Howland Island
April 30, 2017

We experienced another successful spring paddle. Yay! It was touch and go for some club members, because it was a bit chilly and there were tales of a strong current. Two canoeists (possibly father and son) arrived at the launch wet and cold. They had tipped in the current and lost two $400 paddles. The elder was shivering in his wetsuit. I suspect they warmed up in their Mercedes and had an adventure to tell. It did convince one kayaker to head back home, and two more decided they did not have enough warm layers. It was 46 degrees at launch time, a much warmer 58 degrees at the bridge, and an absolutely pleasant and sunny 62 degrees at paddle’s end.

Surprisingly, we did not experience any current on our route. Those canoeist had paddled in the opposite direction towards Cross Lake. Bob and Hugh paddled approx. 4 miles that way as well, prior to joining us. Bob and Hugh did say there were some speedier areas where the GPS showed increased speed, but assured us that it was avoidable. I am glad we listened to their rendition. Thanks, Amy, for the temperature updates you recorded, too.

There were some wildlife sightings. A couple of beaver splashed into the water near some of us. A deer ran across the road in front of me while paddling the bridge road. I also chased an eagle. He looked like a Golden Eagle, because he was large, brown, and had no white markings. But they are quite rare in New York, so it was more likely a juvenile bald eagle. He matched the tree stump he was sitting on, so he did not show up well in my photos. I was disappointed.

Because of a couple big snowstorms this winter and a few days of drenching rain, there was water EVERYWHERE. We paddled in and out among the trees which are normally on shore and surrounded by grass, not water. The pictures tell the story. I looked up some info about our 10.5 mile paddle route and flooding history. Howland Island is in the Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area. It is a 3500 acre island surrounded by the Seneca River and the Erie Canal. An article talked about the habitats which were easily explored with the many dirt roads on the island. I can attest to that, because I PADDLED one of those dirt roads. In fact the only way to get to the bridge where we took a break, was by boat. An Oct 2012 article talked about the bridge. It was built in 2012 with funding from an excise tax on firearms and ammunition. The elevated, 100-foot-long wooden bridge allows vehicles to cross the Seneca River to Howland Island year round (hummm). The bridge replaced a gravel fill bridge and a temporary culvert in the river, which often flooded in the spring and fall and prevented DEC staff and visitors from accessing the island.

Kayaking Howland Island

The bridge certainly looks a lot taller in this photo. It looked more like an isle to us on Sunday. You could have used a little bit of a limbo experience to paddle under it, but the men ducking under said it was a “piece of cake”.

The paddlers were Bob, Hugh, Amy, Eric, Frank, Kim, Joan (from Vernon), Sondra (from Ithaca) and Robert with his doggie poop bag handy. After packing up, six of us headed over the bridge to Pirates Landing. Music was blaring and folks were dancing when we walked in. It was quite lively until the singer belted out her closing song at 5:00 P.M. We all had something good to eat. Drafts were $2.50. Can’t beat that.

Images & Report by Kim Wojnowicz, Images by Amy Wood & Eric Zhaman

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