Posts Tagged ‘Black River NC’

Risk Management

Friday, July 6th, 2018

Risk Management is something that we deal with on a daily basis. This is not to say that we deal with high risk adventures, but we do want to be able to provide a positive and memorable experience. There is a lot that goes into managing for risks for an outdoor adventure. For example we constantly watch the weather before any trip starts. This is to make sure that we don’t have any high winds to deal with and to keep an eye out for scatter thunderstorms too. Here in the Wilmington area scattered thunderstorms happen a lot all throughout the summer season. Another safety concern that we monitor during many of our kayaking trips is boat traffic, and container ships that travel along the Cape Fear River. These ships can create large wakes which become hazardous in shallow water areas. We also carry rescue gear in our guide boats on every trip in case someone does fall out of their boat. This is so that we can safely get someone back inside a boat if they do fall out. Along with our rescue gear, we also bring a large first aid kits on each trip.

This past Thursday I had the opportunity to go to BSA Cape Fear Council’s Camp Bowers with Don to learn about the high ropes course, climbing tower, and zip-line that is part of the C.O.P.E. course there. The risk management that goes into operating these aspects is serious. Risk management starts before the course ever opens by having trained a professional such as Don inspect all the equipment, including different carabiners, ropes, helmets, and harnesses before use to make sure that everything is working properly and efficiently. Once all the gear is inspected and cleared for use then Don can inspect the course for any damage and safety concerns. After he has inspected the course, and everything has checked out, Don then begins to set up the course to be able to have participants safely climb up to the top where they can begin the course and use the zipline. To set up the belay system which makes sure everyone can get up on the course safely, Don uses steel climbing carabiners, it is important to note that he is not using aluminum carabiners because aluminum carabineers would be damaged by the steel cables that are part of the course which the belay is anchored to. Once participants are on top, they then have a self-belaying system with two adjustable ropes with clips that attach to their harness.  These tethers are then clipped into the steel cables for safety (called lifelines). These are used as a backup device in case anyone does slip or fall off of one of the obstacles. Even though it may seem as though there are many different risks to manage for, if done properly it makes any adventure operate safely and efficiently.

Don & Diane Harty own Mahanaim Adventures.  They specialize in helping families and groups to have “Positive & Memorable” outdoor adventures.  Whether these are wildlife view adventure, camping adventure or a simple kayaking adventure.  They provide kayaking adventures on Town CreekCape Fear River, Fort Fisher BasinMasonboro IslandBlack RiverHolly Shelter Creek and Moores Creek.  Contact them at www.mahanaimadventures.com for more information about all of their adventures.

This blog was written by Mike Manning. I am Mahanaim Adventures new intern for the summer of 2018. I am a Park and Recreation Management student at East Carolina University, Go Pirates! I love the outdoors and have a strong passion for kayaking. This coming summer I will be writing a blog similar to this every other week to let everyone know about the awesome adventures we will have on the water this summer.

Amazing! Wildlife Viewing Weekend.

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of guiding a few good friends on a three day weekend wildlife viewing adventure.  We spent the time camping, hiking, enjoying each other’s company and experiencing some fantastic wildlife viewing.  I have to admit that for me a weekend like this is usually about enjoying the friendship and fellowship of great friends.  However, this weekend was so much better because of the wildlife viewing experience that was to unfold before us.

To be honest, I have spent a great deal of time camping, backpacking/hiking, kayaking and more in the wilderness.  So viewing wildlife in their natural surroundings is nothing new to me or the guys I was hanging with this weekend.  I have had the privilege of viewing hundreds of elk grazing in high mountain meadows in the New Mexico Rockies; watching alligators and wild boars rest next to each other in the swamps of Florida; bobcats chasing rabbits through the pine thicket of central Georgia and so much more.  But this weekend was different.  I had heard that at Pocosin Lake National Wildlife Refuge was simply amazing for waterfowl viewing.  However none of the stories of thousands of snow geese and tundra swans on the lake prepared me for what we experienced that weekend.

