MD - Patuxent - Hallowing Point south - 2006/12/19 - 11.0 miles




After a series of extremely warm days a front brings normal winter weather. A paddle on the Patuxent and a visit to the east coast's northernmost cypress swamp fills up a day short on time and daylight.




The days have gotten about as short as they are going to get. Two more days and the sun starts back the other way. Although sunset continues to get earlier, sunrise gets earlier faster and the days get longer. The sun has started its slow journey back to the north. However, winter has not started yet. The hysteresis (delay between input and output) of the oceans means the sun will be half way back before the land and air begin to warm back up.

But the weather here this year has been unusually warm. Yesterday was 72 degrees in Baltimore - an all time record. Today temperatures are back down toward normal as a front passes in the morning. Todays highs - a pleasant 52 degrees. I have to go to Annapolis this morning on business. After that, it is only another hour south on MD Route 2 to Hallowing Point launch on the Patuxent. My plan is to paddle south toward Battle Creek and the northernmost cypress swamp on the east coast.

Hallowing Point park is a recreational complex several miles inland from the river. The launch ramp is on the south side of the Route 231 bridge on the Calvert County (East) side. It is one of the few free ramps on the river. With two hard surface ramps and a 40 foot stretch of beach it is a nice place to launch for a middle of the river paddle on the Patuxent. The bridge is at a narrow point of the river, a little more than 0.5 miles across and just down stream from a big power plant. Downstream the river widens to 2.0 miles across.

The banks of the Patuxent are not yet as developed as many of the other rivers on the western shore, although the signs of the future are appearing. But for now there are still a few large farms providing sections of shoreline without some McMansion and manicured lawns on them.




There was no breeze and the water had a glassy silver sheen of reflected light from the sun filtering through the stratus clouds on the edge of the front. To the west the sky was clear and bright blue. it was going to be a good day.

I paddled out to a duck blind in the middle of the river. There were no geese about so I thought it fairly safe even though I could not tell if there was anyone in the blind. Hunting season had started and the tell tale distance retort of shotguns told me that some care was in order. Obviously this was an active blind as a fresh dressing of cut boughs completely covered the unit. I paddled into the boat dock underneath the fragrant branches.




I paddled back toward the bank and into a small forked creek. As I approached a large flock of geese rose, honking and splashing as they lifted their bulky bodies into the air only to settle about two miles further down river. There must have been about a thousand of them.

There was not much water in the little creek and it did not extend very far. Covered in a the usual marsh schmutz, I soon had a ring around the oyster color of my hull. Large homes big enough for several families covered the shore line, each with an assemblage of toys on their lawns - sail boats and jet skis.




Portions of the bank were quite high, crumbling red clay soil covered with brambles. One section had a thick layer of grey clay that formed a wall right at the shoreline. Water wept out from several spots and a covering of algae gave the wall a green sheen. The sun was warm in spite of its low angle. With no wind the day was very pleasant. Here the clear waters of the open bay had intruded into the red/brown waters of the Patuxent watershed that I had launched into. I could see the bottom for about 6 feet - a rarity here in the nutrient rich heavily algaed Bay.

I continued south and rounded the next point and paddled into the next bay. I could not see the opening to Battle Creek and figured it must be around the next point. But that was too far away for this day as I wanted to stop at the Cypress Swamp Nature Center on the way back to Annapolis. I had already been two hours to this point and I knew it would take at least that long to return.

The day had remained unusually still. When a cold front with high pressure passes there is usually wind associated with it. But until I turned back for the ramp it had been completely flat. But about half way back the wind finally showed up and a 20 knot northerly breeze started to white cap the river surface. The temperature went to pleasantly warm with a nice feel on the skin to a chilly day as the wind blew over the cold water and chilled my wet hands. Now I was really glad I had turned around and made it half way back before the conditions changed.




After I loaded up the kayak I drove south on Route 508 following the signs to the Cypress Swamp Nature Center. The center closes at 4:30 so I just had enough time to quickly tour the small museum displays and walk around the boardwalk through the cypress trees. The entire swamp was logged many years ago and the trees there now are 75 to 200 years old. Still they were remarkably large in the protected swamp which was bigger than I expected.

it was an enjoyable day on the river and I was impressed by the beauty of this portion of the Patuxent. Perhaps I will have to join the Patuxent River sojourn this June a spend a week paddling down the Patuxent.


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