After a front blew through, it looked like the weekend was going to have spectacular fall weather. My sister, Beth, called and asked if I had any adventures planned. I thought for a bit, and said, “Let’s go kayaking!” So, Saturday morning Beth, my nephew Philip, and I headed up to Lake Oolenoy at Table Rock State Park.
Traffic was crazy on the way up. Apparently the Greenville News had said that this was the peak of the leaf season, and that it would be gone soon. There were lots of leafy looky loos out and about, slowing down traffic and being a nuisance in general. All of the iconic overlooks along Highway 11 were packed.
We reached the lake and unloaded the boats. Neither Beth nor Philip had ever paddled, so I gave them some quick instructions. My brother Stephen joined us, so I launched those two to head out and practice while I helped Stephen get his boat unloaded.
We couldn’t ask for better weather. The clouds were interesting, and the colors were at peak. We headed upstream under the the Highway 11 bridge toward the park. This where you find the money shot – the rock framed over the water and between colorful trees.
There are some interesting rocks on the right bank of the lake. It was hard not to keep taking photos of Table Rock over and over.
Here’s a short video of our approach…
I explained to Philip that the point of kayaking was to see how far you could go. The interesting thing is not necessarily to just paddle on a lake, but to find a cove or tributary stream and see how far up it you can go. That’s where you find the most interesting stuff – wildlife, small waterfalls, etc.
So, we continued up Carrick Creek to see how far we could go. The peaceful stream was covered with leaves. Philip was keen to take on this new challenge. We pushed forward as far as we could.
Fairly soon we found our way blocked by a deadfall and needed to turn around. We headed back out to the main part of the lake. As we approached the interesting rocks, we could see photographers lining the park access road, which runs along the near bank of the lake. More of them were stopped at the bridge, and we heard horns honking as cars slowed unexpectedly. All four of us paddled back out to the bridge, and we paused to take our own photos. With the clouds, the light kept shifting, so the view was constantly changing.
Under the bridge we paddled out to the main body of the lake. Again, the light was interesting and the views incredible.
We paddled up the Oolenoy River branch of the lake. At this point the river enters more as a small creek than river. From this branch there are views of the other end of the Table Rock ridge, Pinnacle Mountain.
The route closed down quickly, and there was no way to continue up the creek. We headed back toward the main body of the lake. When we reached the main branch, there were more great views of the rock.
Continuing our exploration, we followed the north branch of the lake. This route took us past the earthen dam, and down into another cove.
I remember seeing a small waterfall (1 – 2 ft) last time Alan and I paddled this way. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get close to it. The stream was too shallow.
The wind picked up, and leaves floated out across the lake. The thick leaf fall made paddling interesting. I checked out one more little dead-end cove, then we headed back out.
As we rounded the corner a couple of things happened. First, the wind whipped up mightily. We had white caps and waves. We also had even more spectacular views of the rock. There were actually crowds gathered at the park headquarters and out on the fishing dock. I think we had the better views.
We made our way back to the boat ramp. It was a short paddle, and this is a great lake for beginners. One is never far from shore, and access is easy. Add to that the spectacular views, and it was a good day of paddling.
Here’s a slide show of all of the photos, plus a few video clips…