Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Racing The Mud

The weather forecast is for heavy rain, and the radar shows that counties just to the west are getting drenched. We are next, so I hurriedly pull my drysuit on, and head to Deer Creek. I hike upstream to a reach I don’t normally snorkel, stick my head in the water, ignore the cold water sting, and am blown away by the unclouded water. For a minute the clarity rivals that of the springs in Florida, then I look across the river to the opposite bank through the water rather than straight down at the bottom and realize there is probably only 20 feet of visibility, which for here is amazing. Rock weed covers the boulders that are interspersed with sandy bottom. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of case maker caddisflies covering the rocks and vegetation on the rocks. The insects cling to sprigs of rock weed that stick out into the current and the silver mica flecks in their cases make them look like ornaments on a Christmas tree. Some of the caddis flies quiver in the current and end up peeling off to flush downstream. The current blows me off the rock too and I float until I am able to drop my feet to the bottom and crawl back to the riffle. Hundreds of case openings point in the same direction into the current and a swarm covers the face of a rock. Each case sparkles with mica flecks and I have never seen such a large accumulation of case makers in one spot. I stay for as long as I can endure the cold and I enjoy the clarity. I know I am racing the rain. Once it starts falling our streams quickly respond with greater flows, higher levels, and cloudy water from the mud that washes into the creek. But for now the river is clear, and the view is amazing.

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