The Crooked Canes Journal


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La Chute River and Lake Champlain Paddle ~ Aug 6, 2015

Journal entry by Diane Wisell



An outing preceded by high anticipation, the first Crooked Canes trip to the La Chute River and Lake Champlain unquestionably exceeded all expectation. A perfect day on an outing as good as this one, so full of scenery, wildlife, history, education, old friends and new having great fun is an experience that will not soon be forgotten. "Wow, what a day" is a good summation and "We've got to do this again!" will echo between the Adirondack and Green Mountains for quite some time.

At about 10.00 am, below the La Chute falls in Ticonderoga, across the river from Bicentennial Park, the large parking lot at the put in became quite busy upon arrival of twenty eight Crooked Canes with twenty five boats and tons of eager energy. Soon all (except one) were on the water, paddling in nearly unnoticeable current toward Lake Champlain, anticipating what lay ahead and whether the million-to-one odds of such a lovely day occurring on the same day the water is calm on the big lake would be in our favor and stay that way until our return to the La Chute later in the day. Luck proved to be on our side.

Our attention quickly focused on the beauty of the place, vibrant with all sorts of life in every direction....and a couple of ducks about which you'll soon read more. Passing under three bridges and what seemed like acres of Cardinal flowers in full bloom, we came upon a group of folks working for the State of Vermont harvesting the invasive water chestnut plant from the La Chute. They were eager to share information with us but not their ducks. Our arrival at the La Chute's entrance to Lake Champlain with its huge cattail marsh and views of Fort Ticonderoga, Mount Defiance and Mount Independence was appropriately accompanied by a military tattoo coming from the fort. Remarkably, there was NO WIND on the lake! Game on, let's head to the ferry landing for lunch!

We found scenic shoreline on both sides of the lake during our two mile paddle north on Champlain to the park and boat launch adjacent to the Ti ferry landing. As at the put in, we just took over this park as well. A great spot for lunch - and an unexpected, but welcome, presentation on invasive species by a very well informed steward from the Lake Champlain Basin Program, complete with excellent publications.

Paddlers soon drifted back onto the water, heading south along the rocky shore to the marshy La Chute and Ticonderoga. Wildlife, including heron, osprey, turkey vultures, king fishers, BIG spiders, turtles and plenty of other creatures appeared in regular frequency and often enough that feeling fatigue from paddling nearly seven miles so far was not noticed.

Upon re-entry to the La Chute, we discovered that paddling upstream required very little effort beyond that needed going downstream. Welcome knowledge at that time of the day. Wildlife and flora continued to keep our eyes and minds sharp all the way back to the put in. Though puddle and diving ducks were not abundant, some paddlers proved extremely adept at spotting Ningbo ducks, a small (about two ounces) invasive from China recently released intentionally into the La Chute. Ningbo color morphs, as documented in scientific population surveys on the La Chute are: yellow, blue and pink with approximately equal distribution in the blue and yellow morphs and pink being extremely rare. Though intensely sought for pleasure at certain times by individuals interested in lucky numbers written on some of their tummies, Ningbos are a disruptive invasive causing radical behavioral changes in kayakers seeking them for their grandchildren. Symptoms exhibit in a range from mild playfulness to irrationally intense competitiveness. Just ask Ray with 4 Ningbos, Kurt with 4 or Joy with 5 even after attempts were made to run her off the river. Her parting comment, from the top of the landing to Kurt still in the water was as damaging as a cannonball fired from Mount Defiance: (with finger pointing) "..and I STILL BEAT YOU!"

What a great day. Special thanks to: Louise who mentioned in March that a paddle on the La Chute to the Ti Ferry landing would be a good one for the Canes; to Don M. who had paddled the river recently and said "Schedule it anytime;" to Joy for volunteering Mark to help us out on this trip; and to Mark for his help and acceptance of the title of Director Of Crooked Canes Expedition Support Services.

Very Special Thanks to all who attended: Louise, Joy & Mark, Don M, Mary & Dave, Mery & Steve, Kathy & Don, Lenore & Jack, Claire, Joanne, Jo Ellen, Cathy G, Gail, Lynn, Fran, Rich, Jayne, Sam, Don T, Peter, Ray B, Sir Thomas, Diane & Kurt.

8/10/15 - RayB Bouchard added 17 photos.

