Saturday, June 30, 2012

Whitehall State Park Paddle!

As the morning sun started to rise above the lake all I could hear was my dad reciting Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Song of Hiawatha": 
By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis
I'm not sure what it was about this lake that reminded me of that poem.

It was a beautiful day and my sister and I decided to try a different kayaking venue.  I'll admit that whenever we are kayaking I can't help but think of the Native Americans who might have once traveled by a dugout canoe along the same waterway.  Today, of course, was no different.  
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

We started around 7:30 a.m. and when we arrived at the Whitehall State Park entrance, we could see that we already had lots of company as the parking lot was somewhat filled.   To our surprise and delight, we were soon to find out what a gem we had stumbled upon.   The parking lot was deceiving as the Whitehall Reservoir was large enough to allow for all kinds of boaters. 

Following the perimeter provided us with the opportunity to take in the expanse of the lake.  This was a totally different experience for us as our usual kayaking route is the Charles River. All along the edge of the lake were trees of all shapes and sizes.
There the wrinkled old Nokomis
Nursed the little Hiawatha,
Rocked him in his linden cradle,
Bedded soft in moss and rushes.
Safely bound with reindeer sinews;
Stilled his fretful wail by saying,
"Hush! the Naked Bear will hear thee!"

The morning was beautiful and started rather smoothly as we were hugging the shoreline.  The coves were loaded with water lilies in full bloom.  Soon there were so many lilies we decided to venture towards the open water.

As we got towards the more open parts of the lake the paddle proved to be a little more challenging.  The water was calm in some areas while in others it was rather wavy.  As we headed back from the far end of the reservoir the wind decided to play a little tug of war with our boats.  Nothing serious, but it made us work just a little bit harder. 

Reaching the boat launch, we easily exited the kayaks (something that proves to be rather tricky along the banks of the Charles River.) The clean water and sure footing underneath gave us a new appreciation for this kind of outing. 

As we were stowing the kayaks away in the car a pleasant gentleman with his two pups stopped to talk to us.  He told us about a trail that goes all the way around the lake (about 6 miles or so!).  He mentioned how the path was clearly marked, and how much he and his dogs just love being out in the area.  He wished us a good day, and we were on our way home with the resolve that we would try other new places to kayak and for sure return to this jewel in Hopkinton, Mass.
Lulled him into slumber, singing,
"Ewa-yea! my little owlet!
Who is this, that lights the wigwam?
With his great eyes lights the wigwam?
Ewa-yea! my little owlet!" 

View Larger Map


Freshwater Aquatic Plants in Massachusetts - Use this guide to find many water plants seen in this area. 

Massachusetts State Parks:  A site by the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation showing areas for Non-Motorized boating

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Biography