Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Backbone for the Advanced Elements Expedition Kayak

Several readers have written to ask for more information about the Advanced Elements AF Expedition kayak featured in a few of these blog entries. I’ll try in this post to give some more information and descriptive photos. Especially about the recently added “backbone” accessory.

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Digital image  Keep in mind, this information is far from definitive. I have no relationship with the Advanced Elements company, other than as a satisfied customer.

More important, I have no real expertise in the field of kayaks and kayaking. I’m only an enthusiastic novice ElderPaddler, hoping to encourage others to take the plunge. Oops …. Bad choice of words there. ‘Er, to take up the sport. No need to plunge, unless you want to!

Those of you in search of more specific and reliable information should click on over to the Advanced Elements website at:

This is what you’ll find:

Website Home Page Have a look under “products” for the “Advanced Frame” page. A ways down the page you’ll find information about the Expedition that I paddle around and write about on this blog.

Well hidden within the Advanced Elements website, under “support,” is a link to a community forum:

This archived forum contains an enormous cache of information about Advanced Elements’ products, and about inflatable kayaking in general. Forum members and Advanced Elements staff are quick to answer questions about their products. So, sign in and give them a try!

Now, the Expedition is described on the Advanced Elements website as “ … a thirteen foot hybrid of a folding frame kayak and an inflatable kayak.”

That sums it up. In contrast to many, if not most, inflatable kayaks, the Expedition has aluminum structural components that add shape and rigidity to the craft with little additional weight. I haven’t made any sort of rigorous comparison, but suspect this additional rigidity and shaping makes my Expedition all-around easier to paddle.

Here’s an example of the rigidifying components, from photos our son and I took during an inflation session in our driveway:

Bow RibThat’s the bow rib in the photo above. It’s made of sturdy aluminum, and fits right into the bow of the canvas cover for the main inflation tubes. The gray canvas cover is on the right.

Prior to inflation, the bow rib is pushed smartly into the very bow of the kayak. The stern has a similar aluminum rib. Once the kayak is inflated, these ribs are held tightly against the outer skin of the kayak, front and rear, by air pressure in the main tubes.

I’ve paddled my Expedition with no difficulty since purchase last year with only those aluminum bow and stern ribs providing additional shape and rigidity. When the two big main tubes are inflated properly, the kayak feels solid as a rock. As this earlier photo demonstrates:

Done! The Expedition is mounted here on the little kayak cart I carry to ease transport from car to water, and back again, once inflated. Note how rigid the kayak is under full air pressure. Hard as a woodpecker’s mouth, as we used to say OverHome.

However, as an option, Advanced Elements offers another aluminum frame component: a “backbone.” Click the link below for a photo and short description of the backbone on the AE website:

The backbone is described here as “… a bow-to-stern frame … which enhances both rigidity and performance.”

After reading myriad posts on the Advanced Elements forum, I decided to buy a backbone a month or so ago. Realizing that nearly all of my voyages in the Expedition extend for several miles. Sometimes for more than ten miles! In the hope the “enhanced rigidity and performance” would make the boat a little easier to manage and paddle.

Cost was just under $100, plus shipping. Here’s what it looks like packed in its mesh bag:

Backbone Pieces in Bag And here are the five components of the backbone laid out beside the kayak, ready to assemble:

Backbone in PiecesThe shoes, hopefully, give some idea of scale. It’s hard to show in photos, but this backbone isn’t at all flimsy. It’s made of good thick and solid aluminum. Five pieces in all. End pieces -- one for bow and one for stern -- each with flat tongue-like shapes that fit between the main canvas-covered inflation tubes and the hull at each end. And three extension-like tubes that give the backbone its proper length.

The extension tubes themselves are covered with a thick layer of rubber-like foam. The sections fit together firmly with the attachment mechanism you see below.

Fastener Mechanism This certainly isn’t a flimsy piece of equipment. Solid as a rock, to coin a phrase. Indeed, so solid I feared that installation would seriously compromise the comfort of the kayak’s seat during long paddles. That’s about as delicately as I can put it. I mean! Think of straddling a solid thing like that for extended periods of time.

Well, I don’t know why. but once everything was assembled, the seat didn’t feel any different than it did without the backbone. Must be the inflatable floor pushing it down into the hull, rather than up toward the paddler.

Here is the backbone nearly assembled and placed lengthwise atop the kayak. Ready to tuck each end in between the main tubes and the hull, and then to connect the two sections.

