Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tale of Two Hinghams

Day 7 (6/30/10)

All of Eileen and my favorite Kayaking areas are lakes with rivers that either run into or out of them. Most have slight differences between the lake and the river, obviously, but nowhere is it more pronounced then Hingham. The lake is kind of a dirty sometimes smelly little mill pond on the onion river. It is bordered on the east shore by huge ostentatious houses. Apparently if the Department of Natural Recourses had their way they would remove the dam and allow it to revert back to its original state which as I understand was a notable trout stream.The other side has little development other than a small business area and a couple of cabins. Once you make the last turn out of the lake it gradually changes into a clear stone bottomed stream. It becomes almost magically peaceful. Unfortunately you can only go so far before it narrows down to the point where you just can’t go any further. It is on the trip back where the change is most noticeable. As you come around the last left hand turn you are accosted by a huge behemoth of a house. At the same time you notice the water getting dirtier. It is almost a metaphor for human influence. We did have some fun on the lake though. First we spent quite a while chasing a blue heron around the lake. We could never get real close to it though. One of the more interesting observations we made in the lake was of a swirling orb of little black fish like animals. We are assuming they were tadpoles. We tried to get a picture or video of them with Eileen’s underwater camera but the wind was too strong to be able to get the kayak stationary enough. All in all it was great day. I almost wish we could get to the river without having to go through the lake.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pudgies and Chipmunks

Day 6 (6/23&24/10)

It was time for our annual Mauthe Lake Camping trip or at least the first one. We are thinking about another one in July. We were a little concerned about rain. Every forecast we looked at looked worse than the last but finally we decided to go for it. When we got to the entrance station the National weather Service had the direst predictions, storms at 3:00 and showers the rest of the day. We had always wanted to try Mauthe’s Teepee so we decided with the prediction of storms this might be a good time to have two layers of cloth between us and the storm. Fortunately, it was not taken. We proceeded to set up camp with the idea that at some point we would be confined to barracks. After we got things set up we headed out for a short bike ride. We had already planned on not redoing last year’s debacle where we biked to Long Lake and then Kayaked the rest of the evening and couldn’t sleep because of sore muscles. The impending storms also meant we did not to push the limits too far. After our ride we carried the Kayaks down to the lake. One of the nice things about the Teepee is how close it is to the lake. It was quite windy as we headed for the Milwaukee River which runs into the North West side of the lake. We had been looking forward to going up the river all winter. The first time we had gone up we had spent a good deal of time photographing a baby deer eating lily pads. The last time we went up we were run off by a family making so much noise that even the dead were evacuating. The wind did not seem as much of a factor after had entered the river. It was much deeper than it had been last year so we were able to go quite a way farther. We actually saw little in the way of wildlife. We have been surprised this year by the lack of shore birds. It is still early so maybe they will come later. I hope so. We could have probably gone even farther but the clouds were starting to look ominous so we elected to head back. By the time we got back to camp it was looking less like rain and the wind was nearly gone and so I started casting from shore. After awhile we hauled my Kayak back down to shore and I went out and fished for awhile. Soon after going out I hooked into a nice Northern. While I was trying to get the hook out it gave one last effort and snapped the line. I tried a little longer but had no success. It was time for supper anyway. One gets new respect for our forefathers when your supper is dependent on a fire of soggy logs. After much tending, we finally got the fire going and started our supper of assorted pudgy pies. Pudgy pies, for those people out of the loop, are sandwiches made by stuffing almost anything between two slices of bread and grilling them over a fire with special campfire sandwich grillers. As we were finishing our entrĂ©e and about to start our dessert course it started raining. It was a gentle rain so we grilled right through it. By the time we finished it was starting to get dark so we called it a night. Unlike last year the night was uneventful and we were not visited by any wildlife. The next morning the fire started much easier. The first thing we did was to start a pot of coffee. As we drank our first pot we watched the chipmunks scurry around camp. They had little fear and were hilarious. After a second luscious pot of coffee (camp coffee is the best) and breakfast “Pudgies” we were off with the kayaks once again. It was still a little windy but a beautiful day to be out kayaking. We went back to the river and although nothing spectacular happened it was just wonderful to be out on the water. I had to be back at 3:00 so after a morning of exploring it was time to tear up camp and head for home.

After the Rain

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Keeping it Fresh at Gerber

Day 5 (6/13/10)
We were hoping the sun would come out today. It has been raining off and on for several days. Although cloudy, the forecast is for scattered showers. Because of the possibility of rain and also the need of some supplies from Fleet Farm we decide to go back to Gerber. When we get there we are surprised to see that the lake has intruded into the turnaround area. It is the highest I have ever seen the water level and also the muddiest. Because of the cloudy water the fishing was also the worst I have seen it. That didn’t stop us from having fun. We knew that the river was going to be high so we went back there right away. In spite of how cloudy the lake was the river was crystal clear and the bottom had apparently been scoured clear by the high water. We saw lots of fish, most in the six to ten inch category. When we got to the bridge we decided to go under it in spite of the narrow passage due to the high water. We thought that maybe we would be able to go further downstream than ever before. Unfortunately, we were not able to get much further than before. When I was coming back under the bridge I happened to look over and saw a nest full of baby birds and I mean full. The parents were quite upset with our being there. There were few shorebirds for Eileen to photograph so she spent her time stalking flowers. There were irises and water lilies everywhere. It stayed cloudy all day but never did rain. Wednesday we are off to Hingham.

Baby birds
Angry Momma Bird

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Where's Waldo?

Day 4 (6/6/10)
Today we went to Waldo Pond. It is one of our favorite close Kayaking areas. The pond itself is a little smelly but is still kind of interesting. I have been told there are Northern Pike in the pond but I have never seen or caught one. There is certainly enough food for them because there are suckers jumping everywhere. I have seen jump totally out of the water. Although the bottom is very muddy there are a lot of boulders both above the surface and below so you have to keep a close watch. It is once you get beyond the pond that it narrows down to the Onion River. This is where it gets really fun. In the past we have seen deer and beaver along with many birds of assorted shapes and sizes. Today however, we saw little in the way of wildlife. It was probably because of the weather. It was cool, windy and threatening rain. Fortunately the wind was coming from the North West which meant it was in our face going out. We learned early on that it is much better to start going against the wind. We have had a couple times where we went the other way and the trip back had been hell. Even though we have been at Waldo several times now it still offers us much to see and do.

River Monsters