Friday, August 7, 2015

OVER THE BOW: LAKE NATOMA

  The path of the paddle can be a means of getting things back to their original perspective. – Bill Mason, Path of the Paddle

 Its was a quiet morning on Lake Natoma earlier last week. A slight breeze passed over the water, causing barely a ripple. I could feel its coolness coming off the water and in the shade of the trees. It was a welcome relief from the daytime heat that usually blasts this valley.
I had beaten the rush. The parking lot of the Negro Bar access was still empty along with the rest of the lake. The usual array of Huki boats, sit-on-tops and fishermen had yet to arrive and the lake was pretty much mine for my own adventure.

I wasn't lost in the wilds of the BWCA or Desolation Wilderness. I was only a couple of miles from home and could hear the hum of traffic buzzing over the Folsom Avenue Bridge. But, I might as well have been. Because with each muffled stroke of my paddle, I slipped further away into nature's domain. 
Environmentalist and wilderness guide, Sigrud Olsen said  'There is magic in the feel of a paddle and the movement of a canoe, a magic compounded of distance, adventure, solitude, and peace. The way of a canoe is the way of the wilderness, and of a freedom almost forgotten."'

Alone in my thoughts and on the water, I felt a certain exuberance in this calm of tranquility. On a simple morning cruise around my neighborhood lake, I felt that same deliverance and enchantment that Olsen pontificated about his beloved northern lakes and forested wilderness.  I was minutes from the freeways, gas stations and fast food restaurants, yet the lake was still home to things wild. Ducks, geese, beaver and deer find the same sanctuary that I do near its waters.

It was effortless paddle for me, through and around the slough of the lake. The lake level has been a bit higher in the past few weeks making it easy way to navigate through the tiny rocky islands without scraping the bottom of the kayak. In the stillness, I brushed past the prickly blackberry bushes tangled up against the water. The berries hang over the water like gaudy ornaments. They were a lush tempting red, far from being ripe enough to pick and very tart to the taste. The black ripened juicy ones are few and out of reach.

Up near the Rainbow Bridge, the river has joined the lake. The cold water released from Folsom Dam only runs a short way as the American River before being captured again by the Nimbus Dam, creating the lake. I felt the slight tug of the current and hear the gentle sound of water flowing over the rocks. I marveled at the three-story canyon walls embracing the narrow river on both sides. Further up the Folsom Prison cable sign lets me go no farther. I put my kayak into the current and felt it turn me back downstream.  
 
 Over the Bow is a feature from Outside Adventure to the Max, telling the story behind the image. If you have a great picture with a great story, submit it to us at nickayak@gmail.com