Saturday, December 3, 2011

Turtles!


What's your relationship with turtles?

Do you ever think about turtles?

Do other people ever make you stop and think about turtles?

What do you think about turtles?

Why am I thinking about turtles when I should be planning a ski trip or a trip somewhere warm with a beach?!

It's time to get this thing with turtles off my mind and into a post so I can move on to other things!

So here it is, my thing with turtles!

50 Baby Snapping Turtles: Adirondack Turtle Tails . . .

On a rainy day last September, our group of seven kayakers were headed to Big Moose Lake in the Adirondacks, New York, to paddle on a day I thought it would be much more fun to visit the Adirondack Museum!

On a steep sandy embankment along the road next to a creek, there was a gathering of about 15 people hovering around the same spot.

I thought there had been an accident. Was it a roadside vigil?

But, the people were all smiling. Someone called out: "Baby snapping turtles are being born! Come watch!"

I thought, "Do I have to? We're already heading out late for a paddle. It's just turtles!"

But the rest of the group stopped and I didn't know the way to the launch site.

So I dug out the camera, got out of the car, and hoped I could get a shot of baby snapping turtles.

Oddly enough, it's this 50 baby snapping turtle tale that finally made me think about turtles and all the turtle stuff I've been seeing and hearing about as a paddler over the years.

When I took this picture of the snapping turtle nest, I thought there was only one baby snapper coming out at a time. But no . . .
Snapping turtle nest next to a creek near Big Moose Lake, Adirondacks, New York, U.S.A. September 2011

How many of us are trying to get out of the hole at the same time? This nest had 50 eggs. A conservation group was watching the birth. They stayed and counted each turtle coming out of the nest!






A closer look showed that baby snapping turtles start their struggle for survival from the minute they hatch. They even battle with each other to see who can get out of the nest and to the water first.
Snapping turtle nests are in sandy embankments close to the water. Peak laying season is June and July. Eggs hatch in the fall. The eggs are a favourite treat of racoons, foxes, skunks, and opossums. So baby snapping turtles are lucky if they make it to hatching in the early fall. Baby snapping turtles make a beeline from the nest to the water. It's a race!
Three baby snapping turtles run from their sandy nest to a creek near Big Moose Lake, Adirondacks, New York, in early September. 

They are hard to see. An onlooker stepped on one. If you watch baby snapping turtles coming from a nest, it is better to watch them from above the nest away from the direction they are travelling rather than below the nest or near the water where they are running to.
Weight: Older snapping turtle adults can weigh up to 35 pounds, sometimes more. You may want to think about how big snapping turtles can grow to, and how powerful a bite from their strong jaws and sharp beaks can be when you paddle, fish, or hang out in snapping turtle habitats like creeks, ponds, and shallow shorelines of lakes and rivers. 

If you don't believe how big snapping turtles can grow, scroll down and take a look at the giant snapping turtle I paddled past one summer in Bon Echo Creek, Bon Echo Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.
Age: This baby snapper is cute! If it survives, it will take 15 to 20 years before it reaches maturity. Wow! It's a long time before snapping turtles are old enough to reproduce, and a threat to their survival. Snapping turtles can live 30 to 40 years in the wild.
Size: How big are baby snapping turtles? Their shells are about the size of a 25 cent piece, about 2-3 centimetres.

Baby snapping turtles start out small, but if they make it to adulthood they can grow to a shell size of 9 inches to 19.5 inches long or 24 centimetres, up to 50 centimetres long.

After our group of kayakers watched some of the baby snapping turtles fight their way out of the nest and run to the water, we headed off to paddle Big Moose Lake.
When we got back to the muddy, silty launch site at Big Moose Lake at the end of the day, a woman from the conservation group was in the parking lot and gave us the baby snapping turtle head count and news update:
Maelstrom Vital 166 sea kayak, Big Moose Lake boat launch, Adirondacks, New York, U.S.A.
 "50 baby snapping turtles hatched! Well, 49," she said, "An onlooker stepped on one and fell into the creek."

But then her tone changed and she said, "That's a lot of snapping turtles! From one nest! Of course, they won't all survive."

