Kayaking adventure at Crooked River, or "Raccoon stole my Lunch Box!"
We set out early on March 8 to head down to St Mary's, Ga with the sole purpose of paddling down the Crooked River out to Cumberland Island. I think that was a noble goal, although it may have been a little to much to ask for.
We made it into the state park around 4:00pm and got to our camp site only to find it already inhabited by what the locals call "no See-Ums" or biting gnats. Thick clouds were everywhere and made life pretty much unbearable during the daylight hours. We tried just about everything we could think of to keep them off of us, but nothing seemed to work. So we decided the only logical thing to do was to be away from the camp during daylight hours, and come back when it was cold enough that they would not be a problem.
Early the next morning we set out on the crooked river to the island, but not before we ran into a couple of locals who gave us some advice. They started out by asking where we were headed in an unusual New England accent that was very much out of place for the area. When we told them we were kayaking out to the island we got a very unsettling response of "Goin' all the way out there, are ya?"
They quickly let us know that in such a tidal river we really needed to watch for the currents and that during this time of day we should go north a bit and around the marshlands. This way we could avoid the worst of the tidal eddies and it would be a much safer trip. Sounded like pretty good advice.
I guess that 10 miles up and through marshlands does not take that long in a standard powered vessel, but it did take a bit long for us. So long in fact that we noticed that hours later we were actually further from the island than when we started, and that the tide was coming in, and coming in strong.
One of our group took a wave on his side and flipped. At least that is the official story, he in actuality was a little behind the rest of the group and when I chose to look in his direction he thought it may be fun to make a few "Gestures" towards me, in a light hearted way of course. Well the gestures were not nearly as funny as watching him go bottoms up :)
We got to him quickly and he made it back into his boat safely enough, but I think that he will be a little more careful in the future.
We decided around that point that the island would need to wait and started back for the take out point. In hindsight, I think we should have paddled around the marshes a little while longer.
Have any of you ever been paddling against the current, in a tidal river, during high tide? If so, then you know that only one phrase can describe it: "It Sucks!"
3-4 foot waves crashing in on us that because of the current would also turn your boat about 90 degrees starboard after they pummeled you. Not a fun ride. But we made it back in, safe but exhausted.
That night we net a local tom cat that we quickly named "Rooster" after the John Wayne movie Rooster Cogburn. He was just about the saddest animal I have ever met. Large and white he was very, very cross-eyed, and was missing all of the fur under his neck from some long ago fight with something that came close to ripping his throat out.
He was sweet enough and we gave a little bit to eat and drink. This it turns out is his job, once he finds a camp nice enough to feed him, he watches out for them and guards against other nighttime thieves that may take another meal from him. Around midnight we heard a hiss and growl and the sounds of all hell breaking loose. It was good old Rooster kicking the crap out of some Raccoons that were trying to steal anything that may have left out.
What a good cat!
The next morning we decided that the trip to the island was just not in the cards (one of our number was a little "nervous" about it), so we paddled out and around the marshes. This was a whole lot of fun, and we spent hours going in and out of the little paths made by the salt water. We also did some fishing, but did not have a lot of luck.
That night after the gnats went to bed we heard Rooster coming in for a nighttime payment. Here's a bit of advice: do not over feed your night time guardian or he will go off and sleep while you are raided by Raccoons!
While he was no where to be seen a particularly brazen raccoon came into camp looking for a meal. We are pretty good about storing out food items, but it seems I left a couple of things on the kayak trailer from the paddle earlier that he was very interested in.
We heard a strange sound from the back of camp, followed by the sound of something heavy being dragged across the road. When a couple of the group went to investigate, I was asked, "Hey...didn’t you have a small blue dry bag?"
"Well the raccoon just drug it across the road and tearing the H*LL out of it. What’s in there?"
"Bread from our paddle earlier. Well it's no longer water tight, so let him have it." "Wait...was there something attached to the dry bag?"
"Hold on...Yep. Looks like a lunch box."
You see, I attached the little dry bag of bread to the larger lunch box so it would not be lost. Now the raccoon had both. Nice!
I had to get the lunch box back since in addition to the food stuff inside it also had a very nice folding knife that I did not want to lose. Getting it back was fairly easy, and I left the bread for the little thief.
