Thursday September 17, 2015
A Paddler’s Guide to the Champlain Valley takes readers on an exploration of the rich and diverse watershed that connects Vermont, New York, and Quebec. Co-authors Catherine Frank and Margaret Holden have created a well-rounded primer and field guide for kayakers and canoeists with 42 guided paddling adventures. The book includes color photographs, maps, and information on the history of the region, its ecology, and environmental issues, as well as covering the seven basins of the Champlain Valley - the Missisquoi/Pike, Lamoille, Winooski, Otter/Lewis, Saranac/Chazy, Boquet/Ausable, and Poultney-Mettawee South Lake.
This is Frank and Holden’s second paddler’s guide. In their regional bestseller, A Kayaker’s Guide to Lake Champlain, now in its third printing, they offered detailed paddling tours circumnavigating America’s “other great lake.” The two authors are committed to promoting a heightened awareness of the Lake Champlain region, its strengths, and its vulnerabilities.
Describing why they wrote the second guide, Frank explains, “We were curious about all those rivers, creeks, and wetlands we passed while paddling the lake and wanted to go back and explore them. Also, when we gave presentations, many people asked us if there were other less wind and wave challenging places that they could paddle.”
Frank, a 30-year resident of South Burlington, is a former, long-time instructor at the Community College of Vermont and currently is an independent website designer. Her writing partnership with Holden began when they met in the Champlain Islands at Keeler’s Bay Variety store early one summer day. Frank recalls, “Margy asked me what I was doing this summer. I replied that I was going to try to paddle around Grand Isle (the island). She said, ‘Can I come?’ By the time we finished, we were hooked.”
Noting that the weather, water level, and season makes any paddling route different each time one is on the water, Frank says two of her favorite places to paddle are East Creek and the Winooski River. East Creek, which is right across the lake from Ticonderoga, New York, on the Vermont side between the towns Shoreham and Orwell, because of the “spectacular scenery; a beautiful wetland filled with wildlife and always one more bend to go around.” According to Frank, the Winooski River from the Dam to the mouth, because, “Once you are on the water it is hard to imagine you are in the most developed part of Vermont. There is so much human and geologic history to be contemplated while drifting downstream.”
Frank and Holden’s paddler’s guide also includes what may be some surprising kayaking spots including Scomotion Creek, a stream which also goes by the name Dead Creek. Its entrance is from Plattsburgh Bay, just north of the city. Frank describes the area, “There is a narrow channel with a few houses on one side and a burned out motel on the other but once past the Route 9 and I-87 bridges, the channel opens up into a wide wetland that can go on for miles depending on the water level.” She adds, “We were stopped by a beaver dam.”
Frank kayaks daily in the summer although she notes her favorite time of year for kayaking is September and early October, weather permitting. “There is little boat traffic on the lake, the color is spectacular, and there are lots of migrating birds to see, “says Frank, adding, “Of course May, June, July and August are good too!”