Sunday, March 27, 2011

Paddling the Mouth of Otter Creek

A pictorial of my paddle today.  It was cool.  About 25 degF.  The bays were frozen, . . .

. . .  as were the slower slangs and river valleys.

Low-lying areas are still frozen.

The Otter Creek is ice free, and it has flooded low-lying areas around it.

The broad lake still has a sizable ice-pack, . . .

. . . as have most of the bays.

Evidence of the recent icepack breakup on the river is found on this beaver lodge.

A lot of waterfowl are to be found.  Buffleheads (female on left, male on the right), . . .

. . . male merganser, . . .

. . . bald eagles,  . . .

. . .  and immature bald eagles!

Paddling in the flooded woods is like paddling in a swamp!

An occasional cormorant.

Flock of mergansers getting ready to take flight.

Canada geese.


One of many osprey nests.

One of many wood duck boxes in this wildlife management area.

My kayak.  Warm spirit, cold feet!


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Paddling on the Otter

Finally.  The river is ice free, so I put the kayak on the car and launched at the basin by the falls.  It was a cool day (just around the mid-30s degF) and we had a steady 10 mph wind out of the NW.  When I told some of my compatriots at work I was planning on paddling this weekend, the typical response is:

"Isn't it too cold?"

Too cold!  I'm not in the water.  I have a fleece layer on, dry-pants, neoprene boots, water-proof jacket, neoprene gloves, cap, and a PFD.  I was plenty warm.  It's a lot colder standing on top of a mountain in the winter getting ready to ski downhill with winds and 20 degF conditions.  The only time I would get cold was putting the boat in the water.  Even then, my feet never got very cold.

It was such a good time getting outside.  It has been a busy week at work.  My mind has been consumed with tons of details.  I needed to just disconnect.  I looked forward to the adventure.  It's been about 6 years since I paddled on the Otter.  It hasn't changed much.

Otter Creek is not a very big river.  In the summer, it is only about 6 feet deep.  Below the falls, it is about 50 to 100 yards wide.  It isn't pristine, as it has houses and camps along its bank in many spots, but it still offesr great views of wildlife.  I saw tons of waterfowl.  Canadian geese, mallards, mergansers, cormorants, gulls, pintails, and great blue herons.  At one point, two redtail hawks were flying overhead, following each other through the sky as part of their mating dance. It was great.

I could see signs of the beaver in the area.  As the river is large, they build their lodges into the banks of the rivers.  I look forward to paddling by the lodges at dusk as the summer approaches as the beavers will be out.

At one point, I paddled into a flooded field.  I was only able to go partially into the field as the water there was still covered with ice.  I was able to push through the 1/4 inch ice, but got stopped about halfway into the field.

After paddling 5 miles downstream and 5 miles back,  I was getting tired.  This was a good paddle for the start of the season.  I stopped to admire the waterfall at the basin in town before taking out.

I left my boat on top of my car, but not because my shoulders are tight.  Rather, I just might go out for another paddle tomorrow.  What a great day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Another 4 inches of snow today near the Finger Lakes, with another 6 inches tonight!


I like snow, but I am sick of working out in the gym.  Most of the snow we have is nothing but ice.  Not good for much of anything.  The longer days, my recent bicycle rides and the need to go kayaking have me ready for warm, spring weather.

Oh well.  We just have to hang in there.  Peace.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring is Here!

What a great weekend!

Today is the first day of Spring.  It is cold out today (just 21 degF this morning), but the sun is out, the winds are light, and we will get to 40 degF.  I'll get on the bike later this afternoon (I need to clean my chain and frame from all the sloppy, wet riding I have been doing over the last few weeks - my bike can hardly shift!).

I hope you got to see the 'super moon' last nite.  It was spectacular.

This was Maple Syrup Open House weekend in Vermont.  As we went driving around running our errands yesterday, you could see the steam rising from the sugar shacks.  We were reminiscing about making sugar-on-snow with our daughter.  What fun.  We went to downtown Burlington and hung around Church Street.  It was nice to be downtown without tons of snow and sloppy weather.  We are looking forward to warm summer days, green, flowers, open water and farmer's markets.  We'll still get some snow and snow showers for several week, but I am confident we won't see any large snows.

I had gone cycling after work on Friday (can you believe we were around 55 degF).  I rode down by the river, and it was still ice-covered, but the ice was quickly melting and you could see open water in spots.  Yesterday, we drove over the falls and the river was ice free above the falls and down in the basin.  I need to check out the river today to see if we are now fully ice free.  If so, I know I'll be kayaking next weekend.  

Enjoy the day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What Was That . . .

