We had the canoe on the creek again today. This time it was Ruth and me, while Garth took James swimming at the Carlyle Pool. They dropped us off at the concrete crossing two miles west of Highway 9, and I told Garth we'd meet him at the highway, even if we had to walk.
Well, walk we did, quite a bit. In the creek. Ruth loved it. It wasn't what I'd had in mind, and I couldn't get my jeans rolled high enough, but it got us over the gravel bars and the rock ridges. It also kept me looking at my footing, so I saw crayfish that I'd never have noticed otherwise. There were fish, too, about six or seven inches long. The one I saw fairly close up looked like a pike.
There weren't as many ducks as we saw last time (northeast of Forget), and most of the adults were flying okay. It was fun to watch Ruth's reaction when a bunch of ducklings suddenly burst out of the grass on the bank where we had just passed, and went flapping and splashing and quacking away behind us.
Ruth spotted the painted turtle. It was sunning on something (Ruth says it was a piece of driftwood; I was too busy looking at the turtle), and we passed just a couple of feet from it. Ruth wanted to back up and look closer, but before she could get me organized to do that, it slipped off and swam. Wow! Turtles are fast! I'd never thought of a turtle as streamlined, but watching that little discus-shaped body skimming off into the weeds, I got a new perspective.
A great blue heron let us drift up quite close before launching off. Swallows harassed a female northern harrier. A pair of blue-winged teal kept ahead of us nicely, and finally flew back upstream, passing us in the creek channel, when Garth and James came hiking up towards us from the highway.
The only plant that Ruth asked about was the sneezeweed blooming on the banks. She commented later about the rosehips covering a bush that hung over the bank. That and the rose patch she walked through (in bare feet) while lining the canoe through some shallows. I didn't take much notice of the plants on this trip, because I was too busy studying the channel ahead and steering. In general though, it was a very different shoreline from the stretch northeast of Forget. There were no cattails and very few reeds. As I recall, the bank vegetation was mostly grass. Of course, the landscape was very different too, with the creek flowing through a definite valley instead of a broad plain.
In addition to all the wildlife, we enjoyed the curious horses. A pair met us just around one of the first bends, and watched with friendly intensity as we passed. Towards the end of our journey, I could see some majestic black horses ahead. There were four blacks and a grey, it turned out, and like the first pair, they stood close on the bank as we approached. Then a meander of the channel turned us straight toward them. There must have been some heavy-horse blood in them, judging by the great hoofs they showed us when they turned and galloped up the valley side.
It was almost sunset when we reached the highway, about an hour later than we'd planned. Next time we'll remember to take a snack, and a camera (sorry again!). On the way home we saw two young coyotes go bounding off the road ahead of us. We passed several combines and grain trucks in action, and I wondered what the farmers would be thinking, seeing us driving through the Wordsworth area with a canoe on top. Garth just wished that he was out combining too.
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