Sunday, September 27, 2009

First weekend of fall

Yesterday there was a short notice trip starting at Kingsland Bay.

On the way there's a rail crossing with the red light blinking. A couple of cars are waiting... waiting.... waiting... no train. After a few minutes they start going forward one at a time, look both ways, and cross. Later I find out it had been blinking for at least a half hour. In a more populated area there also would have been a gate down.

I proceed, hoping I won't find the beach with a few cars and everybody gone. Not to worry, they are still there, along with a van/trailer load of kids from Middlebury (college) Mountain Club starting an intro to kayaking weekend.

Oops... Though I did make lunch, it somehow didn't get in the car, so I dump a few scoops of Gatorade in my water bottle, and Phelps says he has a couple extra bars and some apples I can have.

It's a nice fall day.. air and water both around 60, blue sky, color starting in the trees, and wind in the high teens to low 20's. Our route is pretty familiar, south almost to the Maritime Museum, cross over to Barn Rock on the New York side, lunch at the lean to a little north of that, then tack home on the increasing SE wind in a zig-zag route mixing some downwind waves with enough cross wind paddling so we DO end up back in Vermont instead of way north but still on the NY shore.

Conditions weren't what any of us would call challenging but the wind, color, and waves rolling under the nylon boat skin gave me the same sense stimulation I get from a scenic overlook on a fall hike. Fall's here, in your face, and you can't help but smile at it.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Valcour Island

Email from Sam:

"Meet at whites Beach at 10:30 am for circumnavigation of Valcour. Plan on a strong 4 hour paddle."

Note it doesn't mention a day. That was in the subject line, but one guy didn't notice that, showed up on Saturday instead of Sunday and ended up doing the paddle alone.... then came again and did it with us.

The stretch between White's beach and Valcour Island in New York is often the windiest part of the lake, and if it is southerly, nearly a hundred miles of fetch (so great waves!)

This time, not so much.. What wind there was, we were headed into. It shifted though and by the time we got to Valcour, it was downwind. As we progressed around the island, it was ALWAYS headed towards the island. A thermal sea breeze!
The east side of the island has a lot of small caves. The waves wash over the openings making a very bassy gurgling that I can only describe as whale belches.

East side of Valcour Island

Lunch break, looking back at the start, with Mt. Mansfield (aka Stowe ski area) in back.
Lunch break
West to New York (Peru and Keeseville)
Valcour Island beach

After lunch, we continued around up the NY side
South side of Valcour

and decided to check out Crab Island.

Crab Island is named for the marine fossils in its limestone. I guess trilobites look kind of like crabs.
Landing on Crab Island
Crab Island's place in history is that there was a field hospital there in the war of 1812. There were also a few cannons placed there to defend Plattsburgh, manned entirely by invalids. ON the island now is a memorial for the battle of Plattsburgh, in which the invalids captured one of the British ships.
Battle of Plattsburgh Memorial
Battle of Plattsburgh plaque

That battle pretty much marked the end of the war as it left the US dominating the lake so the British couldn't use the water highway from Montreal to NY (Lake Champlain to Lake George to the Hudson River) to transport troops and supplies.

After the historic tour, it was time to head home, upwind. Again, that was a thermal that died out once we got a ways from shore.