Friday, December 19, 2014

Into the Worm Hole

Creeks are all different, largely but not entirely based on their geology. This one has a loose bed so it changes regularly. A large tulip poplar fell across the creek and formed a temporary dam. It holds back a couple tons of sand and gravel. Leaves are mashed up against its upstream side. It towers over my head as I lay in the stream below. Water has worked its way under the log and scoured out a hole through the gravel. Water blasts through the hole with impressive fury. I inch in and fight the incredible force to shove my head under water, and under the log, into the hole to see if anyone is living here. I work my shoulders into the hole as my toes dig into the bottom but can’t hold against the force, even this small creek produces. Bubbles blur past me the way stars look when the starship Enterprise speeds up, and I feel like I am flying through space. I can’t creep in any further, and I run out of air so I let the water flush me back out, and I drift downstream. A large school of assorted minnows congregate in what I am learning is a pre winter ritual. The trick is to follow them to see where they go when it gets really cold. A darter hops along the bottom. I passed a lot of fresh beaver chews on the hike in and I expect to see some evidence of the rodents in the stream but don’t. I was hoping to find a bank den I might be able to explore. They are here somewhere. I just can’t find them today. The bottom on the outside of a bend is scoured out to bare compacted clay, where the waters velocity is greatest. Roots overhang into the water and provide excellent cover for a school of assorted minnows, and I suspect there might be the beginnings of a beaver bank den here, but I can’t find any evidence. The minnows look like a swarm around a pile of leaves and sticks on the bottom. The gravel sides, scalloped clay bottom and orange tinged water remind me of pictures of Mars. Streams are familiar from the surface, but alien below, and exploring them gives a sense of adventure and discovery. I walk out of this stream and head to the next experience. Warp speed Mr. Sulu.

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