But her comment finally made me stop for a moment, stop loading my gear, and think about snapping turtles.

What should I do if I encounter a snapping turtle and it bites me . . . and it doesn't let go right away?

I paddle in snapping turtle territories all the time. Kayak anglers (people fishing from kayaks) and fishermen fishing in creeks, ponds, shallow lake and river shorelines sometimes report seeing big snapping turtles swimming up to their boats chasing after their bait or catch. And they don't want to catch a snapping turtle! Or get an accidental bite!

Snapping turtles don't attack you. Their bites are not venomous (poisonous).

But, if you do surprise a snapping turtle, or bother one intentionally, or try to help one cross the road and pick it up (you shouldn't!) and it bites you, the advice is to stay calm.

That will be tough!

Try counting to ten and see if the turtle has let go.

If you are on land when a snapping turtle bites you, and does not let go, and you can get it into the water, it may encourage the snappping turtle to let go and swim away.

Trying to rip the turtle's strong jaw and sharp beak from your body can make things worse and tear your skin. Killing the turtle apparently makes it harder to loosen its strong grip. A dead snapping turtle's jaw will constrict (get tighter) and make it even harder to remove.

After a bite, clean the wound and seek medical attention if necessary. Good luck!

The "Big Mother" of a Turtle: Bon Echo Creek, Bon Echo Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
Adult snapping turtle. Bon Echo Creek, Bon Echo Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
I paddled past this huge adult snapping turtle one summer while on a trip to Bon Echo Provincial Park.

This big snapping turtle startled me when I first saw it and amazed me by its size. It's a big adult and must weigh about 35 pounds. I started to look around the narrow creek I was paddling and pay closer attention. There were a lot more snapping turtles in the creek. Not the place to dangle fingers or toes over the edge of the boat.

The stretch of Bon Echo Creek here was fairly narrow and I didn't have much room to get past the snapping turtle with all the other fallen trees. While taking a photo, my kayak quickly drifted closer and closer to the turtle, and it stayed put. Usually, turtles crawl off into the water when you come close.

But this big guy didn't budge! And I backed off. Snapping turtles can't retract into their shells like other turtles. To defend themselves, they will usually swim away if they are in or near water, or snap and bite if you surprise or disturb them.

Look at the size of those feet and claws!

The snapping turtle was happy in the sun and didn't want to move. It was watching me. It wasn't going to bother me if I didn't bother it. But, I decided to put down my camera, grab my paddle, and paddle away so I didn't drift in any closer and disturb its sunbathing.
 
Turtle Crossings in Canada

It is a pretty cool sight to see a turtle crossing sign on a highway and then see a big turtle crossing the road animated by an excited human standing in the middle of the road waving their arms wildly to stop traffic.

I've driven home from paddles and seen these turtle crossing signs in the oddest places. On country highways in Ontario, Canada where there is no water in sight. When I looked left and right of the highway, I saw a mile of fields, and then after that, a long stretch of forest.

I laughed. "Is this some kind of a joke? How could a turtle possibly travel this far to lay eggs? Where's the water? "

Apparently, female turtles can travel up to six miles (10 kilometres) to lay eggs. That's hard to believe. It's a long walk . . . for a turtle!

Then, one day, on a country highway with a turtle crossing sign, I saw a woman standing in the middle of the road, madly waving her arms. Her car was parked on the side of the highway.

A big brown spot was slowly crossing the road.

I stopped.

The woman was smiling and excited, "A turtle is crossing!"

Wow! People like turtles! People love turtles! They have a thing with turtles. Even snapping turtles.

I had a pet turtle twice in my life. 

Turtle Soup?

Should you eat wild snapping turtles? Is it legal to capture wild snapping turtles?

Turtles can have high levels of PCBs and other toxins in their flesh. Some farms raise them for consumption. Some restaurants serve turtle soup. I haven't come across turtle soup in any menus I've seen.

There are laws in many places to regulate snapping turtle capture or to protect them. Something I hadn't thought about or that I even knew about until now. I'm a paddler. I just look at turtles and snap pictures of them.

