We had just pulled over near the bridge on Route 1. My husband began untying the straps, and I started transferring our lunch from a cooler to a smaller carrier. All of a sudden I heard something behind me and turned to catch the back end of a deer as it swerved away from me. It almost ran right into me! My husband saw the deer too, but too late to warn me. The doe veered around the car, then up on the road and walked straight down the middle of the bridge, crossing and going into the woods. Imagine the photos I could have had... oh well...
So, we floated back downstream toward the bridge. These rocks are in the area where the spotted sandpiper was hanging out. There are places where you'll see both rocks and marsh areas juxtaposed, but not all the time, so it's interesting to see.
Although this next photo doesn't include much of the color of fall, the blues of the sky and water are so strong and contrast with the tan-brown of the plants that I had to post it.
We've now paddled back to the put-in at the bridge and are heading further downstream. We didn't have much of a plan. All we knew is that we were getting hungry, and that we did not relish a long hard paddle back against the wind and current. The thought of this made us pay closer attention to the time as we headed downstream. We did not want to get so engrossed in our downstream paddle that our trip back was no fun. Around a bend in the creek, we saw a muskrat swimming toward us. When he caught sight of us, he turned very quickly toward shore and was hiding in the reeds by the time we passed him.
As we paddled along and the wind died down, we heard a hawk's whistle. Looking up, we saw one marsh hawk (Northern harrier) join another for a moment. Then they split up again, and we only saw one. He/she seemed to be enjoying the breeze, gliding around on the air currents. We watched for a long time and at one point, he seemed frozen in place in the sky. That was really cool to see. I have watched a seagull do that once-- believe it or not, very nearby on the St. Lawrence River-- but had never watched any other bird just kind of "hang" in the air. That was probably the highlight of the paddle-- well, maybe not-- the deer incident is close!
Here is one of the beaver houses we saw along the creek. This was one of the few spots on the creek where the current seemed weaker and the wind more calm.
Rounding a bend in this same calm area, we saw a great blue heron. The photo isn't great, but they're such neat looking birds that I have to post his picture:
I have another shot of him as he flew off-- he was very shy. I won't post that photo because it's all browns and grays like the one above. Just imagine him flying away, off to the left...
This area was one of my favorite of trip. It was around a big bend in the creek, marsh on one side, rocky shore on the other, and calm, shallow water with lilly pads. We want to come back here and paddle in the summer to see everything green.
As we sat eating our lunch, I looked up over my shoulder and saw the gorgeous blue sky through the pine tree's branches and needles and had to go get the camera from the dry bag. Here is the resulting photo:
The wind blew in gusts at times as we ate, convincing us that we would be in for a steady paddle back upstream. The sun was also competing with the clouds. I think I had hoped to make it to the bridge over Route 12, just as a marker to figure out how far we had gone. But, we decided to head back instead of paddling further downstream.
On the way, we passed by just two camps downstream from the Route 1 bridge. Both looked barely used or abandoned all together, but with it being October, we can't be sure they aren't just summer camps. I forgot to mention that at the Route 1 bridge there are homes on that road, and several homes/camps upstream for less than a half mile. After that we did not see any other buildings. (We went less than 2 miles upstream.)
Near one of the camps that looked abandoned, there was a man-made rock wall. We paddle over to investigate and found this snake skin. I thought it was the skin of a medium-sized snake, but look closely and you will see more of the snakeskin skin in the shadow between the first and second rocks, left to right. Well, I guess the slang term "snake skin" isn't quite correct. The term for shedding, wiki just told me is: ecdysis. Either than or simply "moulting." I did not find out what the "snake skin" is called, other than "shed scales." At any rate, the snake must have been rather long, from what we could tell! And obviously, this rock wall was a great home... or at least a good resting place!
Our paddle was almost over--clouds were blowing in over us and we were looking forward to getting off the water. Yet we were sad that this might be our last paddle of the year. The clouds above us formed an interesting pattern so I snapped a shot:
Back at the put-in at the bridge, we did some more maneuvering to get out. I managed by sidling up to the reeds and bank, using my paddle behind me to balance the kayak, and got out easily. My husband did the same thing, with some extra balancing help from me while he got out. No problem! As I mentioned in part one, we're getting better at entries and exits.
Here is one last photo of Crooked Creek from the put-in as we were leaving. It's such a pretty spot, with lots of wildlife: deer, spotted sandpiper, ducks, muskrat, beaver (though we didn't see one,) and great blue heron. This creek will be on our list of places to return to. Next time, it'll be in the summer and hopefully without wind!