Saturday, December 18, 2010

One Final Paragraph, or maybe two

Outside off the back porch two bluebirds flutter from one branch to another.  Several white-throats rustle in the leaves of the garden along with a number of juncos.  The pond is frozen over.  Many fond memories within these four walls and outside of them.  And I am sure many yet to be had!

I am back where it all started.  Historic Schaumboch's Tavern.  I needed a few days to give a final conclusion.  Needed to mull over some things.  What is important about any journey.  What did I learn, about the trek, the route, my environment,  about myself?

One thing I learned.  Can you paddle a canoe from Hawk Mountain Sanctuary 250 miles, on three rivers, by yourself, to the Atlantic Ocean at Cape May, New Jersey?

 (I know there were some Delaware sailors in disbelief)

I ended just short, I know, but I could have hung out down there and waited for better weather and paddled around the point.  The one thing you can't do is to force nature to fit a human schedule.  Nature has its own way, and you can challenge yourself against its forces from time to time, but there is always limitations that you have to respect, or bad things happen.  I am the kind of guy that gets a charge from those forces, one that climbs up into trees on certain overlooks during storms to feel the surge, harness the force!  But it must always be respected.  I had learned this many years ago.

Why didn't I wait and paddle around the point?  It wasn't that important to me.  I accomplished what I set out to do.  And now I wanted to go home.  I had things to do, like meet up with my successful incoming adult children!  One coming in from Milwaukee on the evening of the 16th!  A hockey game of another to see in Scranton on the 17th!  And one coming in from Colorado and needing to be picked up from the airport on the 18th!  With a hopeful dinner with all three, together, in one safe place, this same evening!!!  HOW COOL IS THAT!!!!

What did I discover?  Wild beauty within this very populated corridor.  I had mentioned to someone that I probably traveled through the most urbanized water corridor there is?  And yet, yes, at this time of year it felt beautifully wild.   It was not wilderness.  There are strict classifications of what designates wilderness and I have been to some of those.  But I feel wilderness is also an emotion.  Did I feel wilderness?  Yes, there were times I did feel it.  A raw undisturbed natural beauty for only me to see at that moment.  Yes, I did feel wilderness.  Miles from shore, dark skies, three large unknown native creatures watching me as I slowly paddle bye.  Yes, I did feel wilderness.  A large flock of snow geese along a remote piece of shoreline in the fading light of day, for my eyes only.

Yes, I did feel wilderness!

What else did I learn?  This corridor played a very significant role in the settling of this land we call North America, the United States.  It is cluttered with human history, some pieces easier to find than others, but there is presence throughout.  It played a large part within our country's industrial revolution.  The beginning of human growth explosion, the exploitation of this once very rich ecosystems natural resources.  I noted several, the shad, the sturgeon, oysters.  That is the part that gives you a stirred up feeling in your gut.  Wow, to have been able to experience prior to the exploitation.  The vast riches.  The enormous amount of quantity there must have been.  Unfortunately for our forefathers to take, and take they did, leaving the presence of absent abundance, unfit habitat, and death.

 A reference of our very own Maurice Broun in Hawks Aloft about the very river where I started.
The dark little river (the Schuylkill) that threads its serpentine course from the north and skirts the foot of the mountain-the most significant stream in our area-what of it?  Once the wood duck and the great blue heron made it their home; shad and trout and a host of other aquatic forms abounded; and it was a wellspring of life to otters and beavers.  Under the stewardship of civilized man the little river became a sewer. 

Do not worry I am not leaving you a taste of gloom and doom and a somewhat hatred of our own species.  Just the opposite, this turns out to be a story of hope!  This same piece of stream is now a very proud fishery, wood ducks and great blue herons once again make it their home.  I have done many surveys along this stretch and many other aquatic forms also now abound, fish, salamanders, frogs.  I have witnessed beavers and I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of otters.

