January at Jane’s Island, Maryland
Day 1 – Foggy Bottom…
The drive down to Jane’s Island was rainy and in some parts torrential. Even so, we pushed the CRV to make good time when possible so that J and I could enjoy a last-light kayak. Fortunately for everyone, there weren’t many other people on the road.
We had called prior to starting the trip and knew to look for our cabin information in the park offices outside box before heading to the boat ramp. After passing through the gate, we stopped for a second to grab the cabin info and drove on.
The boat ramp was covered in fog when we pulled up. The dock’s support poles were just a dimming procession of shadows into the distance. Excitement and confidence overruled what reason J and I had, and we decided to go for a quick paddle in spite of the approaching darkness and fog.
A chilled mist caressed our faces as we slowly paddled across Daugherty Creek Canal (Little Annemessex river). We paddled closer to the southern bank of Acre Marsh as the fog grew thicker. A break in the fog allowed us to pass over to the northern side of the channel. J paddled closer than normal, not wanting to get lost in the foggy soup.
We paddled towards the sound of the waves breaking on the outer beaches of Jane’s Island. The fog thickened even more and crossing over the tidal creeks feeding into Acre marsh grew more suspenseful. The shore line dimmed as light slid below the horizon. Hugging the bank whilst paddling, we stopped a few times to question our direction and ability to find the way back across many of the creeks that cut our path. The fog parted briefly to lure us on and we skipped across a large creek located near an osprey nest box. A few moments after crossing the open water we were again encased in grey.
Our apprehension got the better of us in the failing flight and fog and we turned the paddle just after sliding up to an exceptionally large open space.
Our paddle back was slow and burdened with a little regret. The sound of breaking waves taunted us and suggested that the outer beach was tantalizingly close.
Day 2 – A Cold Winter’s Paddle…
Strong and sunny daylight poured in the cabin window and we roused for breakfast. No trace of the previous nights’ fog remained. Both of us were excited because the day’s weather was forecast to be in the mid-upper 30’s.
We made a hasty drive to the boat ramp after breakfast. The paddling gear was still loaded from the previous night’s paddle and had dried overnight. J geared up for the cold. The bright morning sunlight reflected strongly off his iron-man cool-dude sunglasses.
Ice encased most of the kayak launch so we put in from the ice-rimmed boat ramp instead.
We paddled out into Acre marsh and were pleasantly surprised by an outgoing tide’s assist. Only the slightest breeze blew across the marsh reeds as we floated along. The open area near the osprey nest box shed its mystery in the clarity of the morning. We wondered what all the suspense had been on our trip last night.
The kayaks floated passed the Wade Creek backcountry camp. An enormous great blue heron guarded the dock leading to the campsite. We paused to photograph for a bit and then continued on westward towards the beach. Intermittent crab pot posts dotted our way and looked decidedly less skeletal in the light of day.
It was just past high tide when we slid up onto the inner island beach to the left of a monolithic dock. Not knowing exactly where to leave the boats, we carefully dragged them up and over a small sandy berm, avoiding beach grasses, and then ditched them on the beach facing Tangier Sound.
Oval egg-like masses and tiny dried flounder dotted the beach all the way up to Rock Hole.
We explored Rock Hole for an hour or two, hiked back to the kayaks, and then dragged them back up the beach. The beach above a small, calm embayment on the east side of Rock hole served as our launch point. We slid down the sand back into the tidal channel and continued our paddle.
We paddled the longish Red trail back to the boat ramp, meandering through tidal sloughs, seeing no one else. A brief stop at the Daugherty creek backcountry camp site and walk in the woods let us stretch our legs and get a good idea of the general camp layout. At this site, the trees would add a layer of shade and protection from the summer sun. Not so with the Wade Creek campsite.
After our brief diversion, we returned to the beached kayaks and paddled quickly up Daugherty canal and into the marina.
Back at the cabin, J and I enjoyed a quiet sit on the dock while watching the sun go down. Dark waters of the canal contrasted sharply with the setting sun and the faint blue line of Tangier sound. A sliver of a moon peaked up over the island’s horizon. A few scudding clouds reflected strongly in the perfectly still water. The stillness of the twilight continued into the night.
Day 3 – At the Cabin…
Our visit to Assateague was fun and had taken most of the day. We watched massive earthmovers remove feet of sand tossed onto the terminal road by a winter storm. A flight of snow geese parked in the marsh directly opposite the beach and seemed unfazed by all the activity. Most were snoozing in the warm sun. Salt spray from an overactive ocean coated us as we strolled up the beach.
We arrived back at the cabin just as the sun was going down and ambled on down to the dock to watch its final descent. The bright blue line of Tangier sound had been replaced by a fiery-orange glow. A breeze rippled the surface of the canal and clouds filled in much of the sky, creating a more complex sunset palette and watery reflection. The last dip of the sun painted the sky in hues of pink and peach.