The Crooked Canes Journal


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Blue Mountain Lake Paddle/Castle Rock Hike ~ Jul 12, 2012

Journal entry by Wanderer



Caners,

I am sure you will agree that everyone likes a good recipe – well yesterday I found one that is sure to please just about everyone – young and old alike. Take nearly perfect weather with blue skies and abundant sunshine; add lots of water with some islands thrown in for some variety; break up the day between a paddle and a hike with the lunch destination an overlook with beautiful, expansive views; make sure that you have a group of energetic people to participate - mix them altogether and what do you have? FUN of course and lots of it.

When I came up with the idea of paddling across Blue Mt Lake and hiking to the overlook on top of Castle Rock I suggested to Tom and Don that it be an additional event rather than a regularly scheduled Thursday outing, primarily because it is a longer drive than we are used to. Tom disagreed and thought it would a good idea to offer an outing that had never been done by the CC’s up to this time and scheduled it. Always a skeptic, I figured a handful of people would be the most that would attend but Tom was right (I wonder if he will remind me of that?).

When Linda and I arrived at the WCMC I think we totaled about 7 – not too bad and very manageable but I knew that there were going to be a few scheduled to meet at the Blue Mountain Lake launch - that would make it a good sized group but still not too big. Don seemed happy that his email, reminding attendees to complete the new “Acknowledgement of Risk Agreement,” was a success as he gathered a small pile of them. I was somewhat concerned about the timing of the request – immediately before a trip that I was leading – didn’t he trust my abilities? Was there something about my past trips turning into adventures rather than normal outings that made him overly cautious? I hadn’t lost anybody – no – that was Ken so it must have been his fault and not mine, besides it was easy to blame someone who wasn’t there - on to Wevertown.

Arriving at our meeting place at the Town’s courthouse all I could see were cars – in the parking lot and along the shoulder of the road. Surely court wasn’t being held – besides why would people bring kayaks and canoes to court – no, these were Caners! Well, not all of them – Donna and Peter brought two of their grandkids Alex and Caitlin along. The two girls, both 12, were visiting for a few weeks – one from Connecticut and the other from Wisconsin. I knew that the word was spreading about the Crooked Canes but hadn’t realized that we had gone national. Hey – in another 50 years they will be able to become official Caners too. Donna had brought her own kayak and after witnessing Peter’s past tricks on how to get others to do all the paddling I knew he brought his grandkids along to do the work – guys named Peter are all the same – you really have to watch them closely or suffer the consequences. The group was now large enough that we may cause a traffic jam at the small unloading area in front of the town beach so I decided to send them ahead to begin the unloading while a couple of us dealt with some last minute logistics.

Surprisingly, when we arrived at the launch site the unloading was going very smoothly and it wasn’t long before all the boats were in the water and cars parked. For some reason I had some good assistance on getting a count and we consistently came up with 19 paddlers – another good showing. I was relieved that there was no wind and the surface of the lake was smooth – a lot different than my scout trip last week when there were white caps. We were on our way at 10:30 for the 2 mile crossing – a colorful array of boats, their captains and mates.

Linda and I were allowed to take the lead – perhaps everyone thought we knew where we were going and lucky for them we did because finding the trailhead is like finding a needle in a haystack along the forested shore and that is after zigzagging through the group of islands blocking a direct approach. As we reached the shoreline of the first island, eagle eyed Linda saw what looked like an osprey grab its lunch and fly away with it in its talons and soon after that we were welcomed to the lake by the call of a loon or we had entered its territory and was sending out a warning. In either case we were on our way, passing in between Long Island, the largest island of the lake and Osprey Island, its neighbor to the NE. Next we rounded Bluff Point and soon entered the final bay where we located the TH. We had to move 4 kayaks that were blocking the landing but once that was done our transition to hikers was rather smooth and we were soon on our way up the trail, climbing 700’ and 1 mile to the rocky outcropping. Dana and Charlie decided to stay at the TH and do some paddling while keeping an eye on our boats.

We certainly weren’t alone on the trail, seeing hikers coming down, passing others on their way up and ones that were already enjoying the panoramic view when we arrived. We did take a short break at the cave area below the summit but didn’t spend any time exploring. Our timing was perfect as we reached the top and were able to find space for everyone without overcrowding and it was only12:15 – that would make the Reber’s proud! The views were super, with Blue Mountain dominating to the east at 3,740’, and a clear view of Blue Mountain Lake below us with its many islands. We could see the beach where we started and easily made out the route we had taken. A short distance behind the south eastern part of the lake we could see Lake Durant and the silhouetted mountains of Blue Ridge. Looking SSE we could see another ridge of mountains leading to Snowy Mountain, the highest mountain south of the High Peaks at 3,890’. Our view was completed looking SW with a good view of Eagle Lake – connected to BML at its southwestern corner. I managed to visit a little with Alex and Caitlin who gave the outing a 9 so far – with a possible upgrade to a 10 if they were treated to ice cream at Stewart’s on the way home – just how much would I have to bribe Donna and Peter to get that coveted “10” rating?

With visiting still underway Don suggested that we might consider starting down so I spread the word to pack things up and head for a swim back at the TH. We spent nearly 45 minutes on top so with some final glimpses of the views we were on our way, allowing others to take our seats. We were able to take a short rest stop at the caves again before reaching the TH where we were greeted by our sentinels Charlie and Dana. Some began getting their boats in the water while others decided a swim was more of a priority. All agreed that this was a wonderful trip and suggested that we consider doing a paddle of Eagle and Utowana Lakes, even though the drive is long – we will see. It wasn’t long before everyone was back in their boats for the trip back. Claire and Fran had made plans to stay overnight at Long Lake so had extra paddling time to explore Eagle Lake before their return to the launch area. There was a slight SW wind which aided somewhat in the paddle back which made it go by somewhat quicker and once again we were greeted by the call of a loon as we reached the big islands – saying good-bye perhaps.

Departing at different times from the TH certainly helped in preventing congestion in loading of boats but having some decide to get in another swim at the beach area didn’t hurt either. I don’t know about how others felt but I was tired – perhaps from the warm weather but maybe from just having a great time. BTW – Linda and I passed Donna and Peter Wood and their grandkids as well as Donna and Dana Westcott having ice cream just down form Stewart’s in Indian Lake. Did I get that “10” rating as promised? I know I thought it was a 10. Thanks everyone for another memorable outing – Don, Jim R, Eric, Donna and Dana, Donna and Peter, Alex, Caitlin, Thora, Charlie, Carole, Rose, Cathy (newcomer), Fran, Diane, Claire and Linda.

Peter

19 photos



Beginning to Cross



Thora and Charlie at the Launch



Our Destination - Castle Rock



On Land Again - Don, Carole, Donna, Linda



Cave Entrance



Most of Our Group (plus a couple of visitors)



Linda, Donna, Carole, Eric and some visitors



View of Blue Mountain



Looking SW with view of Eagle Lake



SE View with glimpse of Lake Durant (behind beach area) and Snowy Mt in the background (R)



Donna and Peter Wood with Grandkids Alex and Caitlin



View Behind Overlook Looking N



Rest Stop at the Caves



Trailside Rock



Time for a Swim



Swimming a Priority



Dana the Lifeguard



Just Having Fun



Time to Go



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