Friday, April 07, 2006

Robert's PG-13 Tybee Report

(Robert, you are officially the Post Master now) ...Brian

Ok. I figured Brian would give you the watered down version of the whole Tybee experience. Im Robert. The guy who drove up 10 hours in the pouring rain from Gulf Shores to meet up with Brian, Chris and Barry in Savannah. We figured staying one night at a hotel before the paddling would give us several hours in Savannah the next day and much needed rest. I actually beat them to Savannah and had to check in at a separate hotel because there was no vacancy at the Red Roof where they already had a room. So. I found a room at the Travel Lodge. If the sight of yellow caution tape and a 20 foot grave directly outside your room gives you the creeps, I wouldnt recommend staying there.

Brian had made the trip several months back and was complementary of this particular region and what it had to offer. Once I had a chance to view the photos, I was immediatley drawn to the idea of camping on the beach, fishing in the marsh and soaking up the sun and all its beauty. It was spring break (im a teacher) and after weeks of preparation, I was ready to go. After we parked my Jeep we all loaded up in Brian's truck and began our adventure touring parts of Historic Savannah. Looking back, I wish we had the opportunity to have spent more time here. My wife and I will soon be making a trip to check out much more of what this beautiful place has to offer. One meal, a bloody mary and a picture later we were on our way to pick up last minute supplies at Wal-Mart and a Bait and Tackle place on the way in.

You may not believe this but four guys with a appetite for the outdoors can pack more shit in a kayak that a woman packing a suitcase to the beach for a week. The bed of Brian's Tundra was filled with enough survival gear, water, food and supplies to have lasted us on that beach for a month. And when we began to transfer those supplies from the truck to our boats, we all began to wonder if we would even stay afloat. With hundreds of miles behind us and just a few miles of water ahead, we were eager to set off into the waters of Tybee Island.

Brian spoke of the Tide a good bit. I mean, it was always Tybee this, Tybee that....and would close any sentence by mentioning something about the Tide. I mean, come on. Is it really that big of a deal? Well. It turns out that the only way to get to our destination was to cut through this salt marsh at high tide. Rumor has it that it is impossible to pass through Jack;s Cut at low tide. So, being the experienced outdoorsmen that we are, my posse and me cut through the marsh with no problem at the tide's highest point Friday afternoon.

The Atlantic Ocean is more beautiful than I remembered it. The receding tide makes for a majestic beach. Otters along with various species of birds take advantage of shallow waters and what the tide leaves behind. It is truly an remarkable place to explore and is virtually untouched by human hands. I was in awe of what this place had to offer.

Did I mention that we packed a lot of stuff? When we unloaded our kayaks and set up camp, each of us began our own little routines--Most notably-----food. I dont know about the other guys. But I packed way too much food. Hell, I even brought spam. I havent eaten spam in 15 years. Somewhere, nestled upstairs in my stuff sack right now, is enough leftover ramen noodles to feed all of Mexico. 3 Gallons of water was a good idea if you were preparing for 3 days of 80 degree heat.......WRONG......which brings me to the amendment to Brian's version of this trip...........

Are you kidding me? Ever tried threading fishing line in 30 mph wind? What about putting up a tent? It was unrelenting. Sand flying everywhere. Only someone with a taste for the outdoors could weather it. BUT. With the presence of driftwood at every turn, the campfire solved many of our problems. (As did 4 gallons of wine) Brian sure slept good that night. Im sure the otters were pissed at all the snoring that took place that first night. After the sun went down, so did the wind. But at dawn, it started right back up again. (the wind that is)

I wont go into detail about what we did with our daily activities....Brian touched on most those with his own trip report. Fishing, exploring, eating and keeping the fire lit consumed our days and nights. The unexpected element of this trip however was simply THE WIND. Everything had to be anchored. It never ceased. I know, I know....'its the beach....its supposed to blow' you may say. Nope. It was relentless. Factor in unseasonably cold temperatures and you can imagine what it might have been like. So, I thought I would pass much of my time by trying my luck fishing. Reds, speckled trout, flounder and whiting abound in the area. With some success in the Gulf a few days earlier, I thought that the fish were waiting in line to snatch on to my hook. With weeks of preparation behind me and plenty of bait, lures, tackle etc..... at my disposal, I was sure to catch it all. WRONG. It wasnt for lack of trying. I must have cast a thousand times. Not a single bite. Im sure it had something to do with location, time of day, tide, temperature, inexperience.....hell it could have been anything....but I was bound and determined to catch me a fish. Brian, Barry and I set off for a day of fishing at high tide on Saturday for speckled trout and whiting. We set off in our kayaks leisurely casting against the banks on our way through Jack's cut. They went off ahead while I fished up against the banks...thinking I would catch up once I had caught a few trout. Guess what. No trout AND when I tried to catch up with them--they were long gone---with the map I might add. I went the wrong way twice. I wasted hours of valuable fishing time at what I am sure was the peak fishing time...trying to find Brian and Barry then trying to figure out how to get back.