8/15/15 - Wanderer . added 12 photos.

44 photos



Kathy and Don viewing Fort Ticonderoga



Jayne, looking for an option to keep in her back pocket if wind on the big lake bothers her Hornbeck tries out a slightly heavier model.



While war re-enacting is big just down the street, the Canes re-enact a scene from "Field Of Dreams."



A map turtle, I think. At the entrance to the La Chute. Not too familiar with them, so correct me if necessary.



Two little ospreys sitting in a tree.....



...and two little ladies as pleased as can be.



Kayak eating spider. About the circumference of a tuna can. A larger one took off before I could get a picture.



A lone osprey. Is this the juvenile?



Joy, happy and innocent with a blue Ningbo before the onset of symptoms.



A few of the hundreds (or more) cardinal flowers found along both banks of the La Chute.



Backwaters along the La Chute are a good place for reflection.



A heron looking a touch grumpy at the sudden attention.



Oh good golly, there's more of them coming!



Duck hunting pros on the prowl.



The last group to head out on the La Chute River for Lake Champlain, 1.7 mi. downstream. - added by RayB



Here comes Peter Fedorick barreling down the river yelling "Get out of my way or I'll launch my torpedoes". Nobody argued. - added by RayB



You are all probably aware of Kurt's penchant for eating from "Natures Kitchen"; you know, things like Day Lily flowers, Rock Tripe or worse. So to be honest when I came upon this scene I thought he was negotiating with the guys to buy some of their greens for supper that night. - added by RayB



But I was mistaken. The team of 4 were pulling invasive Water Chestnut plants up by their roots before they could release their ripe nuts. The plants are annuals so they die at the end of the season, but each nut they release will drop to the bottom and produce a new plant next spring. That's why mechanical or human harvesting is an important part of preventing it from spreading. - added by RayB



Notice the air filled bladders on the ends of leaf stalks. This is what allows the rooted rosettes to float as high as 16' above the bottom and form a dense mat. - added by RayB



I had to swear an oath on my mother's grave that I wouldn't release the nut into any body of water, before the gentleman would give it to me. The 4 very sharp spines are 4 reasons why you don't want to put this in your pocket. BTW it's reported that people in the far east eat these nuts claiming they have healing as well as magical properties. I am currently keeping it on my bookshelf along with American Chestnut leaves, burrs and assorted other interesting collectibles just in case Kurt wants to try eating the seed inside the nut. - added by RayB



Lunch is over so Dave and Mary are about to launch their canoe into Champlain. - added by RayB



The remaining folks are still packing up for the return trip. As a point of reference this beautiful park & boat launch was right next to the Ferry landing. - added by RayB



Jayne is providing the perspective needed for you to see just how huge this old Poplar tree was. Harder to see is the very large limb that had broken off and landed just to the left of the trunk. - added by RayB



During the return trip, Peter encouraged us to join him as he paddled from the La Chute into an isolated bay on Champlain. While there, a passenger train came screaming by, breaking the sense of peace and tranquility. - added by RayB



There was plenty of Duckweed, probably Lemna minor, in the quieter bays. - added by RayB



A sign of things to come perhaps? - added by RayB



Yellow Pond Lily, aka- Bullhead Lily (Nuphar variegatum). - added by RayB



A closeup of a Cardinal Flower. - added by RayB



This is not trick photography. It really is a tree like growth hanging from the parent tree, connected by a branch. - added by RayB



We even encountered a classic covered bridge along the La Chute. - added by RayB



And last but not least, our leader for the day, and a source of inspiration for all of us, Kurt. Thank you for a great day. - added by RayB



I spotted several Belted Kingfishers along the way, but this one was the only one that sat still long enough to have its picture taken.



Carillon Falls at the launch - added by Wanderer



Waiting for the OK to start - added by Wanderer



Some of the group - added by Wanderer



Hi Fran! - added by Wanderer



Gettin educated - added by Wanderer



Starting back - added by Wanderer



Dave & Mary - added by Wanderer



Ray was able to get a picture of the engine - I was left with the caboose! - added by Wanderer



Fort Ticonderoga from one of the marshes - note the flag - no wind! - added by Wanderer



Turkey vultures - waiting for one of us to make a mistake - added by Wanderer



Cathy, Kurt & Joy - added by Wanderer



Close-up of the "Kissing Bridge" - added by Wanderer



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