This is the third post introducing Columbia’s Sesquicentennial State Park’s outdoor recreation opportunities.
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Enough housekeeping! Back to Sesqui. Let’s take a look at the 35-acre lake right in the middle of the Park. This lake is a real treasure. It’s not very deep. With the exception of a few spots. Such as around the old diving platform. For me, at least, its charm is in the diversity of its shoreline. From impenetrable swamp at the northernmost end, to beach-like sand in three places toward the southern end, and everything in between.
Though at times during the spring and summer large parts of it suffer from an over-abundance of plant life. Here’s an example above. Too bad the Park budget doesn’t cover removal of these pesky plants. Click on the photo to see the great white egret taking off near the center of the picture. I sat watching him fish for fifteen minutes or so. A magnificent bird.
The elaborate concrete diving platform now is used only by the the geese. Maybe improvements in the Park’s budget will allow all of this to return one of these days. The children would love that. And that would increase Park attendance.
Still, even without swimming, there’s plenty to do at Sesqui. Most days several groups can be seen fishing from the bank. The spot in the photo above, on the east shore of the lake, is popular with regulars. As is the spot in the next photo. Right under that beautiful tree.
Non-fishing members of the group can sit and provide advice from the comfort of the nearby bench. The wooden bridge on the left is another popular spot. As is the water just beyond the falls pictured below. Though I’ve never seen fish taken from there.
This lake attracts all sorts of wildlife. The first species every visitor will notice is the Canadian goose. There seem to be dozens of them making their permanent homes here at Sesqui. Walking up and down the shore. Boldly panhandling visitors for handouts of food. Rushing off wildly at the approach of a barking dog.
The geese nest on a small island in the middle of the lake. Nesting real estate must be at a premium there, given the number of tenants. The geese behave defensively around their nesting area. But they’ve become accustomed to my kayak, and rarely bother to leave the area when I paddle by. Of course, I’m careful not to pester them during their egg incubation season.
Canadian geese aren’t the only big birds here. I’ve already mentioned great snowy egrets. I’ve seen several pair. Great blue heron are even more numerous. This is a terrible photo. Taken from too far away, with a waterproof camera that doesn’t have a very powerful lens. The herons are more wary than the geese. And I don’t like to disturb them any more than necessary to take photos. A telephoto lens would be nice. But then, most telephoto lens-equipped don’t take well to water.
Even more wary are the white-tailed deer that come down to the edge of the lake to drink. Here’s one, photographed last May. Beautiful animals, safe here, of course, from hunting. Though they’re still jumpy, and impossible to approach very closely, even in a kayak.
Boating on the lake also is popular, inexpensive, and quite safe. The Park rents a variety of boats to visitors for a reasonable all-day fee. That fee, I believe, includes use of the boat, a paddle, and a PFD, or life jacket, for each member of the party. Click on over to the Park official website to check current rates and conditions.
The big, brightly painted paddle boats in the earlier photo are very popular. Especially with visitors who have no boating experience. But don’t overlook the other offerings. Such as that sturdy and serviceable flat-bottomed aluminum boat you see above. It’s ideal for fishing. And those red and green canoes. They even have a couple of small hard-shell kayaks for the more adventurous!
I’ve come here often to paddle the waters of this small lake. But never have rented one of the Park’s boats. I’ve always brought one of my inflatable kayaks. The ones often featured in this blog. Indeed, this small lake at Sesqui is where I first put a kayak in the water. I promptly turned it over getting in the first time. To the delight of nearby observers. But after a couple of dunkings, I was able to learn the basics of kayak paddling on this attractive lake. The boat pictured above is a Sea Eagle 330.
The Sea Eagle was a great kayak to learn on. An excellent confidence builder. Though soon after the photo above was taken, I bought an inflatable 13-foot Advanced Elements Expedition kayak that has proven almost as stable, and is far easier to paddle for long distances.
One day in early May of last year one of the outdoors shops downtown sponsored a kayak demo day at the Park’s lake. They brought a dozen or more kayaks and encouraged visitors to go for a paddle. I had only started paddling then and didn’t have the courage to try in front of so many people. Wish I had!
Oh, and a participating Hobie company representative brought what I think he described as a Mirage Adventure Island kayak. Pictured above. It had outriggers and a sail. You can imagine the attention it attracted as it glided effortlessly around the little lake. Then the demonstrating fellow furled the sail and peddled the boat. That’s not a typo! He peddled! Didn’t paddle. Peddled! And at quite impressive speeds. Incredible.
So there you have it. A beautiful little lake smack dab in the middle of a suburban park oasis. What a resource!