What do you do when it’s 70°F and sunny in Burlington, VT? Hollow out some pumpkins and paddle them in the lake, of course! This weekend was Burlington’s 4th annual Giant Pumpkin Regatta and Festival. In addition to the paddled pumpkins, pictured below, there were food vendors, music, dance performances, and even a dog costume contest.
I took advantage of some free time on Saturday after the Race Vermont Half Marathon and walked around the Shelburne Recreation Path and some of its’ surrounding trails. I followed the trails by the lake until I could follow no further (because of flooding.) Still, I enjoyed seeing the trillium dotting the forest floor and the trees blossoming. It’s about time. It’s been a rough, rainy spring.
In my yard, out in Essex, the flowers are still mostly waiting for a little more sunshine — well, except for the bleeding heart.
As an aside, I was on a business trip last week and got the chance to swing by Frank Lloyd Wright’s most popular building, Fallingwater. I enjoyed the walk around the grounds, but I would like to return when I have a little more time to take the full tour. I had to, of course, take my version of the most famous photo.
Lake Champlain has crested 103′ for the first time. We’re more than 3 feet above flood stage and about one foot over the previously highest recorded lake levels. And lake levels are expected to continue rising over the next day or so.
So, to continue with my flood-related photo activities, I went for a walk along the Burlington waterfront to see the sights. I saw a lot of people doing the same thing, nearly everyone with a camera in hand. The first thing I noticed was our buddy Champ. A few weeks ago, the water was high but I could walk next to him. Now, it looks like he’s been shifted by water that’s a foot or two higher. He’s now looking the other direction almost as if he can’t believe how high the water is either.
Continuing down the waterfront there are some signs that spring is making an appearance, but mostly there’s just a lot of water. Even in places where the lake hasn’t swallowed up the land, there are standing puddles of water. The breakwater is nowhere to be seen; the coast guard launch is non-existant; the pier just north of the waterfront is at lake level, if not a bit submerged.
If you haven’t been down to the lake to see it first-hand, you owe it to yourself to make it to the waterfront. The photographs in the Burlington Free Press are impressive and the aerial photos that Governor Shumiln posted to his blog are great, but there’s nothing like seeing it in person.
I was in Washington D.C. early this week and was supposed to travel home to Vermont during the thunderstorms Tuesday evening. The flight was delayed and eventually cancelled which meant I flew up over Lake Champlain at around noon on Wednesday. I was greeted with sights that I’ve only seen in photos from other flooded areas. Silt and debris flowed out of every river and stream into Lake Champlain creating plumes of muddy water. The photo below is of the mouth of the Winooski river with the silt streaming north past Colchester point and towards the mouth of Malletts Bay. Usually I travel with a decent camera, but this was a quick trip and all I had on me was my iPhone.
After dinner, Tawny and I decided to walk over to the farmer’s field near our house to see what the flooding had done. Earlier in the day Route 128 was closed right here, but the waters had receded enough to re-open by early evening. The flood waters had eroded large parts of the shoulder but the traveled lanes still looked structurally sound.
I can’t imagine this truck is going to move for a few days. Earlier this morning, Tawny informed me, there was a tractor in the middle of the field across the road. The tractor made its way out, but there were some serious ruts that indicated where it had been.
We walked around for a few more minutes as the sun set, enjoying the near 80 degree weather. It’s hard to believe that this is a farmer’s field. Usually photos like this are down at the lake shore looking over at the Adirondack mountains.
It’s been an exciting year for weather in Burlington. What’s mother nature got in store for us next?
Champ is taking advantage of the high water in the lake to make the rounds to businesses he can’t normally reach. Here he is outside the Vermont Lake Monsters front office down at the King St. ferry dock in Burlington.
He’s not very bashful right now and hung around for a few portraits while I was walking around the waterfront.
For those of you that haven’t made it down to Perkins Pier to see the flooding, here are a few shots of what it looks like now. According to NOAA, the lake is at 100.7′. I’ve heard reports that it is supposed to crest 101′ and with 80″ of snow remaining on Mt. Mansfield I have little doubt that we’ll get there.
Normally, these benches are a nice place to watch the sun set and be safe from waves. Today, you’d be hard pressed to get out there without hip waders.
For comparison, here’s what it looked like last March. The dark line on the water is the Burlington breakwater which is completely submerged right now.