Fall Hiking, Kayaking, Camping – Part Two

Okay, lets give this another try. I had completed this post once already, but something went wrong, when I tried to post it, and I lost everything. So, here is the second part of this post, which will be a solo kayaking/camping trip, in my DragonFly 2 XC kayak, which I had not used before this trip.

I will also be doing a report on how this kayak works for me, as compared to my AdvancedFrame single kayak. This, smaller, kayak did not have enough room for longer camping trips, so that’s why I’ve added the DragonFly 2 XC kayak to my exploring equipment.

Let’s get started with a map of the route that I took on this adventure;

As most of my outings are, there was no particular ‘plan’ for this trip, I just made choices on the fly, so even I didn’t know where I would end up.

I was up early, before the sunrise, and I headed down to the Esten Lake boat launch area. It was a very cold morning, and I had to warm up the truck for a long time, in order to clear all the frost off the windows. When I arrived at Esten Lake, it was still partly dark, and there was a heavy mist hanging over the water.

Thankfully, I hadn’t put my kayak in the truck until this morning, otherwise it would have been a lot more difficult to set it up, because the material gets very stiff in the cold. Also, I’m not yet all that familiar with this setup, although it’s not that much different than my smaller AdvancedFrame model.

It is bigger at 12 feet long, as compared to my AdvancedFrame, which is only 10.5 feet long, so it takes a bit more pumping to inflate it. However, I didn’t find that to be of any concern, and I had it in the water in a reasonable amount of time, with all my camping gear loaded into the front cockpit.

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As I got underway, the mist was still lifting off the lake, and the sun was getting close to the horizon.

There were some issues, early this morning, with the fog causing focusing problems for the camera but, as soon as it lifted, those issues cleared up. Loading all my gear into the front cockpit was very easy, easier than I think it would be loading that same gear into a ‘closed in’ kayak. I intend to make a waterproof canvas cockpit cover, that I can fit over top of the cockpit, something similar to a spray skirt, that attaches very quickly.

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When the sun finally came over the tops of the trees, things started to brighten up, making for better pictures.

On this trip, I’m using my Canon SX40(RainDrop) camera for all the pictures and videos.

Just as a side note here, during this time when I was trying to figure out why my first attempt at this post went wrong, I discovered that posting lots of pictures uses a lot of space on my blog, whereas, posting videos uses very little space. This is because the videos are hosted by YouTube, and not by WordPress, so it’s much more efficient for me to post more videos, and less pictures. From now on, I will pay more attention to that, because extra blog space costs money.

Of course, I did get that post up about the Lacnor Ridge/Dumbell Lake hike, which was another beautiful day.

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The water was as calm as glass today, and it would remain that way all day, which was definitely a rarity this year. This is why I’ve been doing more hiking than kayaking lately.

I’m sure glad I decided to bring my paddling gloves today, it was real cold for a while there.

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You can see now, that the mist is clearing, and the sun is brightening up everything.

I was quite pleased with the way the DragonFly 2 kayak was handling. It wasn’t as sleek, and quick, as my smaller kayak, but that’s understandable, with all the cargo in it. I will say that it was more comfortable than my AdvancedFrame single kayak, mostly because of the inflatable seats, that my smaller kayak doesn’t have.

Another thing I noticed, when my son was paddling his DragonFly 2, is how high, and level it sat in the water. I really liked that about it.

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As I was paddling by the island that I intended to camp on, from a distance, I thought I could see that someone was already camping there, and this baffled me, because I surely expected that no one would be out there at this time of year. When I got closer, I realized that someone had left this broken down, caved in, piece of junk on the island, so I landed there, to see what was going on.

Someone had really made a mess out of this island, and I decided that I wouldn’t be camping there tonight. There are other islands that I’ve never camped on before, so I’ll probably choose one of those instead. People do this for the same reason they bring up those trailers, and plop them on all the good Crown Land sites. They’re basically claiming them as their own, so that no one else can use them, even if these people are not there for most of the time. It’s a very greedy, and inconsiderate thing to do, but it’s the way our society has become.

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I continued on, past the islands, towards the far shoreline, considering my options, on which way I might go.

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It was about at this point that I decided to head towards the river that goes up to Quimby Lake. The water levels were very high, in all the lakes around here, because of all the rain we’ve had, and I knew that it might be possible to get, at least, part way up the river, without having to lift over any beaver dams.

The sun was getting a bit higher in the sky by this time, and I was starting to feel a bit warm, since I had worn a jacket because of the cold this morning.

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I decided to stop on the point there, so that I could defrock myself, and have a bite to eat, in this case, a Pumpkin muffin, for Halloween. 🙂

I found it easier to back this kayak in, when landing onshore, partly because I am sitting nearer to the rear of the kayak, although I did put some of my softer cargo, my sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and a large wool sweater, behind the seat, so that it would push me a bit forward, by about 8″. This proved to be a very nice back support also.

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Sitting in the rear cockpit, I expected that the bow might be a bit too responsive but, with the full load on, it turned out to be just the right amount of responsiveness, and that would come in handy, later in this paddle.

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After my break, I headed over towards the river.

