Friday, January 8, 2016

RETURN TO LOON LAKE PART III


Long ago when the Ah-wah-nee-chees were a young nation the rivers and lakes were the home to the Fish-women (Mermaids). These were beautiful creatures, having the tails of fish and the upper bodies of women. They could not leave the water, but would often sit on the rocks in the shallows, or around the edges of the deep pools, combing their long black hair, and chanting luring songs to the warriors. -- Miwok Folklore

Climbing up the road out Georgetown, California; I curved in and out of the trees until hitting a stretch of blackened tree. A forest fire roared through the year before leaving devastation in its wake. I remember watching the news reports then and hoping that the firefighters would contain the fire before it reached the Loon Lake area. Climbing and winding through the smoke tainted tooth picks trees and grim reminders of blackened clear areas, I felt a great relief when I was in the tall green pines again miles from one of my favorite California lakes.

Loon Lake sits in the northern section of the Crystal Basin Recreation Area in the Eldorado National Forest along the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Nestled up close to the federally protected Desolation Wilderness, the recreation area is capped by the majestic granite peaks and traversed by lakes, reservoirs and streams spanning over 85,000 acres of forested rugged terrain along the Crystal Range.

Current Adventures Kayak School and Trips has  hosted this two-day overnight one-of-a-kind camping experience in August for almost ten years. During the days, paddlers escape the heat while exploring the pine scented Loon Lake. At night campers are treated to a night-time paddling experience to view the Perseid Meteor Shower. All the meals and paddling gear are provided, freeing kayakers up to only de-stress and unwind in the realm of nature.

Clear skies greeted me and the group of 20, mostly women boaters getting ready for their first trip on water. I looked out over the pristine blue water and textured granite shore of lake while unloading the kayaks.  At 6,378 feet, Loon Lake features 10 miles of boulder-lined shoreline with awe-inspiring views, however last summer's drought had taken a toll on the mountain reservoir. It was about 50 percent of its normal level and the lake's crystal clear water were significantly lower. Our usual hidden-away paddling destinations and coves were now parched and dry. Our popular visit to the tunnel on the east end of the lake turned into a hike instead of a paddle.

The last on one on the water, I was following the group keeping my eye on their struggle and progress. It was a learning experience for some. Many hadn't paddle since their childhood days of summer camp, if ever at all, while some with kayaking in their blood speed ahead towards the distant mountain tops. We formed a long line across the lake connected by this same experience of peace and reflection. On the water I melded into quiet meditation as I paddled along in pursuit. The natural surroundings of lake shore, sky and water had raised my awareness and heightened my spiritually once again.


The lake might have been low, but the trip was full of laughter and springing with new friendships as the boaters paddled along the lake shore. Each paddler shared the enthusiasm of kayaking with one another while embracing the beauty and calm of the day's journey. At dinner and the campfire afterwards came more laughs, some wine and camaraderie.
"It's was a pretty good group," said Current Adventures Kayak School & Trips' Dan Crandall, "Most of them are doing something they have never tried before and enjoying it. They all came as strangers and are leaving as friends. They will all probably end up paddling together. That's kayaking."

If you want to go contact:
Current Adventures Kayak School and Trips 
PHONE: 530-333-9115 or Toll-Free: 888-452-9254
FAX: 530-333-1291
USPS:Current Adventures, P.O. Box 828, Lotus, CA 95651
info@currentadventures.com
owner Dan Crandall dan@kayaking.com