Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Paddling and Peddling on Cape Cod

Saturday September 14, 2013
Atlantic Oaks RV Park
Narragansett, Rhode Island



Today is the day for paddling Salt Pond and Nauset Marsh.


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Yesterday morning we took a hike along Nauset Marsh and Salt Creek.  We made an illegal end run but they were worth it.

Today we’re going to get even closer by putting the kayaks out on the water.  It’s a pretty gray overcast day. The water looks silver.  The colors are muted all around.  We’ve planned the paddle for high tide, knowing how big the mud flats are around low tide.

My first look at the pond shows a lot of things going on.  An anchored sail boat is a stop off for cormorants, there are actually seven swans a swimming and the gulls are looking longingly at the  seeding baskets.


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The only reason I recognize the seeding baskets is because I saw them explained in the visitor center yesterday. 

The strings of buoys resemble swim lanes.  In between the buoys are these baskets which are part of an aquaculture maintained by the town of Eastham in which both our campground and the visitor center are located.  Each basket starts with tiny oysters or quahogs approximately  the size of a dime, and are raised in this protective casing until they are of legal size, 3” in length for oysters and 1” for quahogs.  More than 1000 shellfish have been seeded this year by the town.


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Heading out through the channel between Salt Pond and Nauset Marsh, we pass by the bridge we walked over yesterday. 

Opposite that on the other side of the channel and facing the marsh is a house with a fabulous view.


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When we come out into the marsh, the water is so high, it looks like the ocean. 


No land in sight.  No grasses in sight.    The skies didn’t really look this ominous in person.  When I paddle out toward what looks like the middle, I do find the very tops of the marsh grasses.  I can see the light station on the ocean shore in the distance.  Opps maybe we are too early.  Perhaps an hour after high tide?


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Since we can’t paddle through the marsh grass trails, we go back to our old standard of paddling along the shore.   We see single birds fishing and a large gathering of cormorants.  LARGE gathering.  But as we get anywhere near them they fly off on down around the bend.


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The tide is moving slowly and we just drift along. 


As we round a corner across the wide expanse of water from the inlet to Salt Pond, we see where the cormorants have gone, to join an even bigger group.  I decide to not move a muscle and just let the kayak take me since I am floating toward them, to see how close I can get with my camera to my eye before they notice me.


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A few get nervous and fly, but most just go on about their business.  I can’t even guess how many birds there are along this sand spit, hundreds.


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  It’s definitely the largest gathering of birds I’ve ever seen.  Wish I could have used my panorama to show how many.  The sound of their wings as some fly off is simply magnificent.


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My kayak is starting to pick up speed. 


Quite a bit of speed and I realize we’ve passed high tide and the water is now flowing out.

I look up ahead and to my right around the end of the spit is a small group of rapids.  Not being sure where they go and not wanting to have to paddle back through, I stop my bird watching and dig in to turn around.   Not an easy task.   Fighting the tide when it wants to go out is really not advisable.

After I get back a bit, I turn around and take this picture of the water running between cormorant spit and another spit creating a funnel for the water to gain speed.  Sure would have been fun to just run right through but the “how to get back when the outgoing tide will only be increasing in strength” stops me.


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I paddle back to where David waits so as not to scare the birds with the two of us going by at the same time and tell him to forget going down there.



Guess we’ll go the other way even if it is against the tide. 

We paddle back toward Salt Pond and as we do the intensity of the flow lessens but when I stop paddling to take these pictures, pretty quickly I’m going in reverse.


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The grasses are becoming more visible now and I wish we had come out a bit later to paddle through the canals they make.  But because we were early, we’ve had the marsh completely to ourselves which is wonderful.


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As we near Salt Pond, we pass several groups of paddlers going out.


I wonder if they have checked the tides and how they will fare as the low tide gains more and more strength pushing them out to sea.

Things are relatively calm as we return to the pond.  I can see the back of the visitor’s center from a distance.  All the usual subjects are in their places on the sail boat and the seeding baskets. 


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We get the boats out of the water and back on to the car while this fisherman is trying his luck in Salt Pond.  Love his fishing outfit.


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Hope he catches what he’s after. 
It’s certainly been a cormorant morning for us.




Atlantic Oaks has a big benefit I didn’t even know about when I made our reservation.


Back home for lunch and then we think we’ll take a bike ride on the Cape Cod Rails to Trails for the afternoon. 

The trail goes right next to our park and there is a short spur between two of the back sites to get to it.

