Warm Fall Days
Soaking everything we could out of our recent warm days, Wren and I paddledLake Clear Outlet the other evening. The sun shined through the glowing trees as we wound our way along Forest Home Road to the small put-in on the side of the road. Forest Home is one of those windy, forest-lined roads everyone should drive in fall. Wren sat in the car while I unloaded the gear and we set off with the sun at our backs.
Exploring by Canoe
It was a bit later than I had hoped to be leaving, but we still had plenty of time to poke around the nooks and marshy edge of the lake before it became dark. Spruce, fir, and pine lined the shoreline like a legion of soldiers keeping watch as we slid out across the smooth, glass-like surface. The only problem with so many conifers along the shore is that there were relatively few deciduous trees to admire in their fall splendor, but it did mean that those that were there stood out against the dark boughs of the evergreens. Wren and I will have to make a plan to paddle someplace lined with more deciduous forest while our leaves are still in good form.
I often find ducks like Wood Ducks and Mallards when I paddle Lake Clear Outlet and soon after we set out an American Black Duck cruised overhead, landing near the large beaver lodge on the one end of the outlet. We began to head up the channel which connects the outlet to Lake Clear itself – Wren lying down with her head on the gunwale to smell the air and watch the landscape as we went. A few folks were moving around the couple camps which line the channel, and Wren lifted her head to watch them. The people exchanged waves with me.
She took little notice of the birds which were fairly active along the channel and Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Dark-eyed Juncos called and flew across the water ahead. I stopped and spished along the shoreline to agitate them a bit more.
The channel eventually reached the bridge for Route 30 followed by a railroad bridge and we slid beneath them before meandering the final few-hundred meters to Lake Clear. The sun’s low rays set the far shore of the lake on fire across the clear and flat surface of the water. There was almost no air moving at all. I scanned the water for Common Loons which so often stage up on Lake Clear before migrating south, and I found a long line of their dark shapes strung together in the distance. Further along the lake, the white bodies of Ring-billed Gulls stuck out against the black water. A few more flew on crooked wings overhead. We sat for a few minutes taking in the peaceful setting – I taking a few photos while I suppose Wren was wishing she was playing in the sand on Lake Clear Beach on the far side of the lake. But we didn’t have enough daylight to head there and we had to turn around.
I made fairly quick work on our way out, although there was still some chattering from the birds along the channel to distract me as we went. The sun had now set and the chill of evening filled the waterway – reminding us that despite the warm daytime temps, it was still fall after all. The sky began to turn pink and purple and I looked into the reflection of the lake at thin whisps of cirrus clouds glowing in the dark mirror. We sliced through them with our boat – making everything dance in disarray. The red maples and other deciduous trees along the water also shone in the twilight - looking even brighter and more contrasting to their surroundings – like little golden lampposts leading us toward the take-out. I paused a few times to enjoy the colors in the low light as we passed quietly on through the placid waters.