You may want to investigate laws and regulations in the area you're visiting if you're thinking of catching a turtle or making your own turtle soup.

Turtles have been around since the age of the dinosaur and have survived. Turtles biggest threats today are human activity.

For information about regulations in Ontario, Canada, you can visit:
Capture of Snapping Turtles, Fish Ontario, Fishing Regulations, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

My Garden Snapping Turtle
I have a plastic snapping turtle in my garden. Her job is to keep away garden pests, like the neighbor's cats. So far, it's not working! But she's cute.

Turtle Metaphors

You have some turtle metaphors? What are they?

What's a metaphor? It's a big word. Metaphors are the hardest and most interesting things to explore. Let's break it down.

Metaphors are simple symbols of things you come across in your life that relate to or represent other things in your life and connect you to the world if you take the time to notice. It can take years!

Confusing?! I know. When I was attending university and studying Communications, they talked about metaphors and I never understood metaphors!

Putting together metaphors is like connecting dots to yourself and the rest of the world. When you start to see life through metaphors, once in a while at least, it can be interesting, helpful, and life changing.

How about the Tortoise and the Hare, from Aesop's Fables? The swifter hare (rabbit) thought he could easily outrun a turtle. The hare underestimated the steady determination of the turtle. The turtle won the race. The arrogant hare lost. Can you relate?

When all the holiday hype or any other hype tries to drag you in, think turtle. Slow down. And give a turtle a chance.

The Durhamblogger, a paddle blogger in South Carolina, U.S.A. reminds me to, "Take life one stroke at a time."  A good motto. Especially as the busy Christmas season rings in.

For more information about snapping turtles and other turtles or to donate to a turtle cause:

Ontario Nature: Snapping Turtles
Tortoise Trust: Snapping Turtles
Toronto Zoo, Adopt a Pond; Turtle Crossing Signs

Enjoy the holiday season and turtles!
The BaffinPaddler

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November Surprises! Burrs!

November paddle in the Boreal Baffin from Shirley's Bay to Pinhey's Point and back on the Ottawa River, Ontario, Canada. 10 kilometres each way. 20 kilometres (12 miles) round trip. About two hours of paddling each way. Compass bearings: North 0 heading out of Shirley's Bay, to NW 330 to Pinhey's Point . SE 150 heading back to S 180 into Shirley's Bay . Photo courtesy of KayakJock.
You thought I meant burrrr, it's cold? No, I'm talking burrs! Those prickly, clingy, sharp, spiny, bristly, thistle-like things that let loose in the late fall and get stuck in all your neoprene gear like your paddle booties and spray skirt and won't let go!

You don't even notice the burrs, lurking in the brush, until you're getting back into your sea kayak. You look down and see that you've suddenly grown lots of prickly hair on your feet and spray skirt. You're going to have to paddle back home like that. Covered in them! They are sneaky things.

This is the first time I've paddled in November in the National Capital Region of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario/Gatineau, Quebec). November weather around here is usually wickedly wet, cold, windy, and grey! Most years, by November, there is already snow on the ground and my paddle gear is put away in a warm, dry place.

But this year, November has surprised me. It's been warmer, drier, and sunnier than I can ever remember.

It's the first year I don't hate November!

And I've got November paddle burrs! All over my neoprene stuff. It's drying out and waiting until I've got the will, the courage, and the need to pick it all out. Which may not be until next spring!

Meanwhile, it's still a happy surprise to be able to paddle my Boreal Baffin in November. Even though we are sweating inside our dry and wet suits with the mild November temps. The water is very cold but the air temperatures are still fairly warm on days where we've seen 15-17 degrees Celsius (60's Fahrenheit), making dressing properly for a paddle a tough choice.

I fit much better into the big cockpit of the Boreal Baffin when I'm wearing that extra layer of Merino wool as a base layer, topped with a heavy duty Gul GCX2 breathable paddle jacket and dry pant combo. I need breathable gear!

I'm still paddling in a two-piece combo of gear. It's easier and more practical for me to get out of by myself. I'm afraid of those impossible to open monster zippers on one-piece dry suits.

