What do you think of when you see some old growth trees? Do you ever wonder what they would say if they could talk? What they would say they have witnessed over their life time of standing, weathering storms, drought, fires, floods, heat and cold? I have had this thought many times as I paddle through North Carolina’s 3 Sisters Swamp. Recently it was announced that researchers from the University of Arkansas identified a bald cypress (Taxodium distichum)tree that was 2624 years old! Wow, imagine that a tree here in eastern North Carolina that is one of the oldest trees known to man today. This tree started putting down roots around 605 BC!
Just paddling in this ancient swamp give you a since of
awe. Trees that are so big, it takes 3
or 4 grown men to put arms around them and cypress knees that are talker than I
stand. Every time I am there in the
magical place I find myself in awe at the majesty of God’s awesome creation. I also realize just how small I am in the
grand scheme of life and grateful that God is always there each day for
everyone who looks to him.
I have written about this subject several times over the past years in our blogs. Often when setting up for our kayaking adventures, it is hard not to ask different people at the kayak launch if they know what they are doing or not? When we do, I often get a silly look or simply no response at all. The simple matter of fact is that we witness lots of people go kayaking (or any other adventure) and they just are not prepared for all that can go wrong. Twice this week, we had kayaking adventures that we canceled due to high winds (Small Craft Advisories) on the water. As we were putting up our gear, both times we witnessed different persons or groups heading out into rough waters.
Questions to ask yourself before you take off kayaking:
What is the weather like at this moment and what is the forecast for the rest of the time on my adventures?
These are all important things to consider before you strike
out on any adventure. Being able to
properly answer these questions can mean life or death if you are not
prepared. I know of other kayaking adventure
businesses that once to twice a summer, save someone from a really bad
situation and even drowning. Bad things
can happen quickly and if not prepared, things could turn out really bad for
This past Sunday I had the pleasure of helping Don guide a group of people to Sharks Tooth Island on the Cape Fear River where we hunted for prehistoric sharks teeth and fossils. Around mid-morning everyone had found their fair share of sharks teeth and fossilized shells on the island and were ready to get back on the water to do some more paddling. It was at this time that Don and I had noticed a fairly large container ship easing its way up the river towards the port, so we decided to stay on the island and let the ship pass by before returning to our kayaks and continuing the adventure. We chose to stay on the island because these container ships are known for having big wakes, especially while traveling in a river such as the Cape Fear. The areas where this is most prominently noticed are in shallow water. Because just like any wave, the wake from these ships doesn’t start to break until it finds shallow water. This is especially important to know while paddling because when the wake from those ships hit shallow water and start to break, it can provide an authentic whitewater experience here on the coast. And if you find yourself paddling through shallow water when this happens, you will most likely get flipped out of your boat.
So as the ship passed by, we gathered our group on the side of Sharks Tooth Island that faces Kegg Island, watching the wake from the container ship crash into the shallow water around the island. After we had watched the wake stop crashing in the shallow water between the islands we then headed back to our kayaks to continue our adventure. It was at this time, we noticed a fisherman who was fishing on the opposite side of Sharks Tooth Island in a small john boat had been capsized by the wake. From the position we were at, we noticed the man didn’t have a PFD in sight, his boat was completely swamped, and he was having trouble swimming. So, Don and I immediately began our rescue procedures by jumping in our boats and getting to the man as quickly as possible to save him from drowning. Once we were able to get the man safely to shore, we then recovered his gear that was floating away and fortunately we had additional help to recover his boat and paddle as well.
This situation goes to show that if you are out paddling, or on any outdoor adventure, without a trained professional, that being aware of your surroundings can help you better manage for any possible risks and it could possibly save your life. It is also a great example of why you should always wear a life jacket while paddling on the water. Because if you paddle enough, it’s not a matter of “if” but a matter of when you are going to fall out of your boat and go for a swim.
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.