In McClellanville just across Jeremy Creek from the town boat landing is a small tidal creek named Otter Creek. On a recent kayak trip, I didn’t encounter any otter, but I did see nature at its best while paddling through this area now known as Mouzon’s Bluff.
I start my trek as I entered Otter Creek, only 10 feet wide at its mouth. Snails work their way up blades of marsh grass slowly cleaning them as they slide. Small minnows and shrimp jump and splash as I quietly wisp through the water. In the marsh grass near the shore, I catch a glimpse of a tail, of what I am sure is a good sized spot-tail bass, swoosh off into the cloudy depth below. I continue my journey as the creek widens to about 30 to 40 feet and bends to the right and then the left.
I curiously wonder if I might encounter an alligator, which prefer brackish water but will travel in the creeks on rare occasions. Bounded by marsh grass on both sides; palmettos, cedars, oaks, poplars and gums extend upward from the mainland and often jut out over the quiet waters of the creek.
The last of the honeysuckle blooms speckle the hilly eastern shore. As a child I once slid down this hill only to find myself face-to-face with a green snake, his head as big as my tightly clenched fist. Knowing that the snake wasn’t poisonous did little to ease my mind at the time, but as it was just as frightened by the experience as I, we both left each other as quick as we could react.
Paddling along further, I see a rope tied to a cedar tree marking where childhood friends and I used to try to cross (before the area had begun to be developed and there was a bridge) on homemade floating rafts. Tiny fiddler crabs burrow holes in the steep mud bank reminding me of the cliff-dwelling Anasazi Indians. The crabs retreat to their caves and then run back out raising their one over-sized claw in a threatening manner as I safely pass by.
The marsh grass thickens on both sides leaving only a path as wide as my kayak where I breeze through and continue. Under large overhanging trees and over craggy underwater branches of fallen ones, I pass in the shady filtered light of the creek.
This is life undisturbed; an area that rarely sees a human being and is untouched by civilization except for a few pieces of trash that have floated up the creek. A chuck will’s widow proudly sings out it’s own name while a bobwhite calls back “toot-sweet-bob-white”. A kingfisher flutters back and forth over the creek as I disturb his evening hunt, and a green heron flaps up to a perch a safe distance away to wait for my departure.
My journey ends as the marsh grass claims the entire pass of the creek and I am forced to turn around. I slowly paddle back home, quietly observing nature at it’s best and reminiscing a childhood full of experiences with my best friend along this tranquil creek.
A Tribute to Robert Bruce Baldwin – Rest in Peace