Although, getting in to and out of my heavy duty Gul paddle jacket is a leap of faith. I never know if I'm going to succeed either way. I like to have a spotter near by in case I get hopelessly stuck in there! Once the jacket goes over my head, I never know what to do next. Do I pull here, push there, or just keep struggling and cursing until something works! I still haven't figured out the best strategy for getting my paddle jacket on or off. But it's an awesome jacket once it's on and everything is in place.

And when your paddle buddies ask you to help them with their zippers on their dry suits . . . they really do need help! Especially when they start turning green and purple.

More November Surprises

The dandelions are still in bloom.
The kite surfers are out and about.

The Last Sailboat is gone.

The forest, however, is still the same! The trees turn scary in November and look like they are auditioning for a starring role in a haunted forest movie!
Enjoy November Surprises!

Is November surprising you too this year where you live, paddle, and play?
The BaffinPaddler

Friday, November 11, 2011

Kite Surfing the Ottawa River in November! The wind shifts, a kite goes into the trees!

WOW! The first week of November I saw 18 kite surfers negotiating the 15-18 knot wind from Parc des Cedres on the Lac Deschenes section of the Ottawa, River just off the Aylmer Marina in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada.

It was an awesome sight! It was 17 degrees Celsius, about 63 degrees Fahrenheit, which is really warm and nice around here as long as you are geared up in a good wet suit with a layer of insulation or a dry suit with ditto.
I've seen the kite surfers out in much bigger wind, but never in such great numbers. I couldn't understand how they managed not to run into each other or get tangled in each other's lines. Kite surfing is an extreme sport. You've got to trust who's out there in the water with you right? Or hope you can.

I didn't have my camera with me. It was 3:00 p.m. With the time change set back one hour, I knew if I went home to fetch my camera, they'd probably be off the water by the time I got back at 4:00 p.m. And, when the wind dies down, they're off the water relaxing, calming down from the adrenaline rush, and enjoying the setting sun before packing up. Sorry, I failed you here. They were off the water when I got back. Motto: "Always carry a camera!" But it's still a nice shot.
What's that commotion in the trees?

I caught up with the kite surfers again in the same location on Lac Deschenes on the Ottawa River the second week in November when a kite was caught in the trees. It caught my eye. I've never seen that before.

This time my camera was with me. I decided to talk to some of them for the very first time to get some insight on the sport and a little bit of kite surfer news! You can only catch up with them when they're on the ground!
Kite surf and lines caught in the trees, Lac Deschenes, Ottawa River. Gatineau, Quebec, Canada.
Me: "Hi there! Bummer. So what happened? New at the sport or the wind wasn't your friend?"

Kite surfer's buddie: "A little bit of both I think. The wind shifted."

Me: "What were the wind speeds today?"

Kite surfer's buddie: "About 15 knots."

Me: "How long are the kite lines?"

Kite surfer's buddie: "100 feet long."

Me: "Are you guys with a club?"

Kite surfer's buddie: "No, we're just a bunch of crazy maniacs who come out here when the wind picks up! But there is a local forum on Yahoo where we communicate."

Me: "There's a big tear in the kite. How much do you think it will cost to fix?"
Kite surfer's buddie: "About $300."
Me: "How much does a kite cost?"

Kite surfer's buddie: "About $1,000."

Ok, let's have a moment of quiet silence for the kite surfer. He wasn't injured and got his kite and lines down from the tree and was lucky to have some good buddies to help him, but he'll be off the water until the kite gets fixed, unless he has a spare.

I shot some video of the kite surfers that day, and may post it here later. In the video, I could see how easy it is for a kite with 100 foot long lines to get caught in trees along a shoreline when the wind is blowing hard or suddenly shifts.

The guys here were taking it all in stride and all working together.

I talked to another kite surfer who was enjoying the early sunset and in no hurry to pack up!

Me: "It looks like it's all guys doing this sport. Are there any girls around here who kite surf too?"

Ottawa kite surfer: "There are about four girls in the area doing it too."

Me: "Has the kite surfing been good around the Ottawa area this year?"