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This weekend we were camping at Goose Creek State Park, so getting up on Saturday morning was challenging, especially with the frosty 25 degree temperatures that morning.   We were up at 5:30 am and out the front gate of the park by 6:00 to make the 45 minute drive to the refuge.  We got to the refuge just as the sun was rising to unfold a spectacular sight of duck, snow geese and tundra swans all over the impoundments around Pungo Lake.  No matter where you looked, there was waterfowl by the hundreds.  As the sun was rising in the east, you could see the waterfowl taking off in one location and then landing in others.  There were birds sitting in the water, birds standing on the ice covered ponds, birds flying left and right, and birds circling overhead.  Wow, it was amazing seeing hundreds of birds all within the first few minutes after dawn.

This was so cool!  No matter what wildlife blind or water impoundment we stopped at, there was waterfowl everywhere.  Later this morning, we hopped back into the trunk and headed to the northern side of Pungo Lake to explore.  We stopped at the junction of two dirt roads, one of them was blocked off and parked on the side.  We had about a mile walk down this road to the two wildlife blinds on the north side of the lake.  So we headed out with our cameras and binoculars to see what we could see.  As we walked, we started seeing tracks of deer, raccoon, coyote, large bear and other animal tracks we were not familiar with.  Soon we started seeing scat from these same bear that had left the tracks on the road. And I don’t mean just once stack of scat; I mean lots of bear poo all over the place.

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Soon one of the guys in our group stops and points to something across the field that we were walking along.  Off in the distance we spot a huge momma bear with two cubs lumbering across this field about 400 yards away.  We watched these bears for about 10 minutes as they worked their way across this plowed under corn field.  This was simply amazing to watch these beautiful bears as they worked their way across this field.  About 10 minutes later, just as we started off again, we spotted another bear crossing the road behind us.  Four bear spotting within 20 minutes; wow!  Later that morning we learned that black bear in eastern North Carolina typically don’t hibernate due to the milder winters and significant and consistent food sources in the area.

We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon viewing bald eagles, coopers hawks, coots, teal ducks, and American Black Ducks.  We began to think that it could not get much better.  To be honest, I think we could have called this a day and been quite content.  But then we had heard about something that would blow our socks off.  During this time of the year, each evening you could watch thousands ff snow geese and tundra swans flying in to one specific field to feed.  This took place in a couple of the refuge’s plowed under corn fields; located on the southern end of the refuge.  After talking about it, we decide that we might as well as hang around to see what happens.  So we pulled up to spot we were told about and waited.

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The first 45 minutes were extremely slow.  There were geese and swans in the field feeding but they were all on the opposite side of this VERY LARGE field.  As it started getting dark we started hearing the snow geese fly in from the north. The next 30 minutes were not disappointing to us at all.   Even now I am still not fully able to put into words what we experienced that evening.  I think we all have read and heard stories of hundreds of thousands of bird flying so thick that you could not see the sky.  Lewis & Clark even talked about this in their journals.  This was one of those moments.  Over the next 30 minutes hundreds of thousands of snow geese flew into this field right before us.

As they flew in the field; two things astounded me the most about this event.  The first was the noise of these geese.  The sound of hundreds of thousands of birds flapping their wings at the same time and so close to each other reminded us of the sound of a jet engine starting up.  You could hear this even over the sound of all the honking of these geese.  The second thing was that these birds kept coming in!  There were birds that were flying so high up in the sky; they looked like small specks of pepper floating in the sky.  These birds circled down and down until they landed in the middle of the flock of birds on the ground, not the edges.  Once they landed, the feeding started and did not stop.  Think about it; this was one mass of snow geese, with their heads down, all feeding at once.

