By TA Clifford
What’s better than slipping your kayak down a cool creek on a warm summer day? Actually understanding the ecosystem you are passing through! Fourteen like-minded, environmentally active women had the opportunity on a recent Saturday to learn more about The Nature Conservancy’s protected areas on Nanjemoy Creek while paddling through it.
Before we pushed off on our leisurely paddle, Steve Bunker, the director of conservation programs for the MD/DC Chapter, explained that the waterway was a tidal creek where we’d see bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, and the great blue herons whose rookery initially inspired the Conservancy to purchase land around the creek.
As we donned our sunscreen and clambered onto our sit-on-tops, we learned that the creek actually contained some salt water and was affected by tide cycles. Interestingly, the creek also hosts robust freshwater mussels.
Expert and beginning kayakers alike had a taste of adventure as we had to portage over some trees in the water, but the creek soon opened up into a wide stream where we enjoyed a perfect 82-degree day.
At least three bald eagles swooped above us at different times to investigate our group. Several red-tailed hawks showed themselves, and we witnessed the graceful ascent from the water of a handful of great blue herons.
As we sped along, interesting conversation floated over the water, boat to boat, as our companions described their work in environmental policy or saving sharks. One woman kept us amused with tales of her pet python, just as we saw two snakes, one black and one silver, slip into the creek.
Most of us were content to stay above the water, but Barbara, who dove in, reported the creek to be refreshing, with a cool stream running through it. The three-hour paddle was just taxing enough to feel like a workout as we ran into a slight headwind at the end. As we pulled the kayaks from the water, several of us mused at this perfect way to spend a summer Saturday: with The Nature Conservancy, learning more about the natural world while moving through it.
Take a virtual trip along Nanjemoy Creek. Explore our photo gallery.October 02, 2012
TA Clifford is a DC metro dweller interested in helping the planet. This is her first article for the Conservancy and Passport to Nature.