All the people I have come in contact with along my travels now look at this magnificent waterway for its natural riches, not its exploitation.  There are efforts to bring back the shad, the sturgeon, oysters.  The human community of this riparian corridor is connected to the natural community, and they love it!  They respect the beauty it offers, they feel its pulse.  There is hope folks!

Outside my window is my daughters car.

There are multiple dents, not there when she got the car

That's right the top one says Raft Naked, I personally do not recommend this, Cody what the?

Now you are thinking this is my daughter, she was raised on Hawk Mountain collaborating with volunteers, staff, and passionate interns from all around the world regarding conservation.  OK, that's true, but she is tied into a friend network since she left the mountain of many like young folks.  Young passionate individuals that make a stand everyday to make this world of ours better, for them but also for us all.   It is this that provides the engine that will continue to drive efforts to continue to bring back a healthy planet and make room for all its wildlife, two legged, four legged, multiple legged, and no legs.

And back to this as a fundraiser to support our programming.  This is what we do!  We provide opportunities for folks to connect to the spectacle of our natural world.   It is focused on our raptors and their migration, our specialty because our scientists and educators are the experts.  What is awesome is one component of this focuses on youth, and in a number of ways.   Weekend interpretation, visiting school groups, and service learning.  Many efforts to reach all we can.  And it is only going to get better and more dynamic!  It is a School in the Clouds!

 Mr Ahlert with Dr. Goodrich on the lookout.  His future goal is to become Hawk Mountain's President 

Hawk Mountain Conservation Corps adopts a Northern saw-whet owl

And what about community?  I expected to find the wildlife, the seclusion, the wide open spaces.  What discovery I did not expect was these wonderful communities of people.  Folks bending over backwards to help me out during my quest for the sea.  Thank you all!!!  And in my return home I was once again reminded of the wonderful community I have here, in the Kempton Valley.  I attended the Holiday Program at the local New Church School.  What a joy.  The collection of community members watching our youth perform.  Thank you Kempton for being my home!

What have I learned about myself?  Well, I no longer have any fear of paddling a canoe a distance from shore in the dark.  Did that, several times!   It was just more reaffirming of what I already learned about myself in the past, and what drives me since I turned 40 now very soon to be five years ago.  To experience as much of our wildlands as possible before my final last great journey (I am speaking here of six feet under).  Living with the wild is where I want to be, living with the wild is all I want to do!

Here is a quote, one I have always cherished.

Man always kills the things he loves, and so we the pioneers have killed our wilderness.  Some say we had to.  Be that as it may, I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in.  Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?           Aldo Leopold

There are still blank spots on the map that I have not seen.  Places to go, people to meet, cultures to experience.  This is one part of what I will be doing with my future years.  Another will be to keep on following values and ethics that my family instilled in me.  Work hard, and play hard!  I will be passionately working doing what it is I do.  Promoting and encouraging a connection of people to the natural world.  I have been re-examining my life over the past year, what will I do with my future kind of thing?  Here it is, this is what I will be doing, the only difference is seeking ways to do it better!

Now let me leave you with my absolute favorite quote, one I live by!

One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourselves out.  Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast..... a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic.  Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure.  It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it.  While you can.  While it's still here.  So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that sweet lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space.  Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much:  I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators.  I promise you this: 
                                             YOU WILL OUTLIVE THE BASTARDS.

                                                                                             Edward Abbey

I want to THANK YOU all very much for JOINING THE JOURNEY!!!
Todd Bauman
(Outliving the Bastards!)

P.S.  Thanks go out to HMS Board of Director Tom Stine and his associate Dennis Metzger for providing me their expertise on what technology I needed to make this BLOG happen.  Also, another thank you to Rossin Wood for giving me two Mac lessons back when I got my laptop and introducing me to blogger as a way to bring this to life.  Dr. Goodrich took the above rainbow photo from North Lookout this season.  It begins, or ends, where I started, the Little Schuylkill River!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

DAY 14 Rescuing the Craft

The plan to get my equipment out was to go there at low tide in the morning and make several carries to get it all out.  As the weatherman promised, it is very, very, WINDY!  And very COLD, serious wind chill.  I am decked out in full gear incase of whatever?  Jude brought some rubber boots, I gave her another jacket to put over her other layers.