I went for another ride today.  It was around 42 degF, with winds out of the southeast.  The first 18 miles were fine, but as the sun set lower and I headed into the wind, I was growing cold and tired.

Then I heard it . . .  conk-a-reeee.

It lifted my heart. I kept a lookout for the culprit.

I heard it again . . . conk-a-reeee.

I looked up and saw it!

Yes, it was a red wing blackbird!

As far as I am concerned, Spring is officially here.

Snow has to melt (we still have 1 foot on the ground), and the rivers and lake are ice covered.  But the cycle has started back.  Though we will officially recognize the Spring equinox next week, as far as I am concerned,  Spring is here.

Has Spring started where you are?

Monday, March 14, 2011

1 Week Later

One week ago we had a monster storm.  Two feet of snow, brutal winds, snow drifts.  Brrrrrr!

Though it is still cold outside (our high today was 35 degF),  the sun was still high and bright in the sky when I left work (I guess the time change has its benefits)!

Instead of going to the gym, I jumped on my bike for a quick ride.  I donned cycling shorts, lightweight thermal tights, cycling tights, heavy wool socks, polypropylene undershirt, fleece riding shirt, nylon windshell jacket, glove liners, gloves, cap, helmet, shoes and shoe covers.  I was start to sweat just being in the house.  That changed when I went outside.

The wind was out of the northeast.  My face stung for the first two miles as I got used to the cold.  I rode along the river for the first few miles.  It was into the wind, but the winding road and woods kept me sheltered from the winds.  The river is still frozen.  It will be many more weeks before I'll be paddling.

I headed west for a few miles, then turned south.  This is a more exposed area as there are numerous open fields and farms.  However, I had a tailwind, so I wasn't cold.  Lake Champlain was off to my right.  It was still frozen all throughout this portion of the lake.

I turned east.  The winds were now coming towards me.  As this part of the ride I was passing open fields.  There was no protection from the winds. I then headed by the falls and looped back to our place.  The basin by the fall is still ice choked.  It will be interesting to see what happens as the thaw sets in.

It will be nearly 40 degF tomorrow and near 50 degF on Thursday.  You know I'll be out riding.  Spring is coming!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Problem With Snow

Is it too cold?  No, I seem to bear the temperature.

Is it too much work to get rid of?  Not really, I spend more time mowing grass each week than shoveling or plowing.

Is it ugly?  Actually, it is quite beautiful.

Is it boring?  No, a good storm is exciting.

What is the problem with snow?

I think the problem with snow is that it just gets in the way.  You have to worry about extra clothes, slipping, slush, shoveling roofs, tough driving, tracking ice into the house.  You spend so much time working around it, you cannot focus on those things which are more important (or should be more important).

Case in point, March 7th.  This past week, we had a whopper of a storm.  I focused on shoveling, telecons, cancelled flights, rebooking flights, more shoveling, repacking, emails, etc.

But I missed it.  It was 5 years ago on March 7th that my brother passed away.  I completely missed it.  I think about him everyday.  I was even talking about him with coworkers today.  But I missed it.

I don't feel guilty.  Sometimes life (or snow) just gets in the way.


Anyway, we miss you Kevin!

(Kevin didn't really like snow, but he loved a good snowstorm!)

Monday, March 7, 2011

It Ain't Over Yet!

I was supposed to fly down to Philadelphia for work today.  But Nature decided to do her thing, and my trip was cancelled.

We have blowing snow, with accumulations near 2 feet.  The city plows came by, but got stuck in front of our place.  They had to send a bucket loader over to pull the plow out!

We had to shovel the snow from around our cars.  It had drifted up over the hoods and trunks!

It still looks like it will be several weeks before I can get out and paddle.  The rivers and bays are still ice choked.

Luckily, its warm inside.

Stay Safe!

Sunday, March 6, 2011


They say March comes in like a lion, but goes out like a lamb.  Well, today March is roaring.  It was 45 degF yesterday.  Now it is below freezing with sleet and heavy, wet snow.  We are expecting another 8 to 12 inches.

At this time of year, some people browse seed catalogs, or peruse the shelves of sporting good shops looking at fishing tackle.   I decided to watch some cycling videos.  They help to motivate me, and keep me inspired.  I came across 2 excellent videos about the Paris-Roubaix race (also known as the Hell of the North).

They are The Road to Roubaix and A Sunday in Hell.

This year's Paris-Roubaix is on Sunday, April 10th.

If you are a fan of bicycle racing, you will enjoy them.  If you don't follow cycling, you might find them very interesting.

Enjoy. Spring will be here soon.