Trip Report - 4/5/2010 - Vineyard Lake

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Posted on : 4/16/2010 07:21:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

Not having anyone else to run rivers with, I decided to run out to Vineyard Lake.  They have a county park on the north side of the lake.  The other advantage was that I have been looking at making the run from Vineyard Lake down to Norvell on the Raisin River.  The park makes a good starting point.

I decided to take Wolf Lake Road south of Austin Road even though it isn't paved.  It turns out that Wolf Lake Road goes over the part of the river where I was paddling a few weeks back.  I had a good chance to scout out the rest of the Raisin below the Brooklyn Dam.  I had not seen that stretch of the river before.  For the most part it is wide open with the river running free.  There maybe some dead falls closer to town.  What I could see looked like a great paddle.

The boat launch at the county park is serviceable enough.  Pay attention to where the deep spot is when you leave as it will make your return that much easier.

I immediately headed for the southernmost part of the lake.  The paddling was easy enough until I cleared the peninsula.  Then all hell broke loose.

The wind was blowing enough to make a few whitecaps on the lake.  This is not a big lake.  It takes a bit of wind to make anything happen.  So it was really blowing that day.  Even though most of the waves were not whitecaps, they were large enough to make paddling difficult when they kept hitting you from the side.

The waves were hitting me from the side.  Paddling was difficult.  You had to time your stroke so that you were dipping into a wave instead of air.  Paddles are more effective when you put them in water.

From time to time I had to stop and wait for the waves to get into the right pattern.  And I slowly made my way south.

I eventually decided that I had received enough abuse.  I turned to the west and the houses at the end of Rosa Rita about the time that the houses ended on the eastern shore of the lake came to an end.  At least that way I had a chance of taking the waves head on instead of from the side.

That worked reasonably well until I got to the western side of the lake.  I thought I would be protected from the wind on that side.  For a while I was protected....until the wind shifted around to coming from the north.

Sigh.  Did you ever get the feeling that you was being watched?

Paddling up the west side of the lake, I saw a few muskrats and a couple ducks.  The amazing sight was the flock of swans.  There were ten swans swimming in a group.  I had intended to pass on the outside of the flock, but they had other plans.  Instead they swam right into my planned course.  So I shifted to the left and passed between the shore and the swans.

Eventually, a couple of them got perturbed enough that they took to the air.  Swans usually look so quiet and graceful.  But when they are taking off they are the most gangly and uncoordinated looking bird.  Their wings flap not quite at the same time.  Their feet flap so that it looks like they are running on the surface of the water.  Their heads bob all around.

Just before they really get into the air, you would swear that they are about to say "screw it" and plop back into the water.  But eventually they get free from the water and their quiet grace returns with a few flaps of those mighty wings.

There were a couple more swans at the northwest end of the lake.  I think I counted 12 to 15 swans during my paddle.

There is a small marsh that separates the larger lake from the small portion to the northwest.  I think I scared up a couple of nice sized lunkers while I was skirting the edge of the reeds.

Up in the smaller portion I found a nice sized flock of Canadian geese.  I don't think any of them had eggs, as they all left their nests on the shoreline as I passed.  But boy were they noisy.

I'll probably be the subject of discussion...again....at the next meeting of the United Brotherhood of Waterfowl.

The outflow of the Raisin is located at the north end of the lake.  The channel there is pretty narrow.  The water was up when I made this run, but later in the year it may be hard to get through some areas.  I checked out the outflow from the bridge after I was done paddling.  There is a very short dam.  There was enough water flowing over it on that day that I could have coasted over it smoothly.  It probably isn't that easy later in the summer.

The return trip along the inside of the lake was mostly uneventful.  A few waves where I was exposed to the wind and easy paddling when I was downwind of the peninsula.

Total time for the trip was 1 hour 50 minutes.  I estimate the mileage at 4.2 which makes my speed about 2.3 mph.  Not bad given all the wind.

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