Pattison on Wheels

Thursday, April 24, 2008

4-24-08: Off The River

I awoke refreshed and somewhat amazed at how well I slept. I got on the river before ten but throughout the morning I was aware that alligators are on my mind. All sorts of logs, sticks, and brush suggested alligator shapes.

Thanks to an amazingly ambiguous guidebook I was pretty confused about the best plan. Tentatively I would pull out early at West Side Landing and camp. I got there by two and it was clear that this was a tidal area. It was slack at noon and started ebbing pretty good by two.

Meanwhile I had reached my ride by cel and arranged to be picked up tomorrow afternoon. But I realized I would not have ebb-tide tomorrow until afternoon so I just got back in the canoe and started paddling. The guidebook said Penny Creek Landing was five miles downstream and a mile up Penny creek. It was wrong.

My map showed Penny Creek just two miles down river from West Side Landing. When I got to the mouth of the creek the current coming out was too strong to paddle against. Anyway, I was still too far up river to catch enough of the outgoing afternoon tide to make my appointment. So I just kept going. A serious headwind came up so I hugged the low bank to get a little shelter. This disturbed the many large alligators catching rays in the greenery you see in the photo.. They would spook, hit the water, and scare the hell out of me. One which must have been twelve feet long slapped the water with his tail as he dove. That generated a huge splash and enough adrenaline to power me against the wind for another mile or so.

Beautiful river though very different from the previous hardwood forests. This is open marsh land. No place to camp so I pushed on and got to my take-out landing by 4:30. I called my ride and left a message but took a long walk and prepared to camp here if necessary. The landing, called Willtown Bluff is an old plantation. In the early days the main access was via the river so they built near the water on high ground. There are amazing old live oaks on the shore and still some of the old elitism. Fine looking horses at pasture and tennis courts behind the big houses.

Mickey picked me up around 8 PM and we chatted on the ride back to the Carolina Heritage Outfitters headquarters. I camped in the state park across the river and listened to the coal fired power plant until I put in ear plugs. These plants are apparently the source of the bad news about this beautiful river system. Mercury making the fish toxic. The folks I talked to along the river—all avid fishers—loved the river and hated the mercury but didn’t know what to do about it. We see the problems but the solutions are not so clear.

As for me, I was glad to get a hot shower and lay a weary body down before ten o’clock.


Post a Comment

<< Home