Outdoor Adventures Offers Full-Moon Paddles in the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta
Posted on August 26, 2016 by Michael Brown
Of all the places Outdoor Adventures travels, the Mobile-Tensaw Delta remains one of the most special and unique. And one of the closest.
August’s full-moon paddle kicked off a series of trips that will take students to Georgia for hiking, North Carolina for skiing and a Mississippi island for camping.
The monthly full-moon paddle is less than 30 minutes from campus, but to glide across the waters in a kayak, listening to cicadas and staring at alligator eyes, is to enter a world that feels far detached from the glimmer of Mobile’s skyline.
In the daytime there are over 300 species of birds to see, over 15 different turtle species, and more species of crawfish than anywhere else in the world. When the sun goes down and the moon comes out, it is an entirely different place.
At first it seems like the world is at rest, but the more you look and listen the more you discover that the delta is almost more alive at night. After starting to paddle you can see alligators along the banks of the river. From afar they are stoic and watchful. If you get too close they will sink below the water to retreat to the safety of the wetlands. Not all are huge. On the most recent paddle, with a half dozen USA students, we saw a 9-footer but also many babies.
After paddling into the lower delta, just beyond the rumble of the Interstate 10 Bayway, your ears begin to pick up small sounds, and you realize how busy the delta is. You can hear the splash of mullet and other fish jumping out of the water. Paddle by reeds and you will hear the countless insects and bugs chirping. Get too close to a cypress or willow tree, and you might scare up a heron or osprey. Sometimes, we even hear the invasive nutria crawling around and eating the marsh reeds.
Our final destination on the full-moon paddle is a place called Whiskey Ditch. It is an open pond in the middle of the wetlands only accessible through the small creek. Here we might play hide-n-seek or eat dinner. Most of the time we just lay back in our boats and look at the moon, the constellations and lights of the distant skyline.
I have always enjoyed paddling in the delta. By day or night, I have never had the same experience twice. There is always something new to see or hear. We are fortunate to have such a vast and unique area for outdoor recreation so close to campus.
Michael Brown, coordinator of outdoor recreation and sports clubs, is a 2012 graduate of the University of South Alabama. After earning a degree in recreation administration, Brown worked in the Florida Everglades for three years taking court-ordered Miami youth on month-long outdoor expeditions. When he’s not taking members of the University community on adventure trips, Brown enjoys rock climbing, biking, playing Ultimate Frisbee and working with his father to build a sailboat.
Outdoor Adventures hosts full-moon paddles in the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta most months and about 20 other trips year-round for the University community and guests. For more information, visit the Outdoor Adventures website.
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