Father’s Day Weekend Paddling at Chain of Lakes

Although I am not (yet) a father, I decided to take advantage of the sunny 85 degree weather and grab some quick paddling in my familiar city “pool” for the Saturday before Father’s Day.  The holiday weekend, combined with picturesque weather, brought out the crowds.  As I drove in, I glimpsed over 30 kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddle boards and paddle boats in just one portion of the lake.  I wanted to take a photo, but I figured I should get to the boat launch while there was still room in the lake!

Boat dock with kayak, paddle and unnatural flower floating in the water

After some circuitous driving around road construction along the eastern edge of Lake of the Isles, I pulled into my familiar boat launch and inflated the boat under a glorious blue sky. I decided to inflate a bit more than I usually do to test if that may help performance. I’m happy to report that it did help greatly with performance. I felt like I was flying on the water compared to some of my previous trips. I really should find a way to hook up a pressure gauge to the bellows foot pump.

Bow of kayak at dock in Lake of Isles

Stern of kayak at dock in Lake of Isles

It has been nearly a month since my last trip to the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis.  The plants in the shallow water near the boat dock have definitely filled out and crowded the water.  I’ve heard some ‘locals’ claim they’ve never seen it this bad, but I have no frame of reference.  They don’t bother me too much, except when they wrap around my paddles.  I do enjoy drifting over the weeds and peeking in on the copious number of fish flitting about within the weeds.

Lake of the Isles panorma from the northwestern boat dock

After taking a panoramic shot of my familiar boat launch on Lake of the Isles, I started off for Cedar Lake from Lake of the Isles.  This gives me a good excuse to take the connecting waterway and enjoy some shaded paddling.  The usual goslings that feed in this waterway appear to have all grown up and moved on to explore the lake, as their normal stomping grounds were vacant.

Tree fluff filling the water in Cedar Lake connecting waterway

Tree fluff filling the water in Cedar Lake connecting waterway

The water was covered in the ‘tree fluff’ that is so common this time of year.  It is so heavy that it almost reminds me of drifting snow.  When you look up, the air is filled with this slowly drifting fluff and continues the snow comparison.

Tree fallen in Cedar Lake connecting waterway

Immediately after passing underneath the bike-path bridge, I was surprised to see a large tree had snapped in half and fallen into the waterway!

Tree fallen in Cedar Lake connecting waterway

Zoom of tree fallen in Cedar Lake connecting waterway

Given the healthy appearance of the leaves, I would say this may have fallen last night.  Since I couldn’t go around the fallen tree, I cautiously paddled underneath the twisted trunk.  It looked quite stable, but I didn’t linger around the area waiting for something to happen.  I do hope that they cut down this fallen trunk and retrieve it from the waterway.

Cedar Lake was quite uneventful, but I did explore the previously unvisited southern shore.  The numerous beaches were filled with people.  Strangely, there was a powerboat tearing across the lake on its way to Lake of the Isles.  Since motorboats are banned from these lakes, I assume he was from the city looking at the fallen tree.  I certainly hope they have not decided to allow motorboats on these lakes.

Sailboats on Lake Calhoun

Sailboats on Lake Calhoun

I returned to Lake of the Isles and continued on to Lake Calhoun.  There was a slight breeze on the lake, which gave the numerous small sailboats a good excuse to stretch their legs (or should I say wings?).  I stayed fairly close to the shore, as the center of the lake was occupied with fairly fast sailboats.

Critter in Lake Calhoun

Zoom of critter in Lake Calhoun

As I was taking some pictures of the sailboats, a large ‘head’ popped out of the water and started swimming away from me.  I never got a close look at this thing, but it was brownish, flat, and long.  If I didn’t know the area, I would have said it had the same proportions of an alligator head.  I tried to get a better shot, but he had gotten too far from my little camera to come out clearly.  Some passing canoeists were similarly perplexed and went to get a closer look.  Sadly, the head went back underwater before they caught up, but I did hear them talk about some large muskrats that are known to live in the lakes.

Lazy drifting in Lake Calhoun

One extremely nice ‘feature’ of an inflatable kayak is that the front deck is closed by a zipper.  It is extremely easy to unzip the front deck to give your legs a breather.  This also lets you recline for some very enjoyable drifting in the sun.  If there wasn’t so many boats in the water (and a slight breeze causing me to drift), I could definitely see myself drifting to sleep in this position.  Unless you have one of the recreational hardshell kayaks with a fairly large cockpit, I don’t think you’d be able to do anything similar in a proper touring or sea kayak.  I also don’t think the seat and floor would be nearly as comfortable as the inflatable kayak.

Heading back in Lake of Isles

Having promised my wife that I was going for a ‘quick’ paddle, I headed back to the dock on Lake of the Isles.  My ‘quick’ paddle turned into 2 hours, but I certainly enjoyed it.

Duck visiting the dock at Lake of Isles

My boat dock was fairly quiet, as everyone seems to have moved on to other locations.  There was a duck swimming among the weeds that seemed utterly unconcerned about my arrival and exit from the water.  In fact, there were 2 other occasions on this trip where I had to keep from accidentily hitting a duck while paddling.  They must be completely used to kayakers and canoeists, so nearby paddles don’t phase them at all.

I love my 1997 Subaru Outback

I loaded up my beloved Subaru for the head home.  Next weekend (provided the weather works out), I will fill my car to the brim with bikes, tools, camping equipment, food and water for a pseudo-camping trip at Lake Elmo Park Reserve just east of the Twin Cities.  We’re using this nearby location to test our camping equipment (and skills) before our semi-inexperienced group of scientists head off in July to Wind Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of far northeastern Minnesota.  I can’t wait for that trip, but this upcoming weekend should be loads of fun!

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