Enjoying a Brownie Lake Paddle

Brownie Lake Tunnel Art

Although not a major accomplishment by any stretch of the imagination, I finally made it to Brownie Lake. This chalk gentleman greets you upon your arrival. I’ve made repeated attempts to get there before, but the water level has always been too low for the connecting waterway between Cedar Lake and Brownie Lake. The tunnel is about 8-feet wide, so my paddle was too wide to use. I had to resort to pushing off the graffitied walls to make it through the 40-foot long concrete tunnel.

First glimpse of Brownie Lake

This lake is a tiny off-shoot of Cedar Lake, and is the last of the northern City Lakes for me to explore. From my glimpses through the semi-dry tunnel on previous trips, I thought this was the extent of the lake.

Tree stump

There is a bit of a muddy landing just to the right of this tree stump that people apparently use to enter and exit the lake when the water levels are too low for the tunnel. I guess I hadn’t explored the idea of portaging over the bike path to get here.

Brownie Lake

Just around the bend from the entrance, I was able to get a full view of Brownie Lake. Not massive at all, but quite a bit larger than I expected. There were a number of people fishing from canoes and the shore on this sunny afternoon.

Brownie Lake reeds

The eastern shore of Brownie Lake was lined with reeds and trees. I was surprised at how quiet and still the lake was. Cedar Lake is similarly lined with reeds, but tends to have choppier water and much more traffic.

Brownie Lake lily pads and trash

It is hard to tell from this picture, but there are about equal amounts of lily pads and floating trash along the eastern shore. I guess the lack of wind and water movement causes the trash to build up. There is a white staircase in the background that leads from the lake from the road above.

Brownie Lake trash

Here’s an attempt to get a “better” view of the trash, but it (luckily) looks better in photos than person. I wonder if there is a “clean up the lakes” day organized each year? I try to pull out the occasional junk I see, but I would probably want some gloves before jumping in on this cleanup job. Much of the plastic is severely faded by the sun, so perhaps this trash is the result of many years of build-up?

Brownie Lake lily pads

Turning more toward the northern shore, I pulled away from the lily pads. I was trying to not disturb (or suspiciously photograph) the two canoes fishing closer to the western shore.

Brownie Lake far side

At the northern tip of the lake, there was a storm drain-like exit. The lakes always look fine, but I can’t imagine the amount of chemicals, run-off, trash and pollution that fill them each year.

Brownie Lake entrance side

Now pointing back toward the southern shore, I figured I had drifted around the tiny lake enough for one day and began heading back.

Brownie Lake

As I head back south for the return to Cedar Lake, you can see the pedestrian bridge, which also houses Cedar Lake Parkway. Nearby, there are connections to the Cedar Lake Trail that is continuous with many of the trail systems around here.

Brownie Lake bike trail bridge

This is a fairly nice bridge that had a few pedestrians biking by. This town is definitely a nice place to live if you have a bike. I’m surprised that you can actually get to so many locations without having to brave road traffic.

Leaving Brownie Lake

You can see the tunnel entrance appear as you reach the southern tip of Brownie Lake. Sadly, the other end of the tunnel was not as well decorated.

Brownie Lake tunnel to Cedar Lake

I greeted the graffiti guardian once more and crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t get stuck in the tunnel. I am impressed with the artwork, but I don’t entirely know how they did that. When the water was lower, they may have stood there, but it is likely they used a canoe to put that up. Impressive.

Returning to Lake of the Isles dock

Ah, the true end to my trip. Here is Lake of the Isles, just off of the dock that I’ve used for almost every trip I’ve taken in my first year of paddling around the Twin Cities. It has been a great experience, and I feel as if I am comfortable with paddling different lakes. I am sure I’ll return to these lakes often this coming year, as the proximity and amenities of these lakes are too convenient.

Brownie Lake reflection

As I reflect on the past year, I thought of the year’s trips. This may be the last trip of the year for me, as things are about to get very busy with the pending birth of my daughter. Once she arrives, I doubt the weather or my schedule will cooperate for paddling. I certainly hope that next spring and summer work out for more diverse paddling. I have a secret desire to go paddling during the winter, but I am fairly certain I won’t follow through with that unless we get a freak, early snowstorm. Something about not-yet-frozen water surrounded by a few inches of newly fallen snow sounds like a unique trip to me. I would never had thought of that idea, except I did see another inflatable kayaker paddle in quite icy conditions.

What are my paddling plans for next year? I certainly want to see the Boundary Waters, a Minnesotan experience I truly was sad to miss. I definitely want to hit Lake Minnetonka, a large lake just west of the Twin Cities. I would love to go see Itasca, see the start of the Mississippi, and perhaps do a river trip down the Mississippi. Others have entertained me this year with such a trip, so maybe I’ll find a way to do (a small portion) of the Mississippi. I’m all set to do a bit of light kayak camping, so perhaps I can find a way to do that on the Mississippi trip. I still want to connect with the local River Ramblers group, so hopefully my schedule will line up with theirs more this year.

Most of all, I am looking forward to my coming daughter’s reaction the water, her dad paddling in a colorful “banana”, and everything else associated with her throwing my life upside down. I’ve already bought a pair of water shoes for her, although she won’t fit in them (or run around the water) for more than a year from now. Let’s see what 2010 brings!