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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Kayaking on Vaseux Lake

Vaseux Lake is a freshwater lake located along the course of the Okanagan River in the Okanagan Valley.  It is a designated Migratory Bird Sanctuary.  The lake was likely named by French Canadian fur traders.  The name "vaseux" is French, meaning muddy or murky, which strikes us as curious, because the lake water through which we paddled was very clear, although the bottom is silty.

Vaseux Lake lies directly to the south of Skaha Lake, where our RV was camped in Penticton.  We wanted to get out on the water on Tuesday, June 20, 2017, because friends we met at Dave and Leslie's barbeque recommended it to us.

We weren't disappointed!  From a narrow public right of way to the shore, we put into the water and started paddling north from the southern shore.  This was our first view:

Looking the other direction, south, the Okanagan River, which forms Vaseux Lake, flows out of it to the south toward a huge cliff of basalt, with an estuary and two small bays along it:

We decided to paddle south first, checking out the estuaries and bays.  No sooner did we get around the point and into the current of the Okanagan River than we spotted this family of geese who - having already spotted us - were swimming away from us out of caution:

This is a wildlife sanctuary, and we found plenty of wildlife.  In the first bay we entered, we spotted this family of turtles.  Junior is the tiny one on the right.  We're not sure, but we'd guess the middle turtle is mama, because she is watching Junior.  As David was snapping this photo, she was warning Junior to get in the water.  Junior obeyed, and was in the water in an instant.

The water in the bays was very still, which gave us some beautiful reflections:

Here, Kathy is reflecting on the ripples David's paddle made as he turned to take her photo:

It is late spring or early summer, and there are still irises and honeysuckle in abundance on the banks of the lake:

What have we here?  Three turtles are sunning themselves on the bank.  The one with his head up was startled by David's movement.  Immediately after this photo, he splashed out into and under the water, and high-tailed it to the right, hoping to get away from the huge lake monster bearing down on him.  Unfortunately, he chose to swim the same direction David's kayak was drifting.  About 10 feet along, he surfaced, poked his little head above the water, and slowly looked around.  To his great dismay, as he turned back to look in David's direction, he realized that he was in worse trouble than before!  He was about to be run over by the lake monster!  Down he went, not to be seen again by David.

Humans have left some signs of habitation here.  We saw several old, decayed birdhouses.  And on this large Ponderosa Pine, Kathy spotted a washtub, nailed to the tree for some inexplicable purpose:

We spotted two decaying beaver lodges, but, alas, no beavers:

Back we paddled into the main part of the lake, looking for a lunch spot.  We were very fortunate that, still, the sky was blue and the winds were still:

We found a nice lunch spot, but discovered to our dismay that it was infested with very aggressive, hungry mosquitoes.  Nope, not that spot.  We pushed back from the shore, rafted up, and ate our sandwiches on the open water.

After lunch, it was time to slowly paddle back to where we started.  We planned the lunch spot to allow us to drift with the current down toward a long, narrow island:

We circled the island, then ran with the current back to our original beach.  When we carried the kayaks to the car, we met a young fellow with a surfboard.  We couldn't imagine why he would be taking a surfboard out onto a lake.  We asked him if he planned to go paddleboarding with it.  He said, no, he had tried to convert his surfboard into a paddleboard but failed.  He was just going to lie on his favorite board and paddle lazily around the bays for a few hours.

Sounds like a good idea to us!

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