first trip this year was about 8 miles long. The second was 12. I figured for the third, I could bump it up to 18 miles. Something happened, and it was even longer than that.

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Things got a little interesting during my drive to the lake. There was a blue Ford convertible that was being a little annoying, slowing down and accelerating over and over. As soon as I finally was able to pass it, it overtook me and the road reduced to one lane. Later it pulled over in a cloud of white smoke. Oops.

The lake itself was surprisingly quiet as usual. There were maybe five boats out either speeding around or fishing and maybe two pairs of kayaks.

I thought I got some videos of loons, but upon closer look, they were definitely just ducks.

I had my phone calling out times and distances ever mile. I was really expecting this trip to be 18 miles total, but I hit 9 miles well before I reached my turnaround point. I'm still not quite sure what happened, but I do know that water levels high, and I did a pretty good job of not cutting corners. The whole thing ended up being about 20 miles, leaving me thoroughly exhausted.

  • Posted: 2013-05-19 19:10 (Updated: 2013-05-19 19:25)
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Kayaking: Saratoga Lake #7

For my second trip this year, I went to Saratoga Lake. I paid a sizable fee to park at the mostly-empty boat launch and set off.

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In general, it went pretty well. I feel like I'm going a bit slow, but endurance hasn't been much of a problem.

I got pretty stuck in some mud. The smart thing would have been to turn around and find deeper water, but I stubbornly pushed through. An even smarter thing would have been to mind the buoys. Whoops.

It was nice that the lake hadn't been taken over by seaweed yet. It wasn't toward the end of my trip that I started noticing some beetles, but they were hardly as much a problem as last time.

These guys are just everywhere, now:

I saw many more turtles than I was able to photograph. They tend to slip away into the water at the exact moment I notice them.

  • Posted: 2013-05-12 13:31 (Updated: 2013-05-12 13:32)
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Kayaking: Mohawk River #8

For my first kayak trip of the year, I wasn't sure how far I would be able to make it, so I decided to go to the closest river where I could basically turn around early and not have wasted a lot of time or stay out all day and paddle 20 miles.

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I stayed out for eight miles, after which I was pretty sore. The weather was amazing. The water was a bit cold, but I haven't had problems with falling in like Anton.

I didn't find anything worth taking pictures of, so when I got back to where I started, I poked around Lock 7 a bit.

It seems like I should take advantage of the weather before it gets more muggy, buggy, and seaweed-y.

  • Posted: 2013-05-12 13:05 (Updated: 2013-10-13 07:15)
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Kayaking Summary 2012

September has been my stopping point for kayaking the last two years, so though there's a chance I might go out again, it's cold and windy enough today that instead I took a minute to look at my data from this summer.

LocationDistance (miles)Time (H:M:S)
Mohawk River #722.156:08:14
Somerset Reservoir #315.374:39:57
Mohawk River #620.735:40:02
Mohawk River #516.014:39:27
Somerset Reservoir #216.44:36:59
Mohawk River #421.826:03:56
Mohawk River #320.435:58:57
Canada Lake15.074:21:08
Harriman Reservoir #87.282:14:06
Harriman Reservoir #718.055:06:06
Saratoga Lake #612.933:42:14
Stewarts Bridge Reservoir #37.542:10:18
Harriman Reservoir #69.572:53:50
Fish Creek #212.953:45:49
Ballston Lake #24.61:30:18
Total220.963:31:21

By my previous estimate, it was going to take me 2,409 years to kayak to the moon. The great news is that this year's estimate is down to 1,082 years, and I have kayaked about three summer's worth already. This assumes I would only kayak during the summer, of course. Kayaking to the moon year-round would be crazy.

Also interesting is that the Erie Canal is about 363 miles long, so I could paddle it at a comfortable pace in less than 18 days.

Kayaking: Mohawk River #7

I have been basically treating each trip like it might be my last one this summer. This time I wanted to go for distance, so I went for the longest leg of the Mohawk River I have done, again.

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I almost caught a fish when one hit the side of my kayak and then proceeded to fly up and over it directly in front of me.

  • Posted: 2012-09-02 20:54 (Updated: 2012-09-02 20:56)
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Kayaking: Somerset Reservoir #3

Summer is quickly coming to an end, and so are my string of Fridays off. I decided Somerset Reservoir was the best lake, despite being out of the way, and set off there this morning.

I didn't see much wildlife this time. Just some geese, ducks, and a beaver.

I had a good paddle but hurried back, because the sky looked like it might rain. It didn't.

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  • Posted: 2012-08-24 19:46 (Updated: 2012-08-24 19:51)
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Kayaking: Mohawk River #6

The weather was great. I was surprised to finish with plenty of energy, even after being a bit out of practice. Time and my inability to sit for so many hours are what really limit how far I can go.

Wildlife was dominated by egrets.

I didn't see many kayaks. Motorboats sped up and down the river constantly. Plenty of people were out fishing.

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  • Posted: 2012-08-19 20:01 (Updated: 2012-08-19 20:11)
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Kayaking: Mohawk River #5

It was another warm sunny day, but I had some errands to run in the morning and wasn't feeling my best, so I drove ten minutes to the Mohawk River and tried to repeat one of my longer paddles there. I headed back a little earlier than I had planned.

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  • Posted: 2012-08-04 17:54 (Updated: 2012-08-04 19:12)
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Kayaking: Somerset Reservoir #2

It has been almost a full two years since I first went to Somerset Reservoir in Vermont and cut my foot on a rock, forcing me to paddle and drive a great distance home with my heel hastily bandaged. I decided it was high time to show that rock I was no longer afraid.

The drive took almost two hours and ended with a long span of dirt road leading to some camp sites and the lake. Some workers were putting a buoy out on the lake as I put in my kayak. I got volunteered to search for the lost buoy that they were replacing.

From Somerset Reservoir - July 13, 2012

Unlike the last time I was there, where reaching the end of the lake and returning was a feat, I paddled around the entire perimeter of the lake without much trouble.

I didn't see as much wildlife as last time. But I think I did see some loons that I mistook at the time for ducks. And I am kicking myself for it.

