Monday, May 26, 2008

Paddling Salt Creek on Memorial Day

Salt Creek Paddling Group
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
The only thing better than spending a holiday kayaking, is getting to do that kayaking with a large group of friends. I would like to thank all of you for turning out for the Oklahoma Flatwater Paddlers trip down Salt Creek to the Hickory Point Area on Okmulgee Lake.

We got a late start, but we were blessed with a few hours of unusually cool temperatures. Also, the wind was mild enough and no one took an unexpected swim...except maybe the dog. As usual, the water in the channel was much less wavy than the wider lake water. The trees are brilliantly green, even on an overcast day like today.

It was great fun meeting so many other paddlers and seeing their colorful array of canoes, kayaks and roof-racking techniques.

After about two hours of fairly light paddling and fairly heavy talking, we headed to the Boomerang Diner for burgers and then out to Nuyaka Creek Winery to meet the family and taste the wine.

Thanks for a fun summer trip, I hope to see you all on the water again soon!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Spring River Kayaking Trip in May

It looks like Dianne and I will be heading to Quapaw, Oklahoma to paddle the Spring River on the last weekend in May. We have reservations at Blue Hole Canoe Floats.

We have paddled the Spring River before in 2006, but this will be our first time trying the lodging and working with an outfitter on that river. On our last trip we stayed at Spring River Canoe Trails State Park.

If you are a big thinker that cannot be satisfied with merely paddling the Spring River, considering buying in! Blue Hole Canoe Floats is For Sale! For the paltry sum of $475,000 you can own your own canoe resort in Northeastern, Oklahoma with 40 acres of the most desirable Spring River frontage in the Ozarks.

Directions: I-44 Exit at Miami, 5 miles E on Hwy 10, then 5 miles N on Hwy 137; in Quapaw on Hwy 66, turn E on 1st St, go 3 miles.

Blue Hole Canoe Floats Inc
63800 E 40th Rd
Quapaw, OK 74363
Phone: 918-533-4653

Hope to see you on the water!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Kayaking Through The Summer Holidays

Red Oak Area
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
This Memorial Day holiday Dianne and I plan to do some kayaking around Okmulgee State Park with some members of the Oklahoma Flatwater Paddlers Group. Join their group and join up with us if you plan to be in the area this weekend.

Sadly, I was forced to miss out on the Kayak Demo in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma this weekend, but they are having another demo on May 24th, 2008.

Just before the Father's Day holiday in June, Dianne and I are planning to make a trip to the Turner Falls area. We are 'grabbin a cabin' in Sulphur, Oklahoma and hoping for a chance to paddle the Washita River and the local lakes.

We had hoped to paddle the Elk River last weekend, it is at a real good level for kayaking, but we just could not make it happen. The Elk River offers an excellent downriver trip for novice paddlers. I've never let my son Dylan paddle in real current, so I am hoping to get him in a kayak on the Elk River this summer.

Got any special paddling plans for the Summer holidays, yet?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Canoe and Kayak Demo in Broken Arrow

Fun Events for Oklahoma Paddlers This Weekend

I just got an ad from Bass Pro Shops and it looks like they have Canoe and Kayak Demos planned for May 17 and 24 from 10am to 3pm. Also, they are having a life jacket trade-in sale, making this the perfect time to replace your old PFD's with new feature rich PFD models.

May 17 is the date I would try to attend as they are having a fish fry concurrent with the canoe and kayak demo. It is all happening at Uncle Buck's Pond at the Broken Arrow Bass Pro Shop.

Looking for a great side trip to add to Bass Pro Shops visit? Stop by the Nuyaka Creek Winery Spring Winefest from Noon until 7pm on May 17, 2008. Check out the nearby Deep Fork River Bridges for an easy river access spot for kayaking.

More urban activity lovers might prefer MayFest or the Blue Dome Festival going on in Tulsa the same weekend.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Fireworks Over Tenkiller July 2008

Tenkiller Lake Fireworks Extravaganza
July 4, 2008 8pm to 9pm

Sponsored by the Greater Tenkiller Area Assocaition and donors.
South end of the lake about dark. No charge for watching. Call 918 457-4403.

