Tuesday, October 27, 2009

a drowned forest

"Rollin' down the stream, shootin' pho-tos, sippin' on pumpkin ale. Laaaiiiid back. Got my mind on my boat and my boat on my mind."

Our most recent kayak trip took us back to Foster Reservoir. This time, however, we didn't just paddle around the lake...we went up the Middle Santiam River, which feeds the lake. When we first arrived we were shocked to find that the water levels had dramatically dropped (at least 10ft) from what they were earlier in the summer. We assumed that they had released this water from the Foster Dam to clear out the trapped sediment or make way for the snow melt that will soon replenish the supply.

It was so nice paddling here this time of year! During the summer there are typically loads of people on motorized boats buzzing around and water skiing or cruising on jet skis. There actually wasn't enough water to even launch a boat in at this time of the year-- the water levels were well below the end of the boat ramp!

In many areas that were covered with what seemed to be deep water just months earlier, now revealed a graveyard of trees that once lived in the area before the dams were constructed. We could see their tangle of roots, which had been exposed by months of water rushing through, scouring out the earth beneath them.

The peacefulness of the lake was amazing! The water was like glass, reflecting the bright yellows and oranges from the fading leaves. Tall bleached rock walls exposed by the lowered water levels surrounded us as we made our way through the calm river.

We were also fortunate enough to witness lots of bird activity while paddling. In addition to a group of common mergansers and a great blue heron, we heard some of the most lovely songs from a bird that I couldn't identify. He was a tiny little thing that I couldn't even see until I paddled too close and he was gone in a gray flash!
After we paddled for a few hours, we came to a barrier in our path...a tree had recently fallen and blocked off the entire river. Determined to not let this prevent our travels, we attempted to take the kayaks out of the water and portage them up and over the steep rock walls that surrounded us. This was no easy feat. After a lot of effort, we did manage to get my kayak to the other side of the river, but soon realized that we didn't have much time to paddle on before dark. Dave then climbed out onto the tree (I tried to stop him) and lifted the kayak back to the side from which we started so we could head back.
All the while, this little bird was hopping along next to us. He was the cutest little thing, but he made sure to stay just far away from me so that I couldn't get a good picture.

The trip back to the car was equally as delightful. The air was growing cool and the surface of the water was flecked with fallen leaves. This is no doubt my favorite time of the year.