It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that an adventure has to be an epic trip to a remote place when, in reality, it can be twenty minutes from your house at a local park.
Less than nine miles from my house sits Chickasabogue Park, “an 1100 acre outdoor recreation area and wildlife refuge.” My family and I have come to love this park for its proximity to our house and kid-friendly atmosphere. The seventeen miles of trails traverse mostly gentle terrain providing an excellent training ground for my little explorers. It’s also a quick escape to the outdoors when I need it.
Flowing through the middle of the park is Chickasaw Creek. This winding water way is an excellent venue for kayakers and canoeists alike. Growing up I attended a summer camp where kayaking and canoeing were regular activities, which served to stir up an affection for these waterborne adventures. This past May my gracious wife bought me a kayak after years of wanting to own one. I was now able to take to the water and explore the vast water ways around us here on the Gulf Coast.
Earlier this week I took my kayak down to Chickasaw Creek to do some exploring. It’s something I’ve wanted to do all summer, but it just hadn’t happened yet. Upon launching into the creek I paddled east. None of my previous times on the creek had taken me very far due to naturally impatient little ones aboard. It wasn’t long before I was in uncharted waters (to me at least). To my surprise there were several people out enjoying the water and the slightly less miserable weather we’ve had this week. It’s an occasion to celebrate when the humidity drops below ninety percent around here.
As I paddled along I came across one of the oxbow lakes adjacent to the creek, so I decided to scout around. The lake takes you north from the creek before curving back west. At its widest point, it is no more than fifty meters across, and a couple hundred meters in length. When you reach the end of the oxbox you’re confronted by a narrow, tree-covered channel that appears to lead to another world. I lingered a moment deciding if I wanted to set out into the unknown. Lured in by the prime prospect of adventure, I paddled forward. A pair of Golden Orb spiders stood at the entrance of the channel as if to guard it from the outside world. They didn’t seem too concerned with my curiosity.
The murky waters and heavy foliage created the ideal setting for my exploration. Having no idea what I might encounter in the channel, including the possibility of alligators, sparked a true sense of adventure. Where there’s little risk, there’s little adventure.
As I journeyed further down the channel the trees closed in upon me. At times it was easier to grab hold of their branches and pull myself forward. I began to wonder just how far they would grant me passage. Navigating these tight quarters had me wishing for a slightly smaller vessel as a 14.5′ kayak isn’t the ideal length for such a place. Thankfully, there were only a few tight turns to maneuver. At one point a dead thorn bush made an effort to thwart my journey, but a swift whack of my paddle sent the branches into the water and out of my way. That still didn’t stop a few thorns from catching the back of my neck or burying into my fingers, which I would have to dig out later.
Shortly after my thorny encounter, I reached my turn around point. That is not to say I could not have gone further, but it would have required me to dismount the kayak and drag it over some low branches. I assessed the risk at hand and decided it would be best to return with a friend before making the attempt. The afternoon was pressing on so avoiding a tricky situation in the channel alone was the wise thing to do. I backed up past the thorn bush, turned the boat around, and made my way back to the oxbow lake, then to the boat launch.
A good adventure is good for the soul. They leave us feeling satisfied and fulfilled. I began by saying adventures don’t have to be far off journeys. A short journey to a local park can satisfy us all the same. It might seem crazy to some, but I know this resonates with others. We all need adventure in our lives, so get out there and find some. It’s closer than you think.
Click HERE for more information about Chickasabogue Park.
Click HERE for information about Native Kayaks.