Saturday, October 30, 2021

Kayaking Lake St Catherine

August 16, 2021 Monday                                           Most Recent Posts:
Camping on the Battenkill                                    Faulty Expectations
Arlington Vermont              A Morning with Bullhead Pond’s Green Herons

Today I drove the 30 miles north to Lake St Catherine to kayak the 852 acre huge lake.  In this previous blog I show the beach area and the kayak put in as well as the campground and other features.

IMG_20210816_132328683Upon arriving, I decided to put in on the beach rather than the boat ramp in the campground.  It is simpler than using what is mostly I suspect a power boat launch.  It was early enough that few people were on the beach.  I pulled up to the grassy area, unloaded the kayak and drug it to the water’s edge.  Not too far and down hill.  I’ll worry about coming back later.  There was no where to set up my SLR camera so this picture is a dark selfie taken with my phone.

Turns out  huge is the word for this lake and for the most part it is lined with houses.  So far here in Southern Vermont I’ve had a difficult time finding anything that might still be considered a wild water area.

The state park and its beach area are near the north end of the lake.  I took this shot as I paddled away from shore.


I headed south to see how far the park’s 117 acres went.


I passed this mermaid.


IMG_9271The answer is it doesn’t go very far.  Within  no distance at all beyond beyond the beach  the shore became all houses, docks and toys. A  speed boat zipped along the water toward me.  It appears a lot of people have a great deal of fun on Lake St Catherine on their jet skis, water skis and racing around.  Although it’s fairly quiet and peaceful today, I suspect that is rare if, like me, that’s what you are looking for. 

Across the lake I again saw the lighthouse looking house I’d seen on my previous visit and determined that since there were not too many speed boats yet, I could cross the lake to go take a closer look.


You’d get a lot of exercise just climbing the stairs to get into the house let alone the stairs inside.


On my way across I spied this interestingly dressed fisherman.  You just really never know what you’ll see as far as people are concerned.


Heading further north from the park beach the land is undeveloped and is clearly part of the park itself.

It’s clear where the park’s boundary is when  I paddle by the first house.  The park is nearly at the very north end of the lake.  I didn’t paddle very far toward the south end because of the size of the lake and I wasn’t all that interested in seeing nothing but houses on the lake shore.

Lots of steps here too.

The lake appears to be an oval with very long sides and shorter ends.  At the north end I found an inlet.  This is right up my alley so to speak.



Sadly for me the inlet was leading to what on land would be known as a cul-de-sac with houses all around a smaller body of water.



I took my time paddling back out this lovely avenue.


But too soon I was back at the main lake.


As I exited the canal I spotted a familiar shape ahead.  I didn’t paddle much closer than this to the red circle for fear of scaring off the loon.


He’s really the only wildlife I’ve seen today other than the mermaid and the top hat.


So I enjoyed his preening and flapping for as long as he stayed.




But ultimately something called him away and I got this shot just before he took flight.


Although I doubt I’d be interested in living on Lake St Catherine’s, of those I saw, this was the house that most appealed to me.  Small and simple


Nice name too.



One last look to the south at the lovely lake as I headed east to the shore.


When I returned, there were more people on the beach.  I drug the kayak up behind the bathhouse and moved the car as near as I could get it when two very nice men offered to help me load it.   Very kind of them and a perfect end to a nice morning.  Doubt if I’d return again.


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Faulty Expectations

August 15, 2021  Sunday                                        Most Recent Posts:
Camping on the Battenkill              A Morning With Bullhead Pond’s Green Herons
Arlington, Vermont                             More Unexpected Fun in Eastern New York

IMG_20210815_103901795_HDRThis area of Vermont has a lot of Farmers’ Markets.  There’s one every day Thursday through Sunday in one of the towns nearby.

I’d decided to do a hike known as Mad Tom Falls which is outside of Dorset and had great descriptions so I thought I’d go early enough to catch the Dorset Farmers’ Market.  That was the only thing that turned out as expected about this day.

I’m not sure I’ve found such really wonderful and vibrant small towns anywhere outside of New England.  The down town areas for the most part are not boarded up stores and “shopping centers” or malls are some distance away near larger cities.


This farmer’s market was actually mostly farmers with fruits and vegetables for sale rather than crafts or food though there was some of that.


And a lot of the food was organic.  In other areas very few of the marketers are organic it seems to me.  Perhaps you’ve found it to be different.