The funny thing came after when one of our friends asked, "So what was in the lunch box?"
I opened it up and he started laughing so hard I thought he was going to die right there. Here are the contents:
6 Kashi Granola Bars
1/2 a block of white cheddar (only the best)
1 "Snickers" bar
1 bag of Chili Cheese Fritos (we don’t have them in NC, what can I say)
"That raccoon must have thought he had the fattest loot ever!"
Then there came a lot of jokes about dollar signs in his eyes, him telling the "one that got away story" to the other raccoons, and even a few geeky world of Warcraft references that you would only get if you play the game.
Over all a very nice trip, with a few unusually bad parts thrown in for good measure. Like most of my trips, I must add.
If you are thinking about going out to Cumberland Island, I suggest one of two alternatives:
1) Go out from St Mary's river, it is a much easier paddle, or
2) Take the ferry :)
And that’s the story of how a raccoon stole my lunch box!
Kayaking adventure at Crooked River, or "Raccoon stole my Lunch Box!"
reader’s digest version?
I know it’s a little long…
but you have to admit it is entertaining
Liked your story
Hey, I liked your story but missed the geeky WOW jokes.
Oh, good coon story! Let’s get on a roll. Here’s mine:
Every night, but one, while we camped on Farm Island, a fat racoon raided our camp. Every night, we tightened down our packing more and more.
After a few nights, we figured out the coon wanted into our wooden food box more than anything. The box is about 16x20x12 inches, and packed, it was a good twenty pounds, maybe more. The coon even ignored some snack food left out on the table one night to go for the wood box. We were tired of getting up all the time to chase coon off, so we kept tightening the packing.
One night we double tied up the wooden box with ropes, placed it atop another box at the end of the picnic table, with the table slightly lifted and placed on top of the box, so the weight of the table was holding it down. Coon never gonna get in!
Sometime in the middle of the night, the coon is out there making all kind of noise. I finally got up and went for a look. Holy crud, the box was gone! I shined a light around and found the box, about twenty yards up a path into the woods. And out from behind the box steps daddy Coon. Big one. Devil eyes shining at me and body language that says, “I got it, what are you gonna do about it?” Well, we were in Maine, on a rocky island, and I lobbed several large rocks down the path. After the first one, Coon was like “that all you got?” The next rock was bigger and I was finding the range. It about hit him. Coon reluctantly turned and waddled off into the woods. I got the box back.
Next day, our party was incensed, mainly over the lost sleep. Three of us formed a war party. We continued away from camp from the spot where the Coon had abandoned the box. A trail of old food product litter led off into the woods providing evidence that the Coon had been living well off this campsite. We followed the trail until it ended, and then we started poking every hole in the ground and hollow log, hoping we could roust Mr. Coon from his daylight lair. We did not find the Coon. However, the following night was the only night we stayed on Farm Island that the Coon left us alone, and he didn’t seem quite as aggressive after that.
So my suggestion is, if you are having coon problems, disrupt their beauty rest. It might buy you at least one night of peace!
~~Chip Walsh, Gambrills, MD
They are some of the most resourceful little critters I have ever encountered.
And yes…this one was about as brazen as yours. When we confronted it he just stopped and looked at us with a good deal of indifference.
Definately a “Yea, I’m stealing your stuff. What are you gonna do about it!” Look.
Coon opened the zipper of my tent
While camping at Camden Hills State Park in Maine, I awoke at 2 a.m to the sound of a zipper. Someone was coming into my tent! My flashlight revealed nothing. The third time I heard the sound, I was quick enough to see a tiny hand inside the zipper of the outer screened chamber (LL Bean King Pine tent)! The racoon was opening the zipper by inserting his arm into the small opening and pushing the zipper tab. He was merely annoyed, not alarmed, when I chased him down the path wielding my dining canopy pole.
the best story we had with raccoons was when me and 2 other guys were at Lake Shelbyville in Illinois,we arrived at the campground after dark and were unloading the gear out of the back of our suv’s and carrying it 100 ft to the campsite.These coons had to be just sitting there waiting to make their move.One guy grabbed an armload out of his truck and when he got back to his truck,2 coons come flying out of the back,one with a loaf of bread and the other with hotdog buns.