#Kayaking – Sign of Spring

Raccoon Lake in western Pennsylvania

Raccoon Lake in western Pennsylvania

We brought the kayaks down from their storage place, where they hang all winter upside down under a second-story balcony. Before we could load them up in the truck, we had to remove the very large nest taking up residence in one of them. I felt badly about that, but we have some robins that set up shop in some very strange places around our house.

We live about twenty minutes from Raccoon Creek State Park, but for some reason we’ve spent very little time there. We’ve never been on Raccoon Lake which is created from the water dammed on Traverse Creek. Raccoon Creek doesn’t even touch the lake but travels on the outskirts of the park. We had an adventure on Raccoon Creek several years ago when our kayaks capsized after ramming into a large tree downed over the creek where it runs its fastest.

The cruise on Raccoon Lake this past weekend didn’t bring any adventures, except when my kayak banged up against what I thought was a rock as we approached the end of the lake and shallow, muddy water.

“It’s not a rock,” my husband said. “I saw it raise it’s head. It’s a turtle.”

Sure enough, the red, green and brown shell looked ancient and massive–two feet long at least. I didn’t have my good camera, so this is all I could manage to shoot of the creature in Raccoon Lake. It’s an outline at best.

freshwater turtle

freshwater turtle

I’m guessing it’s a snapping turtle because I couldn’t really get a clear view either with my naked eye or through my camera lens. When my kayak nudged him, I worried it might wake the sleeping giant, but it just swam away from me leaving me intact in the kayak.

We also saw an osprey guarding its nest. I will never again leave my good camera with zoom lens at home for even the shortest of nature explorations. My little pocket camera couldn’t zoom far enough to capture the osprey standing on a branch high above the banks. I didn’t even try to pull the camera out of the ziplock baggie. In a way, there was relief in not worrying about capturing the moment. I could just enjoy the majesty of this bird and rejoice in its population resurgence in western Pennsylvania.

The warm spring day makes me yearn for more lovely days when the trees are green and flowers bloom along the shore. We plan to spend more time in this lovely spot in our backyard. After all, the day we found our house four years ago, we were on our way to the Wildflower Preserve within the park. I haven’t been back since 2010, but this is the year to explore nearer to home.

Eastern Painted Turtle sunning

 

Raccoon Lake in Raccoon Creek State Park

Raccoon Lake in Raccoon Creek State Park

6 thoughts on “#Kayaking – Sign of Spring

  1. I enjoyed reading this post, but my favorite part is that there’s a lake called ‘Raccoon Lake’. It sounds like something for a story, and that makes it so much cooler…

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    • Dex, it’s even funnier than that. I moved here from Florida where I did pr for the fish and wildlife folks. I moved to Beaver County, Raccoon Township, PA. No one believed me back in Florida when I told them. They thought I was writing another novel.

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      • It’s not as exciting as all that, but a friend recently visited from Florida and as she crossed into Raccoon Township, there was a dead raccoon in the middle of the road. We try to live up to our name.

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      • Oh, I know, but I couldn’t resist the joke. Low hanging fruit and all. Also, I managed a typo in a comment that’s only 14 words long. That’s got to be some kind of record.

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  2. Really enjoyed the post. I’m a student at Robert Morris in Moon Twp; I, too, am guilty of not taking advantage of the beautiful park as much as I should. Planning on making a trip this weekend, especially after reading about all the wildlife you saw. Thanks! C:

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