Sunday, October 2, 2011

Paddling Lake Oolenoy at Table Rock State Park

Another beautiful morning here at Table Rock State Park this Wednesday. Sunny, but without the oppressive heat we've had here in South Carolina during the past few months. Highs today in the mid-80s. With very little wind. In other words, ideal Elder-Kayaking weather! So Let’s get a move on! Here’s Part 1 of a two-part video to give you an idea of just how nice this lake really is. Open it full-screen if you can.

Table Rock State Park maintains a very serviceable boat ramp and parking area on Lake Oolenoy. Just across from the Visitors Center. The facility even includes  restrooms. Be sure to tip the Iron Ranger when you pass through the gate. It's only a minimum of $2.00, and every dollar helps.

Oolenoy certainly is an unusual name. I'm not even sure of the proper pronunciation, or where it came from. Maybe from the late 18th Century settlement of Oolenoy, near the Greenville County line. I'll have to ask around. Folks in the Upcountry often have a good grounding in this area's history.

So, over to the boat ramp, arriving not long after noon. The sun was well up, but not oppressive as I assembled the Expedition kayak and wheeled it down the long narrow boat ramp to the water.

Speaking of water, don't worry about getting wet. Step right in! The water here is crystal-clear. The photo above is from the southernmost end of the Lake. At a depth of just a few inches. And the whole lake is like that. No wonder this is one of the few parks in the State Park system that still maintains its swimming facilities during the summer months.

When you paddle Lake Oolenoy, be sure to visit the northernmost part of the Lake. Go under the Route 11 bridge you see above in the distance, toward Table Rock. For some reason I assumed that there was little to see on the other side of the bridge. Not so!

Right after passing under the bridge the water opens up into a nice area that just has to be full of fish. Let alone spectacular views.

The banks of the lake too are a photographer's delight. I wish I had the talent necessary to make the most of this opportunity. Look at those boulders! But I didn't see much wildlife during this paddle. One exception was a highly irritated great blue heron who flew up from his perch just here, scolding away.

The northernmost portion of the Lake narrows into the inlet stream you see above. Gradually becoming more and more shallow. Too shallow to paddle up to the dam at the southern end of Pinnacle Lake. It couldn't have been far, so I hated to turn around.

There's plenty more to see of Lake Oolenoy, though. So back down the inlet stream, out into the wider water, and under the Route 11 bridge. Isn't this beautiful territory! It doesn't need to get any better than this.

Here's a view of what I thought was the southernmost end of the Lake. That dam obviously is man-made. With one of those outlet valves protected by a heavy grate. It made a nice gurgling sound as I passed.

But it wasn't the end at all. As I paddled near the dam, I realized there was considerably more to see. Like the northernmost part of the Lake, there was a whole new section of water that wasn't visible from the boat ramp. Again, with spectacular views of Table Rock there just for the looking!

Here’s the second half of that video. Shot from the kayak with the little Canon ELPH 100 HS camera. This half is a bit smaller than the first. See if you can tell the difference.

So there you have it. A preview of what you will find when you visit Lake Oolenoy at Table Rock State Park. Be sure to bring your kayak or canoe. There’s much more to this lake than you can see from the shore or fishing docks.

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