Posts Tagged ‘Kayaking in NC’

Sea Turtles Adventure

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

I found myself at the boat ramp of the Fort Fisher Basin. It was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. It was also going to be a full strawberry moon that evening, an anomaly which won’t happen again for over 50 years. Along with Don and I was Mahanaim’s environmental education expert, Mandy Uticone. Our customers that evening were with the Wilmington Parks and Recreation Department. After a mile paddle along the Fort Fisher sea wall we landed at Zeke’s Island. Don explained the history and use of the island in addition to its estuary purposes. As our break ended we began paddling the second leg to a beach access were we ate our sack dinners. Just over the sand dunes was a newly laid Leatherback turtle nest. The nest was found that morning, marked, and roped off for its protection. Mandy taught us all about sea turtles that frequent the North Carolina shores and how they nest. During the lesson I helped Mandy by reenacting how a turtle crawls from the ocean, lays their eggs, and buries them with their feet. As the sun began to set we returned to out boats for the final paddle back. Half way through the paddle the sun was setting to the west as the moon rose to the east, a perfect ending to a perfect evening.

Mandy teaching sea turtle class

Mandy teaching sea turtle class

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.

 

Sam as the sea turtle

Sam as the sea turtle

This Blog was Written by Sam Law. I am Mahanaim Advenures new intern for the summer of 2016. I am a Park and Recreation Management Student at East Carolina, Go Pirates! I love the the ocean and outdoors more than anything. This coming summer i will be writing a blog similar to this each week to let everyone know about the awesome adventures and encounters we have. I hope to see ya’ll out paddling this summer.

Cheers!

Sunset at the Basin

Sunset at the Basin

 

Moores Creek Battlefield

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

We found ourselves in the parking lot of Patriot Hall at the Moore’s Creek Battlefield in Burgaw, North Carolina. Don and I were preparing to lead a group of folks from Brunswick Forest. That day we had the honor of guiding many repeat participants whom we had the pleasure of giving a kayak lesson to weeks prior. Our paddle that morning consisted of a four mile trek down and back up Moore’s Creek. During the trip our group paddled under the replica bridge in which the Battle of Moore’s Creek was focused around. Many Prothonotary Warblers were darting across the creek that morning. After our paddle that day we met with Jason Howell, a park ranger at the battlefield, who gave us a walking tour and lesson of the historic sight.

The story goes that in 1773 after the Boston Tea Party, the “intolerable act” is put in place turning Massachusetts into a military state. This scared other states, enough to have other states aid Massachusetts. North Carolina residents send corn and supplies in order to help but were reprimanded by the North Carolina Governor. A frigid evening on February 26, 1776, General Donald MacDonald of the Loyalists alongside of Scottish Highlanders,set camp on the south side of the bridge. Colonel James Moore and his group of militia men and patriots prepare to the North. If the Loyalists are to take Moore’s Creek they will be able to take the North Carolina coast. Before the battle the Patriots remove the bridge tresses and oil the remaining wood in order to sabotage the Loyalists attempt to cross and attack. While the Loyalists attempt to cross the bridge the Patriots planned to attack. The battle happened accordingly to Colonel James Moore’s plan, gaining victory for the Patriots. Although the battle only lasted three minutes over 30 Loyalists men were lost while only one Patriot died. The Battle of Moore’s Creek was a huge step to North Carolina’s vote for independence. Moore’s Creek Battlefield is not only a beautiful paddle, but the area is full of rich history.

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.

This Blog was Written by Sam Law. I am Mahanaim Advenures new intern for the summer of 2016. I am a Park and Recreation Management Student at East Carolina, Go Pirates! I love the the ocean and outdoors more than anything. This coming summer i will be writing a blog similar to this each week to let everyone know about the awesome adventures and encounters we have. I hope to see ya’ll out paddling this summer.

Cheers!

My First Adventure through the Three Sisters

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

We found ourselves on a river bank of the Black River, kayak paddles dipped in the water, and Don our leader finishing up a safety discussion. We were preparing for a twelve mile journey down the Black River and through the Three Sisters Swamp. As the sun began to rise, our group of nine pushed off. The weather couldn’t have been any more perfect that day. It was slightly overcast with a solid breeze and no humidity, the perfect day for recreational kayaking. Our group of 9 consisted of old friends who were no strangers to kayaking. It was an amazing opportunity to learn from other kayakers while swapping paddle stories. Seconds after hitting the water, the Eastern North Carolina wildlife began to come alive.  ProthonotaryWarbler’s were flying back and forth over the river, while the hooting of Barred Owls echoed in the distance. Further down river we spotted Nutria swimming across in front of our group. The combination of wildlife and perfect Eastern North Carolina weather created a perfect concoction to explore God’s creation and what He has given us. Along the river bank stood Cypress trees in which Pileated Woodpeckers have dug burrows. Each year these birds create a new burrow in a new tree, residing in each for only one season. During the trip one guest reminded us why it is always important to keep close attention to what you are doing. One gentleman in particular found himself upside-down in the water while not paying attention to where he was going. Thanks to his calm reserve and professional attitude we were able to perform a flawless rescue, returning the gentleman to his boat. Roughly 6 miles into our trip we entered the Three Sisters Swamp, a freshwater Cypress forest. This swamp contains trees dating over 2000 years old. Being in the swamp with such ancient beings is truly a breath taking experience. As we exited the swamp the Barred Owl whose hoot had echoed through the forest made his first appearance flying across in front of us. A perfect farewell gift for a perfect kayak trip.