It is a really great paved trail going 25 miles from the southern cape town of South Dennis to the mid cape town of Wellfleet.  It is described as “easily offers the greatest variety in scenery and natural landscapes of all the regional bike paths”.




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We ride by kettle ponds and under overhanging trees.


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The trail goes through or along side the little Cape villages. 


At each cross road there is a stop sign for the bikes but cars frequently stop and wave the bikes through.  Nice people these cape folks.


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We come to a wetland and stop to watch the fiddler crabs fiddling around and scurrying all over.


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We cross over the Route 6 highway bridge



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We make a stop at  Namskaket Creek, ‘the place of little fishes’, a reliable fishing ground for the Nauset tribe of Wampanoag Indians and a short cut from the bay to the ocean.   Must have been a lot bigger then if they brought boats through here.


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After another tunnel and we come to Nickerson State Park which is our goal for this afternoon.




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Nickerson has restrooms and picnic tables right beside the trail for the use of the bikers.  Very nice!


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We’ve come to take a look at the campsites for future reference.  They have no hook ups but in order to stretch our cape campground dollars we figure we could do one week, then move to Atlantic Oaks for two weeks and back to Nickerson for the last in a month at the Cape. 


We’ve gone 8 miles so far when we ride into the park, travel around one loop mostly suitable for tents and find that the other loops are up hills steeper than I’m feeling like I want to do knowing I have 8 miles to peddle back.   We’ll have to return with Ruby to check out the campsites but we have a good feel for the park and like it.   Sites are $17 and can be reserved on line at Reserve America, of course.  And should be reserved since this is a VERY popular state park for  summer vacationers.


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We look longingly at the sign as we leave Nickerson which shows all the points east and west we could go to but the afternoon is waning.  So we turn around at this point and pedal the 16 miles back with one difference. 







We make an important stop in Orleans.



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Along with trail side businesses, Orleans provides a solar compacter, a community news board and a water fountain all right beside the trail.


One of those businesses right across the street is The Sparrow.   I figure we will have paddled at least 6 miles and biked 16 by the end of the day so we deserve a treat. Ice Cream!   The cones are so big and so good that I forget to get a picture of the ones we actually ate.


They weren’t quite this big though it would be fun if they had been.


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And there are 17 more miles we haven’t yet ridden on this trail. 


  1. Your energy continues to astound me! ;->

  2. Holy cow -- that was quite a cormorant convention!

    Nice dinner you had there. :-)

  3. Hey girlfriend, do you ever get tired??? We loved Cape Cod when we were there 9 years ago. I told Joe where you were and he got a big smile on his face. Sweet Memeories

  4. Looks like a calm day of paddling until you scared those poor birds:))

  5. 16 miles and 6 miles... show off... why can't I do that. don't answer. LOVE the sound of the bird wings taking off in flight... I have heard that! it's low and magnificent... the energy.

    Feeling that tide would scare the bejeebers outta me....

  6. What fun to have a great paddle and pedal all in the same day. I think the ice cream stop was well-deserved. Seems like you are having an endless summer in Cape Cod. Our overnight temps dipped down into the 20s last night!

    Love the shot of the kayak pointing into the grasses.

  7. What a wonderful day...all our favorite things;o)) Love that the bike trail can be accessed right from the campground!!!

  8. Sounds like a workout, albeit a beautiful one. Thank goodness you found ice cream!

  9. Rails to trails are magnificent. Nice that they provide some nice stops for the cyclists too. Must have been amazing to be right by all the cormorants. Glad you got some pics of them!

  10. You might have to peddle another 16 miles after eating that giant ice cream cone, assuming you could even walk after that. I'd have to have a giant nap, or a coma.

    Love the pic of your kayak in the grasses. Beautiful.

  11. Doing both things in one day would be too much for me.

  12. You have the greatest nose for sniffing out amazing places to go and also where to find ice cream! ;c)

    Those tides can be so pesky at times. At least you weren't paddling in the Bay of Fundy...

  13. I'm with Bill & Nancy, all our favorite things... and ice cream to boot!

  14. I really like the photos of the cormorants and the fiddler crabs.

  15. Great silhouette photo of the birds and branches! Looks like a lovely paddle. Glad you didn't get pulled down the rapids! Lovely trails they have up there. 16 miles definitely deserves ice cream :) Oh...and I love the swans a swimming - another great picture :)

  16. Great way to enjoy the day on the cape. Lots of others were out doing the same on the bike trail - very popular. Orleans seems to be a sweet little town.

  17. I think it would be scary to get caught in an outgoing tide. But your early paddle paid off with some great birding. And ice cream was certainly earned with a 16 mile ride.


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