Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Conway Creek, Finally - July 27, 2009

We started out very early this morning, well before sunrise. We put in about 5:30 a.m. We could see the lights from the city on our left and the glow of a rosy promise of sun ahead and to our right.

We were on Chacaloochee Bay again, this time headed for Conway Creek. I had studied the mating and nesting of alligators -- little did I know I should have studied about fish -- really B-I-G fish.

We had to cross the marshy area and then follow the line of reeds because even though I had remembered this map this time, it was difficult to tell where the opening was. It ended up being much farther down than I had expected, but once we past is, I realized it looked exactly as it did on the satellite map.

There were lots of alligators out (I know now from all that studying that they like to feed at dawn and dusk) and lots of big fishing jumping in the water.

Two American Alligators (Alligator mississippi...Image via Wikipedia

We came to the spot where the water divides. We could to to the left and go down Conway Creek or go to the right and go into Big Bateau Bay. We decided to go left.

The creek was much wider than I would have expected a "creek" to be. It wasn't that much narrower than Blakeley River at the Causeway. The sides were banked with reeds -- I couldn't see any real land to speak of. There were plenty of different types of birds, some roosting on pilings. I couldn't figure out what the pilings had been from. Some even looked like they could have been part of an old dock or pier, but there were no houses or buildings. Why would there be a dock or pier out in the middle of nowhere?

About half the way we traveled down Conway Creek was when we encountered "The Creature". We had been sighting quite a few alligators, a great deal of big fishing swimming and jumping, but this HUGE fish came from out of nowhere.

The best we could figure out - after our heart rates came down enough to allow us to get circulation to our brains - was that when Glen put his paddle in the water, The Creature thought it was a fish, or turtle or something to eat. It then jumped on it. All I saw as a huge expanse of silvery scaled skin and a side fin splayed wide. The fin itself must have been at least ten or twelve inches. Then The Creature was gone under the water. The wake of it going directly under Glen's kayak almost rocked him out of his boat. I could even feel the motion from my own boat. We were both shocked - and didn't realize what had happened at first. Then we were sort of like "What was that?" We were siting still in our boats and suddenly realized the best thing would be to keep on paddling.

We continued much further down Conway Creek - this ended up being our longest paddle to that date - and then turned back. We kept a watchful eye out for The Creature, but we never saw another hint of him.

As we came back to the put in, we made a wrong turn just before the put in. It is remarkable how easy it is when all the reeds and water look alike, to make a wrong turn (another reason why it is nice to have those maps!) But something tells you, "this doesn't look right", and then you realize exactly were you are. I was both relieved and frustrated at that realization. Relieved because I knew exactly how to get to the put-in, frustration because I was tired and I knew how much further we had to paddle to be done.

Finally, we were at the put-in, and although I was tired and my muscles needed to quit, I was sorry to see the end come.

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