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  • Posted: 2012-07-14 12:00 (Updated: 2012-07-14 12:01)
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Kayaking: Mohawk River #4

I went back to the Mohawk River to do the section between locks seven and eight. Measuring on a map, it looked like it would be a bit shorter than my previous trip between locks six and seven, but I was wrong, and my phone announced eleven miles just when I saw the dam that would be my turning-around point.

The weather was beautiful.

I saw a number of interesting birds. The river seemed mostly undeveloped. I know there was some adjacent farmland. There were also some giant industrial-looking buildings. There were also some gigantic houses. I didn't get good pictures of it, but there were some cool shear rock faces which I enjoyed paddling along.

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Mohawk River - July 6, 2012
  • Posted: 2012-07-06 19:05 (Updated: 2012-07-07 09:54)
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Kayaking: Mohawk River #3

Kayaking yesterday was pretty great, despite weather predictions to the contrary. It was pretty windy, but I managed to get to my goal, and the wind helped me return home. I went to the Mohawk River for the first time this summer.

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I think this is actually a record distance for me. My next longest trip was around 18 miles on Harriman Reservoir.

A fire truck was spraying around water at the boat launch.

From Mohawk River - June 23, 2012

I haven't seen this much blue and yellow canal equipment since the Erie Canal, growing up.

From Mohawk River - June 23, 2012

I knew from looking at maps that there was some sort of dam or barrier about ten miles from where I started. That was my goal. I wasn't expecting it to look like this.

From Mohawk River - June 23, 2012

I didn't get much closer to the dam.

From Mohawk River - June 23, 2012

I sat and watched this boat go through the lock.

From Mohawk River - June 23, 2012

Sandpiper piping sand.

From Mohawk River - June 23, 2012
  • Posted: 2012-06-23 08:53 (Updated: 2012-06-23 09:36)
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Kayaking: Canada Lake

I have been struggling to find new places to kayak. I was poking around on maps again recently and came across a lake I remember Anton mentioning (though he never went there): Canada Lake. Searching around, I found some evidence that this would be a good place to go. Measuring things on Google Maps, the perimeter looked just a little smaller than that of Harriman Reservoir, which is ideal for me.

I put in at a boat launch on West Lake. There was plenty of parking, and two other vehicles arrived with people putting in boats at about the same time as me.

Take a look at the entrance to the lake: https://maps.google.com/?ll=43.174046,-74.532906&spn=0.003623,0.008256&t=w&z=18

Do it.

It's only about a quarter of a mile as the crow flies, but paddling through that snaking winding bit was really disorienting and overall quite excellent.

I did a loop around West Lake. The water was really shallow for much of the lake, and I started noticing some bugs harassing me. Both of these observations increased in intensity through the whole trip.

The next part of my plan was to go to the southern end of Lily Lake and Stewart's Landing. I think that's what they were called. It was vaguely river-like, and I learned to stay toward the center to minimize my contact with the bugs. I was quite surprised to find a dam at the end with no warning signs. I got out to take some pictures and then turned around and headed to Canada Lake.

From Canada Lake - June 15, 2012
From Canada Lake - June 15, 2012

Canada Lake was just another lake at this point. The coast was thoroughly populated with summer homes, and many people were out working on them. I made my way to a little unoccupied island, went for a quick swim, and then headed home.

From Canada Lake - June 15, 2012

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Spotted this red, white, and blue in CANADA Lake territory:

From Canada Lake - June 15, 2012
  • Posted: 2012-06-15 20:01 (Updated: 2012-06-15 20:40)
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Kayaking: Harriman Reservoir #8

I'll admit Harriman Reservoir in Vermont has become my default place to kayak.

The good:

  • The lake is a great size. It takes me all day to do the perimeter.
  • Bald eagles.
  • The water is clear and great for swimming.
  • Mostly undeveloped coast.
  • Parking at either of the boat launches I use is free. I think there are some parks I could be using, too.
  • It's a pretty quiet lake, considering all of that. I've almost had it to myself, some days.

The bad:

  • The drive takes about 1.5 hours.

This time I just did a loop around the top part of the lake. I had lunch (a peanut butter and jelly sandwich) on a little island that I had to myself.

The water level in the reservoir seems to be at a peak. It has been a long time since the level was down to the point that is illustrated in the Google map data, which is where it was the first few times I paddled there. To me that just means that the lake is bigger, and there are fewer places to stop for picnicking.

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  • Posted: 2012-06-15 19:55 (Updated: 2012-06-15 20:00)
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Kayaking: Harriman Reservoir #7

I went back to Harriman Reservoir to try to do a loop of the perimeter, again. This time, the wind was quite calm, and it was a great success.

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Setting out:

From Harriman Reservoir 6/1/2012

It looks like some kids were having a boat race. The boats seemed to all be powered by screaming:

From Harriman Reservoir 6/1/2012

Time to turn around:

From Harriman Reservoir 6/1/2012
  • Posted: 2012-06-03 10:26 (Updated: 2012-06-03 10:34)
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Kayaking: Saratoga Lake #6

Possible thunderstorms were predicted for most of Memorial Day weekend, so when the weather looked good on Saturday, I took the opportunity to go kayaking. I did the perimeter of Saratoga Lake.

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About halfway down the east side of the lake, I noticed some bugs crawling around a private dock. Seconds later, I found maybe a dozen beetles in and on my boat. I spent much of the rest of the trip trying to avoid them and removing them from my boat. They were just annoying. In retrospect, I think they just used my kayak as a place to dry off before flying away, so my attempts at splashing them off didn't help me any.

Whenever it finishes uploading, I think this will be a video of about an hour's worth of the trip:

  • Posted: 2012-05-28 14:49 (Updated: 2012-05-28 15:20)
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Kayaking: Stewarts Bridge Reservoir #3

The weather was perfect today. My only gripe was that there were some mosquitoes, but they left me alone as long as I kept moving and stayed out of the shade.

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I recorded a video of about an hour of the trip. I will post it as soon as YouTube digests it.

This is the best picture I took:

From Kayaking at Stewarts Bridge Reservoir May 18, 2012
  • Posted: 2012-05-18 20:36 (Updated: 2012-05-18 20:49)
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Kayaking: Harriman Reservoir #6

I went to Harriman Reservoir, hoping to do the perimeter, but it was way too windy. I still had a good time, and I had the lake almost entirely to myself, which is always nice.