This was truly a once in a life time event for me.  I stood there almost speechless not knowing what to say, snapping photo after photo, wondering how to explain this event.  There was about 5 to 10 minutes that we did not have that many birds land.  I guess we figured they would hang around longer, but just at dark thirty, they all took off.  Within 10 minutes every bird in this field took off leaving this field almost emptied.  All of these 100,000+ birds took off!  Think about it, a field with this many birds all taking to wing at once!  Amazing!

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That evening sitting around the camp fire the four of us talked about what we had experienced that day.  We looked at pictures that we had taken and the videos.  It was hard to believe what we had seen.  We all agreed that this was something special and were amazed that we had not heard of this before, especially living here in eastern North Carolina like we do.  One thing we all agreed on was that we had to bring our families to witness this event in the future.

Don & Diane Harty own Mahanaim Adventures.  They specialize in helping families and groups to have “Positive & Memorable” outdoor adventures.  Whether these are wildlife view adventure, camping adventure or a simple kayaking adventure.  They provide kayaking adventures on Town Creek, Cape Fear River, Fort Fisher Basin, Masonboro Island, Black River, Holly Shelter Creek and Moores Creek.  Contact them at www.mahanaimadventures.com for more information about all of their adventures.

Alligators!

Monday, December 8th, 2014

I am amazed at how fearful most people are of alligators that are found here in the Wilmington NC area. This is one of the most common questions I get when I am leading a kayaking adventure.  Yes, we should have a healthy respect and view these wonderful creatures from a safe distance.  However it amazed how the fear keeps some people from exploring the majesty of God’s Creation just because they may encounter one of these animals.  As a boy growing up in gator country of central Florida, you learned to understand the amazing creatures.  So, like any good Boy Scout here are some facts about alligators that my help you know more about this magnificent creature, and be prepared on what to expect when you see one.

This alligator was seen at the southern tip of Keg Island in the Cape Fear River.

This alligator was seen at the southern tip of Keg Island in the Cape Fear River.

  • The American Alligator is the most prevalent of the three species of crocodilians found in the US.  The Gator’s range from North Carolina down to Florida and then around the Gulf Coast to Texas.
  •  There are very few American Crocodile and Caiman that can be found in the extreme southern part of Florida mainly in the southern portions of the Everglades.
  • Gators live in freshwater wetlands and coastal brackish waters.  Their diets mainly consist of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.  They are more known for their savaging for food than hunting and attacking larger prey.
  • Mating season beings in May as the spring warms up and the females will lay their eggs in June, with the eggs hatching in last July.
  • Between 1948 – 2004 there were only 391 injuries and 18 deaths caused by alligators  in the US.
  • Alligators are active both day and night, but mainly feed at night and resting during the day light hours digesting their meal from the night before.
  •  Don’t let your pets swim in known waters where alligators live.  The alligators will see the smaller pets at natural prey.

Dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans and throwing fish remains in the water can attract alligators.  Also, do not feed alligators.

 

 

Before the Adventure Begins

Monday, April 14th, 2014

For those of you who grew up in Boy Scouts, you will know that the “Scout Motto” is to “Be Prepared“.  This was drilled into me during my days as a scout and I can say, most great scout troops still place a great deal of emphasis on this.  To be honest, one of the biggest things that gets to me is watching the vast majority of people take off with their kayaks are woefully unprepared for what they are fixing to do.

This was brought home to me this past weekend when I saw a young couple jump out of their vehicles, toss their kayaks in the water and jump in and go!  No PFD, no sunscreen, no WATER, no clue to the weather coming or going, much less of the river currents that will affect their paddle.  When I pointed out the oyster beds they were fixing to walk into, they could care less (yes, they had no shoes of any kind on).  I could only imagine that they had a less than pleasant time on the water.

It is because of this lack of proper preparedness that I write the next blog.  I hope over the next several weeks to add additional blogs that will help you be “Prepared” when you head out on your next adventure.

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Here are some very basic things that need to be considered before you take your next kayaking adventure.