Hemp sales.  Love it!   If it weren’t for the winters, I would definitely consider New England as a place to live.  But I hear there is snow season, a mud season and black fly season before you get to the best few months.


Even the setting for the market was terrific.


From there I headed to Mad Tom.

IMG_20210815_113815472_HDRIn researching Mad Tom I found that not only the falls, but the trail, the brook and a notch were named after him.  At the trailhead of what is actually the East Dorset trail which follows Mad Tom Brook to a junction with the AT/Long Trail, I learned that no one else knows who Tom was either.  Though the information board did say that the mad part is clear “the brook has a spontaneous nature and can transform from a peaceful brook to a roaring river with minimal rainfall”.    With all the rain here this summer I’m hoping it’s in a peaceful phase today.   The history of the area was described and interesting to read along with a timeline beginning in 1880.  Probably not so interesting unless you are there.

The trail started out rocky but clear enough. When it got to the Forest Service boundary not far along, things changed.


Shortly the brook was on the right of the trail.  Unfortunately for this post, I did not bring my good Canon camera and so all the photos are taken with my terrible Motorola phone camera.  Really a shame since the brook was beautiful and the pictures do not do it justice.  It didn’t look today like it could ever be “mad”.


The trail is fairly steep but the brook is lovely and my frequent stops to enjoy it  make the hike easy. 


and then,  the trail just ends.  There is no clear way to go anywhere forward at this point or to cross the brook as the information board had instructed and even if I could manage it, there is no trail visible  on the other side


Luckily I had taken pictures of the information on the board knowing I would need it in doing this post.  The board says “at 1.82 miles the trail crosses the brook over a constructed ford”.  No such thing is visible though I am at that mile.

I spend a lot of time wandering around and up and down and climbing the rocks and looking for this ford or the trail or something.

Another couple show up and they too are surprised that there is no where to go.  He is very tall and his long legs enable him to do what neither she nor I can and that is cross the brook on rocks too far apart for shorter legs.   Once on the other side, he confirms that there is no where to go and comes back.


We all gave up and headed back down the trail the way we had come.  At the trailhead I met two folks just starting out for a walk with their dog. They turned out to be from the area. and said that the brook had done its roaring to such an extent several years ago that it had flooded and washed out everything including the ford.  The forest service had never  put the trail back and thus it had disappeared.  Clearly the Forest Service had also not had the consideration to mention this fact on its information board or on any of the information I could find on line.

The hike was beautiful and I’m not sorry I came but I wish I’d had appropriate expectations for it.  I was thinking “AT here I come”.

One last thing about Mad Tom.  How about this Paul?



I still had a lot of the afternoon left and wanted a longer hike so I drove on to Emerald Lake to hike the Vista Trail.  What would you expect on this trail?  Vistas right?  I’m thinking vista means wide ranging view.

I park in the parking lot where this map and the trail head are located.  The 2.5 mile trail seems just the right length to get me to nearly 6 miles for the day.  It goes up above the lake in a loop. I had done the other lakeside trails on a previous visit.

The stars on the trail map are the “vistas”.  There are three. 

The trail starts over a cute bridge, enters the woods and crosses the railroad tracks.


I hike through a narrow path where I hope there are no ticks or chiggers and up steeply into the woods.


Climbing up I can see what I assume is the lake in the distance  A little further on I can see the beach and folks in the water.  I guess these are the first two stars, the first two vistas.   You have to be really looking for them and they are semi obstructed by the forest of trees.


Further on through the woods I find an actual Vista sign so perhaps those first two weren’t the starred vistas after all.  I’m looking for a trail to this vista and walk over behind the sign  to see since clearly it’s not visible from the sign.  There is no trail going over or a bench to enjoy the assumed view.  That’s not water in the vista sign picture it’s the sunlight blinding the forest floor.


This is the best picture of the “vista” I could get.  Even a better camera would not have made it any different.


Later on, I caught this view between the trees. It wasn’t labeled Vista.  I guess I’d already seen the only sign but it wasn’t near any of those stars on the map.  Somehow I had thought I’d be up higher than the surrounding area and looking down on Vermont’s hills.  If I were in charge, I’d rename this hike “Obstructed Vista Trail” and put up more than one sign and a bench or two.


But, like Mad Tom, they have big fungi here too.


All in all, I had a wonderful time, it was an interesting day and a very pleasant way to get some exercise.  But for the most part, not what I was expecting.  Have you ever had a day when things turned out to be very different from your expectations?