Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Pristine Perfection of Pohick Bay

My friend Steve had been wanting to try his hand at kayaking again, and neither of us had used our brand new tents, so we combined the two with a kayaking and camping weekend at Pohick Bay.
I was amazed at how quickly my little tent went up as I've not erected a tent since my 20's. I wasn't totally sure whether I'd followed the instructions accurately but it was standing and actually looked quite inviting. Steve had a one man tent which after studying it critically I was pleased I had gone for the bigger option, although in all reality, there was no way two people, unless they were hobbits, could fit into my fabric abode. But for just me, it was perfect, and I was kind of regretting not bringing some little lanterns to string across the top or a welcome mat to lay at the door. But I neatly spread out my bed and belongings inside and it really looked quite cozy. Beer and steaks were stashed on ice ready for later so we headed down to the bay to start paddling.
There were a few paddle boarders already on the water but I was surprised to see how few kayakers were out. Steve had no problem renting a boat and soon we were leaving the noisy boats and jet skiers to race across the bay while we headed for quieter waters inland.
The pickerelweed was in full bloom, the flowers attracting butterflies, bees, dragonflies and redwing blackbirds. I loved their huge translucent, heart-shaped leaves, with veins running through them like marbling. Apparently the young leaves can be eaten as greens and the seeds too are tasty raw, cooked or ground into flour.
We saw so much wildlife out here. Because there were only a few people and we were paddling quietly, we came across blue herons, egrets, quite a few large fish and even a young otter swan towards us when we were sitting in weeds near a bank taking a snack break.
The water was still, looking like glass and reflecting the huge fluffy clouds above us.
We slowly made our way upstream, the river gradually getting narrower, and the water more shallow.
All the time we were paddling, I noticed how many different varieties of thick weeds grew under us, looking lush and healthy, sanctuary to thousands of tiny baby fishes that darted between the open areas. I even sat and watched a huge shoal of small fish slowly make their way past my boat, more than I've ever seen in one group. I didn't even bother with the camera, I just sat and enjoyed the moment, watching them swim past, not even realizing a human was sitting still and silent above them.
The water was crystal clear, golden sand glinting below with small white shells caught among the grains of sand which had ripple patterns along the bottom like you'd see at the beach.
I was just loving the sky mirrored in the water and couldn't stop taking reflection photos. I've been coming here for many years now and was so pleased to see how healthy this little ecosystem tucked back in the bay was. Crews had obviously been out here since the storms and large fallen trees that had previously stemmed the flow of the river had been cleared, which I'm sure had contributed to the now pristine environment. It was a joy to behold the obviously teeming flora and wildlife that were enjoying their little piece of heaven here. It was looking the healthiest I'd ever seen it, and Steve wondered if the copious amounts of rain we'd had this past spring had been a contribution.
Waterlilies were beginning to come into bloom, tightly closed buds protecting petals from the strong sunlight were peeking up from the water.
The 'entrance' to the quieter part of the bay, where the water becomes still and boats with engines aren't allowed, is covered with a thick green weed. It's extremely hard to paddle through, taking a lot of core and upper arm work to push the boat through, and then disengage the paddle from its sucking snare. I got Steve to take a photo of me, both ends of my paddle draped with long curtains of thick stringy weed, which were actually was quite heavy.
All the photos I took were taken with my trusty G15 and the following images were taken by my iPhone in its waterproof case, where I thrust it under the surface and snapped away, enjoying the interesting images of a different world under the water's surface.
After nearly 5 hours we were tiring so made our way slowly back to shore. The sun was relentless and I was looking forward to sitting in the wooded shade back at our camp. As I dragged Big Red across the grass to load onto Stuart, strong winds whipped around me, lovely and cooling, but looking up I saw huge black clouds, then heard a rumble of thunder. People started making for the shore and I was glad to have the boat secured on the roof as I climbed in the car, sure that a rainstorm was imminent. But it was a false alarm, and by the time we arrived back at the tents, any idea of a storm was forgotten.
We got straight down to preparing dinner which was rib-eye steaks with new potatoes and zucchini. I'd brought oil and seasoning for the veggies, but the steaks, as per Steve, were only dusted with salt and pepper.
Preparing our dinner while munching on snacks and drinking beers. Lovely not to have the worry of drink/driving marring our evening!
The steaks were cooked to perfection. Apparently Steve's method of 7 minutes each side, followed by one more minute on each side worked a treat. The extra long agonizing minutes where we had to sit and watch them while they 'rested' were torture, our mouths watering mercilessly, and we tried very, very hard not to eat too many chips so our hungry enjoyment wouldn't be diminished in any way once we were finally allowed to sink our choppers into those juicy thick slabs of beef. Yum!
Dinner was a resounding success and although we went for a walk around the campgrounds to work it down, it wasn't long before we were back in our chairs, relaxing with another beer cracked open, and a lazy evening was spent, chatting while watching the light slowly fade, colored lights began twinkling from peoples' camp sites and a wonderful cool temperature descended all around. The day had worked out perfectly.


Anonymous said...

Very nice article and nice photos.

Debby Karalee said...

Thank you!