Paddling To Cumberland Island. Part 4

In addition to the surrounding beauty, we experienced an abundance of wildlife. Walking down a trail or stepping out onto the beach or even moving right outside our tent, we encountered many of the island’s four-legged inhabitants – deer, armadillo, raccoons, wild hogs, turkey (OK, two-legged) and wild horses. Luckily, none of us ever came across any of the island’s poisonous snakes.

Sunday morning after Michael’s “carbo-loading” breakfast of fried cinnamon bagels, we packed our kayaks and began the “paddle” back to mainland. The winds were up, the tide was rushing, and adrenaline was pumping. “Stay close and paddle,” George instructed. And paddle we did.

The kayaking was challenging; yet, thanks to the expert instruction by our guides, our group was well-prepared. We welcomed stops along isolated seashell-covered mud banks to gulp down Gatorade and munch on leftover snacks.

As we continued our journey up river, we faced fierce headwinds and crosscurrents. Then, as we turned the last bend toward St. Mary’s we could see the sailboats docked at the marina in the distance. As I looked around at the other kayakers, I could tell that just the sight of our destination gave us a necessary surge of endorphins to help battle the choppy waters. “Keep paddling,” I heard Michael say.

After six hours of paddling against the tide, the waves and the strong coastal winds, we made it back, one by one, to the rocky boat ramp. With high five’s, hugs and cheers of accomplishment, we congratulated each other on an adventure well done.

As we pulled our boats up onto land, a man fishing off the dock asked, “Did ya’ll kayak in these winds from Cumberland Island?” Looking back over the white-caps and waves, I looked at the others and said proudly “Yes, we did!

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