We should have come out a little earlier because tide is starting to come in, no worries yet, but it is on its way.

We can make it all the way.  Here is the area that I had to swim the day before.  Tidal flow is incredible. The post in the foreground was underwater the day before near high tide.  All the white in the photo is not sea foam per say, it is frozen crusty ice.  the entire beach is frozen.  COLD DAY!

It takes us awhile to locate the boat, I kept thinking I didn't walk that far the day before.  But finally there it is.  There is a need to keep on moving because in Jude's wardrobe she could walk around this inlet at the low tide, but if the tide comes in she ends up trapped.  Now do not get to worked up, we are not talking trapped, trapped, can't get out stuff.  Just water above her boot line, wet, which would lead to very cold feet.

We drag the boat onto the sand and it moves quite well on the frozen surface.  We each grab a line and start to pull.  Yah!  Again like mules we pull the canoe like a sled across the frozen beach working up quite a sweat.  When we get to the inlet, it has risen enough that I drag the boat over, come back over, Jude hops on piggy back style, and I wade back across.  HOW COOL IS THAT!

So we come up to the bay view spot dragging a canoe in furious winds, in extreme cold, a few folks give you some looks.  "Just out giving our canoe a drag this morning".

All frozen soon to be wet again equipment goes into the back of the Explorer, canoe on the roof.  Mission accomplished!

Conclusion to Follow!
Todd Bauman

DAY 13 Abandon Ship

Woke up to wind, lots of it.  Figured I would venture out and check on boat and water.  Boat was good, water was rough!

At the end of the road where I peered over the bank to check there was a gentleman in the truck with his dog, also peering over the bank looking at the water.  This when I met Bob Keogh, a retired computer guy turned oyster farmer.  Bob wondered whose canoe that was?  Then we chatted about Hawk Mountain and the Lehigh Valley area, its people, its charm.  He had been up that numerous times over the years when doing the computer thing, not for oysters.

Bob then gave me the whole very informative spiel about oysters and oyster farming.  How back in the day near Maurice Cove there are photos of boats lined up to transport the days catch of oysters onto docks to then be loaded onto railroad cars.  Two full trains a day, that is with multiple cars?  Loaded with oysters!  Now, lucky if there is a harvest of two pickup trucks.

Oysters of the Delaware Bay have faced a number of challenges, climate change, habitat loss, and over harvesting.  The same criteria that so many other creatures of this once very rich ecosystem faced.  Then in the 1950s an oyster disease called MSX wiped out large portions, then in the 1990s, a second disease called Dermo.  Thus the Delaware Bay Oyster Restoration Project is born.  This is a cooperative initiative that's main purpose is a complete revitalization of the Delaware Bay oysters and the once thriving industry associated with this resource.  Right here at the State University of New Jersey, Rutgers facility, they develop oyster seed stock that are disease resistant and offer them for sale to private oyster growers like Bob.

Market Size Basket

Seed Stock Basket
The growers then take the seed, place them into suspended baskets, and place them in the Bay between high and low tide marks.  This way off the sandy bottom, they grow faster (market size within 12 -18), less susceptible to disease, and are easily maintained by the growers.

Growing tanks, and suspension racks

The ecological benefit for the Bay to have good oyster populations is that they are vital in improving water quality.  Every adult oyster is capable of filtering 50 gallons of water per day.  They do this when they feed on microscopic organisms in the water.  The natural growing oysters shell also form reef type habitat that support other creatures.

Bob then takes me to introduce me to Greg DeBrosse, the Facilities Manager.  Greg and I discuss Hawk Mountain and also mention Hawk Mountain's very own Laurie Goodrich.  Greg seemed to recognize the name so I gave him a bit of background as to why?  Goodrich, being an important graduate of Rutgers, and was not to long ago featured in their alumni issue.  Greg then provided me important warm, dry, wind free blogging space.  Thank you so much Greg!!

