Paddling in the “snow”

Snow? Well, not quite. Rochester is pollen city these days. My car is covered in a green film. Lately, though, the prevalent airborne thing is cottonwood fluff. The air is full of it, and so is the surface of the water. It’s very picturesque.

I did the Ellison Park Shuttle today. I knew it was going to be a hot and humid day, so I wanted to do the early 9am shuttle instead of the more popular noon shuttle. I got there at about 2 minutes to 9am, and discovered no boats on the shuttle bus’s rack. I asked inside and they said “oh yeah, we’ll do it anybody wants to go”. So I started to load my kayak on the rack. But then the owner comes out and says “since it’s just you, why don’t we load it on my van and I can drop you off on my way to the bank?”

He put me in a hundred meters or so downstream of where they’ve put me in before. The water was incredibly shallow – I swear it’s gone down at least 2/3rds of a metre since my last time up that way. I think he put me in where he did to avoid some shallow water, but I wanted to do the whole length so I paddled upstream to the other put-in.

Oh, one thing I should mention – I brought my camera along. A while ago I found some old turn of the last century post cards showing sections of Irondequoit creek, and I had the idea of finding some of those locations and photographing them as they look now. I forgot to print out the post cards to bring along, but I tried to photograph some of the locations from memory. But I was having various problems with the camera along the way – I haven’t downloaded the pictures yet, but I think they sucked.

On the wildlife front, the baby geese are almost fully grown and showing the same colouration as their parents, but the baby ducks are still very small and yellow. I saw a kingfisher do an absolutely spectacular dive starting from a very high height. I swear it must have been 10 metres up at least. I heard some song birds in the trees but couldn’t find them in the leaves. I saw what might have been a cedar waxwing silhouetted against the sky, or it just might have been a cardinal with a bent down crest.

Once past the weir and into the sunshine, I decided to explore a little side channel that on Google Maps looked like it might be barely passable. I got up a little way, saw a bent back of something disappearing under the water like a mink or a muskrat, and then came to a log blocking my way. And then discovered there was no place wide enough to turn around, so I had to back out. Just as I was nearly back to freedom, I encountered a canoe coming up the side channel, but fortunately they backed out too.

There were lots of little instruction and tour groups out on the water then. It was getting close to noon and so I guess people were finally stirring for the day. One of the ones I passed on the way down came into the shop after I was done and claimed that they’d seen a pair of Bald Eagles soaring over the creek. I’ve seen a few Bald Eagles up in Ontario and Quebec, so I suppose that isn’t totally unbelievable. Hopefully they’ll stick around and nest.

It was a very satisfying 4.6 miles and I was soaked with sweat afterwards. After my paddle, I decided that since I’ve been a good boy and haven’t bought any toys in a few weeks, I’d buy myself a new Personal Flotation Device. The one I have now is one of Bay Creek’s old rentals and it doesn’t fit very well. I can’t wait to try the new one out.