Knee Deep in a Creek
// March 24th, 2012 // Uncategorized
Yesterday I spent two hours knee deep in a creek on Chatham’s south side testing out hip waders and boots in preparation for the upcoming SUPAS expedition on the Wolf River in Mississippi and Tennessee, April 7-14. Apparently, as part of the seven-person SUPAS team, I’ll be trudging through snake-infested swamps for the first three days of the expedition, most likely spending more time towing my stand-up paddleboard behind me rather than standing atop it.
In anticipation of this challenge, I dug out a pair of boots and lightweight hip waders that had been given to me years ago by a biology student that I met in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska (on the shores of the Arctic Ocean). Back then, I had intended to use the gifted gear to traverse a section of the frigid Sagavanirktok River from the “town” of Deadhorse to the Arctic Ocean. Long story short, a series of events unfolded and I wisely talked myself out of that challenge. The waders have been sitting in a duffle bag buried deep in a closet ever since.
And so, with waders to the waist and boots tightly laced, I slid down the muddy bank and into Indian Creek. I chose to walk a 1km portion of the narrow creek that meanders behind an emerging subdivision of large new homes between Seventh Line East and Indian Creek Road on the outskirts of Chatham. West of the creek was a cornfield, ploughed under and flatly vacant on this warm spring day. Interestingly, this cornfield is bookended by two golf courses, Links of Kent to the north and the Chatham Golf and Fun Centre to the south.
As with many creeks and rivers in the Chatham-Kent area, the knee-deep water of Indian Creek was coffee and cream-coloured, muddily opaque and fairly cold despite the warm spring temperatures of late. I stumbled along over unseen rocks that littered the creek bed. In one section the bed formed a definable V-shape which made walking difficult, one foot sliding to the bottom of the trench while the other felt for solid purchase in the ankle-deep mud.
Hundreds of errant golf balls lay strewn half-buried in the mud as handfuls of muskrats crisscrossed the creek’s surface and scurried into dens along the banks. Darting fish stirred up swirls of sediment below the surface while red-winged blackbirds chirped curiously from long reed stalks, alerting others to the silly human splashing his way downstream. Sadly, I saw no snakes.
Upon reaching Indian Creek Road, I took leave of the creek and entered a forested area adjacent to the golf course. This stand of trees has unfortunately become a dumping ground, littered with rusting metal and broken concrete. The unsightly debris, however, turned out to be good testing ground for the boots. I scrambled over heaps of rotting logs, trudged through stretches of putrid-smelling mud, squeezed between trees and wrestled my way through a maze of thorny blackberry vines.
An encroaching cloud bank eventually swallowed the sun so I turned tail and headed back to the truck, descending and ascending the creek bank countless times, into the channel and out again, disturbing the fish and giving the local blackbirds something to talk about.
I’m happy to say that the waders and boots performed well. Though not watertight, they did offer protection against the cool creek water and their extended length and intelligent lace hook design covered the boot tops, preventing any mud or debris from entering the footwear. I think they will serve me well in the swamps of northern Mississippi.
All in all, a fun afternoon of adventure here in Chatham-Kent.