Every season has a different feeling on the refuge, and this was no exception. We realized that it had been awhile since we traveled this route in full summer, and the tules were nearly 10 feet high. The water was lower than we have experienced, and filled with plants, but as usual, crystal clear. This is the kind of waterway that makes kayaking such a treasure. There is really no other way than a kayak or a canoe to really experience this kind of wild land.
The water was still and sweet, and for the first time, the air was still as well. With temperatures in the low 80’s and no winds, it was just about as perfect as kayaking can be on still water with a slight current. Crystal Springs was green and clear and deep, and on the way back down the river the current carried us along with very little effort. We saw two sandhill cranes flying over the marsh, with their unique croaking sounds, and great egrets, white herons, merganser ducks, blackbirds, and willets, and some pelicans cruising in the distance. A highlight was the pair of otters watching us with curiosity from their playground along the banks of the marsh.
Abby finally learned that she can actually relax in the kayak, and I had great fun attempting to video part of the trip with the camera perched on the bill of my cap. Check it out here
Later in the week we again took advantage of the west side of the Upper Refuge. It was nearly 5pm, a little early for supper, so we thought, “why not? let’s go out for a short kayak”. In 10 minutes we were on the water, launching this time from Rocky Point. Even though it wasn’t a weekend, the launch was busy with boats and canoes, fishermen, and kids. The breeze was blowing but we thought heading south into Pelican Bay might be a different trip so we took off and in minutes were out of the congestion.
Pelican Bay is a western arm of Klamath Lake, and Crystal Creek leads north directly into the marsh from this bay. We paddled along the tules, and in spite of the late hour couldn’t resist going just a little bit into the marsh on the creek. Once protected by the tules and carex there was much less wind, and for no reason that we could figure out, in spite of paddling upstream, it felt as though we were being pulled north by an invisible tide. Smooth, quiet, deep water. It’s been a long time since we were on this part of the canoe trail, and we had never done it upstream. Time slid by like the water, and before long we knew that we were going to attempt to go all the way and connect up again with Recreation Creek to the west.
Just a little bit of adrenalin makes everything a bit more fun, because it was getting later, we weren’t sure how far it was to the Wocus Cut, and neither of us wanted to be on the marsh in the dark. Finally we found the Wocus Cut signs, and noticed just how low the water was at this time of year. The cut is about a mile crossing shallow areas of the marsh filled with wocus and open water. What we discovered on this late evening was that the water was barely 4 inches deep. Paddling a mile in shallow water, with our boats sometimes sliding along the silty mucky marsh soils was challenging, with our paddles often digging into the muck to try to move forward. Getting out of your boat in these organic mucky soils is not an option. You will sink to your armpits and become food for whatever. Finally, just after the sun set behind Pelican Butte we reached Recreation Creek and paddled effortlessly downstream to the Rocky Point launch and home..
Maybe August isn’t a good time to attempt the Wocus Cut across the marsh!