News Eagle columnist Bill Deaton explores local kayaking possibilities.
SHOHOLA — For some reason, once September is a memory, it seems fewer & fewer vehicles around the Lake Region are seen sporting kayak and canoe racks.
Is there is some unwritten rule that one can't stick a paddle in the water once Halloween decorations go on sale at the local drug store?
I know a lot of folks automatically associate canoeing and kayaking with the summer, but autumn is an awesome time to be out on the water. In the fall, there is less traffic on the bigger lakes, the trees are turning colors, and your chances of getting a nasty sunburn diminish greatly.
So, if you haven't removed your racks or stuck your boat in mothballs just yet, you may want to check out a few local waterways before you call it quits for the season.
First Things First
The bigger lakes. If you're like me, you enjoy some solace through gliding across the water.
While you'll still encounter the occasional speedboat, by and large the jet-skiers and wakeboarders have relinquished their claims and paddling not only becomes a bit more safer, but more tranquil as well.
Here and there I will encounter a bass boat motoring along at high speed, but generally I go largely undisturbed, even on weekends.
If you have the opportunity to venture out onto Lake Wallenpaupack mid-week, you might even have the lake to yourself!
You can also enjoy a lazy day on the river well into late fall if you choose the right location and have the proper gear. Cooler waters and chilly air might mean opting for areas without rapids.
On the Delaware, he smaller riffles found above Skinner's Falls and below Matamoras are typically not enough to send a lot of water into your boat, so you can remain relatively dry and take in the fall colors or cast your line without worry.
Lastly, and probably the gems, are the smaller lakes.
It's quite easy to find yourself alone at places such as Shohola Lake or White Deer Lake at this time of the year.
Aside from the foliage, migrating waterfowl and birds of prey are readily seen and the cooler temperatures also mean turtles are a bit slower to move off a warm rock, so they can be more easily observed as well.
No matter where you paddle, keep a few things in mind if you head out.
•Watch the temperature. As a general rule, if the air temperature plus the water temperature equals 100 degrees you don't need a wetsuit, however use discretion once either drops below 45.
•Getting in and out of the boat might mean getting your feet wet. Canoeists can easily keep a pair of dry socks and shoes in the boat but kayakers may want to invest in a pair of Neoprene socks or booties.
Consider also mid-weight fleece pants you can easily roll up over your knees when launching and getting out of the water.
•Kayakers might wish to invest in a spray skirt. Aside from keeping water out of the cockpit, it also keeps heat in. Your lower half can remain surprisingly toasty inside the boat even when the temperature starts to dip.
•Wear wool or synthetic clothes and bring along some rain gear, just in case the weather turns foul. Also pack an extra set of warm clothes in a dry bag. If you do capsize, get your boat to the shore, bail out your boat, and then change.
You also might want to invest in some neoprene or windproof gloves.
•Be mindful of duck hunters. Most will be using camouflage and be hidden in blinds.
You may not even see them, so if you hear someone calling out or making an unnatural noise, acknowledge you heard them with a wave of your paddle and move off into another direction.
•Remember the essentials such as water, lip balm, snacks, a flashlight (in case you end up out past dark), some basic first aid supplies, a hat, sunglasses, and yes…having some sunscreen on hand might be a good idea as well on the sunny days.
Don't forget the camera too!
Have fun when you head out.
There's a lot to see and a short time to see it, so take every advantage you can to enjoy the fall paddling season.
Soon enough the snow will be falling and the waters will freeze, but until then…paddle on!