Kayaks on our lake at last

Pelican Bay kayak (9)The weather has been so changeable lately, but the change that hasn’t yet happened is warm sunny days.  Often we have our kayaks in the water as early as March, but this year has been long and cold.  We even hauled the new boats to California in February, hoping for some good estuary kayaking, but it was not to be.  The boats got lots of miles on top the Tracker, but not a single dip into the water thanks to high winds and low tides.

In the midst of soaking rains and occasional snow flurries, we had a day of brilliant sunshine, with temps maxing out at 50 F. At first I thought about trying to get out on the water around 11, good time for a lunch break from the home office for me, but a short step outside indicated that 40 degrees and a 10 mph wind wasn’t exactly conducive to being on the water.  I finished my day of work, and by 4pm, while the sun was fading into the clouds of a coming storm, the winds had died to practically nothing.

Home for us is just south of Rocky Point in the forest.Capture

For the first time since we got our new kayaks, we loaded them up in my truck and drove the long 1/4 mile to the boat launch at Rocky Point Resort just down the road. When we got the new boats, we also bought new lightweight Werner paddles, and during the first few minutes on the water, they took a bit of getting used to.  It felt like there was nothing to hold onto as I paddled, but after a couple of hours out on the water, it was wonderful.  The new Swift Adirondacks are a foot longer and maybe a couple of inches wider than our old Perception Acadias, but they are 15 pounds lighter.  We did manage to launch them last fall right after they arrived, but this was the first launch on our home territory, and my first launch of the replacement boat delivered by Swift in January. I wrote about why I needed a replacement boat back here in November.

Mount Harriman from Pelican BayAhhh.  I can’t explain that feeling of gliding silently, and rhythmically  along still water, surrounded by mountains only accompanied by the water birds.  The sandhill cranes are hollering in the marsh along with blue herons.  The Canada geese are everywhere, and many types of ducks.  My little camera isn’t so great at the long bird shots, and as I slid along yesterday, I really looked forward to my coming ‘DSLR with a telephoto’ days.  We spotted an eagle not far from shore, and some ospreys were fishing for their evening meal.

This time, instead of traveling north along Recreation Creek to the springs, we took a southern route into Pelican Bay along the western edge of Upper Klamath Lake.  It has been a great water year, and the lake is higher than I have seen it in many years.  We kayak here often, but everything looked completely different with the high water.  The snow on Mt McLaughlin was thick and deep, and looking up, I remembered the hot August day that Mo and I hiked to the top of that mountain. 

Pelican Bay kayak (23)Even though McLaughlin is only 9450 feet tall, it stands majestically above the surrounding Cascade Mountains and is visible from Medford, from Klamath Falls, and even from California along Highway 97 north of Weed.  It’s the remnant of an old volcano, glaciated to it’s current shape, and most of the time, has a snow-capped summit.

Back in 2003, Mo and I had only known each other a few months when we decided it was time to climb that mountain. My sister just laughed out loud when I asked her to join us.  “I’m not crazy enough to even THINK about trying to climb that mountain”.  That summer Mo and I were of course just young things, of course, and we were up for anything.  At 63 years old, Mo was younger than I am now!  It was a long day, and a gorgeous climb.  Many people say they have climbed McLaughlin, but often they only go to the last landing before the steep rocky summit to the peak.  From the landing, there is no trail, only huge boulders with faint arrows painted here and there.  The forest service tries to remove those arrows since McLaughlin is in the Sky Lakes Wilderness Area, and they don’t help much anyway.

03_08_McLoughlin Hike005It was a daunting climb, and about 200 feet from the top, I got sick and weak, and gave out.  Mo climbed on ahead of me to the peak while I tried to recuperate.  A couple of climbers came along, one of them saying, “You should go down now, because you will only get sicker if you go higher and altitude sickness lasts for hours”.  Another one said, “You should go to the top, because you will hate yourself if you don’t”, and gave me some Gatorade.  I decided that I was going to do it, no matter what, and just about that time Mo returned from the summit and said, “Sure, I’ll go up with you.”  You gotta remember, Mo is almost 6 years older than me, and even though I worked outdoors in the field for most of my career, she was a PE teacher, so often is in the lead on these kinds of excursions!

03_08_McLoughlin Hike016So we hiked over the huge, room sized boulders to the summit, where I crawled out across the dizzying space to sit with Mo for our summit photo.  The 360 degree view was amazing in all directions.  The mountain is visible from the road very near our house, and often we look up at the sharp summit and say, “Gee, I’m glad we did that and don’t have to do it again.” It took us 12 hours round trip, and our knees didn’t much like the down part on the return trip. 

Yesterday as we kayaked across the bay with McLaughlin towering over the landscape, we thought again, “Gee, I’m glad we already did that!”

Author: kyotesue

Soil scientist/mapper working for 35 years in the wild lands of the West. I am now retired, enjoying my freedom to travel, to hike without a shovel and a pack, to knit and quilt and play, to play with photography and write stories about all of it.

12 thoughts on “Kayaks on our lake at last”

  1. I very much enjoyed your Kayak trip today! You have whetted my appetite to do the same here in our mountains, the Adirondacks. Just as you have been experiencing, our weather has not cooperated yet, still quite cold on most days. As for your mountain climb up McLaughlin, Ellie and I have accomplished several such hikes and often say “glad we already have that one under our belt”. Such a great post today, you are an excellent writer!



  2. So glad you had a chance to get out on the water … and take us along for the ride too. We really are going to try our hands at kayaking … just need the weather to cooperate with our plans.


  3. Great Story! There are lots of things I'm glad I've already done, and don't have to do again. 🙂 But nothing like climbing that mountain.
    I'm a bit afraid of the water, but I'm wondering if I'd do okay in a kayak. They sure look like fun, and pretty safe. I'd love to be out there watching the birds as I glide along.


  4. Love your pictures, and the spirit you demonstrate in your adventures! You two are awesome examples of how someone can enjoy things they love in life. There are a whole lot of younger people who could not even get a good start on some of the things you have accomplished. You should be proud of yourselves, I know I am proud of you!


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