Friday, November 30, 2012

Paddling Country?


Lake Tenkiller, Eastern Oklahoma, in a wetter time.  Even then
you could see the waterline on the rocks was down several feet.
I just returned from what was supposed to be a paddling trip. Being desperate to get out of town, get on the water, and find new material for the blog, I was determined, yes, desperate, to make something happen. Ibi was loaded on the truck and we, Ibi and I, headed southwest. The ‘plan’ was to connect several lakes over a few days by paddling a lake during the day, and finding a place to truck-camp for the night. As you will see, if maintaining a boating blog in a place with no water is difficult, paddling in a place with no water is even harder.

The S. Canadian River of sand.
Being on the water can indeed be hazardous for the unprepared and unwary. Of course for those with a little forethought and commonsense, any boating is a leisurely, pleasant, peaceful, soul-enriching experience. The normal hazards emphasized in boating safety literature concentrate on drowning and hypothermia. In Oklahoma, a more common hazard would be sustaining a concussion when you fall out of your boat and hit your head on the red dirt and sand.

The open Great Plains.
The trip turned into a photo-op as other things attracted my attention as I drove 219 miles across western Oklahoma. While Jean and I reviewed the pictures I returned with, she remembered that a long-time friend of ours from Delaware had said he’d like to see what Oklahoma looks like. So, for those who aren’t native Okie’s, I hope you enjoy some views from the Great Plains, or the area Lewis and Clark referred to alternately as the Great American Desert, or the lands unfit for human habitation. Of course for those who are born and grow up here, their prideful opinions are likely to differ from those of our famed explorers.  Nonetheless, for you and our friends from Delaware, over the next few days I’ll show you what boating and driving in Western Oklahoma has to offer.
A view of a "no wake" buoy from Canton Lake.  I used this awhile
ago, but it's descriptive enough to warrant repeating.
First, to be balanced in my presentation, not all of Oklahoma is a nautical wasteland. The Eastern part of the state that slid across the Arkansas state line can be quite nice. The picture above from a trip a couple years ago at Lake Tenkiller shows a natural and rugged beauty. Even Tenkiller is now down 28% of capacity, and nine feet of depth. This is a much rosier picture than lakes further west that are down 70 to 106%. But, rather than digress too far, let’s just let Western Oklahoma speak for herself over the next few days.




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