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The embarrassing part is that when I crossed the lake before turning around, I thought I was just going past a little outlet. I was pretty confused when I started seeing familiar landmarks on the wrong side, but in the end it was best that I turned around, as the wind only got worse.

The most notable thing from this visit was the storm damage. Numerous wooden garbage boxes were strewn around the edge of the lake. There was a crew of people cleaning up trees in one area.

  • Posted: 2012-05-18 20:23 (Updated: 2012-05-18 20:34)
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Kayaking: Fish Creek #2

I have been itching to go for a long kayak trip. I thought the weather wouldn't cooperate at all this weekend, but Sunday seemed good enough in the morning. It turned out to be perfect.

I parked at the state boat launch at the north end of Saratoga Lake. That was my first mistake. Parking was $8, collected by a machine that claimed to accept credit cards but just sat for minutes thinking about them. I ended up stuffing it with cash.

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I headed north, against a light breeze, and didn't turn around until I hit the dam. I probably saw half a dozen other people in kayaks. Many locals seems to be out doing yard work.

From Fish Creek #2

I'm pretty sure I saw an otter on my way out, but I wasn't prepared with my camera. He dived as I approached. There were lots of birds and turtles as usual. I was surprised to see some quite gigantic fish. I tried taking some pictures, but this is the best I managed:

From Fish Creek #2

Just a chair I saw on my way back. I'm pretty sure this wasn't there when I went out. I think some fishermen found it and set it up there as a joke.

From Fish Creek #2
  • Posted: 2012-05-06 19:36 (Updated: 2012-09-01 20:24)
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Kayaking: Ballston Lake #2

I just went kayaking for the first time this season. Friday had the best weather forecast of the weekend. In the morning, there were predicted 30mph gusts pretty much anywhere I was hoping to kayak, but by the afternoon, the wind looked much more manageable.

I went to Ballston Lake, which I had only done once before. It was a good size, in that I figured if I was feeling good and everything went well, I could do the whole perimeter on my first trip. That didn't happen.

There were a handful of people fishing at the dock when I launched. The wind one pretty strong, and one quipped that at least I knew I was coming back.

I set off anyway. I was able to make sufficient progress despite the wind that I didn't give up, and pretty soon I saw another kayaker heading back, so that gave me confidence that I wasn't crazy to be out on the water. "It's a struggle!," he said. It was.

The cold water frequently splashed me, and the wind was relentless. I paddled until I was starting to get tired, and planned on letting the wind carry me most of the way back. But when I turned around, it seemed like the wind had stopped. In retrospect, I believe the side of the lake I returned on was just more shielded from the wind. I probably should have gone around in the opposite direction.

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It was fun, but I'm looking forward to more peaceful and relaxing trips the rest of the summer.

From Kayaking at Ballston Lake, April 20, 2012
From Kayaking at Ballston Lake, April 20, 2012
From Kayaking at Ballston Lake, April 20, 2012
  • Posted: 2012-04-21 12:30 (Updated: 2012-04-21 12:56)
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Kayaking: Saratoga Lake #5 (flooded)

Last time, I started at the Saratoga Lake boat launch and headed north up Fish Creek. This time, I went south and did a loop around the perimeter of the lake. To my surprise, it was flooded worse than last time. As I was taking off, an old couple fishing in a canoe commented, "oh good, so we're not the only crazy ones."

The lake was dead. I think there were only half a dozen other boats out on the lake, total. This was a shame for everyone else but good for me, because the weather was beautiful. I'm not clear if there were any flood-time restrictions on lake use or if everybody as just busy cleaning up. I did see a few other kayakers, and I don't make any wake, so I carried on.

There was clearly damage. I think the majority of houses were still above the water level, but there were more than a few that were just inches away from having water enter the main floor, and a handful that were partly submerged. I'm not clear when the water level peaked.

Nearly all of the docks were under water. That was surreal.

The road on one side of the lake was under a few inches of water. I watched as at least one vehicle tried to get to their house.

Wildlife was out in full force. Several very large birds startled me when I startled them with my paddling. I managed to get some photographs of some others.

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September 10, 2011
  • Posted: 2011-09-10 17:00 (Updated: 2011-09-10 17:14)
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Kayaking: Fish Creek

This being the only day with decent weather predicted this weekend, I put in at the boat launch at Saratoga Lake. They apparently stopped charging when a bus hit the toll booth at the entrance, but it looks like they're setting up a new ticket machine for collecting payment. A lady from adirondack environmental conservation greeted me, asked me where my kayak has been recently, and encouraged me to hose it off when I'm done.

I wasn't sure where I was going to go. I had already done a loop of the lake, so I headed down the creek, thinking I might head out on the lake if I get back with enough energy left. It wasn't until I had made good distance that I realized just how strong the current was getting. I charged on until I got to the dam, turned around, and then found that it was about twice as hard to go back in the other direction. Needless to say, I got back and headed home, adequately tired.

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From Instant Upload
From Instant Upload
From Instant Upload
  • Posted: 2011-09-02 16:53 (Updated: 2011-09-02 16:59)
  • Categories: kayak
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Kayaking Backlog

I've been doing some kayaking but forgetting to share and archive data. First, I went to the Fulton chain lakes near Old Forge with Lauren. We had a campsite right on Eighth Lake and cruised around it twice.

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I checked out Seventh Lake once on my own, but my phone died before I got back. This lake was populated with some really nice houses to the southwest. A seaplane almost landed on me.

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Finally, I went back to Harriman Reservoir yet again and totally exhausted myself by paddling almost 20 miles. Once again my phone died. I think sometimes the camera stays active when I don't intend it, which drains the battery.

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No pretty pictures this time. They're all majestic lakes surrounded by rolling hills and mountains. Nobody wants to see that.

Finally, I started playing a new game: I found and was able to retrieve three cans from the bottom of Harriman Reservoir.

From Instant Upload
  • Posted: 2011-08-30 21:29 (Updated: 2011-08-30 21:42)
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Kayaking: Saratoga Lake #4

I wanted to test my endurance, so I went for a loop around Saratoga Lake for the first time this year. I didn't do any research beside checking the weather, but two things immediately worked out in my favor: the bridge providing the shortest drive to the boat launch is no longer closed, and the boat launch is still not charging for parking.

