Monday, May 14, 2012

The Plan That Didn't Work

Pink Phlox

WARNING! An early spring in Oklahoma doesn't guarantee the same thing in Pennsylvania. I know that seems self-evident, but Pennsylvania was getting warm temperatures too, until we got there.

It seemed like a workable plan, but it unraveled. The idea was to string about thirty lakes together in Pennsylvania so that there was never a lot of traveling between one lake and the next. Jean and I shared in the plan. After visiting family for a couple days, Jean could stay and be Nana to the new granddaughter and her siblings while I paddled and photographed my way through the Keystone State.
Candy Tufts blooming in March.

Many of the lakes of Pennsylvania are on the smaller size, with few exceptions like Pymatuning, Allegheny, or Raystown Lakes. However, they are nestled in the pleated hills and mountains of the Appalachian range, and provide a nearly limitless variety of vistas. The potential for a wide range of wildlife is also very real, from chipmunks and squirrels to bear and elk. The topography also presents a range of both scenery and weather. Almost regardless of which direction I would head from our starting point in Carlisle, near Harrisburg, there would be a quick rise in altitude. The bad weather we were encountering in Carlisle would only deteriorate with temperatures dropping into the twenties, more fog, and rain quickly going to sleet and snow. The snow fall through the area during our stay went from 6” to 18” across the range while we were there.

Iris.  Our flower beds were ablaze with early blooms.

I mentioned earlier that the repetitious weather pattern would be a day or two of some form of precip, followed by a day or two of clearing with near gale force winds. There was little paddling weather, or at least the kind I’d enjoy. We did, however, hit on a mere handful of nice days when we made some day trips in the local area. I greatly enjoyed those outings, but they violated the plan’s goal of small mileages between lakes. While weather made trips into the hills uninviting, the time, mileage, and round-trip gas costs made reaching more distant lakes and completing their circumference on a day trip problematic.

While there are many, many reasons why nesting in one area for a month at a time is counter-productive, this problem of quickly exhausting an area’s potential is reason enough for no longer trying to settle for long periods in a single spot. People vary in their tastes, but for me, one to three days to enjoy the new delights a locale provides should then be followed by a move to the next lake or river in search of something new and stimulating. Once the “Wow! Factor” has gone out of a place, it is time to move. This is cruising, and is what we did when we sailed. It is just as appropriate a model when paddling.

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