Kayaking Cleary Lake

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I'm slowly exhausting all of the Three Rivers Park District's lakes. This time I drove half an hour south to Cleary Lake.

Click image to uncrop and embiggen.

Initially, I had planned on boating in Normandale Lake, because it was relatively close and it looked like it might have a couple interesting features. When I got there I discovered the lake was pretty much completely covered in vegetation, which is no fun to paddle through. Maybe if I had tried it a couple weeks earlier it would been fine, but alas, I wasn't going to put my boat in that mess. So I went back to my Jeep, consulted the internet and decided to drive a bit further south to Cleary Lake Regional Park.

After I arrived I headed to the boat launch. Before I got there I found an unmarked canoe launch, which is tons better because I don't have to compete for space with motorboats. I parked and chatted up an old guy who was just finishing packing up his kayak. He gave me a bunch of good tips, about both this lake and another.

Most of the lake was in good shape, but the more interesting areas tended to have significant amounts of submerged vegetation. The image is of a small bay towards the west edge of the lake. This floating vegetation provided no difficulty. Elsewhere in the lake I very nearly got stuck when I accidentally blundered into a huge mass of floating, matting algae. The more I forced my way through it, the more strands adhered to one another and slowed my passage. Every dip of the paddle into the mess caused ten pounds of the sludge to adhere to the blades. After I got clear of that one, I dutifully avoided all the remaining hazards.

I found two channels to explore. The first was nice and ended in the aforementioned bay. The second probably would have been more interesting if it hadn't been blocked by a fallen tree. I also paddled my way around "Cleary Island". The island is located near the north shore, and I wasn't even sure it was an island when I noticed it. The bit of water separating it from the shore was fairly inundated with vegetation, but I persevered and was rewarded with the knowledge that it wasn't a peninsula.

I expect the vegetation to get worse over the summer. In the future, this might be a lake best visited early in the season.

Approximate total distance kayaked: 5 kilometers.

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