Backbone Sections on KayakHere, the sections of the backbone are all connected, and the bow and stern sections are tucked under the main tubes.

Backbone in Bottom of Kayak Speaking of the inflatable floor, here’s the floor before inflation, laid out over the kayak in roughly the position it will take once inserted.

Floor Over Backbone and Kayak And this is the floor, still deflated, tucked under the main tubes and over the backbone, all but the final section at the bow.

Installing Floor Over Backbone Once all of that is done, all that’s left is gentle inflation of the four small tubes that raise the profile of the deck; two at the bow; two at the stern. Oh, and inflation of the cowling around the cockpit in the same way.

I’ve made only two longer trips with the backbone installed since purchase. So, it’s too early for a definitive assessment. But I can say with confidence that I couldn’t feel the backbone under the seat during either voyage. And, that the boat was easier to paddle with the backbone installed than without. More inclined to glide in a straight line, and somehow "lighter" in the water. "Lighter" here meaning the boat seemed to require less effort to paddle. A nice thing, especially on the way back to the dock!

So there you have it. The hybrid foldable/inflatable Advanced Elements Expedition kayak, with backbone installed. A great solution for those of us who like to have a kayak handy when streams, ponds, lakes, and rivers that need to be paddled pop into view. My Expedition usually rides comfortably in the back seat of my elderly Town Car. On a pad, of course. Together with cart, paddles, electric pump, paddle clothes, and a PFD. A real ElderPaddler enabler.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A June 3, 2009 Walk in the Woods at Keowee-Toxaway State Park, S.C.

Today I decided to hike the whole Natural Bridge Trail here at Keowee-Toxaway State Park.

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090603 Keowee Hike Small “Hike?” … Well, really, more of a walk, since the Park rates the Natural Bridge Trail as “moderate,” rather than difficult or challenging.

I walked part of it during my first visit three months ago, and wrote about the experience. That was before knee surgery on March 25th. So I ended up turning back before reaching the natural stone bridge, the main feature of the trail!

Some of us remember romping through the woods as children. Carefree, heedless of distance, trail surface -- if there was a trail! -- or change in altitude. Just enjoying the freedom of being out-of-doors, and what we thought was out on our own.

Well, the “Easy” and more “Moderate” walking trails in South Carolina’s state parks give us ElderWalkers the opportunity to enjoy at least some of that experience again!

I was fortunate during formative pre-teen years to live on a small farm in the foothills of the Allegany Mountains. With broad stony fields, rolling, heavily wooded hills, and even areas of swamp. A good-sized creek was less than ten minutes' walk from the house.

Another fifteen minutes’ along that narrow, barely two-lane macadam “highway” brought a small general store into view. It occupied the southeast corner of a crossroads that once had been the center of a thriving town.

By the time I came along, however, that store, an abandoned railroad depot, a small Methodist church, and a large well-kept cemetery were all that was left of the town’s public buildings.

So, the things most interesting and appealing for an under-employed but curious pre-teen lad were to be found in nature. Especially in the surrounding hills and woods. The privilege of living in that environment gave me a lifelong love of rambling through the woods: "tramping the hills," as it was called back then. What a gift!

For this walk, I took only our son’s sophisticated DSLR camera, a suitable hat, and a walking stick. With, of course, plenty of sun screen and a trusty anti-sunburn long-sleeved shirt.

A bottle of water would have been nice. But preparing for the walk it seemed too bulky to carry. Big Mistake! As it turned out, a drink of water, even tepid tap water, would have been most welcome during the latter half of the hike -- ‘er, walk. Something to remember when preparing for future expeditions.

I drove down from the campsite to park behind the Park Office, arriving at the nearby trailhead around 2:00 p.m.

Natural Bridge TrailheadThe outside temperature was in the mid- to high-80s, with steady sunshine. And a nice breeze through the trees, at least at the top of the ridges. Ideal conditions for hiking -- ‘er, walking.

The Park Service categorizes this Natural Bridge Trail as "moderate." Which it is. There are sections, especially at the beginning, that could be described as "easy." Wide, smooth surfaces, with only gradual changes in elevation. Paths that might even accommodate a scooter or wheel chair for short distances. Not far, though. Just far enough to get the feeling of the place. As you can see in the photo below of the beginning section of this trail.

Trail Beginning

Another advantage of these “easy” and "moderate" hiking trails for the ElderHiker is that one can go along as far as one wishes, or feels comfortable. And then decide it’s time to quit. But! It’s always necessary to go back.

