Sitting around the campfire after a day of exploring the western part of Charles Mill Lake, I thought about the traffic on nearby SR 603. Like a lot of rural state routes, traffic dies down at night. It was far enough away and masked by trees and the sound of water going through the dam that I could barely hear the occasional truck going by.
I thought about how many times — thousands — I had gone up and down that road to and from work. About 13, 14 years. Tires over the bridge now; I’m retired.
On the second day of my trip, my friends Kevin and Theresa joined me for a day paddle.
We spent several hours exploring the east side of the lake, from Charles Mill Dam north to the main campground. Part of the mission was to explore islands, looking for other potential campsites.
I’d always thought Harbor Island at the southern end of the lake looked promising. Like Mud Lake — mentioned in the previous post — it was not. It, too, is choked with multiflora rose and too close to civilization. There are several houses nearby.
From previous experience, I knew Applegate Island was suitable for camping. Kevin Theresa and I found Barb Island to be good also. It’s small, but isolated enough that I wouldn’t hesitate to camp there. Except during duck hunting season. Duck hunters have staked claims on most the islands and other spots along the shoreline, posting their names and phone numbers. It’s a good lake to stay off of during waterfowl season.
We were particularly impressed with Muskrat Bay. Isolated and shallow, it was teeming with wildlife including great blue heron and belted kingfishers. As we headed out of the bay, I told Theresa that the islands there had camping potential. Those words proved to be prophetic.
After we parted company, I headed north. I planned to paddle upriver on Black Fork of the Mohican River and, perhaps, camp on one of the islands.
However, it had rained a lot the previous week, leaving the islands muddy. I found a few suitable spots, but they were too close to SR 603, which follows the river pretty much from US 42 to SR 30.
So, I grabbed a six-pack of Molson XXX from Molly’s Cheese House and headed back downstream to the lake. (Another story for another day.) I paddled back to Muskrat Bay and found another perfect campsite on one of the islands.
Here are a few more photos from day two of the trip.
Click on the link below for a pdf map of the lake.
Next – Breakfast with friends in Muskrat Bay and dredging up memories.