Brian and Barry did show up at camp a few hours later with about 3 or 4 whiting that were caught at the mouth of Jacks cut. After an hour or so of debating on whether or not to shove them up Brian's "bleep", I settled on eating them fried. They were quite a treat.

Chris jinxed us. At the campfire that night, he spoke of the lack of a disaster...or something of the sort. Maybe it was the cold morning that slowed us down...I dont know. But no one was really overly nervous about getting a later start than anticipated on our journey back through the marsh to go home. So...why should I be nervous? Barry was the first to set off into the water. I think I remember Barry fore-warning us of the trecherous exertion of energy we were all about to partake of when we joined him. He was correct. Not only was the wind bitch-slapping us in the face, but the current was on its way out to the atlantic with a vengence. (All signs of--"this aint good") I remember paddling with every bit of energy I had in me and looking to the bank and realizing that I wasnt going anywhere. Brian led the way. I now know that he was 100 yards ahead of us because in his mind he had already played out the "worst case scenario" in his head....which was 'get halfway through the marsh and run out of water'. Guess what. Once we finally managed to get halfway into the marsh, there were 4 idiots sitting in their boats with no water.

3 choices a this point. 1) go back the way we came and paddle out to sea and weather the waves. 2) sit in our boats for 6 hours and wait on the tide to simply float us up to an acceptable paddling level 3) get out and pull our 100 pounds of boat and supplies (each) through miles of pure hell. We opted for hell. And it was every man for himself. When we stepped out of our boats, we immediatly sank 2-3 feet into the mud. Not normal mud. This was a silty, slimy clay that engulfed us with every step. If it hadnt have been for our boats to use as leverage, we would have been swalllowed by the Tybee Marsh. Every step was an calorie burning struggle. Pulling our boats atop the mud was an entirely different monster. It was step, sink, cuss, step, sink, cuss, pull. Over and over again. Somehow I ended up in the back. Brian darted up to the top of the marsh to pull his boat across to cut off some time. I attempted this...actually it was my idea...but my fat ass couldnt make it up the bank because when I would try to pull my boat up the bank, I would actually pull myself deeper into the mud from hell. Brian made it to passable water a few hundred yards ahead while Barry, Chris and myself carved out a mess through Jack's Cut. We never knew if our footing would reach a depth of a foot or 3 feet with each step. It was serious business at this point. There was no joking or laughing. It was every man for himself. Brian had already made it and Chris and myself decided to make one last attempt to make it out of the muddy hell to the top of the marsh and cut across like Brian did. Barry continued ahead. No one was helping anyone. Brian was cussing us for taking so long...Barry just marched along....and Chris and myself were beginning to wonder if we had made the right choice. I wish we would have had a camera or some sort of video evidence of our misery during those long hours. God was surely laughing. It had to have been funny for someone other than us.

We finally all met up at a location where the water was deep enough to paddle out. we were all elated to have finally made it out on the other side of hell. It was quite a site I am sure for the kayakers we passed on our way back to the truck. I am sure they thought we had just gotten done doing some voodoo ritual out in the swamp.

Through it all, I wouldnt trade it for anything. If we had made it through at high tide like we had intended on doing, we would have missed out on the most adventurous part of the trip. So what if it was windier than a category 4 hurricane. So what if I fished in every unihabited fish bed in the marsh. So what if I ate more junk food in two days than I do in a month. So what if I spend 4 hours of my day wading through a miserable muddy hell. It was well worth all the planning that was put into it. I acutally had one of the times of my life. Would I go again? Sure. I would just be sure to never...under any circumstances....underestimate the power of THE TIDE. Go Bama.


Blogger Julie Payne said...

Oh my gosh, what a whiner! lol Sounds like more fun than a city girl like me could handle!!!!! I miss you Coach.

April 20, 2006 7:55 AM  

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