OK, there is no reason I should be venturing out there.  But I am close, within ten miles of Cape May.  The surf with SW winds are way to harsh to launch.  So, close to high tide I decide I will walk the canoe up the coastline.  Now, I am not sure how far?  All the way to Cape May, doubtful.  But what the ....  I need to get a little closer.

First there is packing all my gear up and getting it back to the water.

 Then there is suiting up and getting ready to start hauling boat and gear up the coastline for destination unknown.  Now, I had planned the night before to be out of the field, I would be in a very developed area, and it was time.  I arranged to have Judith meet me at some point, which was unknown, late in the day.

Aah, the self portrait, if only my arms were longer I could capture more action.  Am I having fun yet!  It is starting to fade.  That is the surf in the background, Wow, not something you can paddle a canoe in.

It begins, how bad can this be, I will be on land the whole time.  I have my bow line out and I am wading in a up to my knees so the boat stays in water with the tides going in and out.  It is being pushed and pulled and blown into the shore.  This kinda sucks!  After about a mile?  I realize I am only doing this to a place called "The Villas".  That is where this is all going to end, about three miles from where I started.  At this point I am actually going along a little piece of remote bayshore.  No roads or buildings in site.  I come to a stream inlet.  With tides high it is deeper than I can wade, but not that wide.  But none the less I have to pull the boat up, empty some water that has been splashing in the cockpit, and move it into position to paddle across a 15 feet wide inlet.  Over this small distance I am immediately blown about 10 feet up the inlet.  I get out and start pulling much like the mules of the canal system I traveled down earlier on this trek.

I come to another inlet, I do the same thing, and the same thing happens, blown up but get to the other side.  Then an even greater obstacle.  A length of beached tree snags, with high tide running past them and around them.  About a 100 yards of them.  I would venture out into deeper water so that the boat could be negotiated around each one.  The tide and wind would blow the craft into these tenacled type of creatures that want to catch and trap my vessel.  The deck cover takes on its only tear throughout the entire journey and one of my running lights get snapped off.  This really sucks!  But I get around them.

When going around a small point is when it happens!

 In a matter of seconds, one, maybe two big waves crash on the boat and it is immediately swamped.  Now, just keep in mind, I have over 2000 dollars of tech equipment inside this craft now underwater (removed it prior to taking this photo, but it was this full at the time).  I quickly pull that out and throw it up over high tide line.  At this point this vessel weighs probably around 600 to 800 pounds, more?   I can't move it.  But I have to move it.  I take off the cover.

I remove all the other gear and toss it over the bank.  In a matter of 2 to 3 minutes the boat is becoming part of this beach with the sand eroding under it and it sinking into the beach.  I stand for a moment and take it in, This is serious, what now!  I realize I have to get the boat empty so I can move it.  If I let it here I will lose it to the incoming tide for sure.

I have a small bucket for packing out human waste.  Luckily it is empty.  I start to bail furiously, scolding this whole damn endeavor, saying things like I know better than to be out here, etc... plus a few words I can't write in here.  This works, I manage to bail out more than is coming in, when I think I have enough out, I jump to the other side and lift with everything I got.  I get it tipped over and it empties, except for a few pounds of sand, but at least I can move it.

The boat goes up and over high tide mark as well.  I start to realize I will not get out in daylight if at all if I remain going with this method with the canoe.  I give a call to Judith.  She is hanging out somewhere at the ferry.  I ask her to make her way towards something called "The Villas" and when I get somewhere I will ask them to explain to her where I am and how she can pick me up, without the canoe.  I can see a house and it should be an easy walk if I do not come across any other inlets.  This is the last call my trusty phone will ever make.

The house I see in the distance appears to be about a half mile or so.  I quickly access what I will need.  I transfer some gear so that I am only taking my one dry bag that has backpack straps.  All my tech stuff goes, in its own dry bag, a few extra clothes, my sandals for later.  I also make sure I have a headlamp and I take the tent fly, just in case something else not so good happens.  I strap down the remaining gear and tie the canoe off to a snag.  It is about 3:30 pm.