Want to be a sponsor? Contact Shannon Smith at 918-489-5888.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Kayak Demo Day Moved to May 21, 2008

Developing rain/thunderstorms & high winds on Wednesday evening have forced a change of plans.

The OKC Outdoor Network Kayak Demo for May 7, 2008 has been postponed!

The NEW DATE is Wednesday, May 21, 2008 from 6:00 - 9:00 pm at Lake Hefner's Hobie Point.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Paddling by Elephant Rock on the Illinois River

Paddling by Elephant Rock
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
This weekend Oklahoma enjoyed some fantastic Spring weather, I hope everyone was able to get out and make the most of it. After working through Saturday on household honey-do's, Dianne consented to making a Sunday road trip to Tahlequah's scenic Highway 10. We knew a few outfitters must be open, because we had read about the death of a young paddler on the river last week. He wasn't wearing his paddling PFD and the river surprised him.

The Illinois River was running at a level of about 5.5 feet and pretty fast on Saturday. This is a good safe level for paddling, but I was feeling a bit unlucky. I always paddle with a PFD on, but when I feel unlucky I pull on my spray skirt for added safety. Since summer vacation hasn't started yet, we had the river nearly all to ourselves. Some of the outfitters are now open for the season. We called several and found Falcon Floats was willing to shuttle our boats to the public canoe launch at No Head Hollow.

Of course, we had to get the speech about how outfitters don't like to shuttle private boats. If you plan on owning your own kayak and buying shuttling services, expect to hear this speech on most trips. Canoe livery operators would much rather rent you a kayak for $40, than to shuttle your boat for $10. Most claim to lose money on the service due to the high cost of fuel, insurance difficulties and Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission usage fees. Dianne and I feel their pain, but we are unwilling to drive across Oklahoma for two and half hours and HOPE the outfitters have two decent kayaks available. We try to do our part through purchasing food and paddling t-shirts as well as the occasional cabin rental.

Aside from the usual speech, the folks at Falcon Floats were very friendly and provided excellent service for our trip. Since we were nearly alone on the river, the wildlife was out in force. We saw trout, bass and catfish, several Osprey, some deer and tons of turtles and herons. The flow in the river was excellent making the 12-mile trip a very easy bit of paddling.

We did hit a bit of trouble near the take-out. Just upstream from the Falcon Floats take-out, the river splits forcing you to choose the right or left lane. The path to the left looks much wider and easier, but the outfitter warned us that there were trees down that completely blocked that path. The outfitter had placed a sign instructing all floaters to follow the path to the right.

Following the path to the right took us around a corner where the river narrows to a swift, shady channel. Suddenly, we were surprised to see fallen trees across this path as well, but the water was moving too fast to backtrack! Dianne's boat was pushed sideways fast and hit one downed tree. The impact, combined with the swifter current, rocked her kayak onto its side and she quickly began taking on water. This ain't Dianne's first rodeo, so despite not having her spray skirt on her kayak, she did a quick brace and hip-snapped the kayak. This allowed her to paddle her kayak to the shore with a wet butt, but without taking a swim. About five feet in front of where we landed the kayaks, two young men were in a john-boat using a chainsaw to clear away a logjam. After we dumped the water out of Dianne's boat, she decided that deploying her own spray skirt might be prudent. The young men with the chainsaw suggested a path through the logjam, but it looked much simpler to walk about ten steps around it.

Although we paddled past many downed trees and some fun ripples, that logjam was the last exciting obstacle on the trip. I don't have a lot of great pictures from the trip. We paddled from about Noon until 4pm, so the light was just getting good as we reached the take-out. Despite the poor light, I enjoyed taking pictures of Elephant Rock. My Osprey shots are barely better than a blur.

Hopefully, we will return to the Illinois River soon for an overnight stay so i can capture the dawn and/or the sunset on this lovely river. Once summer officially arrives you will need an early morning launch on this river if you want to see more wildlife and less wild-living!