Friday, June 28, 2013

North Lake Conroe: Western Shore

As I shoved off from the ramp at the Cagle Recreation Area, the sun was rising above the treeline and a light mist was still floating just above the surface of the lake.

I've paddled most of the area north toward Wildwood Shores and Stubblefield Lake before, so the plan for the day was to explore the western shore south of Cagle.

As I paddled west, I soon entered an area of the lake that's filled with old tree stumps with their heads just barely above the water at this level. As I passed among them, slowly and quietly, I startled a number of fish and turtles that were nibbling on the plants that were growing among their roots.

Once I reached the western shore, I turned south and started hugging the shore line and listening to the sounds of the Sam Houston National Forest coming alive. Great egrets and great blue herons were staring hopefully into she shallow waters and a vulture who had already found his breakfast was dining happily on a small sandy beach.

As I explored the one little inlet I spotted a beaver lodge, but it seemed no one was home. In another I ran across a doe and fawn browsing by the water side. Cattails waved in the gentle breeze at the mouth of a little creek which flows into the lake during wetter times. The sounds of woodpeckers and other birds carried across the water from the forest.

As the sun grew warm and my stomach grew empty, I doubled back to a nice landing spot I'd passed earlier and beached my kayak. Soon I had my camp chair set up under some shady trees and was enjoying a picnic lunch in the woods. Once lunch was consumed and had settled a bit, I took a nice relaxing swim (well, more of a float really) in the lake. It was a perfect way to cool down and to wash away the lingering stress that hadn't already succumbed to the peaceful morning on the lake.

Once I had my fill of swimming, I reloaded my boat and headed back toward the launch, physically tired but mentally refreshed. Thank you Lake Conroe!

More Pictures from North Lake Conroe

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Huntsville Gator Bait

When the official start of summer arrived in concert with a miniature heat wave, we started looking for a cool weekend escape. We settled on Huntsville State Park for its appealing combination of deep woods and cool waters. Why choose between hiking, kayaking, swimming, and picnicking when you can do all four?

The first paddle was great, as was the first round of swimming. The picnic was tasty and refreshing. The hike was a little warm, but we did get the chance to get up close and personal with this great blue heron!

For the final act, we decided to take another paddle and swim. There was a small hitch though. As we were paddling toward the spot where we wanted to swim, we happened to mention to our junior paddler that I'd spotted an alligator in the distance during our first paddle of the day. It wasn't anywhere near where we swam and its only reaction to our presence was to run away, but that didn't matter. The idea of sharing the open lake with an alligator put her quite out of temper and she refused to swim off of the large concrete block we'd used as a swim platform before. She was still okay with swimming in the "designated swimming area" over by one bank though. Apparently she was of the opinion that an alligator would never swim under a rope with floats on it?  :-)

Anyway. . . she took her final swim in the rather crowded designated swimming area. Then we took our final swim in the "alligator feeding area." Despite the worst fears of our junior paddler, no one was eaten and we all made it home safely after a fun outing to the park.

More Pictures from Huntsville State Park