I am heading towards the house, after a few minutes I see a type of sea wall and think, *@$&!  There is one more inlet.  When I get closer, it is now at high tide by far the largest of the three, about 30 yards across.  I scramble up and over high tide line and start looking for another way out, what if I follow this inlet up, maybe it is shallower, less distance to the other side, a bridge up stream?  The swamp much sucks me in up to my shins, no good, this is not going to work.  Well, there is only one more thing to do.  SWIM!

I drop my pack, repack it so that it is rolled enough times to tighten the seal.  I also do not have my PFD  so I open my zipper on my drysuit and let it fill with air giving me more flotation.  Here we go, now do not feel bad for me at this point.  I am actually getting quite a rush from this.   I NEED TO SWIM TO SAFETY!  HOW COOL IS THAT!

I start wading out and then it is the final step, I am swimming.  It is a simple doggy paddle slowly forward, between the suit's air and the air in the dry pack I am very buoyant.  I do need to paddle across about 20 or so yards, gain my footing on the other side, and WA La!  Across.

Now I am making my way around the sea wall of the now seen vacant house and I come to the other side.  There seems to be a parking area/view area up ahead.  I see a white Ford Explorer.  Sure does look like Jude's.  As I get closer I dismiss it because she would have come out by now.  The sunset is awesome! As I get very near she pops out of the driver's door, it is her!  She was just driving around looking for a point where she could see the water to wait, what are the chances it would be right where I came out.  HOW COOL IS THAT!

Todd Bauman

DAY 12 Windy with Predictions of More Coming!

After sometime I finally got up and went out for some exploration of where I landed the night before.  I knew there was a historic lighthouse to see.  The one that helped to guide me across the Maurice Cove.

East Point Lighthouse

I traveled along way to see a plaque which resembles the one I walk past everyday at my home,   Schaumboch's Tavern.

Some cool facts about the lighthouse.  Built in 1849 and was originally a lamp that burned whale oil.

I then ventured to see what I could see.  My first pelagic species!  A Northern gannet reasonably close to shore diving into the surf.  I have only had the pleasure of viewing this species a handful of times but their strong flight and plunging always impress.

Several shorebirds, 11 dunlin? with one other paler species accompanying them; 2 cardinals; 2 harriers, one female and one juvenile; a handful of distant ducks?

I have phone service so I make a call or two.  Again, the conditions are not optimal for paddling, but they are expected to only get worse.  This had now become a race, a race against the opponent of nature.  The one opponent that I know better than to challenge.

I then venture in to see my hosts.  I was camped outside their home.  Rita and Richard St. Aubyn.  Rita was not too sure about me the night before.  I don't blame her, in my space suit and saying I have come ashore out of the darkness of the Bay by paddling.  When I approached their door I at least took off my garbage bagged hands.  I was told by the Mathis prior that this seemed really bizarre.

Let me explain.  It is cold and wet out.  I am wearing gore-tex mountaineering gloves.  These are designed for cold weather dealing with ice and snow.  They are only water resistant and these constant wet conditions eventually got my gloves soaked through.  So, one evening I spent sometime drying them out and then created a waterproof barrier with a garbage bag and duct tape.  Yes, I had a full roll of duct tape and I threw 2-3 garbage bags into one of my dry bags prior to departure.  Experience and time afield have taught me that there are a few items that are good to have along on extended trips.  These are two of those items.  It worked very well, but from the outsider, I am sure, looked a little strange.

Richard and Rita have a fantastic view of the Bay from their living room window.  I spent sometime showing them the website and talking about Hawk Mountain.  I also looked up weather and got some input from my hosts, which was my best source for that spot.  It was very windy most of the day, winds were from the south.   Great a headwind!  They mentioned this time of year they are always from the south, and it is always windy.  More great news.  The long term weather forecast called for rain and wind and then in the block of Tuesday and Wednesday, just big print across both days, WINDY!   After some more chatting, and their input on the Bay's conditions, I decide that I am going for it.  I change out batteries in my running lights and put on my headlamp.   Now, I am aware conditions are not great, but I also realize it will be the best I will get.