Ottawa kite surfer: "The wind wasn't that good this summer. But November has been great! Today (Monday, November 7), we had a good consistent wind around 15 knots. It's sunny, and it's fairly warm for November at 17 degress Celsius!"

Me: "How long have you been kite surfing?"

Ottawa kite surfer: "Two years now. It's replaced golf!"

Me: "How do you know when the wind conditions are right?"

Ottawa kite sufer: "We check the hourly forecast at Environment Canada."

Me: "So when the wind picks up and conditions are right, everyone just shows up? What about work and other things?"

Ottawa kite surfer: "I've got a few Get-out-of-jail-free cards!"

Me: "What are the favourite spots around here for kite surfing?"

Ottawa kite surfer: "Haydon Park and Britannia Bay in Ottawa, and where we are now at Lac Deschenes, Gatineau, Quebec."

Me: "I've seen some of these guys jump pretty high in the air. How high do they go?"

Ottawa kite surfer: "Some can go 20 to 30 feet in the air."

For Paddlers

When the wind is up off the Aylmer Marina on the big Lac Deschenes section of the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, I sometimes head out with one of my sea kayaks to play in the water in the little bay next to the Aylmer Marina to see if I can catch waves big enough to surf a bit.

You need the right kind of wind that makes big enough and fast enough waves to do this. Sometimes the wind is blowing hard, but the waves are too small to surf.  It's what I call annoyance wind that just makes paddling a pain or dangerous! (If you know what this type of wind is called, please let me know.) But it can still be good wind for a kite surfer. They prefer consistent wind. Like us in sea kayaks, gusty winds and unpredictable wind shifts can be dangerous and hard to manage.

When the kite surfers are out, I never paddle in to the area that they are kite surfing. They are moving at great speeds with high winds in their kites and are managing kite lines that are 100 feet long. I don't want to tangle with them or get in their way. It's the same for beach goers and bystanders.

If I go in to the water, I stay in an area I know that the kite surfers don't go in to, that I already know fairly well from paddling during calmer days and doesn't have shallow rock patches that the wind and waves will throw me in to.  

Some windy days are perfect for me to play in my Boreal Baffin or Maelstrom Vital 166. Other times I realize, I'd just be dumped over in a second. But at least on days when I show up with one of my kayaks and the kite surfers are out and I know that I can't manage the conditions in a sea kayak, I can enjoy watching the extreme sport of kite surfing from the shore!

If you're a paddler, you may want to learn more about kite surfers and kite surfing. It's an awesome sport!

Enjoy the November images below of kite surfing on the Ottawa River!
More Information about Kite Surfing
Happy paddles and kite surfing!
The BaffinPaddler

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Poison Ivy and Your Pet!

So, you've taken the doggie ashore on the mainland or an island for a little exercise. "Hey, you look so cute in the bush."

The final flowers of fall are still standing. You've got to get a shot of the beautiful field of six-foot tall yellow wildflowers before they're gone.
Suddenly, your early warning system clicks on and you remember to look down instead of up to see what you're tromping through on that barely there trail to the flowers.
Poison ivy starting to turn red in the fall along the Ottawa River, Quebec, Canada.
 Ah, ha! Of course. There are a few strands of poison ivy creeping out under the tall stuff! And you manage to avoid it.

But where's the doggie?

She's romping right through all that poison ivy you've just avoided and now her fur, paws and collar may be full of the oil, called urushiol, from the poison ivy plants - the oil that can cause a nasty rash if it gets on your skin, especially if you're one of the many who are allergic to the toxin from the plants.

But you're not quite sure. Did the oil from the poison ivy rub off on the dog just because she ran through it?

Next up, the doggie finds another, even bigger patch of poison ivy turning a luxurious fall red and decides it's time for a long and joyful, "I'm so happy!" roll in the middle of it! And you watch in horror. Now, you're absolutely sure the doggie is covered in oil from the poison ivy patch. Absolutely sure!
Poison ivy patch turning red in the fall
 Some dogs just love to roll. Riley is one of them. She loves to roll in rocks, dirt, mud, sand, leaves, grass, small bushes, and whatever else is on the ground, including poison ivy.
Our pets, dogs and cats, don't seem to be affected by the toxins from poisonous plants, like poison ivy, that make most of us break out in a nasty red and blistering rash that can last from 10 to 14 days of pure misery. It amazes me how Riley can roll in poison ivy and not be affected by it. If I did that, I'd be in trouble.