11am was apparently early enough to avoid most people. There were plenty of trailers there, but there was a car parking spot available right by water, so I put my kayak in and paddled away. There were a handful of boats zooming around the lake at any time, but they mostly stayed in the middle, and I stayed to the edge. Plenty of people fished.

I was fairly tired even before I was halfway done. I took breaks and snacked as needed.

Before I knew it, I was on my way back, and I ran into a concert on the lake. There were dozens of boats all parked at it and many bikinis. They played a handful of 90s covers as I paddled past.

From July 30, 2011

Overall, a great success.

Map

Speed Graph

Time from Start (minutes)

  • Posted: 2011-07-31 09:53 (Updated: 2011-07-31 09:55)
  • Categories: kayak
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Kayaking: Harriman Reservoir #4 and #5

Two weeks ago, Lauren and I went kayaking at Harriman Reservoir. Unfortunately I had some trouble with my phone and didn't log any GPS data or take any pictures.

So I went back last week and did approximately the same route.

Map

Speed Graph

Time from Start (minutes)

It was a small loop of the top part of the lake, stopping at some islands to relax and have a snack before turning around.

Here are some photos of the island I picked the second time ("Cory Island").

From July 24, 2011
From July 24, 2011
From July 24, 2011
  • Posted: 2011-07-31 09:34 (Updated: 2011-07-31 09:45)
  • Categories: kayak
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Kayaking: Waterbury Reservoir

This trip was a bit different. Lauren and I drove about three and a half hours to get ice cream at the Ben & Jerry's factory in Waterbury, Vermont. The drive was not all that bad. We passed through several interesting-looking Vermont towns, and despite some congestion near Lake Champlain, traffic was good.

From July 10, 2011

I didn't know what to expect from the factory tour. I feared that the entire place would be too child-oriented for us, and it would be a loss. It wasn't bad. It was free to park and wander around the place. We parked near a playground and the flavor graveyard. There were a number of booths setup outside vending pizza, spin art (yeah), T-shirts, and ice cream.

We quickly found our way to this building:

From July 10, 2011

We payed $3 each for tour tickets and spent the short wait reading about ice cream history on the walls. The tour was lead by a high school student who was the right balance of clearly tired of giving tours all day yet still very enthusiastic about cow puns. While waiting in line later for ice cream, staff kept us occupied watching a frozen T-shirt contest. Two people in line were presented with T-shirts frozen in balls and told the first one to wear the shirt would get a prize. I think it took them almost half an hour before one succeeded.

There was also kayaking! Waterbury Reservoir was about 10 minutes away. It was quite busy. Probably a dozen cars were parked near the dirt road leading to a boat launch by the dam. We got on the water and passed a number of kayaks and canoes while motor boats zoomed around us.

For a change, I took the recreational kayak Lauren had been using out, and she took my Pungo 120. There was a big different in handling, but it didn't seem to affect our speed much.

Map

Speed Graph

Time from Start (minutes)

As usual for Vermont, the lake was beautiful and largely unadulterated by nearby development.

From July 10, 2011

Day: seized.

  • Posted: 2011-07-10 13:12 (Updated: 2011-07-12 22:33)
  • Categories: kayak
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Kayaking: Harriman Reservoir #3

I took Friday off and decided to head toward Harriman Reservoir.

There was something like a 30% chance of rain predicted and a slight chance of thunderstorms. When I started driving, the sky was almost completely clear and blue. By the time I arrived, it was completely overcast, and I feared the worst. The drive took an hour and a half, mostly winding Vermont highway, which is fun, though I managed to get stuck behind a number of campers and trucks that couldn't manage to go the speed limit. I also got a good view of a wind farm whose blades were spinning quite fast despite prediction of only 6-9mph winds. When I got to the parking area, a van pulled in full of a family set to go fishing, and there was another vehicle there already. The weather couldn't be that bad.

It turned out great!

What kind of bird is this? An egret? A stork? I need a better camera for this.

The wind farm from the lake:

My kayak as I was packing up to go home:

Map

Speed Graph

Time from Start (minutes)

  • Posted: 2011-07-03 15:48 (Updated: 2011-07-03 16:06)
  • Categories: kayak
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Kayaking: Mohawk River #2

I couldn't decide where to go kayaking this weekend, so I decided to steal Anton's last trip. It was a short car trip to a nice boat launch area on the Mohawk River, just past a bunch of Erie Canal locks and remnants. There were hardly any people there when I showed up, though it was packed with cars with boat trailers.

Map

Speed Graph

Time from Start (minutes)

It was nice. There were a lot of other people out in boats, but they mostly stayed out of my way or went fast enough that they didn't leave much wake.

I found the flags flying at this house found not too far from the launch to be highly suspicious:

I passed the area where Anton tried to get us stuck last summer:

I saw a bunch of tasty-looking geese:

And then I paddled under the I-87 bridge:

The weather was beautiful. Potential thunderstorms were predicted, but the sky didn't even start clouding up until I was almost done. I was pretty exhausted by the end, but chaffing of the skin on my hands was probably my biggest issue. I need to resume my search for kayaking gloves or other forms of hand protection.

When I got back, I looked at the data and realized I had gone the exact same distance as Anton but did it in almost an hour less time, so the whole trip was a great success.

  • Posted: 2011-06-19 16:41 (Updated: 2011-06-19 17:00)
  • Categories: kayak
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Kayaking: Ballston Lake

Kayaked Ballston Lake with Lauren. I had avoided this previously, because I couldn't tell if there was a nice place to launch. I just learned there's a parking area across from a public dock. It was a bit of a hike from the car but worth it.

Map

Speed Graph

Time from Start (minutes)

It was pretty quiet, except for a handful of people fishing, some people water skiing, and others jet-skiing.

I definitely need to go back to do a full loop sometime.

  • Posted: 2011-06-04 16:01 (Updated: 2011-06-04 16:03)
  • Categories: kayak
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Kayaking: Stewarts Bridge Reservoir #2

Today being the official unofficial start of summer, I wanted to go for a longer paddle than I have so far this year.

The weather was great, except for predictions of a chance of thunderstorms in Albany. This was forecast all three days this weekend, even though there has hardly been a cloud in the sky. Regardless, I went far enough north that it wouldn't have mattered.

