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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cataract Falls attempt.

This morning I went to paddle a place I was really looking forward to paddling when I built the kayak. Cagles Mill Lake about 25 miles SW of Indianapolis is a reservoir fed by a creek which has a nice 10ft tall 50ft wide waterfall called Cataract Falls a couple miles upstream of the lake.
I decided today would be a great day to put in at the lake and paddle up there, its around a 2 or 3 mile paddle one way.
As I drove down the hill to the boat ramp I got stopped in my tracks. The road dissappeared into the lake. There is supposed to be a 200 spot parking lot and a 200' wide boat ramp just in front of those trees on the left side of what is now the lakeshore. A truck and trailer was parked beside the road so I decided to just launch from here too. There was some grass/mud on the side of the road to launch from. The lake must be a good 15ft high. I have seen it wash up the parking lot but never left the road underwater that I had seen.

About 3/4 mile into my paddle I passed a small, single lane boat ramp and its one light post in the parking lot gives an idea of the height of the water.

The high water made finding the creek that feeds the lake difficult even with my GPS on my phone. I have motorcycled to this lake often but never actually been out on it so I just kept paddling east as far as I could see. I made one wrong turn into a dead end and then "corrected" further northeast into another flooded "inlet" I paddled another half mile and couldnt make out any channel, just trees and bushes as seen below. It became obvious I was actually paddling through a flood plain that leads to nowhere instead of up a creek. In total with 2 wrong turns I paddled about a mile out of the way. So back another mile to the actual creek.

Below is where I took the wrong turn. Which way would you have turned to find the creek at the end of the lake? I turned left also. Right is the actual creek. I paddled up it about a mile and I think I saw the road to the falls coming out the woods up ahead and it looked like the falls and the parking lot nearby was all under water. So I just turned around and will do this paddle again in the fall.

I only saw 3 boats in the 3 hours I was out. Turns out the other ramps are all flooded too and only way to launch a trailer boat is by using the road where the water meets it as a launch ramp and park on the roadside. I was also told by the fisherman in the boat that launched where I did that the boats that are kept in the water in a slip are only accessable by another boat, the walkway from shore to the slips is more than 10ft underwater. Those slips are in the very far distance in the pic below and just around the bend to the left. After about 5 miles of paddling and forgetting the sunblock I didnt want to go all the way down there.

I did paddle to the rocks on the right of the above pic, here they are close-up. Im no rock-oligist err, geologist, but I suspect this is good ol Indiana Limestone.

Here is another pic that shows the height of the water. Normally the arch in a bridge is not underwater. I passed a kayak fisherman as i approached this bridge heading back to my truck and he said that this spring the water was so high they closed this bridge and thus state highway 42 that goes across it. Now THAT's some high water!!!

Its odd that the other lake I was on last week with my Glen-L Zip is only about 25 miles north of this one and it was actually below normal levels. The reservoir closest to my house is right at normal level. Weird, anyway I will have to revisit this one when its back to normal level and get pics of the falls.

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