Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Chains of Lakes

I often paddle rivers, salt marshes and open salt water.  But somewhere near the core of canoeing is the passing through chains of lakes.  I had been led to believe that the Bolton Lakes, upper, middle and lower, were connected by navigable channels.

I started at the bottom of Lower Bolton Lake, not just because it would automatically make me canoe the entire length of the lakes, but more because it got me out of the car as soon as possible.

It was an okay lake - not quite a mile long and a bit more than a half mile wide.  It was pretty much lined with houses, spread out or tucked back into the trees enough so that they weren't annoying.  Two other boats were out on the water, but one had to look carefully to find them.  A third was launching as I started.  They were all fishermen hoping for bass.  There was not too much to see.

At the top of the lake, I found that the channel was not a channel, but an earthen dam with a low head spillway.  I portaged an easy 75 yards on the west side, passing a well used fire pit and causing some geese with goslings to take to the water without much hurry.

The middle lake was also an okay lake.  It too was lined with houses, although they were spread out more than in the lower lake.  Narrower, but about as long, a wooded point with a nearly hidden gazebo split the lake into two bodies.  There was not too much to see, but there was no one on the lake.

Middle Bolton Lake
The top of the lake was a low road with a well submerged culvert leading to the upper lake.  It was a very easy portage of 20 yards.

Upper Bolton Lake

The upper lake was a whole different matter.  It was the gem of the three, the hidden garden that made the trip through the other two more than worthwhile.  Not as long as the middle lake and narrower still, it bent dogleg around a point so that i did not know that more lake was coming until I got there.  It seemed to be two feet deep everywhere, and so grew a healthy crop of three types of pond lilies (lilies are particular as to water depth) from the large yellow flowered lily pad to an oval half-palm sized plant which reminded me of plants that I saw in Lake Ozette, which is about as far west as you can get from here staying south of the border with Canada.  Song birds, swallows, Canada geese, and some distant woodpeckers shared the lake.  There were no houses - the forested edges guarded swampy semi-land, and the swampy semi-land protected the lake shore from development.

The top of the lake did not end, but petered out, or peatered out as the case may be.  There was no distinct shore, but instead water and pond plants gave way to swamp grasses, which joined stunted trees, which joined less stunted trees.  A maze of channels lead into the swamp ( a swamp is a wetland with trees).  It was shallow, but deep enough and the channels were narrow, but wide enough.  I spent some time there, just to see what was around the next bend.  I followed channels until they came to trees, and turned around and followed another until it too, came to trees.  It was an exceptional place to just sit and wait for something to happen.  It should be fine beaver habitat, but I did not find any sign.

On the return, I noticed that the turtles were out - shiny green bowls upturned on things sticking out of the water.  They were wary and they always slipped off when I was 75 yards away.

beaver lodge

 As I neared the portage, I found a beaver lodge.  It was moderately small and did not look occupied, at least by the signs that I am familiar with, but if it was vacant, it hadn't been idle for too long.