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The entrance to this river is very difficult to see, until you are actually right in it.

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Wow, the river is really wide, because of the high water levels and, even here, in the wide part, there is a very noticeable flow.

I made my way up the river, passing over one beaver dam, where the current did pick up a bit, but I had no problem getting past it.

Actually, that was no Moose I heard. It was rapids! The flow was getting a bit more serious now, and these rapids were over another beaver dam, in a narrower section of the river. Again, I was able to make it through, but I knew that the next set of rapids, where the river narrows to only about ten feet, could be the end of my paddle up this river.

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Approaching the area of, what could be, an impassable flow.

I can’t believe I made it past those rapids, with a full load on. I was sitting there for a while, trying to decide whether to just go back, or to take a crack at it, and I decided to go for it. I nearly got out of shape, but the responsiveness of the bow saved me. I know that, the last thing you want to do is end up going down the rapids sideways and, once that bow gets pushed sideways far enough, there is no stopping it, you are out of control.

Of course, I can’t take pictures, or videos, while I’m desperately struggling to paddle up the rapids. The same as I don’t when I’m climbing up steep, rugged, areas, when I’m hiking. It’s just too difficult to do, with the camera equipment I have.

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Heading towards the narrow river entrance to Quimby Lake, I knew that there was bound to be flow here too, but it’s always been something less than what I just passed through, so I was pretty confident that I could make Quimby Lake, at this point.

Even out here, in the lake a bit, you can see the current trying to drag me back into the river.

I paddled a bit into Quimby Lake, but I wasn’t going to do a longer paddle here, since I still had to make it back down the river, and find a campsite for the night. I did hang around for a while, to enjoy the quiet serenity though.

And away I went, heading back into the river, this time with the flow.

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Some red berries along the edge of the river, on the way back.

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Back out, into Esten Lake, you can see one of the islands ahead.

I know where all the island campsites are, so I had an idea of where I might spend the night, but I just wanted to make sure that these other sites hadn’t been disgraced like the last one was.

So, I had found my home for the night. Now, I had to get to work, collecting more firewood, so that I wouldn’t run out, because I knew that it was going to get cold, when the sun went down.

After the fire burned down a bit, I made my dinner, and then got the fire built up again for a nice evening. I was waiting to see if nature was going to provide me with dessert, in the form of a beautiful sunset.

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And nature did not disappoint me.

After it got dark, as expected, it also got very cold. I stayed close to the fire until it was time to hit the sack but, I must say, I’ve only spent a few colder nights out camping than this one. I had a very restless night’s sleep, since I don’t have a cold weather sleeping bag.

When I got up in the morning, the weather had taken a turn for the worse, even though the forecast had called for sunny skies. It looked like those skies were going to open the flood gates at any moment, so I made the decision to run for it.

I had thrown this trip together so fast, and at the last minute, and I didn’t pack my rain gear, so I knew that getting wet in these temperatures, was not just an inconvenience, it meant possible hypothermia.

I had to pack all my camera gear in plastic bags, to keep them safe, so I didn’t take any more pictures on the way back to the boat launch, where my truck was waiting, I think? I never really know, because leaving a vehicle parked, and unattended in such a remote spot can lead to disaster, if the wrong types of people happen to pass by. So, it’s always on my mind if it will be there, or if it will still be functional when I return.

Paddling this kayak, with a full load on, at an aggressive pace was a bit on the tiring side. My arms definitely felt the stress, and it’s not the way I would usually paddle for enjoyment. However, given the circumstances, I felt that it was warranted, and I was proven right, when the rain started after I got home.

Anyway, I’m really glad that I did take advantage of this weather window, because the forecast for the coming week is grim, at best. I may not get another chance to paddle before freeze up from now on.

As far as the DragonFly 2 XC kayak goes, I will definitely be using this kayak for any further kayak camping trips, and I will use my smaller AdvancedFrame kayak for day trips only. The DragonFly 2 XC has proven itself to me on this trip, that it is exactly what I want in a tripping kayak and, with a few more tweeks, and modifications, it will be even better.

This kayak comes with a foam floor in it, but I decided to put a thicker foam, which I also use in the smaller kayak, into this kayak. I put it over top of the existing foam, and I was happy with the way this worked. I will also be putting the same type of thin, outdoor carpet over that foam, as I did in my smaller kayak. I like the way the short pile on the carpet catches most of the sand and dirt that comes into the kayak, off my feet.

Since I will only be using one of the inflatable seats in this kayak, I can now use the front inflatable seat in my AdvancedFrame kayak, making it more comfortable too. The inflatable seat also adds to the ‘structure’ of the both kayaks, by pushing out on the main tubes, to provide some rigidity, and wholeness to the inflated kayak. This function used to be provided by the inflatable floor, so when you remove that floor, you need something else to do the same job, and the inflatable seats do that functionally, and nicely.

I will keep watching the weather for the slight possibility that I may get out in the kayak once more, but the big, bad, old man winter is moving in fast, and it may not be in the cards. I do have a couple of longer hikes that are options too, so it ain’t over ’till old man winter says it is. 🙂

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