On Tuesday, my buddy Rich Jacobsen and I plopped our butts into a couple of kayaks and headed down the Charlotte Creek. We had left a car at Fortin Park and drove my truck up to the little hamlet of Davenport Center to put the small, plastic crafts into the water.
As we dug our paddles into the brook and rounded the first bend, a mother Merganser and seven ducklings went into the current in front of us. We were surprised at the speed those brown-and-gray babies could swim. They stayed just ahead of us as we silently paddled along. Within moments, a pair of geese entered the water from the shelter of the tall grasses along the water. They were accompanied by a half-dozen goslings.
We stayed as far as we could from the little fellows, but they insisted on racing ahead of us in the slow, tranquil water. Within a couple of minutes, the creek narrowed into a quicker chute. We glided down the faster water alongside a downed tree and its over-hanging branches. On the next bend, the frightened baby ducks and geese hid in the tangled brush along the opposite shore.
Rich had never been in a kayak before. His paddling experience had been limited to a canoe many years ago. I assured him that a kayak is far more stable than a canoe because you sit at the same level as the water. That knowledge did him little good when he bumped the bottom of his craft onto a submerged boulder, shifted his weight and ended up sitting in the cool, shallow water.
Most of our journey was uneventful. The quiet runs were just slightly interrupted by small, shallow rapids. There was no Class 2 or 3 water. Any inexperienced paddler can handle the Charlotte, but there were enough diversions to make the 2 1/2-hour journey just plain fun.
The Charlotte Creek parallels Route 23 down through Davenport and empties into the Susquehanna just below Emmons. With the lower water this time of year, I don't think we would have wanted to begin our journey much farther upstream. After all, this spring has been rather dry and a few more inches of water would have kept us from bumping bottom in the more shallow sections of the creek.
We only had to get out of our boats a couple of times. A downed tree completely blocked the stream a ways below West Davenport, and behind the block plant on Southside, the creek was impassible with debris left from the floods a few years ago.
The Charlotte Creek has been known for its good trout fishing for many, many years, and running it in a kayak gave me an opportunity to find some good-looking places to fish in the future. There are some great trout in that rocky brook just waiting for a nice, fat crawler or perfectly presented fly. I'll have to pack a rod sometime and give those pools a try on a return trip down the creek.
After rounding a few more bends, we reached the end of our journey. We pulled our sturdy boats to shore within sight of the airplane hangers of the old F and F Airport. It was a fun morning. The sun was warm, the water wasn't cold and the creek was great.
There are lots of equally good creeks in our area just waiting for my yellow boat and paddle. Maybe we'll float the Butternut or Otego creeks someday soon. I'll let you know how we do.
Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. E-mail him at email@example.com.