Map

Speed Graph

Time from Start (minutes)

Stewarts Bridge Reservoir is a nice little sectioned off area off the north end of Great Sacandaga Lake. It was about an hour drive for me, punctuated by some nice windy mountain roads. There are dams at either end, and it zigzags back and forth between them. I entered near a public picnic area, which was predictably busy for the Memorial Day weekend. There are probably about a dozen campsites along the water. There are a handful of houses elsewhere on the reservoir, but it is much less developed than anything like Saratoga Lake while still being nice and small.

The biggest problems I ran into were mosquitos and obnoxious jet-skiers. The answer to both seemed to be to keep moving.

I completely succeeded at tiring myself out.

  • Posted: 2011-05-30 17:25 (Updated: 2011-05-30 17:27)
  • Categories: kayak
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Kayaking: Saratoga Lake #3

I had the day off, so I started it off with some kayaking. Saratoga Lake found a new way to disappoint me. I found myself on the wrong side of a bridge closed for construction and had to drive all the way around the lake to get to the boat launch. Happily, the toll booth at the boat lunch was absent, so I could at least park for free...next to the construction workers' vehicles.

I got out of my car by the water and almost headed straight home, it was so windy. I finally decided I would at least try to paddle into the wind, and if I moved forward, I would go out for a trip. If I found myself moving only backward, I would get out quick and call it a day. It wasn't so bad, so I paddled into the wind until I got tired and then turned around. Getting back was predictably much easier. It was pretty quiet out on the water. The water temperature was pretty warm. The air was a little chilly, but as long as I kept moving I stayed warm. Great success.

Map

Speed Graph

Time from Start (minutes)

Went back. Despite being overcast, the weather was beautiful. The water was a bit cold but not much of a problem. There was some kind of rowing regatta that I almost accidentally joined (read: approached too closely).

While in the parking lot of the boat launch, an attendant came over and apologized for its condition. It is apparently going to be renovated but is free until that is complete. The adjacent bridge is also still closed. The toll booth was apparently damaged by a bus and is currently completely missing. Despite all of that, or maybe as a result, the place was completely packed.

Map

Speed Graph

Time from Start (minutes)

  • Posted: 2011-05-09 17:50 (Updated: 2011-05-22 19:15)
  • Categories: kayak
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Kayaking: Summer #2

Given that Friday was my last Friday off for at least a month, I decided that the weather was nice enough to bust out the kayak for the first time this summer. I washed my car, mounted the roof rack, and added a new second set of kayak racks. Then I strapped my kayak on top of all that and headed to Round Lake, which was basically the first place I started last summer.

I paddled around a bit, getting fairly tired by the time I finished circling Round Lake and Little Round Lake. It was a bit cold and windy, but both of those were manageable.

About fifteen minutes after I started, I saw this off in the trees:

I can't believe how many birds around here are balding.

As usual I logged lots of GPS data using My Tracks on my phone. I am trying to do something different and am building up a Trac macro to visualize some data about where I go. A CSV file of the raw data is attached to this post, and some kind of map and summary should show up below. Depending on how much time I find, this will improve or go away.

Map

Speed Graph

Time from Start (minutes)

  • Posted: 2011-04-16 22:07 (Updated: 2011-04-16 22:23)
  • Categories: kayak code
  • Comments (2)

Saratoga Property

The trouble I had finding a place to simply put in a kayak anywhere near Saratoga Lake got me thinking.

Kaydeross Park

First, I was confused about "Kaydeross Park" on Google Maps:


View Larger Map

I haven't found a huge amount of information it, but scraps of information indicate that Kaydeross Park was at one point an amusement park containing a carousel by the lake. Now it appears to be the private recreation facilities of the adjacent townhouses.

For the first time, I clicked that "Report a problem" link in Google Maps and explained the situation.

I believe Kaydeross Park is mislabeled. This area appears to currently be recreational facilities for the nearby townhouses. I went there expecting it to be a park from which I could launch a kayak, but instead it had only gated access for residents. A sign facing the lake labels it as "Water's Edge." I'm having trouble finding all of the pieces of its history, but it looks like "Kaydeross Park" used to be an amusement park. In 1987 it was bought by the town, and now it is townhouses.

Four days later I received a reply.

Your Google Maps problem report has been reviewed, and you were right! We'll update the map soon and email you when you can see the change.

That was over two weeks ago and it still hasn't changed, but that was more of a response than I honestly expected.

Abandoned Restaurant

The abandoned restaurant that looked so promising yet remained gated off was my second curiosity. Off I went to the Saratoga County web site and asked who owned the property, what had been there previously, and why it was not being used.

The second business day after I sent my questions, the Saratoga County Deputy County Administrator responded with some raw property information and the following comment:

FYI this parcel was purchased by the City of Saratoga Springs several years ago to develop into a waterfront park. That initiative has been stalled due to fiscal constraints within the City

I was happy with his response, happy that there was at one time a plan to develop it into a waterfront park, but I interpret this extremely pessimistically. With the state boat launch at the north end of the lake, there's really no need for another park with a parking fee, and I expect residents are against welcoming visitors.

Back to Kaydeross Park

Putting the two together, I used this which was recommended by the Deputy County Administrator to learn about what used to be Kaydeross Park. Not especially useful, but now I know I can curse The Vista on Saratoga for maintaining inviting-looking property.

Acres3.59
Assessed Land Value58600
Deed Book1245
Deed Page128
Frontage (Ft)0
MunicipalitySARATOGA SPRINGS
Owner Address150 Kaydeross Park Rd
Owner CitySaratoga Springs
Owner NameThe Vista On Saratoga
Owner StateNY
Owner ZIP12866
Print Key192.-1-41.2
Property AddressKaydeross Park Rd Rear
School DistrictSaratoga Springs Csd
Assessed Total Value220000

Kayaking: Kayaderosseras Creek

Kayaderosseras, as I just learned from Wikipedia, apparently translates to "valley of the crooked stream." Anton and I set out to paddle up "the river to the west of Saratoga Lake."


