Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day Out on Couchville

With the family clamoring for kayak time, I loaded up the plastic armada and we headed over to Couchville Lake for some paddling. It was E's first time in a kayak and C's second trip in his own boat. He is already starting to develop basic technique, and he paddled a roundabout mile without any complaints. E, on the other hand, pouted and cried for "Moma's boat" until we finally stopped and switched her over to V's kayak. Later, while C and E spent time on the "play town," I fished. A fellow kayaker told me about a line of rocks on the south end of the lake (pan down in the aerial view below) where the structure holds fish. I got a lot of bites near the rocks, but it was mostly small fry too little to take my spoon. I only landed a yearling bass and a bream, but I had a good time, and I gathered some valuable intel about fishing Couchville. With family, kayaks, and fishing all in the mix, I can't think of a better way to spend Father's Day.

Family Loop at Couchville

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Kayaker Is Born

For at least a couple of years now, I've been promising C his own kayak when he got big enough. Turns out "big enough" is relative to the size of the kayak. Yesterday, while wandering around Sam's Club, I ran across a display of Lifetime Wave kayaks for kids. At just under $100, the price was right, and the kayaks looked well-made with reasonably thick polyethylene. I snapped a quick picture with my phone so I could research the boats later, and though I didn't find a lot of reviews online, everything I saw was positive. So this morning, I headed back to Sam's Club, bought one of the orange models, and came home to dig out a spare seat I'd saved. The 'yak was already rigged with four deck loops, so installing the seat was just a matter of snapping on four clasps and making some strap adjustments. VoilĂ . Ready for the lake.

Rain blew through the area just after noon today, and C and I had a cool, overcast evening for trying out the kayak. Around 6 o'clock, we headed over to Couchville Lake and launched. C was a little nervous until he got in the boat and felt its stability. It wasn't long before he picked up on basic paddling, and after he made some practice runs near the shore, we were off. We paddled about a quarter-mile down the lake to a small pier, took a break, and then headed back. C did a lot better on the outgoing leg (see video below) than the return leg, mostly because his arms got tired and he started favoring one side. All in all though, he did a great job. For a while, we'll keep the trips short until he builds up some stamina, but regardless, I'm excited that he and I can now get out and kayak together.

Couchville Lake Test Run



Solidly constructed and well-designed, the Lifetime Wave is a good kayak for a young paddler. I'm too big to paddle it, but on a couple of occasions, I gave C's kayak a shove and watched it track. The two rear fins helped it stay on course, although as I note above, the short boat turns very easily under paddle. The 'yak has two scupper holes in the front, but with about 55 pounds aboard, it was buoyant enough that no water entered from the bottom. In terms of specifications, the kayak is 6' long, has a 24" beam, weighs 18 pounds, and is rated for paddlers up to 130 pounds. The pictures below outline features and specs, but C's boat also came with the aforementioned deck loops, a carry handle attached to the bow, and a decent two-piece, aluminum paddle that feathers. Finally, the kayak has a one-year warranty which covers defects in materials or workmanship.

Click pictures to enlarge.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Radnor Perimeter

On Friday, I hiked the perimeter of Radnor State Park by combining the South Cove, Lake, and Ganier Ridge trails. The roughly 4.5 mile loop combines the two toughest trails at Radnor and offers some decent elevation changes in spots. About a week ago, I hiked the same loop in the opposite direction, and I'm not sure which I like better. Hitting Ganier Ridge first gets the heart pumping immediately, but climbing Ganier at the end really puts the burn into legs that are already tired. Either way, it's a great hike and a decent workout that I can complete in about an hour and a half. Both times around, from the vantage of Otter Creek Road, I saw wading deer—something I'd never seen before at Radnor. On Friday, however, I also marveled at how many "hikers" were oblivious to their surroundings because they were yelling to their companions or cruising along with ear buds. If I wanted shouting and loud music, I'd hit a Zumba class.

Radnor Perimeter