There was a small upper alpine lake about ½ hour away. It only allowed fishing boats, which suited Charlie just fine. He didn’t have anything against powerboats, thinking it must be a lot of fun but it wasn’t his style. Not only that, speedboats produced huge waves which were the devil incarnate to Kayaks, so Sugar Pine Reservoir was a perfect place to paddle.
When he’d first moved to the area, he had heard a few volunteers were going to transfer an old Eagles nest from a dead tree in bad condition to another tree in better shape. Using a Helicopter to do the transfer was all Charlie needed to hear to be there. A few other interested folks showed up also and cheered wildly when everything was secured and in place. They were mostly interested in the nature aspect of the whole thing, whereas Charlie’s interest was twofold.
Yea, the nature part was indeed cool but the Helicopter………oh that Helicopter… hovering there in front of him, with the very skilled pilot keeping it perfectly still. As the brave or crazy guy, depending on ones perspective, hung around 75 feet in the air, retrieved the nest from one tree, then securely attached it to the new one. The whole operation only took about ½ hour or so, which were minutes in heaven for Charlie.
He hadn’t kayaked there this year yet but heard people talking about a family of Eagles having made it their new home. This was one of the reasons he thought to go out there on the weekend, to see this year’s nesting Eagles, with their young charges. People were saying you could see their little heads peek above the nest screaming out their hunger, as their doting parents delivered the fresh caught fish from the waters below.So he loaded the Kayak on top his car with everything including lunch and pulled out very early in the morning.
The earlier the better for Kayaking, for first thing in the morning the lake surface is like a mirror. After assembling his gear, he got in the Kayak and with a couple of paddle strokes, escaped across the placed water. Feeling his physical energy propel him through the environment inspired primeval thoughts; He was free from the noise, gas fumes, and all the electronics of the modern world in this pristine environment.
As the morning sun peaked over the tree line, the water was golden glass, with the air suspended in silent haze. Snaking smoke from the campfires on the north side campgrounds drifted softly through the trees, with tendrils suspending over the water in places. It was the most beautiful time on the water, slipping across in almost perfect silence, leaving a small wake that seemed to linger forever trailing behind.
As he approached the north side of the lake, a six-foot wingspan filled his eyes as a bald eagle, trailing his shadow glided over the water, then retreated back into the sky to land on a white pine limb that reached out high over the lake. Charlie quietly floated beneath the limb and looked up into the eagle’s eyes. He paused there in silent communion with this almost spiritual denison of the wild. Her eyes were like windows into the unknowable wonders of the universe. It felt like a dream floating there in the perfect stillness, the only sounds his breath and her occasional fluffing of wings.
Not wishing to disturb her living perfection, he pushed off once more, starting on around a small island there.
Sitting four inches above the water’s surface in a kayak presents a unique perspective of the landscape both above and below the surface. He always enjoyed paddling in shallow water, where he could see the bottom. It gave him a seldom seen view to marvel at. At times he would spot a fair size fish in its natural setting.
He always wondered about the little mysterious bubble streams floating up from who knew where? How oxygen could be trapped and released from the bottom of a lake was something he always marveled at. Everyone he’d asked offered plenty of logical sounding guesses but nothing yet he felt comfortable with.
Once the motion of paddling becomes a rhythmic routine, his mind always began focusing on the details of the environment; Puffs of wind across the water’s surface, fish jumping off in the distance, frenzies of tiny insect swarms, natural etchings on the shoreline, straight from an artists palette. Then there were the varied shadings of color in the trees, the sometimes almost magical patterns of bird flights above, and the mysterious panorama of aquatic plants softly swaying below.
Every time went out, this almost forgotten Kayaking poem crossed his mind. It always amazed him to find the words still floating around his mind.
Water surrounds me, constantly,
it undulates beneath me,
its motion, soothing, gliding, lulling,
its sound so seductively, caress,
unduly stresses, it slowly undress,
paddling renews in me,
the sense of peace and wonder,
brings in the child, long surrendered,
rejuvenates the soul,
brings me back home,
where to nature's bosom
I truly belong,
paddling lets me free,
distance me from the din of society
glues my sanity,
opens my mind to creativity,
empowering my whole being profoundly
paddling is contentment,
brings back memories, carefree and pleasant
I'm one with the water, I'm in my element,
outdoors always a pure enjoyment,
nature's vista, its colors pleasurable,
its hidden bounty, its secret joy,
silent beauty incomparable.....
It always takes my breath away,
truly inspires me in no other way...
By Gina Layog
The sun had burned through the morning haze as he paddled back south to continue on around the lake. He couldn’t imagine a better start to the day. The south side contained the dam, which was installed years ago, creating the lake. He was told a few years ago the local community of Forestville bought the water rights there for the town’s water source, which had to be a great investment for the towns future water needs.
In the early afternoon, he stopped at his favorite little peninsula for lunch, with its view of the entire lake panorama. Then he returned to the boat ramp to reload his Kayak and head back home.
Each time, as he was heading back down the mountain towards home sweet home, it always struck him how lucky he and everyone else living there were to have such an incredible high alpine lake so close by to enjoy.
He just hoped it could be kept our little secret. So......shhhhhhhh.......
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