Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lake Conewago, PA

Jean was attracted to this little plant, which I discovered is called a spring beauty.  How appropriate.  I would see several areas where the forest was carpeted with large clusters of these.

Conewago Lake, DeLorme P.82, B-3. Located in Gifford Pinchot State Park, Conewago is 340 acres and offered 8.75 miles of paddling around the lake. Because of being in the state park, many locals refer to it by the nickname of Pinchot Lake. It is situated south of Maytown and Lewisberry, PA.

Doing Lake Conewago right after Lake Marburg at Cordorus State Park was unfortunate. Every lake is unique, but these two don’t compare well. Whatever Marburg is, Conewago isn’t. Marburg is deep right off the shore and reaches 120 feet; Conewago is shallow, with the deepest depth of 25-feet occurring only at the dam. The rest of the lake runs between 6-10 feet. Marburg is very clear. Visibility had to reach to 20 feet. On Conewago, when I hit bottom with only the lower half of the paddle blade in the water, I still couldn’t see what I was hitting. Visibility was only about four inches while the sky was cloudy, and when the sun broke through, it still only pierced the water to about eight inches. The problem with that is the lake is studded with Volkswagen-sized boulders. With the lake being so shallow, many are awash, and many more are hiding just below the surface. Some rock piles are buoyed, but marking them all would make the lake look like a chocolate birthday cake with a hundred white candles. I was concerned about sliding up on one that would deprive Ibi of all her stability while my camera rested in the bottom of the boat.

Several times I’d go to put the paddle in the water just to have it go “bonk” on a boulder that slid by unseen and less than six inches below the surface. It was fairly breezy, about 20 mph., and the leeward side of the lake was safer to run because the waves coming across the lake would break against the submerged rocks. I could look around and see 6-10-inch geysers of water shooting into the air. Marburg was a haven of wildlife, but all I saw on Conewago were a handful of mallards and a few brown ducks. While it may pale a bit in comparison to its larger sister, the paddle was a nice couple hours. When the sun broke through the heavy cloud cover, the water sparkled here as well as anywhere.

I had a decent collection of trash when I got back. A busload of kids were having their lunches on a pier. Even from a distance, I could see them throwing stuff in the water literally with both hands. I went downwind and paddled toward them as I gathered the trash that floated, like cans, drink containers, waxed paper box liners, plastic Musselman apple sauce cups, cellophane chip bags, etc. When I got to them, I suggested that they perhaps didn’t need to be throwing their garbage into the lake.

It not only cluttered the lake and ruined the enjoyment of others, but was dangerous to wildlife. There was no direct adult supervision, but a man near the bus apparently saw me talking to them and started walking down to the pier. Behind me I could hear each kid accusing all the others of littering. By the time I came back down the lake, the kids had been loaded on the bus and were gone.
Love those spring colors!

They grow big catfish here. I saw a couple two-footers leaping from the water. Near where I encountered the trash-heaving kids, a man on the shore picked up one to release it back into the water. It laid across both of his forearms and dangled a good bit off either side. It was one big cat. I wouldn’t begin to guess at its size, as I would unavoidably be accused of exaggeration.
Finally---some redbuds in their natural setting.

The shagbark hickory is a common tree in the Eastern U.S.  Hickory comes from the Algonguian word "pawcohiccora."  They will grow to about 90-ft. and 200 years of age.  Hickory nuts are sought by black bear, racoons, squirrels, chipmunks and mice, wild turkey, foxes, and various birds and ducks.  

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