Autumn has arrived on Beaver Lake. It’s a season of cool mornings, warm afternoons and light wind. Of the four seasons, I do believe fall is my favorite. Of course when a person passes sixty birthdays, he learns to appreciate each season for what it offers. But in autumn everything takes on a certain crispness. Skies are bluer, clouds are whiter, and the air is fresher.
Sharon and I were able to visit Beaver twice this month. Both times were short Sunday afternoon paddles. Both trips started from Doc Roufa landing just upstream from the Highway 412 bridge. We start at this landing frequently because it’s only a 10-minute drive from our house in Springdale.
Sunday afternoon, October 13th was mild. The temperature was in the upper 60’s. There was a fair breeze out of the south. We slid our kayak in at Doc Roufa. As is our custom, we headed upwind. Our theory being that it is easier to travel with the wind on our return when we were tired. So we paddled toward Blue Spring and Cedar Bluff.
We paddled a few hundred yards along the east shoreline. There was a low bluff and a large house. Past the house was a vacant shoreline. The shoreline was steep and rugged. As we paddled along, a dog came down the hill to the lake. He never got close enough to identify, but he at least had some Lab in him as he nonchalantly waded in and commenced swimming. His destination was the other side of the lake. It is roughly an eighth of a mile across the lake at this point. We were concerned that an approaching bass boat might hit him. But as it turned out, this dog was no novice. We observed closely as he held up to dog paddle in place until the boat cleared on by, then he powered on. Several minutes later he climbed out on the far shore and trotted up to his home.
The most notable thing about fall on Beaver is the lack of noise. Yes, there is an occasional fishing boat, but those guys tend to get on by. The jet skis and water skiers have already been driven in by the cool water. By and large, the birds are not singing in the fall as they do in the spring and summer. It is just refreshing silence. We paddled on past the bridge over Brush Creek on Blue Spring Road toward Cedar Bluff.
Cedar Bluff is one of my favorites on Beaver. Not because of the bluff itself — it’s just a nondescript rock bank — but it always has wild flowers. The bluff faces the west so it gets the brutal afternoon sun during the summer.
The rest of the year is a pleasant warm micro climate. The flowers apparently like it.
Autumn flowers seem to me to differ from spring flowers. During autumn, flowers aren’t as bright. They make up for it by blooming by the thousands. Every spot on Cedar Bluff that had any soil at all was sporting an aster. Each aster was covered with dozens of violet blooms. It was a kind of pastel violet, not too bright. Intermixed in the asters were the remnants of the goldenrod, its yellow flower starting to fade. Goldenrod is also in the aster family by the way. If you look really closely at the flowers, you can see the typical aster arrangement of petals. When there was a spot left, there was a white aster-like flower.
At the end of Cedar Bluff we turned around and headed for the car. With the breeze we were back in 30 minutes.
Sunday afternoon, October 20, was an anomaly for this time of year. It was cool and windy. Beaver was just shy of white capping. We put our kayaks in at Doc Roufa again. This time we broke the rule and headed downwind. I thought the bluffs north of Highway 412 might shield us, but I was wrong. After 15 minutes or so, we turned around, not wanting to do a major upwind paddle at the end of the day. It looked like the north facing bluffs at the entrance to the Brush Creek arm might provide shelter.
It was surprising how well the kayaks handled the wind. It as was slow but if you stayed after it you could make steady progress without too much effort. After 45 minutes we reached the mouth of Brush Creek and slipped under the bridge on Blue Springs Road and out of the wind. It was a relief.
While we paddled around in Brush Creek, our first eagle of the year soared overhead. It was riding the wind, heading northwest. Then a pair of vultures flew overhead. They came close enough that I could hear the wind in their feathers. Soon after that, we headed back.
The wind was still blowing as we reached the White River Arm. A 45-minute paddle out took about 20 minutes on the return trip. A nice young man, of about 10 years, offered to help Sharon with her kayak. We loaded the boats, thanked the boy and headed home.