Posts Tagged ‘paddling’

Toolin’ Around in the Ol’ Congaree Swamp (Day 95)

October 21st, 2009 4 comments

Crap — Day 100 is coming up. I better do something momentous.

Day 95 I went to Congaree National Park (south of Columbia, S.C.) and paddled around in the swamp. It was about as chill, relaxing an activity as I’ve done this trip. Apart from havin’ to wrench my kayak out of the cab of my truck, dig underneath my cot to find the keel and my PFD, extract my foot pump out of the nether-corner of the truck bed, and then inflate and assemble the whole thing. But, really, you know, once that was done, it was pretty dang relaxin’. Check it out:

I should probably take more photos of stuff like diggin’ under the cot to find my keel. Posterity might appreciate that kind of thing. Next trip. (Although, in my defense, it’s not always easy to take photos of yourself doin’ things like that.)

Sorry for all that paddlin’ noise on the video. Kind of kills the moment(s).

Trip lasted about three hours. By “the swamp”, I mean “Cedar Creek”. Technically, yes, the water is flowin’. Just very slowly. Made for easy paddlin’ upstream and still waters that yielded really good reflections. Photos are kind of off though — too dark to use normal ISO and a small aperture, which blew out the details. Plus there were too many snags to stop paddlin’ long enough to really compose anything. Oh well. Here’s what I ended up with.

congaree_swamp-1Mmm: swampy!

congaree_me-consternationMy apparent consternation is unfounded.


congaree_kayak-pointAnother photo.

congaree_y-in-creekA fork in the creek.

congaree_spiderSomewhat spider-like, imho.


congaree_tree-canopyFall color *and* spanish moss festooning the trees of Congaree.

Other notes:

  • I saw no alligators.
  • I saw no pythons.
  • I saw no alligator-python fights.

For that matter, I didn’t see many animals at all — a few ducks and that was it. Still, a beautiful, easy-goin’ day.


Beaver, Beaver: Dam, Dam, Dam

September 12th, 2009 2 comments

Finally! A reason to have a strong opinion regarding beaver dams. Y’know, getting out of the canoe, having mud and brown water slosh into your boots, then yanking your fully loaded canoe across a bunch of sticks isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it’s sort of not the best either.

And would it kill the beavers to come out and give a guy a hand?

bwca_beaver-damYou gotta hand it to those beavers: they just wanted it more.

bwca_beaver-dam-fordIt’s really more shoving than it is yanking.

Ah, anyway. I was more anxious about Boundary Waters than I was about any other part of the trip, so I suppose now that it’s over I can start being anxious about grad school apps. Finally I can have a strong opinion about those, too (maybe).


Moose River to Nina Moose Lake to Agnes Lake (And Then Back) (Photos) (Day 55)

September 12th, 2009 2 comments

bwca_moose-river-parkingDay 1: Rudolph?



bwca_grasswaterThere’s probably some better way to crop this one.



bwca_turtleA fierce lake turtle!

bwca_walleyeDay 2: A fierce lake walleye!






bwca_return-in-fogDay 3: Heading Home


Overall, a pretty cool trip. I think going solo made it a little more of an adventure than it otherwise would’ve been — the place has to be a haven for Boy Scout troops, guys’ weeks out, etc. Also:

  • The solitude here is amazing. You go and find a campsite and you basically don’t need to remember that humanity exists after that point — which is a little unsettling when you’re out there by yourself.
  • The bird sounds here were all foreign too me.
  • Even the squirrels seemed off-model (I think they’re red squirrels rather than whatever the other kind are).
  • The lakes all do look kind of the same.
  • When paddling home in the fog Thursday morning, I actually got to use my compass (thanks!).
  • Paddling against the wind is one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever done multiple times. Fortunately it only happened for about the last hour of paddling on Day 1.
  • Had never caught a fish while paddling my own boat before. Probably a good thing it wasn’t a 30-lb. northern pike — that might’ve gotten awkward.
  • When I was coming out of the lake, the folks just putting in were asking me if it was crowded. Relative to Boundary Waters? No idea if that constitutes crowded. There are, like, seven campsites on Lake Agnes and they were all taken, but it didn’t *feel* crowded.
  • For having no padding under me (and no stuffing on the bottom of my sleeping bag), I slept remarkably well out there.
  • Finally got to dig into my MREs. The chili and macaroni one was excellent. Even the penne with vegetarian sausage was good.
  • Pretty much all the water out there is brown, I’m guessing from all the tannins in the trees filtering through the soil? Anyway — when you put that through your own water filter, it’s still brown when you drink it.