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.

This Blog was Written by Sam Law. I am Mahanaim Advenures new intern for the summer of 2016. I am a Park and Recreation Management Student at East Carolina, Go Pirates! I love the the ocean and outdoors more than anything. This coming summer i will be writing a blog similar to this each week to let everyone know about the awesome adventures and encounters we have. I hope to see ya’ll out paddling this summer.

Cheers!

Last Night

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Last night I had the privilege of leading a sunset kayaking adventure for a Mom and her three kids.  When the Mom scheduled this adventure, she told me that her family had been through some really rough stuff.  The Mom was looking for something for them to do together for fun and to be a family creating a good family memory.    After we got off the water last night as we were walking back to the cars, Mom told me thank you for all we had done for her and her kids that they would be talking about this adventure for a long time.

 

This reminded me of one of the reasons why Diane and I started this business and for some of the success we are having.  You see, when our family was young, we spent lots of time out camping, hiking, horseback riding, canoeing and many other outdoor activities.  The vast majority of the times all went well, some not so well.  Those of you who spend lots of time in the outdoors with kids know what I mean.  However about 7 years ago when my son-in-law started dating Hillary, he made the mistake of going camping with us one weekend.  Our kids spent the whole weekend sharing with him all the fun family memories we had doing all of these things together.  Listing to our kids laugh and carry on with each other remember this time together was a precious gift to Diane and I.

 

Last night I was reminded of this simple fact; that we got a chance to help this family create a special memory that they will cherish now and in the years to some.  I guess that I am sharing this with you because we each have chances each day to make a difference in other people lives.  I guess it comes down to perspective and remember that life is not all about me, but how I can be used by Christ to be a blessing to someone that I meet.

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.

DSCF1344

DSCF1416

 

 

 

 

 

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.

DSCF1427

DSCF1451

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

DSCF1454

DSCF1455

 

 

 

 

 

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!

DSCF1456

DSCF1457

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Team Building and Fear of the Unknown.

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

Team 3

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.

team 2

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

How to Choose A Kayaking Paddle

Friday, January 31st, 2014

DCIM100GOPRO

I often get asked about how I choose a paddle for kayaking or what the difference between this paddle and another paddle is.  So, I figured that we would spend some time talking about paddles in this blog.

Kayak paddles vary in styles for the different kind of water you will be paddling.  Usually, the shorter the paddle the better is for quick stroked needed in swift water and the longer the paddle, the better for touring and for longer boats.  Also a longer paddle is needed for a wider boat.  Also one thing to consider on a paddle is the weight of the paddle, especially if you paddle for long periods of time.  Always remember, the lighter the paddle the better, but the lighter the paddle, the more expensive the

When selecting a paddle, the most important thing to consider is the comfort of the paddle in your hands.  The better paddles have an oval shaft that provide better control and comfort and will help you get the correct angel.  A lot of kayakers have straight shafts paddles, but there are a few designs that are bent at the grips to ease the strain on the wrists.

The length of the paddle will be determined by several factors like; type of water you will be paddling, the width of your kayak, you size and length of the blades on your paddle and your preference.  The majority of the paddles we use with our tours are between 210 and 230 centimeters long.  The general rule of thumb for choosing a paddle is to hold the paddle over your head horizontally.  With your elbows at a 90 degree angle, you hands should be 6 to 8 inches from the blades of your paddle.

Now for the blades of your paddle; if you have not noticed the blades of the paddle come in various designs.  The larger the blade, the more power you will get out of your stroke; the smaller the blade, the less power per stroke and thereby more gentle to your arms and shoulder joints.   Most blades are spooned for increase water resistance, helping with a more powerful stroke.  Also, some blades are asymmetrical.  This design is for balance of the force on the top and bottom of the blade when paddling and for angle placement in the water.

One last thing about paddles, you have choice between a single and two piece paddles.  I would recommend a two piece paddle.  The reason or this is that you can choose the angle of your paddle with these paddles.  For beginners, it is usually better to have your blades parallel with each other; then as you become for comfortable with kayaking you can then angle the paddle for feathering of your paddle in the water.  Feathering is important for longer distance paddling, especially if you are paddling into the wind for long distances.