That means this form of exercise isn't as forgiving as a workout at home or in the gym. Where it's possible to stop at any point in the program. To answer a cell phone; to attend to a forgotten social or professional obligation; to jot down invaluable thoughts for the next book chapter; or even to write a blog entry. All excellent justifications for abandoning exercise in the middle!

On a trail, though, even a looping trail like this one, the way back to the beginning awaits before we can call it a day. Well, either that, or call for an evacuation of some kind! A fate most certainly worse than a little more huffing and puffing.

Last time I hiked about sixty percent of this same trail. Turning left at the loop you can see on the map at the beginning. Unbeknownst to me, covering the most difficult part! And not far at all from the natural stone bridge for which the trail is named. This was just before surgery on the left knee. So I'll blame it on that …. But for whatever excuse or reason, the trail back always awaits! Far better exercise motivation than a video tape or an encouraging live coach at the gym!

Since during my earlier walk I’d turned left at the beginning of the trail’s loop section, as the trail sign directed, this time I turned right. To take advantage of a different perspective through the section I’d already traveled.

Soon, the faint sound of water stumbling along a shallow brook filtered up from the bottom of the ravine through the thick vegetation. At first it was little more than a whisper. A sound I mistook for wind in the leaves.

Then it grew stronger. Unmistakable. Rising and falling as I walked along, depending on proximity to the rocky out-crops in the stream responsible for most of the noise. Here and there I caught sight of the stream below the trail. It was modest in size, but persistent. With enough of a flow to show up nicely by the time it approached the natural stone bridge.

Rushing Water MossThe bridge itself has no sign. None needed! Walking along the trail you suddenly see a flat surface ahead. With the appearance from a distance of hard-packed sand. As you near you realize what it is. That the surface you mistook for hard-packed sand actually is the top of the huge stone that forms the bridge. The BridgeThe Park service thankfully has refrained from adding sturdy guard rails here. Or even one of those officious "DO NOT STEP OFF THE TRAIL" signs. You’re on your own.

Free to step here and there, in search of yet another camera angle, risking as much as you want the possibility of slipping to a nasty fall. Or, being more cautious. It’s up to the individual enjoying this remarkable sight. And an important part of its charm.

Huge rocks -- boulders, really -- have been tossed here and there on both sides of the bridge. Certainly not the work of the small but persistent stream we now see exploiting breaks in the stone to continue its downward journey.

Water and Rocks The stones are smooth, with moss and leaves here and there showing imprints of earlier visitors’ boots. Perhaps photographers, determined to capture the remarkable atmosphere of the site.

I too tried my luck with our son’s sophisticated camera. But none of the 20 or so photos I took of the bridge and the surrounding boulders came close to capturing the sense of the place. Anyone could spend hours wandering about there without feeling bored.

Blue GrowthNow, this natural stone bridge is no Niagara Falls. Or Grand Canyon. Nothing so dramatic. But in its own way, in its own setting, it is every bit as impressive and thought-provoking. At least, for me.

What could have tossed all of those huge boulders helter-skelter? Leaving one of the largest with a smooth flat surface today to serve thousands of hikers as a natural bridge? How long did it take for the stream of water to adjust to the change, finding its way around and through the newly-created passages under these remarkable stones?

Stepping Stones Oh, an answer would be easy enough to find. Any regionally-focused high school geology book would offer an explanation. With footnotes! But I’d rather not look. I’m sure that even the most pedestrian of my outrageous hypotheses is more entertaining than the currently accepted scientific answer.

This is an old land. One that saw a lot before any human being set foot here. Or, possibly, before any human being set foot anywhere. To us, the most interesting era begins with human settlement. Only natural. But that's a late, late, and relatively short, chapter in this book.

I enjoyed standing near the bridge while speculating on its origins for some time. Not resting, now! Speculating. Too soon, it was time to go back.

Reluctantly, I left the natural stone bridge area and walked on down the trail. Before long it dropped steeply beside the stream. Steeply enough to require steps cut into the soil and rock. For some distance.

StepsNot far after the bottom of the steps pictured above, the Park Service kindly located another resting bench. Probably more out of consideration for those hikers going in the opposite direction, about to climb the steps, than for those of us coming down.

I saw a couple of hikers standing there to rest. Not walkers, now. But hikers! Staffs, boots, packs, water bottles, and spiffy hats. Surely hikers! They waved shyly and moved on along the trail toward the right.

