Fall Hiking, Kayaking, Camping – Part Two

I did decide to separate this post into two parts, otherwise it would have been too long for one post. In this part, I’m doing a solo overnight camping trip with my DragonFly 2 XC kayak, which I have never used yet.

This was a unexpected trip, and I really had to pull things together, at the last minute to make it happen. In the fall, especially, these weather opportunities don’t happen all that often, and I didn’t want to miss out on, what looked to be, some fine paddling conditions.

Here’s a Google Map of the route I took on this outing.

As usual, I never have an exact ‘plan’ of what I will do. I just figure everything out as I go.

It was a real cold morning. Fortunately, I didn’t put the kayak into the truck until this morning, so it wasn’t stiff with the cold. It’s much more difficult to inflate these kayaks when they are freezing cold, because the materials become very stiff, and unyielding.

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The sun had not come up yet, and there was a fairly heavy mist over the water. This mist does cause some focusing problems with the camera, which you may notice in a few pictures, and videos.

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Here, you can see how I loaded all my gear into the front cockpit of this two person DragonFly 2 XC kayak. I really like the way that this works, and there was more than enough room to pack all the things I needed to bring with me. Taking two week long trips with this setup would definitely be possible.

As you can see, from this video, there were focusing issues, because of the mist. This is not the fault of the camera, and I was very pleased with the way this Canon SX40(RainDrop) performed on this trip.

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The sun rises, on a cold, misty, fall morning.

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Since this is the first time I will be paddling this kayak, I will be reporting on any pro’s or con’s, or issues that I encounter on this trip. My son has used a similar kayak while tripping with me and my brother, and it seemed to work very well.

The DragonFly2, and DragonFly 2 XC, are no longer made, but they are quite similar to the newer model called the Lagoon 2, manufactured by Advanced Elements.

The whine you hear in the background of this video is one of those big vacuum trucks, sucking out the sewers before the winter arrives. They do this every year, at this time. Once I get farther into the paddle, that sound will no longer be heard, thankfully.

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Once the sun comes up a little more, the lighting conditions will become much better, and the mist will lift, making for better pictures and videos.

I try to live, mostly, on the ‘Being’ side of the term ‘Human Being’ but sometimes the ‘Human’ side still takes over, and this is when I let things like greed get to me. However, it does no good to dwell on such things, that are out of our control. Humanity, will, soon enough, reap what it sows, without any help from me.

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Out here, though, is the best kind of escape from all that insanity. The quiet solitude, along with the unmatched beauty, as well as the seeming indifference of the wilderness, is what draws me to it. Out here, no ‘thing’, whether it be seen as alive, or inanimate, is ‘special’. The playing field is level, and there are no favours handed out. Out here, you are on your own, and you either make it, or you don’t. Either way, life goes on, without missing a beat.

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I can feel the warmth, of the rising sun, on my back, and I’m sure glad that I brought my paddling gloves today.

Even though it’s going to be a sunny day, the temperatures will remain in the single digits today.

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I would not see another person, or boat, on the lake, either today, or the next day.

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These are the conditions I love to paddle in, and they’ve been so rare this year, mostly because of the wind.

One of the reasons I really wanted to get back to kayaking, before the winter sets in, was to test out the DragonFly 2 XC kayak, that I intended to use for the Fall Trip 2014, which, unfortunately, had to be cancelled. I do intend to make some modifications, and do some fine tuning on this kayak, so that it meets my own, personal, needs a bit better.

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The Dragonfly 2 comes with a one piece foam floor, rather than an inflatable floor, as does it’s newer counterpart the Lagoon 2. However, I don’t find this floor to be thick enough, or stiff enough, for my liking, so I’ve added the same thick foam floor that I have in my AdvanceFrame single kayak. I put the new foam floor right over top of the existing foam floor, and it works just fine. I will also be adding some thin outdoor type carpeting on top of that, as I did, again, with my smaller kayak.