View Kayaderosseras Creek in a larger map

Data:

The first problem was parking. We knew we could go to the state boat launch that I've used twice at the north end of Saratoga lake, for something like eight dollars each. But I'm growing decreasingly fond of paying for access to public water. The Internet advised parking at the nearby gas station and walking to the state park's waterfront. That seemed shady, and there were some other better-seeming options.

First, there was an abandoned restaurant that I've seen from the water several times. Anton and I each independently tried to drive to it, but found the road approaching it gated.

I tried a few other places that looked promising on Google Maps, but I was repeatedly thwarted by private communities of jerks.

/share/kayak/kayaderosseras/IMAG0156_small.jpg

When we eventually got in the water, we checked it out from that side and explored a little bit.

/share/kayak/kayaderosseras/IMAG0161_small.jpg

This sign was blank facing the water. I expected it to be a "no trespassing sign," but instead it was just this. I'm technically a boat owner.

/share/kayak/kayaderosseras/IMAG0159_small.jpg

A road lead up a steep hill to the gate we had seen. Closer inspection showed that the sign on the gate prohibited trespassing by order of Saratoga county.

/share/kayak/kayaderosseras/IMAG0160_small.jpg

Anton by our boats as I started to look around. I wish I had taken some proper pictures of the restaurant. I can't find any information on what it was. The grass look better maintained than the rest of the place.

/share/kayak/kayaderosseras/IMAG0161_small.jpg

Eventually we went to what is apparently called Arrowhead Casino Archaeology Preserve, at the advise of the Saratoga P.L.A.N..

/share/kayak/kayaderosseras/IMAG0157_small.jpg

It took me about three minutes to walk to the end of the trail, where I found access to the water that was entirely too muddy to use. It looked as though the water had dropped a foot recently. I walked back up, and Anton eventually met me there. He wanted to see it for himself, and discovered that the path continued to the left, where we found several other small places to access the water, all of which were far less muddy. The furthest one turned out to be the most beach-like, but we didn't discover that until the way back. The whole area was rather littered.

/share/kayak/kayaderosseras/IMAG0158_small.jpg

We returned to our cars, packed everything we needed into our boats, and hit the water. The weather was great, but the water was getting rather cold. Anton decided to really evaluate that situation by falling into the water as he was getting out of his canoe when we were finished. I laughed at him.

There were several other highlights of the trip that I failed to photograph.

Partway through the trip, I roped by kayak to Anton's canoe and briefly got a free tow. On the way back, this enabled both of us to get some ukulele time while we still made progress. This ended when we started running into other people on the water. Their bewildered stares were too much for either of us to take.

Near the route 9 bridge, we ran into the first rapids I have ever hit in a kayak. Passing through them in both directions was quite uneventful, but it was a nice change of pace.

  • Posted: 2010-09-18 22:06 (Updated: 2012-09-01 20:25)
  • Categories: kayak
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Kayaking: Harriman Reservoir 2

I returned to Harriman Reservoir in Vermont in order to try to hit most of the perimeter, thinking it would be almost 20 miles. Google says it was 19. It was a good trip. I'm exhausted.


View Harriman Reservoir in a larger map

This is where I launched. As I paddled around I discovered a handful of other boat launches. I previously thought there was just one on either end. It may have been better to use a smaller one, but since no one else was there when I arrived, it was no problem at all.

/share/kayak/harriman2/IMAG0152_small.jpg

The weather was amazing. I was afraid it would be too cold, but the sky remained perfectly clear all day, and the sun kept me plenty warm. Wind was minimal. There were some other people on the water, but relative to the size of the place, I may as well have had it to myself.

I had gotten some fingerless "boating gloves" to try eliminate the blisters that have been getting to me on these longer trips, and I wore them this whole trip. They were a partial success, but I doubt I'll be using the pair I got again. They're already showing significant wear. The thumbs are for people with comically large thumbs and not my (apparently) petite ukulele-strumming thumbs. As a result, the thumb material kept getting bunched up and folded over, and it is just beginning to come apart. The exposed parts of my fingers, I remember now, are also parts that get irritated, and the gloves didn't help any there. I need to build some callouses.

Update: Obligatory pictures of the fingerless "boating gloves."

/share/kayak/harriman2/IMAG0154_small.jpg

/share/kayak/harriman2/IMAG0153_small.jpg

These are "after" pictures. Note the wear on the fabric on the inside of the thumb.

  • Posted: 2010-09-11 20:44 (Updated: 2010-09-14 20:22)
  • Categories: kayak
  • Comments (2)

Kayaking: Saratoga

I went back to Saratoga Lake to get as much time on the water as possible. It's close. It's relatively calm. There's a stream running north from it that I hadn't explored.

I paddled for almost five hours this time, and I traveled over seventeen miles.


View Saratoga Lake 2 in a larger map

I parked at the state-run boat launch at the top of the lake for eight dollars.

Heading North first, I ran into more other people on kayaks than I could count. This was reassuring, as it meant I was in the right place. Many of them seemed to be teaching others how to kayak. This was unsettling, as I've had basically no training. But that's part of the fun.

I went until I hit a dam. Third one in two days.

/share/kayak/saratoga2/IMAG0135_small.jpg

I turned around and headed back to the lake. Did I mention this was the majority of my trip? I was exhausted. Wanting to be certain that I traveled a good distance, I headed down into the lake until boats speeding around got to me and finally headed back.

One puzzling place I ran across had a big sign, "The Pharos." At first I thought it was their family name and that they missed a big decorating opportunity. I didn't see any pyramids or sphinxes. It seems like a responsibility if your name is one letter off of something like that. But apparently "Pharos" refers to some light houses in some context that I don't understand. That must be why there is a lighthouse on the sign.

/share/kayak/saratoga2/IMAG0138_small.jpg

Another interesting place was a beat up old building on the remains of what was once a bridge. I thought it was abandoned, but someone posed for me on it.

/share/kayak/saratoga2/IMAG0139_small.jpg

This place apparently would have let me launch for five dollars. On my way back a handful of people were launching canoes and kayaks from a rather steep embankment just on the other side of the bridge.

/share/kayak/saratoga2/IMAG0141_small.jpg

Duck dock.

/share/kayak/saratoga2/IMAG0142_small.jpg

It was apparently a good day to sail.

