Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Only a lunatic would go canoeing on a day like this...

Another day of pouring rain, but I was feeling stir-crazy, so I decided to head out to hide a new geocache, and paddle in the downpour.

I threw my solo-canoe on the roof of our CRV, and headed to the Upper Saranac Lake Boat Launch...

The rain picked up in intensity as I dumped the canoe and my stuff into the water. A guy sitting in his pick-up watching the rain was looking at me as though I must have lost a bet to be canoeing in this kind of weather.

I didn't see another soul the entire time I was on the water, except for a barge chugging slowly across the water loaded down with a huge Volvo crane...the pilot stuck his head out to ask if I needed help (I don't know exactly how he could have helped, but it was a nice to offer).

I don't think that this picture really captures the droplets floating on the surface of the water during one stage of the downpour...the rain was falling and droplets bounced back up and would float on the surface for 5-10 seconds before the surface tension of the droplets, or the lake...or both...would be overcome and the droplets would join with the lake.

While on the topic of rain...let me talk for a minute about the variety of rain that I encountered during my morning. At no time did the precipitation stop entirely, although, to be fair, neither was the air ever completely replaced by solid water...
  • there was mist that seemed to go sideways underneath the brim of my hat, coating my glasses in seconds
  • there was light rain that sounded like wind in the trees (I know that it was not wind in the trees because there was absolutely no wind)
  • there was a a slightly heavier rain that fell into the still water making a sound like a gazillion tiny brass gongs or bells
  • there was a heavy rain that sounded (and felt) like somone spraying a hose on my neck and head
  • there was a really heavy rain that made the last bit of paddling an awkward race to see if I could reach my island destination before there was as much (or more) water inside as outside my canoe (the tricky thing about this sort of race is that once there are about 2 inches of water in the bottom of your canoe, it get slower and harder to steer and tippier...which seems unfair when you are hurrying)

I landed just in time, hopped out, and flipped my canoe over to keep it from filling while I explored Green Island and hid the new geocache. The theme of this geocache was for it to be an easy find across diffult the finder of this geocache needs a boat, to be skilled in bushwhacking and climbing steep rock (wet and slippery steep rock on this particular day), while at the same time being able to find the cache easily once these challenges are surmounted.

The location provided all the terrain challenge that I needed, and some day-glo paint helped me help people in locating the cache once they get in the general area (note to geocaching novices: most cache containers are camouflaged so as to blend in with their surrounding...not actually glow as this one does in anything brighter than darkest night...the halo you see around the cache in the photo above is real, not the product of photo manipulation).

Having placed the cache in both the center of the island and at its highest point, I slithered and slid back down to my canoe and set off the rain. I had not paddled far when I heard the beautiful and haunting cry of the Adirondacks unofficial mascot, the loon. I looked around and the large bird had popped up about 50 feet from my boat and was munching on little fish, preening its feathers, and occasionally stretching its wings in a witless attempt to dry off (they're lovely birds, but not the sharpest fish in the woodpile, if you know what I mean). I can see the loon (read - tiny black dot) in the middle of the right-hand side of the photo above...I brought my waterproof (read - the one without zoom capability) camera today, a wise decision, but somewhat limiting in loon photography.

After floating for a the the middle of Upper Saranac Lake...the rain slackened a bit and I decided to head for Tommy's Rock, a cute and tiny and rocky island that I used to frequent as a child for picnicking (sp?) and rock-jumping fun. I had no picnic, just some Dominican cigars from my waterproof 1st aid kit, but I decided to make the best of it...until my lighter wouldn't work after a brief upturn in the amount of rain soaked it.

A minute later, the rain stopped, replaced by the strange horizontal mist I mentioned earlier...this allowed me to do some rock-jumping and swimming. I don't know if it is due to:
  1. the time
  2. the place
  3. the family
in which I grew up, but I find swimming in the rain unnerving, unnatural, and generally freaky. The lake was surprisingly cold once I got under the top foot, which I assume was warm because it fell as rain in the last few hours...but the swim was refreshing, the jumps off of the island exhilarating, and the slippery scramble up the rocks reminded me of being 8 years old and skinning my knees on the very same rocks.

All in all a superb morning!


Janet said...

You, truly, are lover in Nature in its rawest form. Obviously you enjoyed this splendid adventure.

Nature Lover said...

After reading this blog, holding my breath the entire time, I have to agree with your title...

I am a nature lover, but your love far exceeds mine on this particular excursion. I do admire your tenacity and loved the descriptions of the rain. Your photos are consistently very good.

I LOVE YOU said...
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