"We should start early if you can. If we're the first into the swamp, we'll see more wildlife and we won't probably see anyone until we head back out."
We're on the water, setting out into the Great Swamp by half past eight. Not an especially early start, but maybe early enough. It's clear, still in the morning cool, and it's quiet. I met H through an art auction. His bid won him one of my paddles and a canoe trip. The paddle has a map of the Great Swamp on it, so a trip to the Great Swamp made perfect sense. I clean up his paddling technique as we start, but he pretty much knows enough already.
We meet a guy coming out when we get almost a mile in. He has turned around at the first beaver dam, which is good for us because it is just a few hundred yards ahead and there won't be anyone above that.
We talk about this and that, the same kind of stuff that pours from peoples mouths when they meet over a canoe. It's all good. It is fortunate for me that a good guy won the bid.
The water is down a bit from my early spring trips. It takes a small amount of effort to get over beaver dams, nothing too tough until we get to a big forked tree that has come down at the end of the forest section. I ask H if he wants to go on and he does. Good egg. We clamber out, slide the canoe between the two trunks and into the water on the opposite side, and then the two of us follow. It was a grunt, but it was a brief grunt.
We paddle the full section up to Patterson where we meet, by chance, R, who is a key dude with the volunteer group that helps to protect the swamp...and we have a good chat.
Then we head back out, the day warming but the wind picking up enough to keep it cool. The frogs sing a bit more. We add an osprey sighting to the mink, muskrat and dozen or so great blue herons and dozens of red wing blackbirds and the turtles and the pair of flickers and the two white tailed deer and the mallards and Canada geese that didn't get counted and some others that I forgot.
It was a fine day... 13 miles.