/share/kayak/saratoga2/IMAG0143_small.jpg

A former restaurant. I wonder if I could put my boat in there and park in their parking lot. I bet the other side of that sign says, "no trespassing."

/share/kayak/saratoga2/IMAG0144_small.jpg

This is where I thought I was going to launch. According to Google Maps, it's Kaydeross Park, but I believe it is now recreational facilities owned by the housing development nearby. I drove up to it, but it had signs and a gate preventing my exploration.

/share/kayak/saratoga2/IMAG0149_small.jpg

My speed this trip was lower than I'd like. I think I was mainly still tired from yesterday. It was pretty windy but it wasn't terrible to paddle against it. I think what really stopped me was that it was starting to get colder, I needed some real food, and my hands were getting pretty blistered.

Fun!

Kayaking Summary

I wrote a script to calculate the total distance and time from every .csv file in http://www.unprompted.com/share/kayak/. The data from those files includes all of my time on the water plus sometimes part of me walking from my car to the water as I'm preparing to launch and packing up.

WhereDuration (H:M:S)Distance (miles)
Great Sacandaga Lake1:03:102.59
Harriman Reservoir3:49:4811.62
Harriman Reservoir 25:39:4118.79
Lake Lonely2:48:355.51
Mohawk River4:05:266.20
Round Lake1:29:153.08
Saratoga Lake3:40:1012.59
Saratoga Lake 25:02:1717.43
Somerset Reservoir3:22:2310.86
Stewart's Bridge Reservoir2:01:437.27
Thompson's Lake0:55:183.25
Total1 day, 9:57:4699.18

I know people who like to compare the entertainment value of things to seeing a movie in a theater, where a movie costs over $10 for about two hours of entertainment.

Without giving exact numbers, I'm nowhere near that efficient (and that's not even very efficient), but I am way closer than I expected to be, even only a partial summer into this.

I like to measure how far I walk/run/bike/drive/kayak in terms of travelling to the moon. The moon, on average, is about 238,857 miles away. If I kayaked toward the moon, the same amount each summer as I've done this summer, it would take me 2409 summers to arrive at the moon.

  • Posted: 2010-09-05 00:36 (Updated: 2010-09-12 10:27)
  • Categories: kayak
  • Comments (0)

Pin Map

I got it in my head that I wanted a map with all of the places I've gone kayaking. I wanted not just a Google Maps map but a physical map on my wall where I could mark off places and see the big picture in person.

I got a cork board and the biggest state map I could easily find. Upon closer inspection, the map I got was not at all what I wanted, and I couldn't find any better.

I know the USGS makes lots of map data available, but after playing with their web site for some time, I just couldn't figure out how to get what I wanted, and they kept wanting me to put things in shopping carts to download them. Bleh.

I ended up using Google Maps. I remember reading that Google gets their topographical data from USGS anyway, so I didn't feel bad about stealing it. Here's how it went.

I went to Google Maps, zoomed into the rough area I was interested in at the zoom level I thought I wanted, and opened resource tracking in Google Chrome to get the URL for one of the map tiles. The parameters in it were obvious enough.

I wrote this code:

from urllib2 import urlopen
import os
from PIL import Image
from StringIO import StringIO

def get_tile(x, y, zoom=12):
        path = os.path.join('tiles', '%d,%d,%d.jpg' % (x, y, zoom))
        if os.path.exists(path):
                tile = open(path).read()
        else:
                url = 'http://mt1.google.com/vt/lyrs=t@125,r@132&hl=en&x=%d&y=%d&z=%d&s=Ga' % (x, y, zoom)
                print 'Fetching', url
                tile = urlopen(url).read()
                open(path, 'wb').write(tile)
        return Image.open(StringIO(tile))

tl = (1203, 1500)
br = (1218, 1510)

tile_width = 256
tile_height = 256

tiles_wide = br[0] - tl[0] + 1
tiles_high = br[1] - tl[1] + 1

width = tile_width * tiles_wide
height = tile_height * tiles_high

mosaic = Image.new('RGBA', (width, height))

for x in range(tl[0], br[0] + 1):
        for y in range(tl[1], br[1] + 1):
                tile = get_tile(x, y)
                mosaic.paste(tile, ((x - tl[0]) * tile_width, (y - tl[1]) * tile_height))

mosaic.save('mosaic.jpg')

I fetched a block of tiles, being sure to cache them on disk so I wasn't hammering Google every time I reran my script.

With my starting tile set, it was a quick matter of trial and error to get the exact area I wanted.

It didn't take much code with PIL to combine the tiles into one big JPEG.

Next I needed to print the big image on a bunch of sheets of paper as big as I could for my cork board. I used PosteRazor to accomplish this without much hassle, though there are a handful of other similar tools available.

I did some arts and crafts, cutting out the prints and taping them together.

Then I started throwing in some pins, using big red pins to mark my launch points and small black pins to mark roughly the maximum distances I went from the launch points.

The end result:

/share/kayak/pinmap.jpg

Not too shabby. Needs more pins in it!

  • Posted: 2010-09-05 00:15 (Updated: 2010-09-05 00:15)
  • Categories: kayak code
  • Comments (1)

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
  • Posted: 2010-08-20 20:28 (Updated: 2010-09-04 23:09)
  • Categories: kayak
  • Comments (0)

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.

/share/kayak/mohawk/IMAG0110_small.jpg

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":

/share/kayak/mohawk/IMAG0106_small.jpg

  • Posted: 2010-08-14 22:35 (Updated: 2010-08-15 14:26)
  • Categories: kayak
  • Comments (0)

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.

/share/kayak/saratoga/IMAG0100_small.jpg

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

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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:

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All I can say is that this place was beautiful.

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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?

  • Posted: 2010-07-31 21:00 (Updated: 2010-08-01 20:53)
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Kayaking: Round Lake

My roof rack arrived today. Anton bought a canoe yesterday, but he hadn't had a change to try it yet. After work, I assembled my roof rack on my car, and we set off to do some paddling in the hour or so before it got dark.

This time it was Round Lake. It is pretty aptly named. It was about a twenty minute drive away. And then we had to park alongside the 55mph route 9 to access the water. I didn't realize until we were leaving that I parked under a "no parking" sign. I'm not sure if it was for the road I was on or the area down below. The sheriff behind us as we arrived didn't seem to mind. Neither did the other people parked near us.