Once the oil from poison ivy or other poisonous plants like poison oak or poison sumac get on to your pet, it can rub off on to you and things they sit or lay on, like your car seat, furniture, or bed! Making it easy or inevitable that your skin comes in contact with the potent rash-causing oil.

The oil from poisonous plants can also get onto other things that come into contact with the plants, like your gear, tools, clothing, shoes, or bicycle, and remains active for a long time.


Recently, I saw a picture of poison oak, poison sumac, and poison ivy pasted on the wall of a doctor's office in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, so I asked him a few questions about poisonous plants:

Question: "We've only got to worry about poison ivy around here right?"

Doctor's Answer: Smiling with a wide grin and pointing to the picture of the poisonous plants on the wall, "No, we got lucky in the National Capital Region of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario/Gatineau, Quebec), we've got all three! Poison oak, poison sumac, and poison ivy! Recently a grandmother brought in her three-year old granddaughter with a bad poison sumac rash. She didn't know that "pretty little plant" in her garden was poison sumac!"

Question: "What should you do if your dog or cat gets into it?"

Doctor's Answer: "It's the oil from the plants that can cause the allergic reaction and rash when it gets on your skin. The oil from poisonous plants has to be washed off with something that will remove the oil, like soap and water. Rinsing with water is not enough. Water alone won't remove the oil. Shampoo the dog or cat thoroughly, then rinse well."
 
Question: "Is everyone allergic to the oil from poison ivy? If you already know you're allergic to contact with poison ivy, does that mean you're also allergic to other poisonous plants?

Doctor's Answer: "No, not everyone is allergic to the oil from poison ivy. Some people can rub their faces with the leaves and not have an allergic reaction. If you are allergic to poison ivy, it is very likely that you are also allergic to other poisonous plants like poison oak and poison sumac."

Question: "When my skin comes in contact with poison ivy or the oil from poison ivy on my dog or other objects, how much time do I have to wash it off?"

Doctor's Answer: "The sooner the better. The toxin from the plants penetrates quickly into the skin. You have maybe 15 to 20 minutes. You don't have time to wait until you get home from a hike and take a shower."
Poison ivy warning sign in the 1000 Islands, St. Lawrence River, Ontario, Canada
"Warning! Don't touch the dog. She just rolled in a big patch of poison ivy! What do we do now!?"

Good luck. Maybe keep her on a leash next time . . . you can't shampoo the dog at the beach!

If I drive to a location to run the dog (Riley does not walk - she runs!), I bring a big towel along to rub down the dog if she's run through or rolled in poison ivy to try and remove some of the plant oils, and place another big clean towel on the car seat for the dog to sit on until we get home and I can wash her properly. Then I put the towel I rubbed the dog down with into a plastic bag, and quickly and thoroughly wash my hands.

When I get home, I thoroughly shampoo the dog, rinse well, and towel her dry. All the towels that came in contact with the dog, or anything else that may have come in contact with the dog like her leash or collar, or my clothing, gets washed with soap and water, or goes into the wash with laundry soap, and I select hot water, not cold or warm.

If you take your dog boating with you and let the dog run loose on the mainland or along those charming wooded trails on islands, you may want to have a plan for what to do if your dog runs into poison ivy or other poisonous plants. 
Island trail, 1000 Islands Region, St. Lawrence River, Ontario, Canada
Talk to your vet and ask for advice on what to do or what products may be available to you if you are on a boat or on a camping trip with your dog and don't have access to a safe place to wash the oils from the poisonous plants off your dog. You can't wash the dog in or near a lake, river, stream, or the ocean with soap. This is harmful to the environment and the creatures that live in it.

