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Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Fisher Lake and the Platforms
July 18, 2004
by Bruce Zimmerman

Fritz and Harriet led this paddling trip.  Initially, they planned topaddle to to Fisher Lake from the Rice Creek put in, but it turned out to be so much more.

Eight paddlers arrived at Rice Creek Landing at 10 a.m. Sunday. Fritz and Harriet, Bob, Peggy, Mike, Carl, Nancy, and Bruce headed out to Forever Wild Land. The swamp lilies are putting on a show right now. We saw abundant patches of white blooms at the water's edge.  We crossed Briar Lake and took the Bartram Canoe Trail to Tensaw Lake. We paddled down current past Larry Island, and crossed over to Bayou Jessamine.  The wind was calm and we had no traffic; the sport fishingboats had gone in to Rice Creek. As we were putting in, they were taking out.

The water in Bayou Jessamine was high.  The water was wide and deep and we had had current behind us on the way to the lake. Swamp hibiscus show up here and there in this bayou. We passed up two side creeks on the right and took the third right which put us into Fisher Lake. We went from deep forest shade to open sky.

Fisher Lake is an arc of water about 200 feet wide. We paddled about a quarter mile on a straight shot, then followed the lake as it bends to the right. Coming out of the curve, we saw the new platform at the end of the lake, just about where the lake narrows. Here we took a break for food, stories, and necessities.
The platform is bolted to two stout trees via a mechanical link that lets the platform rise with the tide. This link also allows rather large ants from the forest to roam the platforms.  Note to self:  bring a whiskbroom next time to sweep up cookie crumbs.  The wasps like the platform, too.  The shade was very welcome and the location is peaceful and sheltered. The land behind the platform is high and firm. Crawfish seem to live there; their chimneys are numerous.

Fritz called for our departure before the regularly scheduled afternoon thunderstorm. We paddled out of the lake past two pleasure boats. The incoming tide was plain to see at the entrance to the lake and in Bayou Jessamine.

On the outbound leg in Bayou Jessamine, we did some bird watching. Bob pointed out a nest of a night heron in a tree limb over the water. We saw a barred owl on the right. Carl does a terrific call for the barred owl, but she flew away. Further on we saw another barred owl on the left.

When we left the bayou, we had our first swim of the day. Nancy took advantage of this location and helpful company to practice self rescue with her paddle float. Mike and Carl took their leave of us.  While we were having this refreshing swim, Bob pointed out a largenumber of swallow-tailed kites and other birds circling above the trees on the other side of the Tensaw River. We tried counting but they were in constant motion hunting and feeding on insects. Perhaps there were as many as 15 kites and five or so other birds. The flocks drifted northward over Larry Island and dispersed over the Tensaw.

Harriet used Nancy's inflated paddle float to get back in her boat. Fritz just climbed inover the stern of his boat. Practice, practice.

We left our swimming place and headed up the Tensaw on the side of the island we had not seen today. It was smooth paddling on a slow current up to the end of Richardson Island. We found another place to take a break west of the tip of Richardson Island. It was a shady cove, but a light breeze made it even better. We shared the last of our snacks and headed to the east side of Richardson Island. And the rain came. No lightning, just a cooling shower. Boat traffic made some inconvenience for us so we tucked our boats in to a sand beach on the downstream side of a tiny island and we had another swim call. Peggy chose to go on to the landing ahead of us. Then we took a lap around the little island, and found the biggest concentration of swamp lilies of the day.  From here on, I was just blissfully following everyone else back to the landing.  The river looks so different in the daylight; this is the part that I usually see at dusk. We took out about 5:10 p.m.