Thursday, June 09, 2005

Cherry Lake

I got up this morning and found that it was a work-free day (I am self-employed, work comes in via the Internet overnight--or doesn't...). So of course I wanted to head out for a paddle. The sun was out, a good omen for the day--we had a very severe thunderstorm late yesterday afternoon. However, I really didn't feel like driving forever to get to a paddling place, and I didn't want an overly exertive paddle. I had done a somewhat rigorous workout yesterday, why overdo it?

So I took out my Gazetteer to see if there were any lakes (no current to battle in lakes) nearby that I had overlooked the last 20 times I looked for nearby lakes. Surprise! There actually was one that I had forgotten about. Cherry Lake is about 20 miles from my house. Many people had advised not attempting to canoe or kayak on it during summer because it was filled with motorboats, water-skiers, and jet skis. It's a very small lake, only 479 acres. It fit the criteria for today--nearby and simple. My husband and I had taken our canoe out there once in February a year or two ago and we had seen two swans (extremely uncommon in north Florida!) on it. I wondered if they were still there.

Twenty miles is not that far to go. This would come under the category of an RWK--Recon With Kayak. I'm checking it out--and just in case, I'm taking the kayak with me.

As I approached the lake on the road to the ramp, I was surprised to see no boats on it at all. When I got to the boat ramp, a teenager came over to collect the ramp fee, and I mentioned how surprised I was that it was so empty on such a pretty morning (it was about 11:00 at this point). He said that it was very unusual, there are typically a lot of motorboats on the lake at this time--particularly with the kids out of school. I unloaded the Mystic and left it on the ramp while I parked the car.

There was a light breeze, causing some ripples on the lake, only enough to cause a slight bobbing as I started around the edge. This lake is about 95% populated, so I didn't expect much in the way of wildlife. I did find this egret hiding in some tall grass in one of the few areas with no houses:

When I got about halfway around the lake, the breeze quit entirely and the lake became glass smooth. It was effortless paddling--just what I had wanted for today.

And then--swans! These are among my favorite birds, and it's most unusual, as I mentioned, to see them around here (I feel fairly certain these were brought in to the lake by one of the residents of the area). There are two of them, and they are gorgeous. I seriously doubt that they have seen a kayaker before, or at least it's a very rare sight, so they kept their distance and kept one eye on me the whole time I was nearby. They are such pretty birds, particularly when they glide across the water.


In this picture below, you can see that the swan wants to swim away from me, but still wants to keep tabs on where I am...just won't completely turn his (her?) back on me...
The rest of the paddle was mostly uneventful, just a nice peaceful pass around the lake. It only took 90 minutes to circle the whole thing at a very leisurely pace. I enjoyed it there, and I like that it is so close, but I think I will probably save future trips for either very early morning visits (nothing like a lake at first light!) or off-season paddle trips. Pretty much every boat dock I passed had a jet ski on it, under it, or moored to it. I lucked out today but can't count on that happening every time.

I had hoped to get to the Wakulla this Saturday but it looks like there's one of those tropical storms brewing in the Gulf (here we go again!) and it's not looking good weather-wise for a paddling trip this weekend. Maybe it won't linger long and we will have some decent weather next week.

I guess we'll just stand by and see.

1 comment:

Jay said...

This blog is really inspiring me to look into taking up paddling.