~Have you ever dipped your paddle into the waterway that’s part of Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge? Did you know this waterway is located just ten minutes from Elk Grove? Well, I didn’t either until a little over five years ago. A paddler in my club mentioned there were docent led paddles, open to the public during the summertime. I did some research and took it a step further. Was there someone who would take our paddle club out for private paddles. The answer: YES
This is Amy. She’s been taking our club on private paddles for the last five years.
We’ve managed to go two times per summer, once in the morning and once in the evening as each part of the day offers a different experience. The Canoe & Kayak Wildlife Observation Program wanders along a historically dredged area of Lower Beach Lake.
On a somewhat cool August morning and before the heat of the day was upon us, we launched around 8:15am. The water was pretty flat while we gathered around to listen to the morning’s paddling plan. We would be paddling South towards the Hood Franklin Road bridge.
I love paddling here. There’s so much wildlife. I capture a shot of a Black Crowned Night Heron. His red eyes almost blend in with the leaves.
Oh, and the spiders! I paddle close to the dusty blackberry bushes. I’m amazed at how many of these beautiful arachnids dot the shoreline, suspended in their carefully crafted webs made out of silk.
While I’d love to tell at tale about what this fuzzy swamp inhabitant is, I think it’s just a squashed cat tail. But, I could certainly be wrong about that. Hmm…maybe I should move away quickly!
This little Barn Swallow was stretching his wings in the morning sunshine.
As we paddle back to the put-in, I capture this nice picture of a nice couple in a canoe. Most of our paddlers push through the water in kayaks, but we welcome canoes too.
Now, we’re paddling on the last day in September. The sun is just starting to sink into the horizon and the wind is blowing at about 12 miles per hour.
Four and twenty black birds. Try, four and twenty-thousand (well, maybe not that many), but the sound, oh the sound. It was like their calls were getting pushed through an organ grinder, floating in high and low waves as the sound was carried across the water.
When you paddle in the late afternoon and into the evening, you capture silhouettes rather than clear shots, such as this hawk flying overhead. I’m pretty sure he was in search of his dinner. Perhaps a unsuspecting rodent would be on the menu tonight.
When I paddled here in August I remember there was a bird nest built within a swinging tree limb. I took my time looking for it last night. Although abandoned, I’m certain the owner will return again in the Spring.
The buttermilk and sherbet sunset is enhanced by the encroaching cloud cover.
Ric turns to give me a big smile just before he paddles away and into the sunset.
The water looks to be on fire as this paddler churns through.
Sometimes an accidental picture can result in something amazing. This was an overhanging branch and what appears to be insects flying through the air. Nice!!
I’ve left a lantern hanging from the tree where we started. This will help bring us in while the night sky looms over us. We exit the water and have loaded our kayaks with the help of flashlights, when off to the distance we hear it….the sound of several hundred Sand Hill Cranes taking flight. Their trumpeting calls are very distinct. It sounds like a rolled ‘r’ in the throat! What a perfect way to end September and to end a beautiful paddle.