Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cold Feet

I start early enough leading a tailwind out of the harbor in no such hurry so that I can take time to watch a little blue heron work on its morning meal.

The tide is not full out of Gulf Pond when I get to the rusty bridge and I have to fight the stiff current honestly, the water to low for me to reach up and grab the bridge beams and vault my way through.  Oddly enough, there is little forgiveness when I get into the pond, a headwind that feels stronger than I expected and the draining current make the length of the bay an  effort.  I watch for birds and memorize them without taking pause to set my paddle down until I reach the small pond just before the Indian River.

The water is low enough to make the portage through the chute, under the stone bridge, and into the river.  I remove my socks and put my shoes back on, roll my pants to the knee, and step out on the left taking the bow line and wading while pulling the canoe.  The water is very cold although not quite mountain stream cold.  I was raised in the north and it is well drummed into my head that cold is okay, numb is not.  I get on with it and hope that I can drift through the chute on the return with dryer feet.

The first half mile is in an exposed wetland.  The river is narrow, but the wind is present.  Once I pass under the next bridge, it is a forested stream.  I take my time moving quietly.  I flush several hooded mergansers at each bend, scaring them from some distance.  When the river begins to really narrow and the brush comes to the edges of the water, I spot 3 white-tail does well after they have seen me.  They head upstream, but crashing brush downstream signals a fourth.

I get to a log that I do not want to bother clambering over, because I know from my last trip that it will soon get too shallow for the canoe.  I return on the drift, being even quieter than on the way in.  Where I spotted the deer, I find that fourth.  It is a doe as well.  Two red-shouldered hawks come by, two kingfishers pass by as well.  The chute is too shallow to canoe through, so I wade it again and continue back to the harbor.  It takes the entire portage before my feet warm back up.

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