Lake St. Clair

Lake St. Clair on a beautiful Friday afternoon.

Friday, July 26, 2019

This was my first visit to Lake St. Clair. I joined another MeetUp gathering, this time for kayaking and paddle boarding at Lake St. Clair on a stunningly beautiful Friday afternoon. There were only four of us today–three on paddle boards, and me in my kayak.

I took Cool Change, my new-to-me Inuit LiquidLogic 14.5. I’m still working on getting used to it. I need a lot more practice getting in and out of it, especially out. The narrow cockpit gives me a bit of a struggle because of my left knee’s limited range of motion.

We were to meet at the boat launch. I was a few minutes late, which was OK because Kim had texted me that she was going to be 15 minutes late. I got my kayak down from the roof of the Sport Trac and into the water just as Kim texted me to let me know she’d arrived and to ask me where I was.

It seems there are two public boat launches at Lake St. Clair–right across the street from each other.

I followed Google’s instructions and hadn’t even noticed the other one, which is where we were supposed to meet up. Bad Google!

Rather than reload my kayak, I decided to just paddle around the spit and join up with the group on the other side. Kim said they would launch their paddle boards and meet me out on the lake. I had launched my kayak by basically shoving it over the side of the bank in front of the parking lot, rather than mess with the launch ramp, so I stepped down a short path and grabbed my tow line. And sank ankle deep in mud. Ugh!

Fortunately, I have a long tow line, so I stepped back up into the weeds and solid ground and towed it along the bank to the boat launch, where the ground was firmer. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize the weeds had pretty sharp blades until blood was already seeping from the scratches on my legs.

Ow! I have no idea what those things were. They certainly didn’t look sharp! But, a little blood doesn’t bother me, and my kayak is red.

Lake St. Clair is not a round lake. In fact, there is nothing roundish or even shape-like about it. It’s more like a tangle of tape worms, as I discovered when I started paddling. It’s pretty narrow and winding with many little bays and coves and some islets.

And even though the two boat launches are across the street from each other, perhaps 100 yards apart by land, they’re a mile and a half apart by water.

But I didn’t mind. After all, I came there to paddle. Being out in my kayak is my very favorite thing to do.

Houses of all sizes cram much of the lakeshore, and lots of people were out on the lake swimming or relaxing on float toys. There were several other kayakers and a few people slowly motoring around in power boats. There were also a lot of “tree bones,” as I call them–deadwood sticking out into the water, waiting to snatch inattentive boaters. Sometimes, the tree bones stuck out on both sides of the lake, forcing boaters to navigate through a narrow passage. Deadheads–logs that were mostly submerged, except for one end–reared out of the water, as well. Some had foliage growing out of them, like tiny islets.

It was pretty interesting, and there are lots of places to explore.

I kayaked around the peninsula and ran into Kim, Walter, and the other paddler about a half hour later. Walter paddle boarding on Lake St. ClairIt was Walter’s first paddle board experience, so he was a little nervous and unsure of himself. He fell off once, but with Kim’s help, was able to get himself back aboard the paddle board. He shook the water off, and he was fine.

We paddled around for a bit and found a nice, relaxing uninhabited bay. Kim and the other paddle boarder (I forgot her name!) swam for a bit and then sunned themselves on their paddle boards while I explored the area. I found a creepy old house at the end of the bay. The windows were not boarded up, but the curtains were securely drawn and the shore was marked with stern “No Trespassing!” signs. Weeds and trees had grown uncontrolled around the house and grounds and a shed had collapsed to nothing but metal roof. The dock was decaying and sinking; grass grew where wood used to be.

It had a very mysterious and creepy look about it.

I paddled around the point and into a nearby cove. Houses lined the shore, shoulder to shoulder. Some were older, tiny ramblers; some moderate mid-sized houses–a couple of split-levels, a couple of ranch style, and some with massive bay window–while one was a huge McMansion. The mix of housing styles was very odd. And, two more houses in various stages of decay hid in the trees along one end of the shore. Interesting! It made me wonder what event could cause someone to abandon a house on a lake and let it fall into disrepair.

Back at the launch, I struggled to get out of my kayak. I need to figure out how to do this more efficiently and gracefully. But, I managed. And after I got out, I noticed the lake was filled with fish about the size of my hand. I have no idea what the fish were. I slowly waded out into the water to get a better look and also to cool off the cuts on my legs. The fish slowly gathered around my legs, curious to know what I was. I stuck my hand in the water and waited. After about five minutes, one came up to check out my hand. I reached for it really quickly, but it was too fast.

Loading my kayak was fun. For the first time, someone offered to help me. It felt good to be able to say to the young man, “thanks; I’ve got this,” and have it settled in the J-cradles in under five minutes.

Yeah, I’ve got this. 🙂

Lake St. Clair requires a Discover Pass and is open from 4:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. The lake has a 5 mph speed limit in that area; my understanding is if you pass under the bridge, the speed limit increases.