Monday, March 16, 2015

Getting Buddy Wet

The lake shore used to be a hundred yards back where the trees line the bank.

It was 38 degrees yesterday morning, a definite cool down from the weird temps we’ve been having the last few days, but since the ice on the lake had melted, certainly a comfortable opportunity to get on the water.  The big draw was that the wind was forecast to be calm to light in the morning.   Anyone that knows Oklahoma knows that calm days are as rare as hen’s teeth, so I just had to go for it. 

They were more obvious in person than on this picture, and certainly more
obvious when moving, but if you look closely, what appear as vertical excavations
along the cliffs are about 13 pairs of light and dark reflections.

Whether I was too late or too early, it was obvious I wasn’t in the prime part of the waterfowl migration.  I saw a heron, a lot of prairie dogs, some coots, a large flock of pelicans, and a few flocks of ducks that were too skittish to allow me to get close enough for identification.  I heard an owl several times, and some wild turkeys.  There was one thing I saw, which I don’t believe I’ve ever seen before. 

The west side of the lake is edged by cliffs.  They aren’t spectacular by Lake Superior standards, but range about 25 to 40-ft high, and I understand were used at one time by Native Americans to hunt buffalo.  The animals were driven over the cliffs to other hunters waiting below to dispatch the wounded and butcher the harvest.  I saw an unending parade of alternate vertical light and gray lines playing along the cliff faces.  After a couple minutes of ruling out other possibilities, like an effect caused by my polarizing glasses, I realized it was the low-angled sun rising above the trees on the opposite side of the lake and reflecting off the wavelets on the lake.  It was a bit like watching the panning of shadows created by a car’s lights passing a picket fence.  They covered the full height of the cliffs and stretched north until the cliffs melted into woodland.

Calm days that are as rare as hen's teeth.

According to the Corps of Engineers, Canton Lake is still down 13-ft below normal, or 79% below normal capacity.  It’s even lower than during my last visit, and I was hoping it might slowly rise, but that’s not the case so far.  I went as far to the north as I could, where more birds could be expected, and paddled the full width of the lake with the paddle blades churning and dipping mud and barely keeping Buddy afloat.

Boats are prohibited from entering the buoyed swim area.
I am given to understand that in the last several years, there have been
zero infractions. 

It was a wonderful morning to be on the water, and by the time I returned to the ramp a few  fishermen were joining me to enjoy the Sunday morning.  With the warming, the breeze began to fill in from the south.  With the winter’s idleness, my muscles were saying that 7.1 miles was acceptable for the first time out, so after Buddy was back on the truck, I enjoyed my lunch before heading for home.

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