A sign in front of the bench pointed sharply left, indicating that the trail exit was 0.74 miles in that direction. That didn't make sense to me since the stream not fifteen feet away flowed directly across what would have been the trail. Remembering those two hikers, I turned to the right to follow them. Forgetting for the moment the significance of their elaborate outfits.

There were no signs for a ways, and the trail was no more difficult than that I had descended just a few minutes ago. So I continued on. Before long, though, the trail took on quite a different character. Becoming considerably more difficult than it had been.

I struggled on for a while, and then spied a small trail marker: "Raven Rock Trail." Aha! No wonder! I had taken a wrong turn, and now was on the difficult “Raven Rock” trail, the trail a Park Ranger recently had described as “challenging.”

Swallowing pride, I turned around, returned to the aforementioned sign, convinced I’d missed something.

Which I had. The arrow pointing the way to the trail exit 0.74 miles away was correct. Looking closer, I could see a series of rocks placed carefully across the stream to provide stepping places. They all proved to be -- sorry -- solid as a rock! I then stepped across without even wetting the soles of my shoes, and walked up the bank on the other side.

Once across, the direction of the trail was obvious. So I continued on. In less than five minutes I reached the entrance to the Raven Rock Hiking Trail. Including a sign reassuring me that I was on the "moderate" Natural Bridge Nature Trail."

Raven Rock Trail SignBut the section from here to the beginning of the loop is the most challenging part of the whole Natural Bridge trail. And also some of the most beautiful.

Blossom 1 The trail wanders up and down the ridges and ravines, most of the time within sound of the stream at the bottom. Here and there steps are cut in the trail to ease ascent at some of its steepest sections. Nowhere is it dangerous if one is careful. Watching one's step. And making skillful use of a walking stick. But it is a strenuous climb for anyone as out of shape as me.

FernsToday it was in the high 80s, and sunny. Hardly the hottest weather we can expect here. But hot enough to be uncomfortable, especially without an appreciable breeze. And without a cooling bottle of water!

I plodded on. Resting here and there to catch my breath and to mop sweat and sunscreen lotion from my face, neck, and eyes. From time to time, I dried my right hand and the head of my walking stick which, had become slippery.

At any point during that part of the walk I would have gladly abandoned the hike for the air conditioned comfort of my car. But that was impossible. Good thing too.

I reached the end of the loop quite tired and sweaty, and ready to sit down for a rest. Fortunately, the Park Service anticipated the event and had placed one of their solid wooden rest benches not far up the trail toward the exit. I sat gratefully.

Resting BenchI've found an additional benefit from later-life hiking, or walking, in the woods. That is a keener sense of the beauty around me. Colors, shapes, and mini-dramas all are there, free for the looking, and interpretation. All more vivid to me today than they were as a youngster.

Memory is a tricky business, especially after fifty years or so. But it seems to me that as a lad I looked more for excitement than for beauty in those incredibly beautiful natural surroundings. Not that I was unaware of the beauty. Just a question of emphasis.

Now, the most memorable attractions are the many shades of green, the delicacy of simple flowers, the variety of plant life, the sound of water worrying over rocks in a distant brook. But especially, the remarkable display of colors.

Blossom 2And, there is drama and excitement as well. Hundreds of hiking boots and shoes had churned the earth beneath the bench into a sandy surface that would have done credit to most beach areas along the shore of Lake Keowee.

I plopped down gratefully on the bench, glad no other hikers were passing by to see my huffing and puffing. And the sweat dripping from the tip of my chin into the dusty sand below.

As I looked down I began to notice ants scurrying about in the sand. Several kinds of ants, in fact. Some large and black; some small and red; some small and black. All going about their business in the sand. Business which must have focused on acquisition of food and protection from predators.

I sat for a while, watching those ants. Thinking that as a youngster I would have hoped to see warfare break out among the various tribes of ants. Perhaps even disappointed if it didn't happen.

Today, though, it was a much nicer just to watch the various ant sects go about their business. Rushing here and there; investigating specks of vegetable matter; sometimes picking up and carrying large burdens, presumably back to their homes. Such a sight helps to put everyday life into perspective, if you let it. And also provides wonderful justification for resting longer than one might otherwise do!

I reluctantly abandoned that outpost of ant society, re-slung our son’s big camera around my neck, checked the GPS reading, and headed back up the trail, back toward the beginning. It was hot now, and I was glad to see the sign at the trailhead peep through the trees. Indeed, I’d have been glad to see it at the bottom of that last incline.

