Kayaking with a Hike to the River

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Saturday started out a bit earlier than I anticipated as Aspen was gearing up for the day around 5AM. I desperately wanted at least another hour of sleep before having to tend to her morning routine. So, with Aspen fed and everyone but me still sleeping I dove into my next read, John Muir the Ultimate Collection. I am fascinated by his absolute enthusiasm of the outdoors and his ability to describe his surroundings in great detail as if you were there with him in the Yosemite Valley or high a top a mountain in the Sierra Nevada’s. Finally, with everyone awake we can enjoy our usual weekend savior faire, a homemade breakfast burrito and an espresso concoction. Plus as an added bonus, Stella earlier in the week made a lemon pound cake that I must say is very tasty. Additionally, Saturday’s forecast is looking very promising with a small chance of rain late in the day. Which is it going to be a bike ride along the Fraser River Trail or kayak, this will be a tough decision and of course we will take Aspen swimming before heading off on the the days adventure.

After swimming Aspen and deciding the weather is favorable we load up the “Big Mango” and head for the launch at Shadow Mountain Lake, kayaking it is! Having not kayaked since our trip to Grand Teton National Park and Red Fish Lake in Stanley, ID we were eager to get back on the water as the previous two weekends the weather was not conducive for paddling. As we embark, we make the turn into the channel taking us into Grand Lake, we queue up behind a pontoon boat as there is only room for a singe boat to pass thru at any given time. Often it feels like you are playing a game of chicken, wondering who is going to blink first, no need for games today as we paddle on towards the southern shoreline. As we journey around the lake we are always enamored by the homes dotting the lake, picking out features we like and those we would pass on, hoping one day to find our place at the edge of the lake. The paddling on the eastern end of the lake required a bit more attention as the wind was blowing directly across the open waters but with a zig and zag we managed to make the northern shoreline. Quickly we notice that the construction on one of the larger homes has come to a completion. The home is perched high a top a rocky out crop and is completely adorned with reclaimed wood from the beetle kill, blending perfectly into the environment. After a few years of of exposure to the elements you would likely believe this home has been on the lake for 50 years. What a grand addition to the shoreline. Paddling west we come upon another of our favorite parts of the lake a small cove just before North Inlet Creek. Here you find a sandy beach and a shallow swimming area for those willing to dip their toes into the water. Making our way further west we make the transition back into Shadow Mountain Lake, our original plan was to just paddle a bit into the lake before calling it a day. But with the weather gods smiling down upon us are plans quickly changed. Paddling south along the eastern shoreline we make our way to the islands separating the southern most reaches of the lake from the north. Paddling in and out of a few of the islands we venture on towards the mouth of the Colorado River. It is here where you will find an abundance of waterfowl, Canada Goose, Mallards and the majestic American White Pelican. The lake becomes very shallow and having hit the sandy lake bottom we decide to meander out into deeper waters, so close, yet so far, maybe next year. Paddling back to the north end of the lake and the launch we were treated to an Osprey attempting to catch a fish, albeit unsuccessfully twice. Back on shore we paddled just shy of 10 1/2 miles in just over 3 hours and 45 minutes, what a fantastic day.

Sunday morning we were able to get a bit more pillow time with Aspen waiting until after 6AM to start her day. This would be a big day for Aspen as we were going to hike the Colorado River Trail and give her a chance to swim in the Colorado River. We started out shortly after breakfast to beat the heat as there is some prolonged exposure to the sun along the trail as you near the river. Arriving at the trail head Aspen was eager to go, gear check and we are off. Shortly into our hike I noticed the trail had become washed out from the heavy rains over the past month and no sooner with those thoughts in my head Stella is suddenly bitten by the trail gnomes. She caught herself on the way down and thankfully only had a scrapped her knee on an exposed rock. Like a trooper she shrugged it off and we carried on down the trail. Wandering by the ponds with both wondered why we had yet to see a moose in all our travels to the river, this is prime real estate for food, weird but probably a good thing with Aspen in tow that there were no moose engorging themselves today. Suddenly Aspen’s ears perk up as there are a pair of four legged friends out in front with one off leash running about chasing the chipmunks and squirrels. We attempted to keep our distance but Aspen likes to lead, the owner corralled the little pup allowing us to pass and continue onto the river. We are now drawing near an area where logging had taken place, this is Stella’s first trek on the CRT since the trail had reopened and she made mention of the difference in the appearance of the landscape. Once completely forested but no longer due to the mountain pine beetle kill. Arriving at the river Aspen is hankering to get her paws wet and within seconds she has accomplished the days mission, her first swim in the Colorado River of the year. We spend sometime letting Aspen enjoy herself swimming against the current going nowhere fast before reversing course and traipsing our way back to the Tahoe. The Colorado River Trail is an out and back however it does offer a significant amount of side treks if you choose to be more adventurous. In total we hiked just over 4 1/2 miles with an elevation gain of 158 feet. Another great weekend in the books.

 

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