Dogs are so much work! :) But worth all your efforts . . . right!?
Be prepared. Don't wait until you or family members break out with a nasty rash from poisonous plants before you learn about them.
  • Find out where poisonous plants are found where you live and other places you travel. 
  • Learn how to identify and avoid contact with poisonous plants.
  • Never burn poison ivy leaves or plants. Inhaling the smoke from burning any part of poison ivy plants and other poisonous plants is extremely toxic.
  • Learn what to do if you do come in contact with poisonous plants or break out in an allergic rash.
Poison ivy has three leaves. It is green in the summer, turns red in the fall, then the leaves fall off.  Poison ivy can look different depending on where it grows and the time of year. This image shows poison ivy in August in the 1000 Islands Region, Ontario, Canada. All parts of the plant can cause an allergic reaction from mild to severe. 
Get More Information About Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac

The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Poisonous Plants, Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac provides information, advice, photos, and general maps of where these poisonous plants are found in the U.S. and Canada. 

Now, what is your horse walking through and rolling in on those trails and fields?!
Trail riding in the southern California mountains. Watch out for poison oak in the woods. Even after the leaves have fallen off the plants in the fall, coming in contact with the plants or leaves can cause a rash. Also look out for mountain lions, rattlesnakes, and big, hairy black widow spiders.
Happy trails without mishaps with poisonous plants or things that bite!
The BaffinPaddler
http://baffinpaddler.blogspot.com

Coming Soon: 
Adirondack Turtle Tails . . . 50 Baby Snapping Turtles!

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Fall Peaks in Gatineau Park, Quebec: Colours and Cold Water!

Fall peaked during the Thanksgiving weekend in the National Capital Region of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario/Gatineau, Quebec). The air was warm, in the high 70's (27 C), but the water in Gatineau Park lakes has already become too cold to swim in without a wet or dry suit.

Even in a wet suit, it is not a comfortable five minute dip to test paddle gear or practice cowboy scrambles - not shocking, but not enjoyable either. It's a big change from water temps in July, August, and September - which were still cool at best. Next paddle, I'll bring a thermometer and plunge it a few feet down to see how cold the water is.
Gatineau Park set a record this year for the most beautiful fall colours I've ever seen along with record crowds and traffic jams in the Park to match!

No matter what the season, I find Maelstrom Kayaks beautiful both on and off the water. And so does everyone else. People keep coming up to me with the same comment: "What a beautiful kayak!" From the shoreline, the water, or a gas station as I fill up.
Maelstrom Vital 166
I never tire of looking at a Maelstrom Sea Kayak on the water . . . moving or not, especially in the fall. It is my favorite season to paddle in Canada.
Maelstrom Vaag 174
I love the feel of my Maelstrom Vital 166 in both flat and bumpy moving water. It is sleek, fast, and manoeuverable in flat water, so I don't get bored. When the water starts to move and get bumpy, the boat instantly picks up and gets playful. It reminds me it's time to get going. It's ready to play.
But I always marvel more at the design of my Maelstrom Vital 166 when it's strappped up on the car.
Why?

It's such a skinny, low volume boat. Every time I look at its narrow girth, I wonder how I can feel so stable and comfortable in something that sits with so little in the water. Although, in gusty wind and confused chop, I do sometimes feel waves sweep over the back of my boat and roll over the cockpit from behind or from the side. When I reach for the skeg slider on the left, it is sometimes completely submerged with waves rushing past it.
 
The September and October highs will soon be followed by the November lows in the National Capital Region of Canada.

Low temps and grey colours. November around here is when I park my Boreal Baffin and Maelstrom Vital 166 sea kayaks, unless the weather convinces me otherwise (it never does), and it's time to cook! Yes, eat and cook up some ideas for trips elsewhere!

Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of October's best!
Can you see the deer in the centre of the image peeking out from the forest and blending in with an old stump?

Loon
This is what your Greenland Paddle (GP) looks like underwater in the afternoon October sun.
You can pick out deer from the water when they flick their ears or show their white tails. Otherwise, they look like tree stumps.
Coming Soon: Poison Ivy and Your Pet.
Yep, we have to think about this stuff in more ways than one, and year round, especially if you travel.

The BaffinPaddler