I’d seen much of the last part of trail before. However, the difference in appearance between early March and early June was surprising. Last time, many of the trees had yet to spread their full growth of leaves. They had by early June.

The leaves made a big difference in the appearance of the woods that enclosed the trail. The colors were different, of course. But also the perspective was different. I could no longer look down the slope beside the trail clear to the bottom of the ravine through the bare branches.

Also, now I could hear farther than I could see. A deer passing now was only a sound; not a sight. Birds large and small moved through the leaves as sounds rather than sights. Which enriched the sounds this time around. As well as provide a broader palate of color to consider and enjoy.

The final leg of the hike was easy, rather than moderate. Slightly up hill, but not anything noticeable. In a minute or two I could see the rear of the church building that had been converted into the Park Office. The end of the line.

I got in the car, turned the air conditioner to blow as directly on me as possible, and sat until I’d caught my breath and cooled off a bit. Then drove over to the Keowee Market to buy a 20-oz lemonade and a pint of ice cream. Don’t tell! It was the lack of water ….

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June 2, 2009 Paddle and Lunch on Lake Keowee

Conditions today were perfect for another paddle on Lake Keowee. Sunny, with temperatures in the high 80s. And just enough southeasterly breeze to cool the perspiring, ElderPaddler.

Fall Creek Landing on the other side of the lake actually is closer to Keowee-Toxaway State Park than the Crowe Creek landing put-in on this side. The one I used during an earlier paddle.

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090602 Keowee PaddleThis facility too has plenty of parking, three boat ramps well maintained by Duke Power, and a large floating dock.

It also includes a sandy beach that stretches north and south from the boat ramps and docks. When I put in, only a few people were there swimming and sun bathing. But when I returned, the beach was quite crowded. The majority appeared to be young mothers, each with several small children. An alternative to the country club pool, I guess. The splashing and laughing typical of such groups was nice to hear.

The landing’s boat ramps too were busy. Crafts of all types and sizes were putting in and taking out. Nearly all were power boats, boasting throaty inboard and outboard engines. Though during take-out I did see one small Stearns inflatable kayak.

Once on the water, I learned that this part of Lake Keowee is much more popular with fast-moving power boats than the waters surrounding Crowe Creek Landing.

Digital image  Kayakers here should keep a good look-out for the wakes those boats generate as they zoom by. Fortunately, my 13-foot Advanced Elements Expedition inflatable responds nicely even to the more energetic wakes, riding up and over as if she enjoyed the challenge. But there’s always the possibility ….

Today I headed directly east from the boat landing, toward a small unmarked island. It looked to be part of the peninsula jutting northward into the lake when the lake level is a foot or two lower. And therefore it didn’t show as an island on the GPS or map, and wasn’t numbered.

This island featured a high sheer-faced rock that looked custom made for diving. In the photo below you can see one lad diving, another waiting, and several already in the water, shouting encouragement.

Digital image

Lake Keowee, even more than nearby Lake Jocassee and the other man-made lakes in South Carolina created by the power companies, has an irregular coastline. Lots of inlets, coves, and peninsulas jutting out in the water. Some small; some quite large. This irregularity makes kayaking on Lake Keowee even more interesting and enjoyable. There’s always something new to see just around the next peninsula.

Keowee OverallKeowee’s larger inlets are identified on maps as “creeks,” which they must have been before the power generation dams raised the level of the water to the point they became part of the lake itself.

This jagged coastline is beautiful. Especially those sections with dramatic rock out-croppings, as in the photo below.

Digital image  But it can make navigation on longer trips more challenging for the paddler unfamiliar with the lake. Even when carrying a large detailed map!

A reliable GPS solves the problem, of course. Absent a GPS, the small numbered islands that dot this and similar lakes help to confirm the wandering paddler’s location.

Digital image

Highly visible number signs are posted in one or two places along the shoreline, corresponding to island numbers on the larger maps. The photo above shows number 21.

This island had high, steep banks that discouraged landing, and hosted a large number of bird nests, large and small. The nesting residents raised an indignant ruckus as I paddled around the island close to the shore.

So I resisted the temptation to land for a look around and paddled another half-mile or so up Cedar Creek. Then back out of the Creek, past the peninsula with the nice cottage pictured below, typical of those in this area, and north up the lake for another mile or so.