  They are also getting an invite!  Wonderful folks!

This a photo of me taking a photo of Richard taking my photo of departing.  With my camera and gloved hands wrapped in garbage bags while in a moving canoe, you get the point.  Trust me, he is there.  Conditions improved at launch time and generally improve during the evening hours when there is less atmospheric turbulence, thus less water turbulence.   But I am still heading for an adventure that tests my nerve.

Here is proof Richard was on his deck, he sent me this photo.  Thanks Richard!

Now launching a loaded canoe into some sort of surf is challenging.  The idea is to limit the amount of water that collects in the craft.  Water is heavy (8.3 lbs per gallon) and creates instability in the vessel.  So when launching into surf you need to push the boat out straight so it cuts the incoming waves and then try to jump in and paddle/push out to get beyond the breaking waves.  I have sponges that allow me to remove water from my boat, this works best at shore and is very difficult to do when afloat, you can reach into some of the points that the water collects.

I have the spray deck cover which helps a lot.  But the cockpit is wide open and when I am not in it with the skirt component fastened around my waist, this is where the water enters.

I am launched and heading on a bearing towards Reeds Beach.  It is an hour prior to dark and I am waiting for lights of distant shores to help guide me.  As I mentioned earlier it is now a race.

I had very recent thoughts of making a sort of helmet cam with a hole in a hat and duct tape, but I did not have the time, so I attempted prior to dark to hook a camera into my headlamp and film some paddling out into open water.  I reviewed later to discover I only filmed a clouded over sky, you only hear the paddling, oops, it was pointing up, not out.

As darkness once again overtakes the Bay, lights on the far horizon begin to show up.  I am looking for the brightest lights of Cape May and the lighthouse (about 20 miles away).  At full dark I can make them out and change course.


This is my best chance for a completion by the 15th.  I will get there, stage the boat somewhere close, and paddle/wade/walk it to the finish.  I have some sore and tired muscles, Kathy from the Morning Call asked me about training, you know what, that would have been a good idea.  Where were you earlier Kathy!  But I am feeling one more big night and it is over.  Remember, I also have a slight headwind (5 or so mph).  This causes a slight chop/roll to the water.  The water does not have whitecaps, just swells.  What this means is every couple minutes I go over one that is high enough that the boats crests it popping up and over with a slight drop of the bow back down with a tiny slap.  The wild thing about this is I don't know when to expect it, because I can't see, the water is just a black void all around me.

About an hour and a half into the evening it begins to rain, I put on my rain hood.  All is still OK for a time.  Then in about another hour the rain picks up to a squall and I lose all sight of any lights on shore.    At first I think, I will see them in a minute, no big deal.  But after about five minutes I begin to get a little nervous.

Here it is, I play it safe.  I know that the shoreline is to my left.  I turn course again and head towards shore, I have my compass available so that I can keep a straight course and I know that by heading immediately left I have a great big amount of land to hit, not just a point that if too far right, miss and paddle out to sea!  Yikes!

There it is, the deciding factor that prevented me from paddling a canoe to Cape May by the 15th.   That moment when I lost sight of all lights several miles off shore.  Now in about ten more minutes lights started to show through the rain again.  Then at some point I got another glimpse of Cape May and the lighthouse,  But at this time, I had enough, and even by saying I had enough still meant another two plus hours of straight paddling towards the brightest light on shore in the most immediate direction I had towards land.  It still felt like a long way till I could stand up and straighten my legs.  Land never seemed so important to me.

