Finally, we had a break in the rain and I had a break in my schedule, and we headed out to the Tugaloo River for a sunset paddle to a very special hidden place—the wetlands near Tugaloo Bend. I had been wanting to paddle to this area for weeks but one thing after another kept happening. Then the rain started, which is really a good thing because it keeps the levels in the lake and the river higher than normal for this time of year—but not too high.

I didn’t expect the river to be so wide. It is and it is beautiful. Get your kayak or canoe and get out and explore it!  Lake Hartwell was up 1.5 feet above full pool. This means the river was higher, too, and smooth as glass. The current just moved and we did, too. On this night, Jim Sullivan agreed to take Anne and me to the wetlands where we could see parts of the river that I had never seen and hopefully a beaver!

The river is beautiful at sunset. We like to imagine a Cherokee Indian standing on these rocks looking out at us as we paddle by. I’m sure they once stood there watching the river for travelers and also potential invaders.

Years ago, I lived in Savannah and learned that the ocean and the beaches have seasons. Now, I’m learning that the river has seasons, too! We are a long way from fall but the river has a life of it’s own and it’s greens are becoming yellows already.

When we reached the end of the Tugaloo Bend Heritage Park property, we made a sharp turn and began to paddle back up to the wetlands. Jim went first because he was on the lookout for hornet nests! I certainly did not want to get in the cross-fire of something like that.

Along the way, I saw a single bloom left on a Mimosa Tree. Summer’s last stand on the Tugaloo River. Our Sunset Paddle on the river is in two weeks! Hard to believe it is coming so fast, but it has been a good summer. I’m recovering and getting stronger every week and I’m paddling and hiking longer each week.

Love the late evening photo of Jim Sullivan, our wildlife and naturalist at the Tugaloo Bend Heritage Park. In this photo, he’s just spotted a PawPaw Tree and it has fruit! I have never seen one and never tasted it’s fruit until this evening. I had only heard the song that my grandmother once sang to me: Pickin’ up PawPaws puttin’ them in a basket.

Here’s the fruit from the PawPaw tree. It tastes like mango and Jim says Sue has used it in a pound cake. That made me smile. I know it is good.

When we reached the wetlands, we were faced with an option: get out and walk our kayaks over the beaver dam or turn around and go back. Well, I came to see the wetlands so we got out and pulled our boats over the dam! The green in front of us is a beaver dam. It’s long and according to Jim, very old. Thus, the dirt and green, green grasses.

And here’s the other side—the wetlands. Tugaloo Bend has  a couple of very large ponds and this is the lower one. It also has 87 acres adjacent to the Tugaloo River. At one time, all of this land was farm land. Jim told us how the Cherokee and then European settlers dug out channels to remove the water from the land so it could be farmed. It is really beautiful and a treasure for us in this county!

I love the sunset lighting. . . . Jim is watching and listening for birds and other wildlife. Anne is taking photos. You have to train yourself to listen to the silence and hear the land and the animals that live on it. That’s what Jim is doing. He’s listening. Anne and I were making noises with our cameras. We still have a lot of “city” within us.

I can’t remember the name of this plant, but I do know it only grows in wetlands like these. At least I remembered that trivia fact!

Just beautiful. Wonder no more why I live here. This is it. On a late Wednesday afternoon and evening, I’m not sitting in traffic in Atlanta. I’m here in a kayak. Smile!

Before the sun completely set, we made our way back over the beaver dam and into the main river channel. Paddling back up the river and to the Walker Creek Boat Ramp, I noticed the fog was just beginning to drift up. The river is beautiful and all is well with my soul!