July 27 Report from the Greenbelt

Hi Sannon, was great to meet you yesterday morning!

We really enjoyed our day yesterday. Didn’t get off the water until 4:00 yesterday afternoon. The first four miles were really great. Found a nice swimming area about two miles down and spent about 45 minutes floating down a swift current and doing it over again! Saw deer, hogs, painted buntings, indigo buntings, cardinals, kingfishers, red tail hawks, great blue herons, egrets, carp, gar….and heard some animals that we aren’t quite sure what they were. Was fun trying to maneuver our boats thru all of the small rapids and obstacles. In fact, our boats were probably a little big – might have been better to have something in the 10 to 12 foot range. Water was very shallow though, but the quality was good.

About three miles in there is a shallow area with logs that almost blocks the river. Our boats were able to squeeze thru on the right side, but anything bigger would have to portage.

There is a very, very dangerous blockage of the river about 100 yards upstream from the four mile takeout. It is a huge tree blocking the entire river. Consequently, there is a good bit of debris piled up against the log that has to be paddled thru to get there. Once you get to the log, the best spot to exit your boat is about three feet high off of the surface of the water against the right shoreline. The current pulls everything up under the log and the debris pile. We had to pull up to the log, climb up onto it, and pull our boats over to the other side. I was very nervous about the situation when I was doing this – then it got worse. A rather large and aggressive water moccasin surfaced while I was standing on the log. The part of the log best suited to pull the boats across is only about a foot above the water surface, and the snake was less than two feet from my feet. Trying to keep balance on the log while pulling your boat over is bad enough. The snake kept coming back at us, three times on either side of the log it swam up to my feet. Fortunately it was scared off each time by me lifting the boat then slamming it down on the log – I didn’t have anything to fend it off with! We had to stow everything in the boats to get them across – the paddles were strapped to the deck. Even after we got the boats to the other side and into the kayaks, the snake kept coming. I really thought we were in for it! Until that is cleared, I would not recommend sending anyone down the first four mile stretch. I don’t know if the State Park will be willing to cut thru it, but it is not for any beginner or occasional boater to deal with….

The rest of the trip was all about watching for snakes. About a mile down from the big log blockage, there is another – though not as bad. It is a tree that fell into the water and is rotting apart. Most of it’s limbs have dropped off and are blocking the river. Fortunately there is a portage on the right side to drag the boats around.

At the seven and a half mile point we came to an area that was clogged by floating logs. They varied in size from two feet long to over ten. Since they are floating, you can paddle thru them. However, when Kelly went thru it she kind of got slowed down, another water moccasin climbed up onto the back of her kayak – normally she would not have even seen it, but she was watching a hawk fly from in front of her and it caused her to turn her head. Of course, she was not happy to see her passenger! A few slaps of the paddle and it slithered off….

That second part of the trip is very swampy. Don’t really know if we would do that again soon. Once that blockage is cleared, we would love to do the four miler again. I would like to do that trip three or four times in the fall and photograph the fall colors. I know it will be really beautiful.

I am going to try to find an email address to the state park and tell them about the blockage. It is a big safety problem, and they shouldn’t let anyone paddle that trail until it is cleared.

Kelly took some nice pics, will send you some when we get them downloaded. Thanks for the shuttle yesterday!

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