Looking Glass River Jan 19, 2013

Rodney and I decided to paddle down the Looking Glass River today. He has paddled here before, but it was my first time on this river. Since there was only the two of us paddling today and the river was fairly close to home, we decided to get an earlier start so we could be on the water by 10:00.

It was already 40 degrees as I arrived at the takeout spot in Portland. There was a trace of snow on the ground, although even that was gone by the time we finished. That was still more than we have at home. The weatherman had predicted snow on three days in the past week, but as usual it amounted to nothing on the ground. We have had less than 10" of snow this winter, about 30" below normal.

I was halfway to Portland when I realized I didn't bring a camera, and I had left my cell phone at work, so I wasn't able to get any pictures on the trip. It as a mistake I soon came to regret.

We saw far more wildlife on this trip than on any other paddle I have been on. We must have seen close to a hundred geese and ducks. They must have known this was going to be a mild winter, so they decided not to migrate south. It seemed there were blue heron around every bend, and the ever present kingfishers screeched at us most of the way down the river. I very rarely see deer on any of the paddles I have been on, but today we saw at least 75, including several buck that still had their antlers. We would scare up three to ten at a time. They must have been seeking shelter in the lowlands near the river in advance of a coming storm. But what I really missed getting a picture of was the large bald eagle that took off directly over us. He flew about a hundred yards downstream and landed in a tree directly above the river. He seemed to pose for us for several minutes, probably mocking us for not having a camera, then took off again and flew directly over us.

The river itself had a variety of conditions. The wind was fairly strong much of the way. Ice lined the banks most of the way down river, but the rest of the water was clear and open. There were a lot of houses along the river in some areas, but also plenty of farm land and woods. There were quite a few downed trees that made for some difficulty, and we got hung up going over several of them. There was one portage required where the downed tree spanned the entire river and we had no way around it. The ice along the banks made getting out a little more tricky, but it made the kayaks slide easily so we wouldn't have to carry them.

The current also varied greatly, from wide open, slow moving water to lively current with short stretches of riffles. Large rocks also were scattered throughout the river that kept things interesting as we would not be able to see many of them until we were about to hit them. We floated over several small rock dams that spanned the river. Except for plunging my arm in the water to keep myself from tipping over trying a seal launch, we did manage to stay dry today.

It was about a four and a half hour trip, a little longer than usual. There are no good access points on the river between our put-in and take-out points so we couldn't shorten the trip at all. Rodney is a strong paddler, and is used to longer trips like this, even though he is ten years older than I am. He paddled over 700 miles last year, even with missing 2 months in the summer with health issues. It was a little more difficult for me since I usually go on trips of about 10 to 13 miles. The extra gear required for winter paddling also makes it more strenuous, and I was a bit tired and sore afterward.

Today's paddle: 16 miles. Year to date: 32.1 miles. We will need to come back to do this river again in the summer.

View Looking Glass River paddle in a larger map

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