Here at ACK we love hearing inspiring paddling stories. This latest one comes from Carol and David in Mississippi who were just hoping to to gain some tips for better paddling. Instead, they found beauty where they weren’t expecting to and decided to share in this blog. Enjoy!

Storks resting at the top of this tall, dead cypress.

We are fairly inexperienced kayak people, so when the Fish & Wildlife Service here in Mississippi sponsored a “Summer of Paddling” to get folks out on the rivers and swamps and into the Malmaison Wildlife Management Area natural areas, we jumped on it. We loaded up our kayaks (this time it only took us 15 minutes, getting better!), headed down the road and met at the boat ramp. They told us to meet at Tippo Bayou, Tallahatchie Wildlife Management Preserve. We must’ve gotten there early so for a while we waited. Eventually we decided no more waiting! So we put in ahead of time and got out of the way. We unloaded the kayaks (only 10 minutes…getting better) and were out onto the beautiful swamp, where we encountered a tall dead cypress loaded with storks that roosted there the night before.

We must’ve been early as we still hadn’t seen any other paddlers. Eventually, up drove one of the volunteers to tell us that the rest of the group was putting in a few yards down the road, but if we kept paddling we should eventually meet up with them. Three miles down the bayou later, we still had not encountered other people in canoes and kayaks but we did see a pair of ducks we didn’t recognize, several Mississippi Kites, and some of the most incredible scenery we have yet to find in our brief time as ‘Swamp People’. Eventually, we returned to our personal put-in, loaded up the kayaks and went several yards down the road to join the other paddlers. But with all that noise, splashing and crowding, we decided right away that we would return to Tippo Bayou by ourselves to further our explorations soon.

And so we have! Before long, we will be training our tiny puppy to watch out for stumps, wearing his own life vest and perched atop one of our kayaks at home in the swamp. Let us pray he will not become gar bait. They grow them BIG here on the Mississippi Delta.