June Paddling Extravaganza!

During the worst months for mosquitoes, deer and horse flies, I kayak instead of hike. As a matter of fact, even later in the summer, when the bugs are less ferocious, I find myself not hiking because I kind of forget that it’s an option. Weird, I know, but there it is.

Not all kayaking trips are worth a post all to themselves, so in this one I’ll share some of my best shots from a few trips, all in the month of June. The first one is Horn and Thompson lakes. They are here in Lincoln county and though they have separate names they are connected and it doesn’t look like it’s a seasonal (high water) connection so I have no idea why two names. They are very different though. If you look at Google maps you’ll see that Horn lake is filled in the middle with what appears to be an island, but it’s really kind of a peat bog. Basically it’s shrubs and other smaller plants with an occasional tree. Lots of flowers and peat moss, too. This forces you to paddle the edges and it feels like a winding river in that sense –

Horn Lake reflections

That shot is from a narrow part and this one from a wider one. The little strip of green in the closest part of land is the island I mean. I tried to paddle all the way around, but got stuck because of a huge tree that was down. Someone had been in with a chainsaw and cut another tree, but hadn’t gotten to this one, so I had to back up the kayak and return the same way I came then go into the other part of the lake. Hardship duty for sure.

Horn Lake backwater

And this is a shot of that little notch in the trees. It’s the connection between Horn and Thompson (sorry for the washed out cell phone pic) –

The narrow way

And when you get through you can see the difference in the two lakes –

Thompson lake

There is one little cabin on this side and a handful of homes on the other, so it feels like more remote wilderness than it is. Until a truck goes by on the nearby county road. Ha!

Go your own way

So we’ll leave these two little beauties for the Harrison flowage. Another small lake that is lightly developed (the houses are all by the dam on one end) and not a far drive for me. I was with my friend and neighbor and she’d never been in a kayak before so I didn’t take a lot of photos, but I couldn’t resist taking a few.

The protectorate

I’ve seen swans on this lake before, but not on this end so seeing this family was cool. As was finding this bright little orchid which I reported to the DNR since maps of where it occurs didn’t include Lincoln county –

Arethusa bulbosa – aka swamp pink

So onto another flowage, this time the Willow. This one is HUGE and I only paddled a tiny part of it. The least large and open part that is near where the Willow river comes in which isn’t far from its little section of rapids. If you want to see a little video of how far I could paddle upstream, check out this link.

It was super windy the day I went so I stuck to the shoreline for that reason and so I wouldn’t get lost. Seriously, I was a little worried about that since I had no cell phone service at all and couldn’t see a map or where my Jeep was parked. I also decided to focus on little slices of things that make paddling magical –

Northern blue flag
Just the two of us
Found footing
Submerged paddler
Willow flowage

And now a quick trip to the Spirit River. Again, super windy so I didn’t shoot too much. Don’t worry though, I’ve been back and oh my did I take a lot of pictures in July. So this is just a little preview –

Bigger and Grander
Grief for what is left
Rosa acicularis
Life in the slow lane
Wild Iris

Phew. One more. Since there isn’t a lot of text to go with these, I’ll include Riley lake (Price county, not Forest) which is another small lake with very little development (one cabin!). I wanted to paddle it a year or two ago, but the road to the launch is so bad I couldn’t get my Subaru down it. The Jeep had no problem since it has such high ground clearance. Once on the water (in high winds) I found that it was a little different than other lakes I’ve paddled in that the surrounding vegetation was very boggy and is in fact a bog – it just has a very large amount of open water still. Black spruce, bog rosemary, leatherleaf, bog cotton, pitcher plants, peat moss and tamarack pines. Needless to say I loved it despite the wind.

Riley lake shoreline


Wind and sky
For those we knew

Another pink orchid, but a different and much more common one. Still, I haven’t photographed them since I lived in NH, so I had to wait out the wind and find a way to shoot them.

Grass pink orchid
Bog rosemary (berries)

What a great month for being on the water. Lots more to come including two, count ’em, TWO eagle nests. Stay tuned!!

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