Paddling Horseshoe Lake

Trip Start Aug 19, 2012
Trip End Dec 30, 2013

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What I did
Horseshoe Lake
Suggs Mill Pond Game Land

Flag of United States  , North Carolina
Saturday, April 13, 2013

Last Saturday, we headed out east for a day of paddling on Horseshoe Lake in Suggs Mill Pond Game Land.  We haven't gotten a kayak yet, so we met up with Chris and Mel and borrowed one of their two-person inflatable kayaks.  Leaving from Raleigh, it took less than two hours to get to the lake.  Luckily, Chris knew the way, as the lake is not real easy to get to.  From I-95 near Fayetteville, we took exit 49 to NC-53/NC-210 east and took the split to stay on NC-53.  After about another 10 miles, we turned left on on Live Oak Methodist Church Road which eventually turned to gravel and then turned onto another gravel road into the game land.  This last road didn't have a name, as far as I could tell, but there was a sign indicating that this is Suggs Mill Pond Game Land.  We parked at a small parking area near a dock leading to the lake.  After inflating our kayaks and getting in the water, I realized that I hadn't applied sunscreen, but it was too late now.  So we paddled out a bit and turned left to head towards the southern part of the horseshoe.  This part of the lake is more shallow and murky with many cypress trees growing out of the water and bog mats with pitcher plants and other vegetation.  Although the lilly pads were not blooming yet, the pitcher plants were.  I had seen them before, but never flowering.  The plants have green umbrella-like flowers with five long petals hanging down.  The new pitchers haven't formed yet (so the plants won't accidentally "eat" pollinators), but we could see the older ones from last year.  We paddled deeper into the swampy area here and continued until we couldn't go any further, getting stuck in a couple spots.  Then we turned around and paddled back and over to the northern end of the horseshoe.  The lake is much more open and deeper here, but we did stop a few times to see some more pitcher plants along the edge of the water.  Continuing to the other end, it was more of an open water paddle here without the trees and shallow spots on the other side.  Although there were a few instances of running into a submerged tree.  And being in a tandem inflatable kayak, we weren't going too fast on the open water.  We stopped and ate a sandwich for lunch on our kayaks around this part of the lake and then paddled back.  John had gone further down and saw some more pitcher plants, but they were all dead, no blooms.  Since we were closer, we had a bit of a head start so we thought maybe we could beat John back.  But of course, John doesn't like to lose at anything, no matter what.  Whether climbing a mountain, paddling across a lake, or collecting sand dollars at the beach, John must be first always!  So not surprisingly, he caught up to us towards the end and beat everyone back to the launch site.  Not this time, I guess.  After getting out of the water, I realized I had gotten a bit of a sunburn on my arms.  Clearly sunscreen is an essential part of kayaking - not something I will forget next time!  After packing everything up, we headed back to Raleigh, stopping in Garner for dinner at Outback.
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