My wife and I took our Hobie kayaks out on Lake Burton recently, putting in at a shady little cove at Moccasin Creek State Park near Clarkesville, Georgia. Lake Burton is considered one of the highest demand lakes in the country for real estate, and on its shores are fabulous homes owned by celebrities, athletes, and wealthy entrepreneurs. Some of the two-storey boat houses are grander than most middle class homes in America. The 2800-acre lake is nestled in the mountains of northeast Georgia, about 100 miles northeast of Atlanta. It is one of several Georgia Power Company lakes created by a series of dams on the Tallulah River.
I have bragged on Georgia’s state park system several times, and Moccasin Creek is one of the reasons. In addition to providing access to a beautiful mountain lake, the park is a perfect setting for camping, and the campground is one of the best I’ve seen in the state. It has a large pavilion, a big playground, a general store, a fishing dock, a boat ramp, and several boat slips. Activities at the park include picnicking, fishing, canoeing, hiking, and geocaching. There are good restaurants close by, and it’s a short drive from destinations like Helen, Georgia too.
We got out on the lake a little after 9:00 on a Saturday morning and stayed out for about 90 minutes. One of the most enjoyable aspects of kayaking on a lake like Burton is the leisurely pace and close proximity to the shoreline afforded by these boats. You get to see so much more detail than you would on a motor boat or jet ski. Some of the houses we saw just in the small portion of the lake we traveled were incredible. Of course, we also appreciate the exercise we get from peddling the Hobies. We plan to explore more lakes in north Georgia on the kayaks, and there are quite a few from which to choose.
My wife and I have fairly stressful jobs, hers much more than mine. I have mentioned before how much we like to be outdoors when we can, and we look for such opportunities and plan for them when we take vacation trips. We also enjoy kayaking, and we are fortunate enough to have two Hobie kayaks, which are equipped with peddles so we can use our legs to propel them instead of just paddling. Our previous home was on a rather large lake, so kayaking was as simple as pulling the boat out of the garage and going across the yard to the water’s edge and taking off. Now, we don’t get out as much and have to plan for the water outings, but we live in an area with plenty of small lakes close by to explore, and a few very large ones not too far away. During the warm months of the year, we load the kayaks on our pickup truck and head out to one of the nearby lakes, often after we get off work, just for a couple of hours.
Being out on the water gives us a chance to slow down, talk, laugh, recall the wonderful times we’ve had together, and make plans for the future. Some of the places we go are fairly secluded, although there are usually a few people around either fishing or swimming. She and I typically stay out for about an hour. We enjoy being together, and while we like to be with family and friends, we also cherish the times we spend with just each other. We work well together; as we often say, “We’re a good team.” Beyond the recreation and exercise that this activity provides, I think for both of us it offers an opportunity to reflect on how precious time is, how beautiful the world is, how grateful we are for each other, and how lucky we are to be alive.
My younger son and I went out on the Hobie kayaks for the first time this season. We explored a lake in northeast Georgia that we’ve never visited before: Yonah Lake. We accessed the lake at Georgia Power Company’s campground, Tugaloo Park. The lake is more like a very wide river winding its way between the hills near Tallulah Gorge. The mountain laurel around the shoreline is still in bloom and quite beautiful. There is at least one brook that feeds into the lake in a great little shady cove that we could reach with our yaks. We also saw a guy skiing on a device that looked like a ski on top of an underwater blade. He was obviously training, performing some pretty impressive flips on the wakes. We will definitely come back to this spot again, perhaps to fish.
When I tell people that my wife and I like to take our kayaks out and do a little peddling, they usually want to correct me by saying, “You mean paddling, right?” Actually, with our kayaks we can do both. We discovered about three years ago the Hobie line of kayaks equipped with foot-driven flippers called the Mirage Drive. These kayaks are larger and heavier than the standard sit-on-top crafts, and they are definitely pricier. However, if you enjoy getting out on large water — deep rivers and canals, lakes, and even the ocean — then peddling has such an advantage over paddling, especially for speed, distance, and longevity. You can still use a paddle to propel the kayak if you prefer, and at times you need to, such as in tight spots and shallow water or for docking. If you’re really athletic or feel the need for a total-body workout, you can do both. But, in open water using just the Mirage hyper-drive paddles, the Hobie will cruise at about 5 mph with little more effort that riding a bicycle. In a three-hour excursion you can cover quite a bit of water. The length and width of the Hobie kayaks make them more stable than standard models, so you can stay dry during most if not all of your trip, especially if you enter and exit the craft from a dock ladder. The only major disadvantage is transporting the Hobies. They can be strapped to the top of a car, but getting them up there is almost impossible without two people or a very complicated lift system. We use a pickup truck with a bed extender — works like a charm. I have seen some of the most beautiful sunrises and mystical horizons while riding my kayak. I’m always looking forward to the next trip.