At a little before 9pm I pull up on the shore of Rutgers oyster research facility.  Again, the brightest light from out on the water.  What a rush wandering up on shore of somewhere? Where am I kind of feeling?  And that is what I did when coming over the high tide bank and approached a young gentleman and woman in front of a facility.  "Where am I?"  It turns out he was a seasonal employee of the facility and was provided housing on site in a type of dormitory.  Thank you to this individual because I was tired, very tired.  And was getting cold.  And was feeling quite cramped from kneeling for the past 5 or so hours in canoe with no rest, in other words, I really felt old right then and there.   He had helped me drag my vessel and store it behind the dormitory.  Then gave me directions to a campground/trailer park just in front of their entrance.  It was out of season so I just picked a small spot in between vacant trailers and set up.

That was the evening, set up the tent in the rain, ate some dinner, jotted down some notes, and bed.

Todd Bauman

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Back Home

Greetings Friends!

I am back home safely and I am promising to complete all my BLOG entries by tomorrow late afternoon and bring this trek to closure.  Also, for those of you that may have been trying to give me a call.  I have mentioned electronics do not like water, so the second last day of the journey my phone decided enough wet was enough and laid to rest.  My new one is expected to arrive tomorrow.   I will not have any of your numbers so if you were expecting a phone call, I lost your number.

Todd Bauman

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

DAY 11 Late Arrival

 I was paddling well into the night on the 10th arriving at a great little place called Dyers Cove.  How I picked this place is what I will find on my other late night jaunts, it usually picks me.  I am paddling out there in the dark and when I have had it, I affix my bow on a light on shore and head for it.  It's that simple, and usually it ends up to be the brightest light.  So, Bayshore residents, if you do not want anymore crazy folks at your doorstep in the middle of the night, put in a less watt bulb!

I paddle into the shore looking for a high dry spot, and what I have been finding is those spots are generally near some level of developed shoreline, near homes, lighthouses, etc...  This evening finds me at the end of a road at Dyers Cove.  Now, I do not want to just set up my tent within the view of some residents to just make them more nervous, either that evening, or the next morning, so I approach the door and knock to say hello.  With the Mathis family, this means they are wondering who the ...... is knocking at the door at this hour (9 pm or so), and they also know they did not get there by car because the driveway alarm did not ding.

They slowly open the door and I begin to explain.  They tell me with caution that I can set up next door at a site that a neighbor once had but his place burned down recently.  I move over there, get out of my space suit, jot down, and take my laminated copy of the Morning Call article back over and knock again.  I ask them to take a look at this stuff so that they know I am not just a crazy guy in the middle of the night, I am a crazy guy in the middle of the night with a purpose!

They check me out and according to Joe the next day, Debbie was calling over from the deck to invite me in that evening.  I am very sorry Debbie for not hearing you over the wind, but thank you very much and for the fresh fruit, yogurt parfait, and hot coffee the next morning brought to me tent side with a very cheerful, "Good Morning!" About an hour or so later two younger folks, Sam Wolbert and Patrick Austin, stop by and ask me if I need anything.  Debbie, Sam's aunt, called them and wanted them to check on me.  How incredibly thoughtful!

This led to me spending sometime in the Mathis home getting caught up with a BLOG, having lunch with more extended family, learning quite a bit about the area, and preparing for my next paddle leg.  Now, when I say more extended family this was a big day for the Mathis home.  Debbie is working full time while earning her Masters degree.  Proud husband Joe is recovering from knee surgery and as we all know it is only two weeks before Christmas!  This extended family is over to surprise Debbie with a total house cleaning and tree set up!  Is that not the most thoughtful gesture ever!!!  Debbie, were you surprised?

Joe, needed to run to town to get the tree.  I had one spare camera which I picked up in Philadelphia. (I do not know what I was thinking about originally taking only one camera on a greater than 200 mile voyage by canoe in the winter).  I had the day before fried one camera and was now using my spare, with allot of bay to still cover.  I wanted two more cameras.  Joe, took down the model numbers, and picked me up two identical cameras with memory cards in town.  What another thoughtful act!

Joe is also an avid outdoors man, especially associated with his gorgeous surroundings.  He has an awesome collection of arrowheads and shark teeth, some dating back to dinosaur time!  He gave me several as gifts.

