The Canvas of a Fall Landscape
With a picturesque fall day stretched out before us, Wren and I set out from Wakely Dam onto Cedar River Flow as a soft south breeze brought us warm temps and played upon the water. We cut initially toward Payne Brook, but then steered off into the main body of the flow which opened up quickly before us. I had thought the breeze would be a bit stiffer to work against on the wider expanse of water, but I was proven wrong – the water was rippling but the air felt quite still, even hot.
Several kayakers were hugging the east side of the flow so we stayed west and paddled close to shore where we could enjoy the fall colors which were flush through the hillsides. Our route had the advantage of giving us a view of the mountains and hills which rose from the east side of the flow, and I gazed in awe of the mounded and colored forms of Buck Mountain, Lewey Mountain, and Onion Hill.
The Beauty of Evergreens during the Fall
The tallest peaks such as Lewey Mountain were high enough that the deciduous trees stopped below the summit and the peaks were topped with conifers. Here and there fingers of conifers stretched down the hills along what I surmised were cool creeks or north facing slopes. Evergreens don't often get the press that the bright sugar maples, red maples, birches, and other deciduous trees receive during the fall, but I think this to be a mistake. While we love the bright yellows, reds, and oranges of changing leaves, they appear all the brighter when viewed in contrast with the deep, resilient green of evergreens. Evergreens augment the complex mosaic that is an autumn woodland, and no place is this more evident than on the large canvas of a distant landscape or mountain. Considering this thought, I paddled along the western shore, not taking many photos since I knew the light would be more conducive to photos on the return trip.
Wren was tired from our long camping trip and tried to sleep in the warm sun – when the flies would allow it. The warm air must have prompted a hatching of ankle biters – and while they were leaving me alone, they bothered her incessantly. I regularly stopped paddling to smack them and began to keep count of how many I had killed in the process. My tally was soon pushing double figures, but despite my efforts they still thwarted Wren's attempts to nap.
Several beaver dams dotted the shoreline as we went, but the occupants had to be content without dams in the vast expanse of the flow. They had to leave the dam building to the cement of Wakely Dam which creates the flow in first place. And the flow can take hours or even days to explore properly. We didn't have that much time, but we did check out quite a bit of shoreline – turning before we reached the Cedar River itself to begin our paddle back.
Taking Photographs and Watching Birds
I took a few more photographs now that the sun was at my back and the slight breeze helped push us along the flow toward the car. We could hear the other kayakers talking way across the water from us – I'm always amazed at how sound travels across an open expanse – but no one was near us for most of our time out. As we went, I paused to watch a Belted Kingfisher and a small group of Yellow-rumped Warblers to see if any stragglers of other warbler species remained with them. Wren continued to feud with the flies – trying to snap them out of the air or off her haunches, and I stopped a number of times to help thin their numbers for her. I threw them all into the water for the fish.
Needless to say, Wren was happy to be done with the paddle when we returned and she splashed around at the put-in and rolled in the grass scratching her back with joy. As I loaded up and then rinsed the sweat off my body from the warm day, I noticed two American Pipits fly overhead and land in the grassy area that composes the parking lot and campsites around the dam. Once everything was loaded and we were ready to go, I took out my camera and spent a few minutes taking photos of the pipits which were surprisingly approachable. Wren watched me with interest waiting for me to come to the car. She appeared ready for home, food, and bed. The pipits eventually flew across the dam and I took that as my sign that our day was complete. Wren slept peacefully in a fly-free car as I drove home.
If you're visiting the area we can help you find your own post-paddle "home, food, and bed." Check out our many lodging and restaurant options! Trying to plan your next adventure? Check out our extensive hiking and birding options - the Adirondacks are waiting!