Cypress Trees & Lily’s

Over the past couple weeks; I have had the opportunity to go on a couple trips with Don to the Black River located in Bladen County, NC. This river offers plenty of beautiful wildlife including wild turkey, deer, several types of ducks, and wildflowers. The Black River is also home to the Three Sisters Swamp where you can find some of the oldest recorded cypress trees in the country. Although these trees are not marked, for their own protection, with an experienced guide such as Don, you will be able to see some amazing old growth cypress trees in this swamp that have been dated to being over 2,000 years old. Paddling through this swamp truly is a majestic experience. Being able to get up close and personal with these ancient cypress trees gave me a deeper connection to this swamp. In ways this swamp inspired me by showing me no matter how hard these trees have been hit and beaten by countless hurricanes, high winds, floods, and other natural disasters, they still stand tall and strong after all those years.

One of the most memorable parts of both these trips included seeing the beautiful spider lilies bloom. This is a special phenomenon here in eastern North Carolina because these plants only bloom for about two weeks out of the year. But what a spectacular experience it is to be able to see these plants bloom during their short flowering period. It’s trips like these which make me realize how lucky we are to be able to experience gods creation and enjoy the natural beauty of many diverse eco systems from a kayak.

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 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.


Abundance. Webster’s dictionary give us the following description as “an ample quantity; an abundant amount; profusion; affluence, wealth; a relative degree of plentyfulness.” Recently I have begun thinking about what abundance really means in a person’s life. I have come to think that we, at least in the United States may have the wrong idea of what abundance means. You see, I have grown up with the idea that an abundant life was one that had wealth and things that made life easy. But over the past 8 years, my thinking has begun to shift about this definition.
You see, I consider myself a normal, common man that works very hard to provide for my wife and kids. I worked hard and often long hours to have what I thought was “an abundant” life. But chasing after all the abundance that our society says we should have, and to be a “Successful Provider” for my family, left me tired and empty. It seemed that the abundance that I wanted; was always just one step ahead of where I was at and I needed to do more. You know, work harder to move up the corporate ladder and get that next promotion or big pay raise. Please don’t get me wrong, I do believe hard work is essential to success anywhere you go. Yet my hard work never brought me what I thought it should; the abundance I always hoped for.
Recently my perspective on abundance has shifted and I found that I already had all the abundance that I had been looking for. You see, the abundance that I was seeking was found in the relationships that I was developing with my wife, with my kids, with the people God had placed around me. It was not in the affluence or wealth of having many things or providing my family with all the worldly things that they desired. The abundance I was needed the most was in the relationships that I have been developing.
Back in 2010, I was laid off from a wonderful job at UNCW (great place to work). At that time, my Bride and I started Mahanaim Adventures. Through the past 8 years, I have had the awesome opportunity to work side by side with each of my kids, leading kayaking adventure all over the Cape Fear area of Coastal North Carolina. Now my kids are grown and all on their own, but I have all of these awesome moments spent with them, not just working and having fun, but making memories together. Today, Joseph and I run the adventures together and I am blessed having him with me in this. And my two daughters, well, they want to take part when they come into town from where they live with their families.
So you see, because of a simple little change in my perspective, my whole outlook on what I have or don’t have has changed. Yes, I still work hard to build our family business and I still can work some long hours. Most of my weekends are shot, because I am working, especially during the warmer months. But I now see my life a much fuller and richer; and has replaced the chase after things of abundance with a real abundance I was craving. All of this because of a change in my perspective; or could I say “Attitude”.
Don and Diane Harty are the owners of Mahanaim Adventures; the Cape Fear and Wilmington, NC areas premier outdoor adventure guide and kayaking business. Don and Joseph (son of Don and Diane) strive that each person on our adventures to have a “Positive & Memorable” experience. We offer quality half-day, full-day and overnight kayaking adventures. We also provide team building adventures and courses as well as wilderness first aid classes to Boy Scouts and other groups.

Moores Creek Battlefield

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 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.