He tells me about the length of a shark tooth.  That for every inch of tooth the shark is 10 feet.  He has some teeth over two inches long!  That means sharks that are over 20 feet long!  Yikesssss!  This comes back through my mind later in the voyage.

The entire family is also very connected to their rich ecosystem and its cycles.  They spoke of the horseshoe crabs laying eggs and the arrival of shorebirds right in front of their home, of the sea turtles that visit, and of all the wildlife that abounds their beaches.
Loggerhead Sea Turtle

I also found someone with a Pepsi addiction.  Karen Wolbert, Debbie's sister is also a serious Pepsi drinker, possibly more so than I.  This worked in my favor because that meant there were several bottles available that day that I could indulge while working and prepping.

 Here is a photo of some kind of specimen found right in front of the house by Patrick.  Joe indicated it was some kind of egg sack?  Does anyone know what it is?  It was about 2 feet in length and fleshy.

I knew by putting it out there I could get an answer.  It is a whelk egg case.  Thank you the numerous folks that provided this information!

Patrick Austin; Sam Wolbert; Joe Mathis; Grandma; Karen Wolbert; and Andrew Wolbert
Me in middle racing in after setting timer, thankfully without a canoe on my head!

Here are the two photos of the Mathis group.  I included them both because Grandma Peggy Kline was hiding best she could and I wanted to make sure everyone got the best chance of viewing her.  She is the top of the head only just above mine in the top photo, and just peering over my left shoulder in the bottom photo.  We see you Grandma Peggy!

Debbie left me note in morning giving me updated weather forecasts and Joe went over maps with me prior to my departure.  All was about needing to get to Cape May soon, before weather rolled in and made it unnavigable by small craft such as a canoe.  Need to get going.

Thank you Mathis family for everything!  And, yes, that's right, their invited also!

I set out at the height of high tide so I can take full advantage of outgoing tides when they kick in.  I make some miles happen.  I also do my largest water crossing to date!  I am not exploring anymore, just wanting to get ahead of future weather and get to Cape May!  I get to Egg Island Point and set a course for East Point.  A 6.5 mile crossing which unfortunately cuts out exploring Maurice Cove and river inlet.

Here are a series of video I shot to document the rest of the evening.

I think in the above video clip the light makes my nose look extra BIG!  Don't you think?

The three fish like forms I speak of in this video clip did cause me to question some of my other Bay resident friends.  It is believed that they were probably sharks of some kind.  They lay just below the surface and never broke water which would be expected by a porpoise.  Like I mentioned, my canoe was larger than all of them but the one was very close to my canoe size, my canoe is 17 feet long.

Todd Bauman

Monday, December 13, 2010

Finale Gathering is CANCELLED

By co-blogger Mary....

I spoke to Todd tonight and though he's just eight miles from the Point, and can SEE the finish line, wind and weather will not allow the finale landing on Wednesday. We 100% agree, for reasons of both safety and sanity, that the journey must end tomorrow, and without the fanfare of having a group to cheer his landing.

Rest assured this journey is NOT over. There are some other additional reasons that are, as Todd & I now like to say, especially "blogworthy" and he wants to finish these posts in his own words. I certainly couldn't do it justice!

To this point, we've both posted some special thank-yous, but there is no one more worthy of thanks than Todd himself. He is an outstanding individual, a true conservationist in every sense of the word, and an incredible ambassador for Hawk Mountain Sanctuary as well as the great outdoors. We are so fortunate to have him! This journey was a test of his physical and mental strength, and he showed nothing but impressive endurance and his typical grace and good nature. I simply don't have the words to express how proud I am to have played a small part in his incredible adventure.

So THANK YOU, MR. BAUMAN, and on his behalf, thanks to everyone for your understanding. Please DO stay tuned for his final updates, which I can *guarantee* will be most blogworthy.

Mary Linkevich
Mountain-to-Sea: Join the Journey!