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As I said, I wasn’t intending to set up camp right away but, as I was passing by the islands, I noticed something unusual on the island I usually camp on. You can see here, if you look to the right side of this picture, there is something on that island. At first, I thought that someone was already camping there, but I found that to be very unlikely, at this time of year. So, I went over to check it out.

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It’s part of a beat up old tent, all bent, and caved in, that someone left here. This was probably done so that they could come back, at any time, and claim ‘their’ campsite, in the same way that those people who set up their trailers on Crown Land sites do. I see this behavior all the time around here. They also left other junk on the island, and so I decided that I would not camp here later.

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The view from this island was as good as ever, but the island had been disgraced by people who’s parents never taught them any better. What a shame there are so many people around with no respect for anything, not even for themselves.

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I left the disgraced island, to do some more paddling, while the conditions were so good.

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I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, as I paddled towards the shoreline, but I think it was about at this point where I decided that I would head towards the river, that goes up to Quimbly Lake.

Again, I didn’t really have any definitive intentions, I was just going to check out the river, and see what things were like over that way.

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By this time, I was getting a bit warm, since the cold temperatures this morning had prompted me to wear a jacket, so I decided to land on that point there, so that I could disrobe. 🙂

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The DragonFly 2 XC kayak onshore. I was very pleased with the way the kayak was paddling, with all that load. Also the fact that I was paddling from such a rearward position. I don’t know if you can see it here, but I do have some softer cargo, such as my sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and a large wool sweater, in behind the rear seat, which pushes me forward about 8″. This may have helped in how the kayak handled, but I was definitely impressed with how responsive the bow was, without being overly responsive.

I’m not a taller person, so this worked out perfectly for me. I had my feet pressed against a hard-sided cooler in the front cockpit, which also helped my paddling. One thing I noticed, when my son was paddling his Dragonfly 2, was how high, and level, the kayak seemed to sit in the water, when it was fully loaded. Again, my smaller kayak is quicker, and more nimble but, I will definitely be using this kayak for any camping trips, from now on.

The DragonFly 2 is 12ft long, as compared to my 10.5ft long AdvancedFrame single. I found it easier to back into landing sites, with this larger kayak, especially since I was sitting in the rear cockpit. I will also say that I don’t like the way this kayak folds up. The tracking fin get pushed flat, when this kayak is folded, which causes it to want to stay in that position, especially in colder temperatures.
Unless the tracking fin is pointing straight down, when the kayak is inflated, you will have to deal with it wanting to pull to one side, in my case, to the right. My AdvancedFrame single folds lengthwise, along the center line of the kayak, keeping the tracking fin at right angles to the bottom of the kayak. I might see if I can figure out a way to fold this DragonFly kayak in the same way.

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I also, very much, enjoyed the inflatable seats in this kayak. In fact, since I won’t often be using the front inflatable seat, I will use it in my smaller AdvancedFrame single kayak, now that I have removed the inflatable floor that it came with. The inflatable floor does add to the ‘structure’ of the kayak, as a whole, and removing it does have an affect on this. However, the inflatable seats perform the same function, by pushing out on the main tubes, and adding the required ‘structure’ to the wholeness of the kayak.

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Once I had defrocked myself, and had something to eat(a Pumpkin muffin for Halloween) :-), I continued on, towards the entrance to the river.

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The entrance is right there, but it’s amazing how you can’t see it, until you are actually in it.

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Wow, the river was really wide, because of the high water levels, and immediately I noticed that there was a significant flow, which meant I would be paddling against the current for as far as I could go up this river.

The flow in the river will become faster, either when the river gets narrower, or when there is an obstruction in the river. I made it past the first beaver dam, because the river was flowing over the dam, but the flow was faster, so I had to paddle a bit harder to make it.

At this point, I had no illusions of being able to make it all the way up the river, because I knew that there was a very narrow part, where I was sure to encounter serious flow.

