October 20, 2017
Amazing Fall Weather
Our weather as of late has been nothing short of amazing, and so my friend and I decided to take advantage of our sunny streak by squeezing in an evening paddle after work the other day. That’s one of the best things about living around here – there are so many lakes and ponds to explore that you can easily add a quick paddle in on a busy day. And at this point in the year we don’t know how many good-weather paddling days we have left, so it is wise to exploit those we have.
A Good Choice for a Short Outing
With that in mind we chose Lake Clear Outlet, because it is a short drive from town and because it can be covered quickly when time and daylight are pressing. So we loaded up and drove to the put-in along Forest Home Road in Lake Clear, and soon we had the boat on the water. I was hoping we could get out earlier, but we were prepared with snacks, water, and lights, and Wren was happy that I had taken the time to give her a good walk before she was compelled to sit still in the canoe.
A Tranquil Paddle
Clouds had drifted into the region during the afternoon, making the sky blue and purple in places – as if our timing was later than it was – and as the sun bent lower, the pastel colors in the heavens were reflected upon the smooth canvas of the water, accented by the changing leaves in the bordering trees. We stopped several times for photos. A few Wood Ducks lifted from the marshy edge that lines much of the waterbody — I often find them there. We spotted another handful of Wood Ducks on the western cove of the outlet. Then more flew up from the marsh as we circumnavigated our way around the pool, bringing our numbers to about a dozen. We also spooked a few Great Blue Herons, and I kept my eyes peeled for a chance meeting with an American Bittern as well.
A Belted Kingfisher chattered as it flew from perch to perch low over the water, and we listened to the soft calls of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Common Yellowthroats, and Song and Swamp sparrows from the surrounding trees and shrubs. It was peaceful. Wren laid with her head on the gunwale as she commonly does, and my friend and I chatted quietly, pausing now and then to silently drink in the scene. There is something placid and harmonious about evening paddles — I often wish I could freeze time and allow those twilight moments to last much longer than they do.
We continued up the waterway which leads to Lake Clear, passing a few camps on the way and slipping beneath Route 30 and the neighboring railroad bridge on our way to Lake Clear itself. The light was low by now and we stopped to take in Lake Clear, spotting Ring-billed Gulls and Common Loons on the lake while we were at it, and noting the lights on the top of the nearby hills — presumably there to help guide aircraft from the nearby airport. It was a tranquil place to sit and absorb the cooling evening air, but with a purple gloom growing around us, we turned to help maximize our remaining light for our trip back to the take-out.
We took a more direct route on the return trip, rather than skirting through the edge of the marsh and its hidden stumps in in the low light. As it was, we needed my bright flashlight to help locate the small canoe launch, which is easy to miss in the dark. But we found it without much hassle, soon had the boat loaded, and were headed off to find a relaxing dinner to complement our paddle.
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