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Upper Priest Lake paddlers get cold reception

PADDLING — In case you think winter's over, check out this field report from a pair of canoeists who thought they'd take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and lack of snow last weekend to beat the boating crowd to Upper Priest Lake.

"OK, sooooo… We were really keen on canoeing into Upper Priest, but Old Man Winter is still in full control there," writes Mike Wootton, who posted a photo of Kristina Kripaitis posed along the ice-covered north end of the the main Priest Lake.

Kripaitis and Wootton had set out to paddle their gear and camp at the Upper on Saturday and Sunday. But they found main Priest Lake  completely frozen over at the Beaver Creek put-in.

"We were thinking run-off and wind would have been our challenge through The Thorofare, but finding ice really caught us by surprise," Kripaitis said.

"What a difference a couple miles on the lake can make," she added, noting that most of Priest Lake has been ice-free.

Not to be deterred….

"We drove back to Reeder Bay and launched there to paddle out to Kalispell Island," she said. "Had the entire Island to ourselves over the weekend so that was pretty awesome."

Kripaitis and Wootton, by the way, are experienced paddlers and that was a good thing as the couple launched their canoe into the open waters of Priest Lake. Even with their skills, they still wore dry suits, which would have been essential to survival in the cold water on the chance that they would capsize.

"We were sitting pretty low with the extra dry firewood we opted to haul over," Kripaitis said, noting that the wind picked up and whitecaps formed. "We were happy when we reached the shore!

"Our paddle back on Sunday afternoon was smooth as glass…just the sparkling rain droplets decorating the surface!"

Despite the blustery weather, "We had a great weekend and stayed dry and warm with the right gear!" she said. 

"A rainy day camping on Priest is better than a sunny day in town."

Priest Lake subdivision approved despite public objections

LAKES — Bonner County commissioners approved a 14-lot subdivision at the north end of Priest Lake on Wednesday despite a torrent of objections from neighboring landowners, their attorneys and two environmental groups, according the the Bonner County Daily Bee.

*The board’s votes followed a public hearing that spanned nearly four hours. More than 20 people testified, but only one person voiced support for the project.
 
Sandpiper Shores is located between Mosquito Bay and the channel leading to Upper Priest Lake.

Opponents of the expansion contend the project will displace a dwindling amount of critical wildlife habitat and harm the hydrology of a high-quality wetland.