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I love paddling up this river, it’s so quiet in here, and there’s always a chance of seeing some wildlife along the way. Last time I was here, I got those fantastic pictures of a wolf.

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Even though this bigger, and heavily laden, kayak was a bit more sluggish than my smaller kayak, it wasn’t so much that it detracted from my enjoyment of paddling. In fact, if I can paddle, against the flow, up this river, then I think that I can conclude that the slower performance was not an issue at all.

Unfortunately, is was not a Moose that I heard, it was the sound of rapids. When I got up there, I realized that this was another beaver dam, which had been overrun by the high water, causing the flow to pick up considerably.

The flow, at this beaver dam, was twice as fast, as at the last one, but I still made it through. I can’t take pictures, or videos at the fast water, because I have to paddle like a mad man, in order to get past them.

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Now I’m approaching the narrow part, where I know that the flow is going to be serious. I was quite prepared to turn around here, and head back, but I, at least, had to give it a try.

You never know, unless you try. I didn’t think I had a hope in hell of getting up those rapids, and I almost lost it, at one point but, like I said earlier, the bow of this kayak, setup as it is, is very responsive, and so I was able to avoid losing it sideways because of that. I know from experience, the last thing you want is to be going down a fast river sideways.

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Heading towards the narrower river, going into Quimby Lake, I knew there was going to be flow here too, but I also knew that it would not be as fast as the flow that I had just made it through, so I was confident that I could make Quimby Lake.

I made it, much to my surprise, and I was rewarded with the calm, quiet, beauty of Quimby Lake.

I hung around here for a while, taking in the serenity of it all, and then I turned the bow towards the flow.

Now I get to enjoy the ride down river. I didn’t take too many pictures or videos on the way down, because I still had to negotiate my way around rocks, and obstructions, while I was in the fast water, and also because some of it was into the sun.

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Some red berries along the riverside.

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The paddle back was just as enjoyable as it was coming up.

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Getting close to the end of the river now, where it comes out into Esten Lake.

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Back in Esten Lake, I head towards the island, to find a suitable campsite for the night. That island there, is the one that some disrespectful morons junked, so I won’t be staying there.

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It didn’t take me long to find another nice campsite though, and I settled in for the evening.

I sat by the campfire for a while, had my dinner, and then waited to see if I was going to be rewarded by nature with a beautiful sunset for dessert.

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Indeed I was. A very beautiful end to a very beautiful day. And so the day ends.

Unfortunately, the not so beautiful cold was setting in, and it would be one restless night of sleep, for the weary paddler this night. I don’t have a cold weather sleeping bag, because they tend to be a bit too bulky, and don’t lend themselves to packing into a kayak very well. Man, was it cold.

I got up in the morning, only to find some very threatening clouds hanging overhead, and the last thing you need, when it’s cold out, is to get wet. As I said at the beginning, I threw everything together for this trip very quickly, and I didn’t include my rain suit, so I was in a most vulnerable position right now.

I decided to fore-go breakfast, and do a quick pack up, to get out of here before I got drenched, and a possible victim of hypothermia. The lake was as calm as a sheet of glass, so I was appreciative of that fact. Still, paddling under the threat of rain, is not the enjoyable type of paddling I like to do. It was more like power-paddling to get out of here quick.

With this fully loaded kayak, it did take a bit of doing, and my arms were certainly feeling the strain by the time I arrived back at the launch point. However, I was very grateful that I had made it back before the rain had started. It did start to rain after I made it home, so all’s well that ends well, I guess.

I was glad that I made this effort to get the kayak out, even though it was a bit rushed, because the forecast for the next week does not look promising. Anyway, come what may, I’ll deal with it day by day, and try to do something enjoyable, either inside or outside. Life is not about ‘having’, it’s about ‘Being’, and we all need to try and be the best we can be, and enjoy it for all it is worth while we still can.

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