Thursday, May 4, 2017

Lake Ellsworth - Part 2

A juvenile Great Blue Heron leapt into flight from Chandler Creek.
I continued up the lake until I was far enough into the headwaters to have only a foot of water.  Telegraph or phone poles and fence posts were found frequently that were left from the days before the lake was built.  Lacking water depth, I crossed to the north shore and followed it west as I continued to explore the shoreline.  Only 25 feet or so from the shore, I repeatedly felt strands of spider web across my face.  Others were draped across the canoe and other parts of my body, so by the time I got back, I had a decent population of stowaway spiders with me. 

The shore varies from gradual to rocky and bold like this spot where
the lake turns into Hassenbach Arm.
Coming around the point on the north shore brought me to Fisherman’s Cove.  This area is primarily for tent camping.  The cove on the south side of the point looks downright heavenly with acres of mowed grass, a long, gradually sloping shoreline, and trees for pitching a tent under.  It couldn’t look better.  If you round the point to the north side, there is another concrete ramp, but the fisherman’s bait and tackle concession has been abandoned and vandalized.  The town of Lawton is working on developing the property, but the bad news is that they are looking to rent it to a dune buggy and ATV operation.  That would be the end of the quiet for miles around.

An egret hiding in the foliage at the head of Hassenbach Arm.
Another takes flight from its tenuous perch atop a wood fence
post submerged but for an inch above the lake's surface.
The lake was flat calm when I left Fisherman’s Cove, so I struck out straight across the lake and around the north shore of Treasure Island.  It appears to be a nesting or resting place for migratory waterfowl, and the island was so densely covered with large flocks of Canada geese and pelicans that getting ashore would be messy through all the guano. 

There are many places to stealth camp if weather or time make
it necessary, like this gradual shore into a field without a human
or building in sight.
Getting back to the west shore, I paddled under the railroad bridge and into Chandler Creek.  The bridge just cleared my up-reached arm by a couple feet, and has no opening.  The train had come through the evening before at 1620, so I kept an eye on my watch so I could be back by the bridge in time for a nice picture.  It became obvious, as I waited, that the trains run on an as-needed-basis rather than on a schedule.  Meanwhile, at the head of the creek, I found two bridges.  One was the 62/281 bridge, and next to it, on its east side, was the original concrete bridge that spanned the stream before the lake was created.  It sat in the water making a complete barrier to further paddling up the creek.

Two bridges in Chandler Creek.  One from before the lake was
created now sits in the water, and the new bridge just behind it.
There are big differences between Lake Ellsworth and Lake Frederick, which we had just left.  On Ellsworth, the potential for stealth camping is almost limitless, while on Frederick, it is very spartan.  On Ellsworth, camping is limited only by one’s imagination.  Please be sure to pack in/pack out to preserve this happy situation.  Also, Frederick and Latonka are the party lakes with loud drinkers and fast boats.  Ellsworth is for quiet, basic camping and enjoying nature---at least until the ATV’s show up.

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