What always amazes us about kayaking there is the magical experience of taking that right hand choice that goes under the Six Forks bridge and leads to what feels like calm, quiet wilderness. On the parking lot side are crowds, lines of trucks towing boats, motors belching smoke, loud music. Once under the bridge, it is the sound of the water lapping against the boats, the birds, the breeze.
Each kayak trip affords a different experience - the water level, scenery (state of the trees and flowers), birds and other wild life are never the same. Today we noted that the water level was quite high - this meant we would be able to go deeper into the lake margins. There were still a few swallows flying about; they nest under the bridge. We noted an osprey flying high overhead, and quickly came upon a Great Blue Heron fishing on the lake shore.
Once you go under the bridge, heading west, you only see a small part of what makes this trip so special. Eventually you come to a narrowing of the lake and see that there are two areas to explore, both of which continue westward. The first ends in an area with exposed logs populated with sunning (and shy!) turtles. When the water is high, it is possible to turn right at the apparent end and wind your way to an area with tall, hole-filled trees that have been worked by Pileated Woodpeckers; on occasion, they are present - not today, though.
Reversing out of that area and continuing into the second westward lake finger, we came upon a family of Red Headed Woodpeckers, clearly having a wonderful time swooping, hammering and calling together. We continued to see Great Blue Herons on the shore throughout our trip; they don't let you get too close and depart with their characteristic rough sounding "gronk" call. At the end of this area we passed under willow trees and into a narrow winding estuary that it filled with the sound of herons and songbirds. When the birds are not calling it is nearly utterly quiet, with interruptions from crickets and other buzzing insects. Occasionally a vibrant green or blue Dragonfly will hitch a ride on one of our kayaks.
Then we reach the end of the line, where a tree has fallen across the little stream and obvious obstruction on the other side. It's a great place for an apple break - and to spend some time to just reflect on the sights, sounds and smells of a place that is hard to imagine nestled into busy North Raleigh.
Slowly paddling a kayak on a calm lake on a warm summer day is one of the absolute delights of life. It provides time to think about something, or think about nothing; an opportunity to see parts of nature that aren't possible on the hiking trails or back yards. Just the feeling of gently bobbing on the water is comforting and therapeutic.
I didn't take my camera along today, so there are no pictures. Well, that's not quite true - no pictures to download and post, but plenty of them in our minds from our experience today, to become part of our permanent pleasant set of memories of our Falls Lake kayak trips.