Join Mahanaim Adventure for one of our upcoming kayaking adventures or why not schedule a private kayaking adventure for you and your family or friends.  We even offer Team Building Kayaking Events.

Campfires and Smores?

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Last Friday evening, I had the privilege of leading a group of people from Brunswick Forest on a moon light kayaking adventure on Town Creek.  The evening was almost perfect; except for a few thin high clouds that tried to cover the moon.  It was about 30 minutes before the sun set when we stopped for dinner on the river for a picnic and camp fire.  We had been paddling for about 90 minutes and everyone was starting to get hungry.  So while everyone was starting to enjoy their picnic dinners, I got a nice warm campfire started.  In just a few minutes, the fire was blazing away, casting its glow around the area and creating a wonderful warm feeling for everyone there.

It was almost instantly happened; once the fire was started everyone sat down on the bench or on one of the picnic blankets that were around the fire; when everyone stated sharing memories about their going up and campfires.  It was so cool to sit back and watch everyone relax and enjoy the warm fire as the sun was setting to our west and share with each other.  Stories about campfires they remembered as kids; the fun of roasting marshmallows and making s’mores.  It seemed to me that all of these memories shared a common theme; family and fun.  Someone shared that in her family, they would go to the family farm this all 6 of her brothers and sisters.  As she talked about that, I could see the fun they had in her eyes and hear it in her voice.  I shared about how my grandmother took candles and show me and a friend how to roast a marshmallow, while it was storming outside the house.  For all I know the power could have been knocked out at the time, but I don’t remember that, I just remember how our little fire changed an evening into something fun.

Soon, it was time for us to pack up, put out the fire and paddle back home by the full moon light that shown in the river.  What an adventure the evening was for us all.  I am sure that the paddle back to the kayak launch was memorable for each of them.  But I am also confident that the time shared with new friends sitting around a campfire; roasting marshmallows and making s’mores will be a memory that these people hold onto.  These people not only connected with something they remembered from their childhood, when things were simpler in their lives.  But they also connected with each other, building important relationships.  I don’t know about you, but I need this myself; what about you?

Mahanaim Adventures offers guided kayaking adventures in the Wilmington, Carolina Beach areas as well as the Cape Fear Region.  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.

Gloomy Days May Not Be So Bad?

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The past Saturday evening was one of those unexpected evenings.  The day started out overcast and in some ways very gloomy.  You know the type of mornings I am talking about; the ones where it just seems that it could just start drizzling and drizzle all day long.  It seemed to be a perfect day to stay inside with a good book and read all day long.  Yet for some folks, there is beauty to be found in the outdoors on a day like that.  Besides, it was a welcome change to be out kayaking on a day that was very cool by comparison to most of the summer.

I have often spoken about how much I like to take a hike or even to talk a walk in the rain.  (I must admit, I get some strange looks, but that is OK.)  It seems that the forest takes on a different feel when you are walking through it in the raining.  When you do this often enough, you begin to see the forest in a different way.  Then when the sun does decide to make its appearance, wow, words cannot describe the beauty of the forest at that moment.

This past Saturday evening was like one of those days.  That afternoon, Joseph and I meet a group of co-workers from a local business at River Road Park for a sunset kayaking adventure on the Cape Fear River.  The day was still overcast and the hope for the skis to clear for a sunset was starting to look like it would not happen.  Despite the fact that it was a cloudy and cool afternoon, these co-workers were excited about having some kayaking fun.

We started out paddling along Keg Island, when I noticed that the weather was beginning to change.  Joseph, spotted some rain to the southwest and northeast of us, yet there was a glimpse of some clearing to the west and northwest.  I am not sure that our guests were even aware of this; they were having too much fun being out of the office and doing something fun together.  Yet there it was a break in the clouds.

After about an hour of paddling, we stopped on Keg Island for the picnic and before you know it, there was the sun!  Shining brightly as only the sun can, reflecting off the almost mirror like water of the early evening.  It is amazing how intense the sun can be reflecting off still water.  But what a treat it was to be in such a beautiful place, just at the right time to witness a stunning sunset.  As I was watching this sunset as we paddled back to the river launch, I was struck by the fact that we were the only people out kayaking that evening.  Why was this?  Maybe it was because of the overcast skies from earlier in the day?  Maybe people did not want to risk, getting out and exploring something if the weather is not just perfect.  If that is the case, they have missed a masterpiece of a sunset.

I guess the point I am trying to make is this; don’t be afraid to step out and do something outdoors if the weather is not what you think it should be.  You never know when things will change and you have a chance to be in the right place at the right time to witness something that few people ever do.  If these co-works had let what they saw keep them from getting out that evening, they would have never had this experience of last Saturday’s sunset.

Mahanaim Adventures offers guided kayaking adventures in the Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach,  Carolina Beach areas as well as the Cape Fear Region (Cape Fear River, Town Creek, Holly Shelter Creek, Eagle Island, Black River, Lumber River, Moores Creek and much more).  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.