View Round Lake in a larger map

For the first time for me, the weather was beautiful. There was an occasional cool breeze, but nothing strong. The lake was flat except for some ripples as boats zipped around. There were a handful of people fishing and some other people out in kayaks and canoes, but it is a bigger lake than I expected, and I hardly ever actually saw any of them. There is a neat little airstrip adjacent to the lake, and a few small planes took off and landed while we were there, for our amusement.

Arriving:

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Anton picking his nose as we set off. He's really getting in there:

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I don't think that's how you're supposed to use a canoe:

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This is a pretty OK place to spend an evening!:

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Then it got dark and we went home. Then I copied the pictures and GPS data off of my phone and wrote this.

  • Posted: 2010-07-27 22:36 (Updated: 2010-07-27 23:13)
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Kayaking: Thompson's Lake

This Friday came around, and I was thoroughly excited about going out kayaking again. I am determined to go out at least once a week, and I figured that since I am taking Fridays off, this should be no problem. Checking the weather, thunderstorms were predicted basically all weekend, with only showers on Friday morning.

Figuring that was my only chance, I strapped the kayak on my roof in my garage while it rained outside and then took off.

This weekend's venue was picked by a Mr. Plummer at work, as I randomly asked him where I should go, and his familiarity with nearby parks for the sake of hiking allowed to pick a place arbitrarily that suited my needs. Also http://www.albany.com/parks/ helped. In the future I think I will cross off parks listed there with a "boat launch" one by one.

I am worrying more and more about the effects of a boat on my car roof. I think I will invest in a roof rack soon.

There were some fun winding roads on the way to Thompson's Lake. It was just beyond Thacher Park, which is another great place to spend some time. It rained most of the way there but started to clear as I approached the lake.

Then it started raining again.

/share/kayak/thompsons/ticket.png I paid a $7 vehicle use fee, as this was a state park. The place looked fairly nice. It was primarily a campground. I carried my kayak past a playground, small beach, and a swimming area to get to the lake, and each were populated with children and families at various times.


View Thompson's Lake in a larger map

I went around the outside of the lake, which took a little less than half an hour. I was wet at this time, but it was probably more from me splashing myself than the rain, which persisted. I made a few zig-zags of the lake to fill out almost an hour of time. Then it started to get a little windy, which was only a problem as it made me start to get cold.

I strapped the kayak back on to my car and headed home in a full downpour.

There were problems with this:

  • Strapping a boat to my roof in the rain when I am starting to get cold is not fun. I am definitely willing to overlook a little bit of work for the parts of this that are fun, but I think that is too much.
  • The kayak acts like a rain barrel. I was pleased it hardly filled with any water when I was on the lake, but when I took it off after I got home, it was substantially heavier.
  • The straps around the kayak wicked water into my car. I was rained on the whole trip, and I worry for my car's interior.
  • Some people were waving at me from inside a lodge nearby. I had half a mind to go in to dry off, but I wanted to get home badly at this point.
  • Posted: 2010-07-24 11:34 (Updated: 2010-07-26 22:45)
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Kayaking

For some reason, until recently, I had never gone kayaking. My family owned a canoe. I've rowed row boats. I've paddled paddle boats. I had never kayaked.

Some weeks back, I was with a group of friends at Saratoga Lake, and four of us hopped in kayaks and paddled around for a bit. It was fun, and it made me say I would get a kayak.

After looking around a bit, I had a lengthy and informative conversation with someone at Eastern Mountain Sports, who basically steered me to the Pungo 120 but emphasized that they were having an event on Saturday where people could try all of their models for free. Despite wanting to buy one then and there, I held off, went down on Saturday (today), and tried a few boats. It was fun. The staff were great (though one dropped and lost his radio in the water, hehe).

Then came the first problem. I went straight back to EMS, but most of their kayak enthusiasts were busy at the water. I knew exactly what I wanted, but of the few staff members there, one was clearly brand new, and the others were clearly overwhelmed by everyone else. It took some time finding the right things. I got the boat, a paddle, and a life jacket that were on sale as a bundle. There was confusion about this, which items were actually part of the special, where they were, .... But eventually I got everything I needed, one of the staff members helped me strap the thing I bought to my roof, and I was off.

Where to? I searched around (the Internet) a bit for a lake nearby with public access to the water. I picked The Great Sacandaga Lake, arbitrarily. It was about an hour away. I wasn't really sure where I was going to launch, but I drove around a bit and finally found a public boat launch. There was apparently a beach area where I would be charged $15 for parking, as a non-resident, but I couldn't launch there. I ended up carrying the boat to a boat launch where there was a formidable line of people putting motor boats on the water. I snuck in between two of them, and I was off!


View Great Sacandaga Lake in a larger map

That's what my route looked like. There was a strong wind. I was tired before I started. I had also paddled for a while in the morning, testing boats, and I'm not in any kind of shape. I headed into the wind and stopped now and then to adjust the numerous adjustable bits of my seat and paddle. I was hoping to find a quiet moment to bust out a ukulele and sit back and snack and whatnot, but the water was really choppy, both from the wind and from boats zipping back and forth near me, and waves overtook me every few minutes, despite my best efforts to avoid them.

Here's some data from my phone, which was sitting in one of the kayak's compartments, gathering GPS data. It and my other cargo stayed dry, but I was soaked by the time I was done.

I paddled into the wind until I was tired. At about that point the clouds started to look intimidating, so I turned around. The wind basically carried me straight back, and I mostly just steered.

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That's what the kayak looks like on my car, all ready to go home. I found a metal loop under the rear bumper, which is just perfect for hooking a strap into, and a big threaded hole in front which worked fine, too. For some reason it was much more stable on the way home than the way there, which was a relief. Shortly after I had pulled away from the store, one of the straps started buzzing. I found that giving each bit a half-twist, though less aerodynamic, helped silence that.

Conclusion: All in all, I had a lot of fun. The weather, despite the wind, was beautiful at the lake, while it was incredibly hot and humid back home. The water was a really nice warm temperature. Such a big lake was probably the last place I should have gone, but there is no shortage of other places for me to explore around here.

  • Posted: 2010-07-17 19:59 (Updated: 2010-07-26 22:47)
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