Heh, this could well turn into a regular series… Maybe I need a “canoeing” category…

Last weekend we went canoeing at a local reservoir and discovered it had been drained so much that the place we launch ended up as a stagnant pond separated from the main lake by a half-mile of mud, rock and sand, through which we portaged the canoe to reach the lake, in the middle of a rainstorm.

This week we decided to avoid that by going to a mountain reservoir. Mountain reservoirs are quite different topologically from flatland reservoirs. Generally the lakes are filling up mountain valleys and canyons, so if the water drops, it just means more rock is exposed, you don’t end up with square miles of mud and sand exposed and the lake splitting into a series of sub-lakes.

However, just to be sure, we did go to the lake’s website to see if there was anything we should know about before heading out to it. The lake we went to this weekend is called “Rampart Reservoir” and is located about 20 miles west of Colorado Springs. That means it’s a good 90 minute drive from our house, a drive which ended up taking two hours due to traffic. What we learned is that the lake’s boat launch was closed “to power boats” due to the effects of a forest fire that scoured the region last year. We were actually at the lake last year when the fire started and were evacuated as the flames spread. But we thought that canoes, kayaks and other personal watercraft were allowed on the lake. Just no power boats.


When we reached the lake however, we discovered that there were some caveats, provisos, addendums and footnotes to the “you can bring your canoe” assumption.

To wit…. The boat launch wasn’t just closed. The entire boat launch area was closed. In fact the whole road across the dam to the main lake access was closed.

So how were people boating on the lake? By dragging their kayaks, canoes and other personal watercraft down a rocky, tree-infested embankment with an incline of about 30-40 degrees at best, with gulleys, bushes and actual cliffs at worst. And there was no parking, cars were just haphazardly strewn across the road where the park rangers had shut it down.

We managed to find a place to pull the Subaru over to the side of the road. The Cosmic Son was not with us, so it was just me, the Cosmic Wife and Cosmic Daughter who had to deal with the situation.

So we got out to contemplate our options. Besides the obvious difficulties of hauling our canoe down the side of a mountain to the water, between trees and over boulders, there was the additional complication of several dozen people having staked out the shoreline for fishing purposes.

Oy Vey.

So we scouted right and left to see if there was anything we could do, and finally decided that the best among a bunch of very poor options was to haul the canoe a short distance to a fishing trail, then use the canoe wheels to roll the canoe along the trail, dealing with tree roots and gulleys, until we reached a spot where a family was just leaving, then to slide the canoe the last twenty yards or so from the trail into the water. That last bit would not work with the wheels though, so we’d have to physically haul it. So we did.

Did I mention that this was Sunday? And that our Saturday outdoor activity had been a bike ride around the neighborhood? Well, I will now. So Saturday we had been out bicycling and at one point I had gotten ahead of the Cosmic Wife and was looking back to locate her. There was once a time that I could turn my head around on a bicycle without the bicycle automatically turning with me. No longer. So after spotting her in the distance, I returned my head to the forward position just in time to realize that I was about to hit a six inch “curb” of grass where the grass and sidewalk came together. I had about 1/10 of a second to ponder the situation before finding myself in mid-air, catawompus over the handlebars, landing on my shoulder and rolling over in the grass. Luckily, other than a minor scratch on my left leg, all that was wounded was my pride.

Why bring that up?

Because Sunday was the Cosmic Wife’s turn to go hind-end over teakettle as she lost her footing going from the trail to the water. She also scratched up her leg, but not badly. So I guess that made us even for the weekend.

But despite the mishap, we were there, at the water’s edge with the canoe. A couple more trips to the car to get our stuff loaded, and we were off.

One benefit of canoeing in a lake where launching your canoe is an adventure in itself is that we had most of the lake to ourselves. Once we got past the area with all the fishermen, and past the kayakers who didn’t want to deal with the wind on the main lake, we pretty much had no other human intervention other than the odd hiker or mountain biker on one of the trails above the lake on the mountain.

So we enjoyed a decent afternoon cruising around the lake, pausing from time to time to relax on shore and eat some snacks or take some photos (no, not me, but the CW and CD took several).

Then it was time to go home. Of course by the time we returned to the “launch area” we discovered that our launch spot was now occupied by a new family of fisherpeople. So we tried to find another spot, but as far as we could tell, our first spot proved to be the best. Most other spots would require a dead lift of the canoe about ten feet from the water to a trail above the water. So we paddled back to that spot and were begrudgingly allowed to land the canoe and haul it back up to the car. Which we did without further mishap.

So now I’ve got a couple of sore spots on my back, side and leg, and so does the Cosmic Wife.

Great weekend, eh?