Codorus State Park, PA, has, at its center, a sprawling lake of remarkably clear water.
You can drift over healthy beds of SAV (submerged aquatic vegetation) and fish, staring down into mysterious depths (it’s all rocks and cold water past about 15 feet, I’ve scuba dived in similar lakes). A piece of PVC pipe and some clear plexi can make you an underwater viewer (like a telescope that doesn’t actually make things bigger, just breaks the surface glare and glitter)…
Meanwhile, back on the surface, there’s lots of wildlife to see, some obvious, like the ospreys on their nest in late spring and summer, the swallows nesting in mud baskets under the bridge, the great blue herons wading along the edges…
Some things are more subtle, the American coot nearly hidden in the bushes and grasses along the edge, the mayfly, caddisfly and dragonfly nymphs under rocks in the shallows…
and a random bug who landed on one of our loaded kayaks.
The lake itself is a fantastic landscape of light and color, sun and shadow. It’s always good to share it with friends.
Especially in the heat we wear either diveskins or surfer shirts; they provide sunscreen that doesn’t wash off, and when wet, cool you off. Hats are useful, bilge pumps (like a bike pump) or other bailing device (a small bucket will do) and a sponge (to bail the bits the pump misses) are a necessity. Food, water, extra paddle, whistle, fins (on your feet, so you can swim up onto the boat) or a strap (used like a stirrup) to help you get back on your boat, all useful.
Always wear your PFD (that’s a lifejacket to you landlubbers). You don’t swim as well as you think you do.
Some photos here by Dave Tristan, Longship Company Captain and longtime honorary big brother. All the paddlers, the bug, and one of the ospreys are his. He wields a camera for a local TV station. I just wield cameras for fun.
Here’s how to make an underwater viewer… (this guy was finding random things at the bottom of his local stream, some not so pretty…)