Fog and Sun: Kayaking Francis E. Walter Reservoir

A few weeks ago I visited this reservoir and kayaked the south arm, today I kayaked the north arm. You wouldn’t think that they would differ much, but the fact is they are like two different worlds. The south area is surrounded by forest and fields, the north is lined with rocky cliffs and the skeletons of a drowned forest. (more below video)

The reservoir is used to regulate the water flow of the Lehigh River, and since this has been a relatively wet year there hasn’t been any significant draw down as of yet. Or there has and it’s refilled. Either way, it makes for great kayaking, especially when there is only light wind like today.

Click here for the video from a few weeks ago to see the difference in the two sections.

 

Allegheny Reservoir Kayak/Camp

I had the opportunity to pass through the Allegheny National Forest about three years ago while on a road trip to north west Pennsylvania. All I had the chance to do was look though, as I was driving home and needed to make time. I wanted to head back and check out the Allegheny Reservoir and found that not only can you kayak here, but you can camp. (more below video)

I decided to take a few days off of work and make the 4 hour drive, I launched from the Elijah Run Boat Ramp and due to weather concerns I made the Morrison Campground my first stop. At just under a mile from the ramp it allowed me to have a relatively quick escape should the weather turn (and it did).

Although, surrounded  by a national forest, it didn’t feel as remote to me as say Lower Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks. Maybe because there were more people at this campground, and the campsites were closer. Speaking of which, I have seen many videos of people going to Allegheny Reservoir and setting up in primitive campsites anywhere along the water. As it turns out, this is a good way of getting yourself kicked out and fined by the Forest Service. It always pays to do your own research. While I was out on a night paddle I did see a Forest Service boat out spotlighting around non official spots, glad I went with the official campground,

Sunrise Kayaking at Bradys Lake

It seems like every weekend this year, we’ve had rain… but not just rain… thunderstorms. So, after keeping an eye on the weather all day yesterday I knew I had a slim window to get out and do something. I got up around 4am and loaded up my kayak and headed to Bradys Lake in Monroe County.  Once I got home we got hit with some pretty good sized storms, so I’m glad I got out when I did.

Kayaking 3 State Parks in 1 Day

Pennsylvania is loaded with state parks, the DNCR website lists 121 state parks and conservation areas. At one time it was said that no matter where you were in the state, you are never more than 30 minutes from a state park. Although, that might not be completely true… it’s pretty close. For me 8 parks are within about a 30 minute drive and 16 within about 1 hour!!! So this past weekend I decided to get out and visit a few… I actually was at 4 if you count the short hike before the rain at Prompton State Park on Friday.

Saturday, I visited Gouldsboro, Tobyhanna and Promised Land State Parks for a little kayaking. To be fair Gouldsboro and Tobyhanna border each other, but they are separate parks. Throughout the day I saw eagles, osprey, hawks, beavers, herons and more fish than you can shake a stick at.  Check out the video below to take a virtual ride along in my kayak with me.

Kayaking Season Has Begun!

A few weeks ago I got out to do a little paddling at nearby Prompton State Park, it was windy and we got a late start. This past Friday I was able to get out for a longer paddle at the Sholoha Marsh Reservoir in Pike County PA. The last time I kayaked here I saw a black bear swimming across the lake, this trip there was no bear but we did see, what at first, appeared to be fog rising off of a small island…. upon closer inspection it was a massive swarm of bugs.

Waterfall Hunting

It’s been an interesting year already, especially when it comes to the weather. I was 4 hours south in Virginia in January and it was colder there then back home in north east Pennsylvania. 2 weeks ago I was backpacking in the Delaware State Forest and the temperature got down to 19F overnight, but by the time we got back to the car a few hours later it was 50F! Last weekend it was 76F on Friday and we had a tornado hit nearby on Saturday. This weekend lows in the single digits with it getting near 60 by mid week.