Close enough.


How to Portage a Canoe Solo at Boundary Waters in 26 Easy Steps (Day 54)

September 11th, 2009 2 comments

Before going on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area trip, I figured the hard part of portaging the canoe would be having to carry the canoe around. Not that carrying the canoe is fantastic or anything, just that — it’s more the inconvenience of having to unpack and re-pack every time than it is the canoe hauling. IMHO.

Here are photos to help you sympathize (empathize? I’ll take what I can get).

bwca_portage-landingStep 1: Land ahoy! Identify the landing up ahead (in this case, it’s where those rocks are on the right-hand shore).

bwca_land-the-canoeStep 2: Beach the canoe by paddling sort of hard and aiming the bow for a soft, rampy spot (if available).

bwca_climb-outStep 3: Carefully — *carefully* — climb up to the bow of the canoe and get out, making sure to maintain a low COG and balance all the way — this is expecially (you heard me) true if the landing is more rocks than sand.

bwca_haul-canoe-onto-landStep 4: Pick up the canoe at the bow and haul it the rest of the way onto land.

bwca_remove-bear-cannisterStep 5: Remove the bear barrel from the canoe and put it on the ground somewhere.

bwca_remove-backpackStep 6: Take your backpack out of the canoe.

bwca_attach-yokeStep 7: Attach the yoke to the canoe by lining up the clamps and tightening them down. Then, tighten them further.

bwca_empty-canoeStep 8: Take the plastic cover off your backpack, remove paddles, fishing poles, and anything else still lying around in the canoe, then take a picture of it all.

bwca_stow-pack-coverStep 9: Stow the backpack cover into one of the side pockets on your pack.

bwca_backpack-onStep 10: Put your backpack on. Almost ready to go, sport!

bwca_lift-canoeStep 11: Lift canoe over head. But don’t do it like I’m doing it in the photo — grab it around the middle and work it out that way. Trust me.

bwca_canoe-on-headStep 12: Put yoke around neck with pads on shoulders.

bwca_transport-canoeStep 13: Start walkin’!

bwca_arrive-at-put-inStep 14: Arrive at put-in location (the end of the portage).

bwca_put-canoe-downStep 15: Remove canoe from head. This will, 60-percent of the time, result in having your hat fall down over your face.

bwca_remove-packStep 16: Take off your pack and PFD.

bwca_cover-packStep 17: Put the plastic cover back over your backpack.

bwca_hike-back-mapStep 18: Head back to where you left the bear barrell and paddles. Maybe check out your map along the way.

bwca_put-on-barrelStep 19: Once you’ve arrived at the take-out, strap the bear barrell onto your back.

bwca_pick-up-paddlesStep 20: Pick up your paddles and fishing pole and whatever else.

bwca_carry-paddlesStep 21: Carry them back down the path toward the put-in location.

bwca_re-pack-canoeStep 22: Throw everything back into the canoe.

bwca_put-on-pfdStep 23: Put your PFD back on.

bwca_put-canoe-in-waterStep 24: Push, pull, and drag the loaded canoe back into the water.

bwca_get-into-canoeStep 25: Carefully get back into the canoe. This is trickier than getting out, especially on rocks (as shown).

bwca_shove-offStep 26: Sit down and shove off, matey! There are bigger adventures — and longer portages! — yet to come.

Anyway, point being: carrying the canoe isn’t that big a deal when it comes to portages. And it takes about 4x longer to do a portage if you’re trying to photograph yourself doing it. And to a certain extent, the portages break up the sometimes-monotony of paddling. And the trip I did didn’t have all that many portages (five each way, the longest of which was a half-mile). But every portage I did required me to hike the route three times (there, back, there), whereas people not doing it solo would probably only hike each one once.

C’est. La. Vie.

More to come on the actual, like, trip part of the trip. You’ll see.


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