4 weeks ago
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The Geezer and I paddled down Shaken Creek today. We had plans to launch from the WB drawbridge and head N as far as the F8 bridge and then explore marsh creeks on the way back, but it was pretty blustery and the N wind chilled things down considerably. Given those conditions, it made more sense to paddle some blackwater instead, and Geez knows plenty of good ones. Shaken Creek was his suggestion, so we drove out of town and got to the launch at Old Maple Hill Rd just of NC Hwy 53 in Burgaw. It's a smallish creek bordering Holly Shelter Game Land, averaging about 15' wide (my guess), winding through cypress and pine woods until it fetters out into swamp. Due to recent rain, levels were up and we were able to get pretty far back in there. The only sign of humanity once you get away from the launch is the occasional old catfish line hanging on branches into the dark red water. Most of the way the banks are pretty high, which was wonderful help shielding us from the wind, and there are lots of pretty little mossy/grassy spots that make for good lunch stops. This is a perfect time of year for this sort of paddle because everything looks so fresh and green, but without being overgrown and thick, and the bugs and snakes probably get pretty thick back there in the summer. We saw two deer, a dead wild turkey, a couple of broadwinged hawks, and several prothonotary warblers (pictured above courtesy of the Smithsonian). There was a pretty good current flowing (we paddled upstream and then floated it back down), which given the smallish width of the creek and plenty of cypress knees for downed limbs and trees to snag, created a couple of spots that required some work to get through. It would be advisable to carry a small saw and some line to clear the worst of it. All said, great paddle.
After that I went to the Y to swim, my first time in a pool in a long time. The tri that I'm doing in less than 3 weeks begins with a 750 meter swim, which is over twice what I thought it would be when I volunteered to do this thing. It went pretty well, and I think I swam about 20 laps or so, which is 500 meters. Right now I have to stop and take short breaks on the walls at the end of every few laps. Hopefully I can build up my endurance to swim longer without needing the breaks. We'll see.