Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Dark Water

The river looked dark but it was an illusion of the bottom showing through relatively clear water. The bottoms of our rivers get covered in thick algae this time of year due to increased nutrients in the form of fallen leaves, and more sunlight due to an open leaf less canopy. The algae covering the bottom of the Octoraro was dark green, almost black. It’s part of the seasonal progression of rivers. Just like leaf fall and leaf out on trees, our streams experience predictable seasonal changes few of us observe. Impressive water carved and smoothed bedrock slabs made holding positon in the river slick and difficult. Caddis cover the rocks in the parts of the river with a heavier flow. The still eddies were covered in tan sediments and pockets of accumulated leaves. There are a few main channels here since the water braids through a rapid and the force of the water in them is impressive. I have a hard time hanging on. I try not to drop my feet to avoid an ankle entrapment, but mostly so that I don’t knock the caddis that are clinging to the rocks into the current. An Asian clam is tumbled in the turbulence of a micro eddy formed behind a fist sized rock, like a ping pong ball on a jet of air. These animals came to North America with Chinese settlers as a food source and moved east across the continent with the immigrant rail road workers who brought them along. They are a part of our aquatic systems now, and this is one of two species I witness on this cold trip. I explore the base of the rapids a little more, creep up eddy to eddy into the lower part of the rapid, and then let the current push me through the rocks like the dark water in the creek.

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