Swamp Tour

Walter Hauck

LOVES Wooden Canoes
After a record-breaking amount of rainfall and cold temperatures for October here in St. Louis, we tentatively chose the week-end of Nov.6-8 for a Valley of the Meramec Chapter float on the Lower Cache River. We were rewarded with beautiful, mild, clear days! We gathered at the campground at Fern Clyffe State Park in southern Illinois on Friday evening. We sat around the roaring campfire and talked about plans for the following day. Bright and early the next morning, we drove to the Cache River State Natural Area to join a canoe tour of the swamp led by state naturalists and biologists. They knew we were coming and loved our wooden canoes--calling us "the wooden boat people." The guides led us to the highlight of the trail system which was the state champion bald cypress tree--over a thousand years old. Then we were left on our own to explore the "Swamp Trail." We were grateful we weren't there a couple of weeks earlier when the trail markers would have been under water. But hitting a thick patch of duck weed was like paddling through molasses!
We paddled through Eagle Pond and saw a cypress tree that was "only" 850 years old--but with 209 cypress knees sticking up out of the water. We entered the Cache River proper, and paddled back up to the re-entry into the swamp. The Cache River Wetlands Joint Venture Partnership is a combined effort between the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge, the Illinois DNR, the Nature Conservancy and Ducks Unlimited, and has registered nearly 12,000 acres. We had a terrific day in the swamp--and this late in the year, weren't too worried about snakes! We gathered around another big campfire Saturday evening and shared meals and storied under a bright nearly-full moon. Perfect camping weather! (Our youngest traveler was one year old----Sue the terrier!)
 

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Walter,

Thanks for posting this trip report, the pics are great.
But, what is that green stuff you are paddling in/through?

Dan
 
Duckweed...?

Hi Dan,
We think that the stuff was duckweed---a floating plant. It serves as a food source for waterfowl. Very tiny, unrooted floaters. But at times, very thick on the surface. There was no odor, nor was it slimy. Actually looked very clean.
Stuck to the canoes and paddles, but it rinsed off very easily. Or brushed off when it was dry. It also serves as cover for frogs. But it took several strokes of the paddle to get some momentum going. Strange stuff.............Marty Hauck
 
I believe duckweed is hte world's smallest flowering plant...fwiw

My wife & I paddled the Cache several years ago. Outstanding place! And right here in plain ol' Illinois...
 
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