Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Finally Paddling Again; Back to the Wakulla

It seems like it's been a long time since I have been out paddling. Our temperatures are cooling down and so it was time to hit the water again!

There were no cars in the parking areas for the public boat ramp or the boat rental place next to it. I had the river all to myself, which was wonderful.

As usual on this river, I saw no birds in the first hour (as opposed to the Wacissa, where most birds are spotted within the first hour of paddling). I decided to explore the backwater area near the upper bridge. The tide was coming in and so it was navigable.

The first bird I came to was this little blue heron.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Shortly after, I came to this egret perched high in a flowering thicket.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I decided to go deeper into this part of the river than I had before, winding back behind the docks and under their walkways.  Sometimes exploring these areas where few boats go can pay off. I came to these two river otters who were having a great time playing (until I showed up):

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Even though the sun was beaming overhead, dark gray clouds were rolling in from the south, so I decided to head back to the boat ramp.  I passed this ibis on my way out of the backwater channels, so of course took its picture

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

So there I am, paddling back home.  The sky was getting very dark. Then I heard this SSHHHHHH sound from ahead of me. This was interesting--it was raining fairly hard just downriver a few hundred yards from where I was (that was the sound I heard), but not at all in my immediate vicinity. But in about as much time as it took me to say (inwardly) "hm," raindrops started falling on my waterproof Tilley hat.  I was nearer to the east side of the river, and there was a dock nearby, so I ducked under there just in time (I'm not sure if technically these are called docks or decks. I'm going with dock here).  It started raining really hard. And then came thunder.  And then came lightning.

About an hour later, I had come to some conclusions about my dock shelter. To wit,
  1. It was quite possibly the smallest dock on the river. I was constantly having to adjust my position to counteract effects of current and wind. Not a lot of coverage. (Just across the river was a huge dock that would have made an ideal, roomy shelter.)
  2. It was quite possibly the poorest-built dock on the river. Not to complain--any dock in a storm and all that--but after nearly an hour, the gap between the amount of rain that was falling outside of my shelter and that which was coming through the large spaces between the boards was closing rapidly. Next time I will seek out a dock with furniture on it.
  3. It was quite possibly the lowest dock on the river. The tide continued to come in, and as the water was rising, my head was getting very close to the previously-mentioned boards.
Since I was there for so long and had little else to do (maybe I should keep a book in the deck bag), I took a picture of the view, just so I could show you.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

That was taken before I decided to reposition myself parallel with the dock rather than perpendicular to it. Hiding from the lightning. Also, later, I saw something moving in the middle of the river, which turned out to be an otter, apparently fishing. So I was not wholly without entertainment while I waited.

But then the rain let up enough to leave the little dock, and shortly after that it stopped altogether.  The river actually looked pretty magical then, with mist rising off it.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

As I continued to the boat ramp, I saw this heron in a tree. The lighting was such that I could only get a silhouette of it, but I like it.  "Heron After A Rainstorm."

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Despite the hour break in the middle, this was a good paddling day.  Not a lot of pictures but a nice day on the river. Hopefully this paddling trend will continue and I will get out again soon. I'm very happy that we have more tolerable temperatures now; less happy that we are in daily-thunderstorms mode.  

Stand by.

1 comment:

clairesgarden said...

magical river pictures with the rain and then the mist. I love the heron silhouette. you are so lucky to see otters in the wild, I still never have.