None of that stops me though, I always have that urge to get outside and at least scout potential spots for future trips. This weekend I randomly found myself back in the Pinchot State Forest at the Thornhurst Tract with no particular plans. Along Choke Creek we have heard about some waterfalls but never knew where they were. We’ve tried a few times to locate them but were never close. A few weeks ago while hiking the Choke Creek Trail we ran into an older couple driving down the forest road who offered us a ride back to the car, part of the Pinchot Trail System uses the forest roads. We declined the ride, but had a very nice conversation with the couple. The gentleman knew these woods well and pointed us in the right direction to find the falls.

Keep in mind, these aren’t lost falls or anything and with enough searching on the internet they could have been found easily. But, that defeats the purpose of getting out and exploring.

Check out the short video from the hike below.

3 Days: Hammock Camping Under a Harvest Moon

The summer just flew by.  Even though I’ve been out hiking, kayaking and camping all year, it feels like I haven’t done much!  So, since I worked on Labor Day I took my 3 day weekend this past week. With my normal days off being Fridays and Saturdays I decided to take Thursday off and head out late Wednesday to Frances Slocum State Park in Luzerne County Pennsylvania. That extra few hours on Wednesday makes it feel so much longer, probably because there’s no need to rush the following morning.

img_20160914_192919I got to the park and headed to camp site 95 in the walk-in tent section and got my hammock up and grabbed a bite to eat just before the Sun set. I was eager to test out some gear… some new and some I just hadn’t had a chance to try out yet. I recently purchased a new Paria Outdoor Products Sanctuary SilTarp after my recent backpacking trip. I was looking to shed weight in any gear I could and this tarp is only 15oz packed. So I got to test that out. I also gave my DIY emergency blanket under quilt a try… still needs some work but it’s a good start. Early in the year I found a steal of a bargain on an Exped Scout Hammock Combi for $68, usually goes for more than $200. This was the first time I used that, for 1 night anyway, I switched back to m ENO Doublenest for nights 2 and 3. I also gave my new Fire Knife from Light My Fire a good test… took a lot of practice to get the hang of, but I’m getting better with it. Continue reading

Video: Kayaking Bradys Lake

Bradys Lake is a 229 acre man made lake located in Monroe County, Pennsylvania. This is the 3 rd time I’ve kayaked here and haven’t been disappointed yet. The lake is very secluded, and sits 3 miles off the nearest main road in the middle of State Game Lands.

On this trip I tried out some new audio/video set ups. The first was a new GoPro mount on the stern of my kayak, unfortunately it failed pretty quickly (this is why you tie off GoPros). I also used a Tascam DR-05 for audio to try and pick up better audio around the lake, as luck would have it, nature decided to be oddly quiet on this trip. But I learned a lot about the set up and look forward to future attempts. Let me know what you think.

Happy 100th Birthday National Park Service!!

What is known as “America’s Best Idea” turns 100 today! The National Parks Service was created August, 25 1916 and now oversees more than 400 sites, including reserves, preserves, historic sites and parks. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit some of these great sites like Acadia National Park and Assateague Island National Seashore. To celebrate the National Parks Service’s centennial I decided to share a some of my favorite photos. Enjoy!

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Gettysburg National Military Park

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Kayaking With a Black Bear… Seriously!

Before this past week I hadn’t seen a single Black Bear in 2016. Then at Trough Creek State Park I came across one who was thoroughly investigating a picnic area and could not care less that I was 30 feet away watching him. So, on Saturday 8.20.16 I went kayaking at Shohola Marsh Reservoir in Pike County, Pennsylvania with a friend of mine. This was the 3rd time we had kayaked here and both times before we had seen more Bald Eagles than you could shake a stick at.

What's that swimming in the distance???

What’s that swimming in the distance???

We arrived about 8 a.m. and promptly hit the water, heading straight to the back side of the lake… that’s where we have the most Eagle sightings. After paddling for a few minutes my friend points out something swimming across the lake a few hundred yards ahead of us and asked “What is that?” It was big and black and looked like a bear’s head, but I didn’t say anything because… you know, how often to you see a Black Bear swimming across a lake? Especially a few hundred yards from shore? We watched it for a few seconds and he said “I think it’s a bear! I saw it’s snout!” I had to concur, it was most definitely a Black Bear swimming across the lake in front of our kayaks! Continue reading