Sunday, October 21, 2012

Canoeing Greenbo Lake State Park in Kentucky...with two little stinkpots...

Last weekend, Rick, Matty and I, my parents, and my brother, sister-in-law and niece headed southeast for an autumn adventure at Greenbo Lake State Park in Kentucky. Every year we take a fall trip together to relax, hike and create memories. I think we've been to just about every state park with a lodge in Kentucky now. Next year the kids go off to college (sniff), but we made a pact to keep our autumn adventures going. Wherever the kids end up, we are going to take one weekend every fall and go somewhere together. This year was another perfect trip. The weather was wonderful, the hiking fun, and lots of memories were added to the memory vault...

Matthew Riccetti and Maria -- Cool temps and autumn color made this canoeing adventure at Greenbo Lake State Park in Kentucky especially nice.
The kids canoeing on Greenbo Lake in Kentucky. The temps were crisp and the leaves were already showing gorgeous autumn color. Being in the woods with my family is my favorite thing! (Sprinkle in a few birds, and it's icing on the cake. A female Belted Kingfisher flew right in front of us and across the lake just minutes after I took this photo.)
Canoeing Greenbo Lake State Park in KY on an autumn afternoon.
(Rick's the perfect canoeing partner. He always picks up the slack when I pick up the camera instead of the paddle!) Hi Rick!
The trees are just starting to turn colors at Greenbo Lake State Park in Kentucky.
Greenbo Lake is amazingly clear! You can see fish at deep depths, and you can see all the way to the bottom at least 15-20 feet from the edge. Rick and I spent a lot of time just paddling around the edges looking at fish and seeing what was on the bottom. We even saw two Stinkpot turtles (Sternotherus Odoratus) swimming and walking around...
A Stinkpot or Common Musk turtle (Sternotherus odoratus) walking and swimming along the bottom of Greenbo Lake in eastern KY
This little Stinkpot Turtle looks like she's in shallow water, but she's in water at least 8 feet deep. This photo shows just how clear Greenbo Lake is. I'm assuming this is a female stinkpot because of the short tail; males have longer tails. She was about 5-6 inches long and was covered in algae. 
Stinkpot Turtles are new for me. I'd never seen one in the wild. Stinkpots don't do a lot of basking in the sun on logs, so you usually only see them when they are moving around in the water, and water usually isn't this clear, so we were lucky to see them. The stinkpot's head is very large and triangular-shaped with an upward pointed snout that sort of resembles a snapping turtle, but it's clearly not a snapper because two noticeable yellow stripes run from the snout to the neck. The carapace is different too because it's smooth instead of spiky like a snapping turtle's. The yellow stripes on the head reminded me a bit of map turtles also, but the carapaces were too different. I was puzzled, so I sent the photos to turtle expert, Paul Krusling, who knew immediately what they were...stinkpots!   

A Stinkpot turtle (Sternotherus odoratus) lumbering along near the bottom of crystal clear Greenbo Lake in eastern Kentucky.
Stinkpot turtles aren't fast swimmers. Their short little legs produce a swimming stride that could almost be described as "lumbering," but they do move along, and I was soon pleading, "don't swim away so fast, turtle. I can't ID you yet!!"
When we got home, I pulled out "Amphibians and Reptiles of Indiana," by Sherman Minton, and started reading about stinkpots, also called Common Musk turtles. Soon all the field marks started making sense. These turtles really are distinctive once you study them. A few more descriptive field marks made the ID obvious...an elongated carapace that is smooth and domed, webbing on the feet that goes all the way to the toenails, and weak swimming. They like slow-moving water with muddy bottoms, which definitely fits Greenbo. I also read Stinkpot turtles are nocturnal, so we were doubly lucky to spot them moving around on the lake's bottom in the afternoon! As the name implies, Stinkpots (or Common Musk) turtles get their nickname from their ability to secrete a stinky smelling defensive oil through their carapace when they are under duress.

Fragrant pines tower along the edges of Greenbo Lake in eastern KY. The scent is so sweet it causes you to linger and enjoy the pungent smell of autumn!
Tall pines border a good part of the lake, and when you canoe close to the shore, that fragrant pine scent sweeps over you and causes you to linger. 
Joni and Jerry (my parents) enjoy the scenery from a pontoon boat at Greenbo Lake. Piloted by my brother, they enjoyed the trip around the lake.
My parents, Joni and Jerry, taking a leisurely pontoon boat ride with Bill and Gail. 

A very short iPhone video of our autumn afternoon out on Greenbo Lake.


...another short iPhone video of canoeing on Greenbo Lake in Kentucky...this time, a short race.

If you live in Cincinnati or Mason, Greenbo Lake State Park is only about 2 hours and 45 minutes away and is a very easy drive. We enjoyed hiking on the deserted trails and basically had the lake to ourselves. We had a lot of fun, and the food in the lodge was good too (especially the cherry pie!).

19 comments:

Sue said...

What a wonderful family outing. Glad you got to "meet" a couple of stinky new friends! LOL!

Martha said...

Oh, it looks like a beautiful place, and the water is so clear. I will be sure to tell your mom I saw a picture of her when I see her at the library next! ♥ Happy fall!!!

Roy said...

Nice! We used to do a lot of this when I was a kid. Of course, I was a Boy Scout in a troop with a scoutmaster who believed that Scouting was all about hiking and camping. I can still paddle a canoe, though!

Montanagirl said...

Looks like a perfect day there for such a wonderful outing (With family). Ah, the memories. Those turtles are interesting!

Kathy A. Johnson said...

What a beautiful lake! This sounds like a perfectly wonderful family memory to treasure. Thank you for sharing it with us.

holdingmoments said...

That looks a stunning place to be with the family Kelly. A lot of fun.

TexWisGirl said...

and here i thought the 2 stinkpots were matty and his cousin. :)

Carol Mattingly said...

A perfect way to celebrate fall and family. Fantastic. Carol

Lois Evensen said...

What a gorgeous trip! Wonderful images. :)

Mary Ann Gieszelmann said...

Looks like great fun, Kelly. And what a great family tradition!
Beautiful scenery. Even though I live near the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which I love, I still have a tremendous appreciation of the lush, green world of the humid Midwest.

NCmountainwoman said...

What a great adventure! Lovely photographs of such a perfect day.

Kat Griffin said...

cool outing and great post Kelly. Where is this place? ho w far from Loveland?

grammie g said...

HI Kelly...What a fun time with family..great memories !
Beautiful water and people enjoying...I miss those times!
Grace

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

What a beautifil clear lake and it was great you were able to add some new turtles to your list.

All the best.
Guy

Gillian Olson said...

Looks like a wonderful place.

Tammie Lee said...

it was fun to hear your voice and laughter. Also fun to see your family having fun enjoying the beauty. family love and fun time is the best. thank you for sharing this with us, i am smiling.

Elaine said...

What a beautiful place for a family outing! Hard to see your kids go off to college, but it's the start of a new segment of your life, and you'll find it just as good as the one now. It's exciting to see kids grow up and become adults.

Chris said...

Euh Kelly who was paddling in front when you were doing the videos ;-) Hey they are great videos and we could really feel where you were on these! Well done, looks like you enjoyed yourselves!

Kelly said...

Thanks, everyone! What a perfect, perfect weekend. Greenbo is under 3 hours away from Cincy in northeast Kentucky, but it feels like a huge escape. There are so many miles of trails, you will never see another hiker. We didn't! The lake was really fun. If you love looking for turtles and fish, you'll love canoeing Greenbo's clear waters.