Digital image  On the way I passed by Island # 22, pictured below. From a distance, it was unimpressive, with only a few scraggly trees demanding sustenance from the knob of red clay poking up out of the lake. So small, in fact, that I was surprised anyone had bothered to number it!

Until, that is, I paddled closer and could see the sharp ridges of rock radiating out in all directions, covered by very shallow water.

Digital image  This island must be a serious hazard for boats requiring water deeper than the few inches necessary for my inflatable kayak! The rocky ridges radiating out from the island in all directions were beautiful beneath the clear Keowee water. I took a few photos, but none of them turned out. You’ll have to go look for yourself!

North of Island # 22 the lake shoreline appears to be largely undeveloped. Lots of rocky cliffs, some quite beautiful. And here and there an isolated sandy beach inviting the tired paddler to land for a rest and some lunch.

After turning west, toward the Highway 21 bridge that crosses the lake, I accepted the invitation of one sandy beach and took out for lunch. Here the sandy portion of the beach was fairly narrow. And a long-dead tree trunk blocked much of the useable area. But it was isolated.

The bottom sloped gently out a good ways, and there was enough room to take out safely. No sharp rocks, unexpected drop-offs, or any of the glue-like red clay found in some areas.

I also found three thin flat rocks nearby to place under the feet of the little three-legged collapsible stool I carry in the bow of the kayak. Without them, the stool’s spindly legs sink slowly into the sand. What more could a weary paddler want!

Well, a hot cup of tea and lunch would be nice. So, for the very first time on the water, I broke out the celebrated Kelly Kettle. Celebrated, anyway, in this and dozens of other blogs.

Following strict primitive naturalist procedure, I balled up two sheets of bone-dry typing paper [white, 20 pound weight] for tinder, added numerous small twigs collected around the beach site, and assembled a promising-looking pile in the Kettle’s heavy aluminum fire pan. I then filled the kettle with water from the lake and placed it atop the fire pan.

By then I was hungry, and in desperate need of a good cup of tea. It was no time to trust ignition to my trusty all-weather fire starter kit, or to the even less reliable method of briskly rubbing sticks together. [It’s well known, by the way, that many cases of back-country starvation can be attributed to over-confidence in the ability of briskly rubbed sticks to start cooking fires. It simply doesn’t work. And it exhausts the starving camper!]

So, after looking right and left and seeing no one within camera shot, I ignited the paper with a small butane lighter I’d hidden in the folds of the Kelly Kettle bag.

The typing paper balls caught immediately, igniting the twigs, and sending a satisfying plume of whitish smoke up the Kettle chimney. In less than a minute I had a brightly-burning fire in the Kettle’s fire pot. So I returned the small butane lighter to its hiding place in the Kelly Kettle bag.

Before the whole thing died out, I dropped a few larger-sized twigs down the chimney of the kettle. Adding larger twigs and chips of bark as confidence bloomed. In less than three minutes the water was boiling vigorously. This Kelly Kettle really does work.

Digital image  I’d brought along one package of instant ramen. One of the five basic food groups. And just the right size for the Kettle’s cooking dish. I broke the pieces up, added the seasoning, and poured boiling water over the ramen.

This, as any primitive naturalist knows, isn’t the proper way to cook gourmet instant ramen. But given the environment, and lack of an audience, it was fine. The rest of the boiling water went for a nice cup of hot, freshly-brewed tea. And lunch was ready.

The ramen, shrimp flavored, was just right. I’d brought along a set of wooden wari-bashi chipsticks especially for it. Ramen, plus a banana, and two of those over-priced “health bars” that primitive naturalists are required to eat, made a great lunch. The whole ceremony, including the rest, took less than 45 minutes.

From the lunch put-in, I paddled about a half-mile northwest toward the Highway 21 bridge that crosses Lake Keowee. This really is a beautiful lake.

Digital image  But the sun by then was quite hot. So I headed from the bridge directly back to the Fall Creek Landing. Power boat traffic had picked up, and there was little time to take photos, or even rest. Ignoring the shoreline, the straight route back was only 1.2 miles, according to the GPS.

At the ramp, I took out normally with no mishap, reassembled the two-wheeled cart, and walked up to a shaded area in the parking lot to deflate the boat and store it once again in the back seat of the car.

The whole paddle was only 4.42 miles. Which, according to the GPS, took just over 2.3 hours, including a stop for lunch. Another great day on Lake Keowee.