Near the landing I saw one power boat, but once past it I had the river to myself. In fact, for most of the time I felt like I had the whole planet to myself, which is a most precious feeling. I was awed by the trees along (and in) the river. Most were either bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) or one of two species of Tupelo (Nyssa aquatica and biflora), but there were other trees present including several species of oak and the common red maple (Acer rubrum). At certain places I could paddle between the trees and I felt like I was at the feet of giants. I was hoping to see some fall color from the water, but I think I was a week or two too early for the best show, though there was a good deal of red coming from Hawthorn (Crataegus) berries.
The river was mostly quiet except where a fallen tree here or there was snagged in the current or where a fish would jump. However, the woods were loud with birdsong, especially from belted kingfishers, who I would disturb and they would head further up the river bitching the whole time, only to have me catch up with them to start the whole process over again. Also keeping up a ruckus were the crows and hawks. Deeper upriver the water narrowed and I felt as if I was travelling on some small tributary of the Amazon, but reminded myself that this was not exotic and that there are still a few places like this much closer to home.
There will likely be a second part to this post next year. After I got back and was telling a friend about my trip, he told me how close I was to Cypress Bridge Natural Area and how to get there. Cypress bridge is home yo one of the only remaining tracts of virgin forest in the state, and its location has been deliberately kept vague. Within its borders are trees purported to be over a 1000 years old, including several champion trees, and it is also the final resting place of fabled Big Mama. The treehugger in me has an itch, and I will be back to scratch.