Colorado Spingtime Kayaking – Brush Hollow and Eleven Mile

Last weekend I went kayaking/fishing in Brush Hollow Reservoir near Penrose, Colorado, and yesterday, I went to Eleven Mile Reservoir near Lake George, Colorado.

I prefer to use my CLC Mill Creek 13 for fishing and river trips, but when I’m just out to paddle I use the sleeker/faster CLC Chesapeake 17LT. I built both of these boats myself (see previous posts).

For both trips I followed the popular wisdom of, “When heading out in small boats, dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature”. The water in Brush Hollow was cool so, I wore mostly neoprene, however the water at Eleven Mile was quite cold so I wore neoprene gloves, sea hood, top, pants, and boots and then added a dry top and dry pants over that. I was warm.

Dressed for cold water at Eleven Mile Reservoir

Dressed for cold water at Eleven Mile Reservoir

Brush Hollow is a State Wildlife Area and is pretty small. The water  level is pretty high this year with roads I’ve previously used being under water.

Mill Creek 13 at Brush Hollow with high water

Mill Creek 13 at Brush Hollow with high water

The views of the Wet Mountains to the south are nice.

Looking south to the Wet Mountains from Brush Hollow

Looking south to the Wet Mountains from Brush Hollow

The fishing was okay. I caught a few Rainbows, while my friend Jeff was fishing for Walleyes. He didn’t catch any.

Jeff, fihing in his MC13 at Brush Hollow

Jeff, fishing in his MC13 at Brush Hollow

When returning to shore I stopped for a few minutes just sitting in the boat. Then I noticed something moving on the bank. It was a nice-sized bull snake. It looks similar to a rattle snake, but note the pointy tail. No rattler. These things aren’t too aggressive, so once it moved away from the shore I got out of my kayak and followed it for a bit, snapping a few pictures.

A good-sized Bull Snake at Brush Hollow

A good-sized Bull Snake at Brush Hollow

Over at Eleven Mile the winds were light, and the sun was shining when I headed out. You can see my route for the day in the capture from my GPS Map 62S (Saturday’s trek is the dashed line).

My route at Eleven Mile, roughly 6 miles

My route at Eleven Mile, roughly 6 miles (the dashed line)

By mid-afternoon the wind kicked up when I was still to the east of Deer Island. I made my way to a large rocky area, close to the island, to get out of the wind and rest. By now there were white-caps everywhere and I remembered why I bring the GoPro. The wind was strong enough that if I didn’t grip the paddle firmly the wind would take it out of my hands or I’d get turned sideways to the waves just trying to get the camera out.

Deer Island in the distance

Deer Island in the distance before it got windy

I left the shelter of Deer Island to make my way back to the parking area near Coyote Ridge. As I came out into the wind and waves, I looked over at Deer Island, now 100 yards away, and then over to the East Bay shore line and then back at the waves and swells and thought, “Oh, crap! This is a LOT worse than I thought. Better start planning for what you’re going to do when you end up in the water.”  The wind was fairly brisk at a constant 10 mph (according to my Kestrel 4000) and gusting to 15 mph or more, but when combined with the waves/swells it was quite a lot of work to keep the boat heading into the waves. The bow dipped below or sliced into the water a lot. This was the roughest water I’ve paddled to date.

The going was slow and I was getting tired, so I made my way into a little cove in the Backcountry camping area and rested again. To my surprise there were no campers. I stayed there some years ago when my kids were young and it was always a nice place to camp. It’s a walk-in or boat-in only camp area.

This small cove made for a good resting place in the Backcountry camp area

This small cove made for a good resting place in the Backcountry camp area

The last leg of the return trip was strenuous as well, as I needed to overshoot my destination so I could tack back to a good landing and not paddle parallel to the waves.

Rough water at Eleven Mile as viewed from the Backcountry camp area

Rough water at Eleven Mile as viewed from the Backcountry camp area

From what I could tell there were no other boats on the lake when I landed. By the time I was done loading the kayak back onto the truck the sun was coming back out and the wind was dying down a bit.

Overall, I enjoyed the trip (which you can always say after you make it back safely), though I would prefer to find someone with a sea kayak who also likes to paddle this stuff, just in case I ever run into trouble.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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