  • Always try to plan for the unexpected “what ifs?” What if I get delayed? Lost? Injured? Am I prepared to cope with that?
  • Always have a map and compass with you.  This means that you know how to orientate the map and use the compass, so make sure you learn basic map reading and compass navigation skills before you head out on the water.
  • Pick a trip, even a short day paddle and study your intended route on a map at home. Doing this when you’re not stressed allows you time to become more familiar and comfortable with the unique markings of a topographic map and where you will be going.
  • Additional essential items that can save your life when out kayaking:
    • Plenty of water to drink
    • Hat
    • Sunscreen/bug spray
    • Flash light
    • Cell phone
    • Matches for a fire
    • Extra clothing
    • Rain gear
    • Snacks
    • Knife
    • Dry bag for all your essentials to be placed
  • Float Plan.  It is critical that you let someone know where you’re going, what route you plan to take and your estimated return time. If you get lost, the sooner a rescue operation begins the better for your searchers and you.  If you change your plans before you start a trip, call and update someone, even if you simply leave a voice mail.  This also implies that once on the river that you stick with your plan and not deviate.
  • Oh, I am assuming that you will have your PFD with you before you get into the water.

Mahanaim Adventures provide wonderful adventure in the Wilmington and Carolina Beach areas of North Carolina.  We can also customize a guided kayaking adventure to Florida as well as any other location in the Southeast US.  We specialize in creating that memory of a life time for you and your family and friends.  Check out our web page and find out more details about all of our adventure locations.

Team Building and Fear of the Unknown.

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

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Over this past year Mahanaim Adventures, had the opportunity to take several different groups on either a kayak or on a high ropes team building event.  (The high ropes course is called COPE and the elements are the challenges on each COPE course)  Our events are designed to challenge each person and group to learn new skilled needed in successful team work.  As a COPE Course facilitator, one of the cool things I get to witness is how these folks with different prospective and backgrounds learn to come together as a team and solving some difficult challenges/elements.  To see learning taking place while having fun is really cool.

Our team building adventures, especially those that involve a COPE Course, challenges each person to learn new things but also to deal with known truth and overcome their fears.   This is especially true when each group walk the COPE Course and see the elements of the course for the very first time.  I have to admit myself that the first time saw the elements on my first course I was a bit scared.

I remember that these elements looked like fun, but I began to think what had I gotten myself and those who worked for me into.  You see, I had planned a team building adventure for those who reported to me when I working at UNCW.  At that time, our department had some radical changes forced on us and I really needed to challenge them to come together.  I knew at the time it was going to be hard work to deal with these forced changes and I know we had to do this as a team and no one person could do this themselves.   So I signed myself and my staff up for a COPE Course offered by the university.

When we got there that morning, I had not realized that it would be so challenging and I would have to deal with my fear of heights.  That morning I was forced to deal and act on what I knew to be true and to place my fear aside to help my team accomplish our goals.  In other words, I had to put my faith in what I had learned and knew was truth into action.  I was reminded that Faith is not faith at all, if that faith is not put into action.  This is the same no matter who you are.  You see, I had to act on what I knew to be TRUE and not let my feelings seize the moment.  Once I did that, I not only was I able to help lead my team through some challenge events, but I also realized something else.

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That something else is what I call the excitement of real life.  The fun of accomplishing something that earlier some of us had said, “Yea, right, I’m not doing that”.  This was something that we had learned together.  We learned that even though something may be hard and scary, we can act on what we know to be true and move forward.  When we learn to do this, the challenge is still the same, but we learn we can overcome by working together, using each other strengths and having fun at the same time.  We learned that stepping out in faith does not get any easier time goes by, because challenges are constantly being through at us in Life.  Yet, those lessons learned on the high ropes course that morning helps each of us keep focusing on what is True and Right.

Where are you being challenged at today?  What Truth do you need to focus on so that you can take a step of faith and accomplish what scary challenge lies before you?

Team 1