One of the things I love about where I live is that I can be on the water paddling somewhere within 15 minutes. Such was the case Saturday. While Irene was wreaking havoc along the coast, we had wonderful weather, albeit a bit breezy. I called up Tim Taylor, and we loaded up the boats for a spur-of-the-minute paddling trip to Lake Cunningham.
Tim had headed out with me once before, on a trip from Piedmont upstream on the Saluda River. Tim is a naturalist, and a great person to have along on these trips. Today was no different, as we came across lots of wildlife on the paddle.
We first stopped by the Lake Robinson office to get day passes for paddling. Looking out over the more open water of Robinson, we could see white caps churned up by the wind. We had toyed with the idea of just putting in here, but the rough water made us stick with our original plan, and head to the more sheltered waters of Cunningham.
There was a major party wrapping up at the Cunningham picnic area, but the only folks at the boat ramp were a few fishermen who looked at our kayaks skeptically. We launched, then did our usual routine of heading upstream toward the lily pads.
We saw several ducks, and more green herons that I’ve ever seen out here. There were at least five of them out in the pads. Two belted kingfishers danced ahead of us.
Unfortunately, the water levels were quite low.
We weren’t able to get as far up the Tyger River as I like. Also, we were hearing gunshots coming from the north bank, fairly close. It sounded like someone target practicing, but I wasn’t keen on taking an accidental stray round. We headed back downstream.
Just about the time we got back to the boat ramp we met one of Tim’s friends. Ed and his son Adam were out in their canoe, braving the wind. Ed lives near Tim and me, but has bought a small bit of land on the lake. He is trying to build an advocacy group for Lake Cunningham to make sure it is maintained in an environmentally sustainable manner. Tim had visited the lake with him once before to do frog counts.
We headed on out to open water with the wind at our backs. Cruising was fairly easy, but we knew we would have a time of it heading back.
This was Tim’s first time paddling Cunningham. We headed past the big farm on the south shore, and through the narrow channel to the other large piece of the lake. I could see that even more huge houses had been built along the shore.
Since this was supposed to be a short jaunt out to the lake, and since we knew we would be battle head winds on the way back, we didn’t venture too far. As we rounded the corner from the channel the wind hit us full force, and paddling was difficult and bouncy. Ed and Adam were making the best of the situation with a makeshift sail on their canoe.
Despite the winds, we were able to watch a great blue heron and one egret play along the shore. Soon we were safely back. It was a great short paddle out to one of our favorite spots.