euryhaline paddler

exploring the shorelines of Delmarva via kayak


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Kingston Marsh

On August 28, the Y members and I headed out of Kingston Landing.  The landing is directly on the Choptank, but after a few hundred yards we turned off into a small creek to the right.  Check it out:

Calm waters provided great photo-ops!

The weather was perfect and the water was extremely still.  I love paddling this creek because you do not pass any developed shorelines.  We even paddled passed a piece of land that is owned and/or managed by the Nature Conservancy.  What makes the property unique is that there is only water access to it, a small dock, so you can only reach it by small boat.  The only drawback is that there are private residences that border it and I’ve seen them drive around the property in golf carts and minivans.  Rude if you ask me!

The creek winds back and forth a bunch of times so if you like exploring and wondering what’s around the next bend, this trail keeps you on your toes.

After we turned around and started heading back, the sky became filled with migrating birds.  Some of them swallows and some of them red-winged blackbirds.  There may have been some starlings too.  What amazed me was just the sheer number of them – thousands and thousands!  As we paddled along, huge clouds of birds started bursting out of the marsh grasses.  What fascinated me the most was the sound of all their wings beating at once – surprisingly loud and surprisingly peaceful at the same time.

Gorgeous evening. Notice the birds in the sky.


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Skipton Creek

Bald eagles galore!  On August 21, I took the Y to Skipton Landing.  I’ve been to this landing many times and we typically head down the main creek towards Wye Island.  This time however, the tide was up high enough that we could make it up a smaller creek that heads off to the north.  Check out our path:

 

Now, I’ve seen enough bald eagles in my life that seeing them now isn’t quite as exciting as it used to be.  However, this creek was filled with them!  I’ve never seen so many in such a short distance!  At times there were 4 or 5 sitting in one tree and one would fly over the creek every 10 or 15 minutes.  I do realize that we were probably seeing some of the same birds multiple times, but it was still pretty exciting.  And if it wasn’t a bald eagle, it was an extremely chatty great blue heron.  The herons in this creek were noticeably louder and squawked more frequently than normal.


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Hillsboro Landing on the Tuckahoe River

I brought the YMCA’s kayak club to Hillsboro Landing on August 14.  We launched in the town of Hillsboro and paddled upstream into Tuckahoe State Park.  I’ve paddled this stretch of the river several times, but it is still one of my favorite spots in the area because the scenery is drastically different from most of the other landings in the county.  As you head upstream, the river gets more and more narrow, with more and more fallen trees to maneuver around.  I believe the park system maintains the water trail because there are various trees that have been cut through and spray painted bright orange to help you navigate and stay on course.

Here’s the path we took:

 

I wonder if she said yes…

Navigating tight spots around downed trees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No one was brave enough to play on this old rope swing

 


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Taylor’s Island to Hooper’s Island

The weather was perfect for kayaking on Sunday, August 12 for a long paddle so I decided it was time to cover some serious mileage. Brian dropped me off at the public boat ramp in Taylor’s Island around 11:30 and he planned to meet me at the Smithville landing a few miles away.

Since my last solo trip I decided I needed more safety equipment so I purchased a paddle float, bilge pump, and a whistle. Brian bought me a marine VHF radio too.  Now that we both have radios, we can keep in contact, even when there’s no cell service. I felt like a pretty hard core paddler with all that stuff strapped to my kayak!

I started out by heading south. The wind and the tide were with me so I was able to paddle at a leisurely pace.  The first and only person I encountered on this whole trip was right after I went underneath the Taylor’s Island bridge.  This guy was spending his day trot-lining – looked like he had almost a bushel of crabs.  I think I creeped him out when I took this photo, probably thinking I was some stupid tourist, but I wasn’t quite in earshot to say hello.

For about 90% of this trip, I was surrounded by nothing but marsh and trees.  Not a person, boat, house, not even a power line in sight.  However, when I say nothing was in sight but marsh and trees, I mean it.  The wildlife sightings were at a minimum.  I saw a few terrapin heads pop up, 3 bald eagles, and the occasional great blue heron scaring the crap out of me with their obnoxious squawking.  The absence of wildlife was not what I expected, paddling in such remote habitat, and being in close proximity to the Taylor’s Island Wildlife Management Area and Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

I did see this bald eagle nest though – kinda cool.

About a half hour into my journey, my radio pipes up saying “Euryhaline, this is Banana Hammock, do you read me?”   Yes, Brian named his kayak the banana hammock.  So if you’re ever cruising around Delmarva, turn to channel 9, you might catch our stupid conversations.

Here is one of the sightings that I got most excited about – sea lavender.  This native plant commonly grows in marshes, but I think it is more commonly seen closer to the coast.  I hadn’t seen sea lavender since I worked at Delaware Seashore State Park back in 2009.

As I rounded one of the last bends before reaching the Smithville landing, and just over an hour of paddling alone, I spotted this guy!  No luck with the fishing yet so he paddled to the landing with me.  After eating a quick lunch I decided I was up for more so I took off again, still heading south.  Brian said he would meet me at the next bridge (MD-335).  It’s a damn good thing I have Google Earth on my phone or I would have never found that bridge.  The water trails through the marsh islands basically make up a giant maze and when you’re sitting low in a kayak, it is almost impossible to navigate unfamiliar territory.

Maybe 45 minutes later I spotted Brian standing next to the bridge, ready to pull me out.  Well, I wasn’t ready.  The tide and the wind were still perfect so he agreed to meet me at the first bridge going to Hooper’s Island.

Oh em gee.  I hate open water.  Seriously.  Even though the tide and the wind were all in my favor, I felt like I was going nowhere!  Not being close to the shoreline and easily seeing your progress, it can be mentally exhausting, leading to physically exhausting.  I had to count my strokes and force myself to do 24 strokes before I rested again.  This last 2 mile stretch (or thereabouts) was by far the worst part of today’s trip.  When I reached the bridge by Tyler’s Cover boat ramp, I felt like my arms were going to fall off.

Brian spent another half hour or so catching spot (to use at bait later) while I relaxed and admired the distance I covered – 13.42 miles in 3 hours and 51 minutes.  Check out my path:

And I finished the day with a well deserved strawberry shortcake ice cream bar!


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Trappe Landing

On Saturday, August 11, Brian and I went kayaking out of Trappe Landing.  On the way to the landing we drove through “downtown” Trappe which I had never seen before.  Cute little town, might be worth coming back to eat at one of the restaurants, but if you blink, you miss the entire town.

We spent almost 3 hours paddling aimlessly, Brian fishing most of the time, me bobbing around and relaxing.  We covered a total of 5.35 miles so in 3 hours, you can do the math and figure out how SLOW we were going.  As “La Trappe Creek” (all the docked boats had the “la”) started to open up to the Choptank, a strong wind began to push against us so we decided to turn around and slowly head back to the landing.  Unfortunately, a storm started to roll in from the south (thank goodness for smart phones) so we picked up the pace and made it to back to the landing just in time before the rain hit.  Not much thunder, just a downpour while we were loading the kayaks back on the car.

Here is the path we took…

And here is some of Brian’s catch…