The Casual Kayaker   -    Location reports of my flatwater kayaking

Short Paddle on the Coast for Wild Horses

The first weekend of October brought a chance to run down to Beaufort, NC, for some photography. The weather was absolutely perfect, and the plan was to take Calico Jack's passenger ferry from Harker's Island over to Shackleford Banks for some photography of the wild horses on Sunday morning. It's a trip I'd been planning on taking for at least three years, and now it was finally going to happen. Then on Monday the idea was to paddle from Beaufort across Taylor Creek to the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve for some photography of the wild horses there too, and hopefully some birds.


Shackleford Banks


Shackleford Banks

Shackleford worked out pretty well. Again, the weather could not have been any more perfect, and a new friend, Bob Decker, showed me around the east end of the island for some great opportunities to get photos. I thought I was well prepared for this trip, but I soon found out I was over packed and under prepared. I felt disorganized, and was concentrating too much on seeing and learning to wrap my head around my photography. I got a few good shots, but I brought back a lot more learning from the trip than I did photos. I will be better prepared for the next trip, and I assure you I will be returning.


Shackleford Banks


Shackleford Banks

Besides his experience and knowledge of Shackleford, Bob is also something of an officionado when it comes to the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve. He spends a lot of time there photographing from his kayak, and brings back some exceptional images. Unfortunately, he was tied up on Monday when I had planned to go to the reserve, but he shared a lot of good information with me so I could make a fruitful trip on my own. The tide was wrong Monday morning for my trip over by kayak, so I didn't end up paddling out into the tidal flats for birds or horses. My only paddling consisted of a 500 foot crossing of Taylor Creek that separates the Beaufort waterfront from the islands of the reserve.


Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve


Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve

I hauled out my kayak and stashed it up high so the incoming tide wouldn't get to it, then grabbed my gear and headed out on foot to find the wild horses. Bob's directions were spot on, and I soon found the horses way out on the tidal flats grazing as he'd told me I would. This put me shooting into the sun, so I didn't do much photography, and spent my time watching the horses to learn what I could of their habits. About noon they suddenly took off galloping west across the flats, so I grabbed up my gear once more and tried to shadow them to see where they were going. After a 10-minute hustle I found them coming out of the flats and settling into grazing on the edge of the island, working in and out of the brush and across the dunes. The horses did not seem at all concerned about my presence, and I was lucky enough to get some neat shots of a couple of stallions duking it out.


Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve


Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve


Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve

By mid afternoon I was quite satisfied with my success, and decided to call it quits. I had a long drive home from the coast waiting for me so I could get back in time to unpack and get settled for some sleep, as I had to go to work the next day. I WILL be heading back there for more, and will need to plan it for the tides to hit at the best times for light direction and good access when I head out in the kayak. Having a guide to maximize the trip is a good idea if you are considering heading out for kayaking at the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve to see the wild horses and other wildlife there. I happen to know Bob offers some workshops/guided kayak tours in season. You can check out his web site for more information at Carolina Footprints.

Update: Since this trip to the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve and Shackleford Banks, I have made subsequent trips, where I had the opportunity to paddle the coastal marsh at Rachel Carson. After my latest trip I wrote an article which is posted on www.NCWildHorses.com. Please take a look - My Wild Horse Safari on the Crystal Coast.


Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve


"If you're not paddling, you're not getting anywhere."



Next article ›››    (B.Everett) Jordan Lake, return to NC 751 area, November 19, 2011

 
   Article Listing

INTRODUCTION
When I first began kayaking I found a most helpful blog by Tom Haynie that aided me greatly in finding and choosing new flatwater locations. His blog was infinitely more detailed and useful than anything I found on kayaking forums. I quickly resolved to share my own impressions of locations I've visited, including details I believe to be important and helpful, in hopes of providing practical information to others. I sincerely hope you find something useful and helpful here. (For more location reports visit Tom's blog at backshortly.wordpress.com)


Kayaking Links

   Paddling.net - More Locations
   Paddling.net - Launch Sites Map

   Download Google Earth (free)


My Other Web Sites-

   CarolinaWildPhoto.com
   NCBirds.com
   CarolinaOuterBanks.com
   NCWildHorses.com
   GossamerTrilogy.com