24 hours on a Coastal Plain Swamp Highland with a new tent.

1:02 p.m. on January 2, 2012 (EST)
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24 hours on a Coastal Plain Swamp Highland with a new tent.

I decided to start the new year off right and spent a night in Bluehouse Swamp.

I got a ride to the trailhead from my brother Steve and started down the trail at 2:00pm Saturday Dec. 31st.


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The first part of the trail is an old road, I don't know how old. The road history of this area dates back to the mid 1700's when there were several rice plantations located here. Before that there were several trading routes in the region.


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Apparently the "Smart" water didn't have time to work on this particular hiker.


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This is basically what the high ground in the swamp looks like, it is a mixed forest with an incredible biodiversity.

In other areas it is much thicker and difficult to navigate.


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The closer you get to the swamps edge the thicker it can get. In some areas it is impenetrable.


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This is the spot I chose to set up camp, it is one of many high ground areas away from the swamps edge. Elevation here was 22' .


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This is my new tent, a Mountain Hardware Sprite 1. I have used it 3 times and so far I like it quite a bit.


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The front side. I like that it has a niche off to the left to keep my stuff inside, plus a small vestibule for my boots & such.


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As you can see by the gleam in the photo all the tie out loops on the outside of the tent are reflective and that makes it easy to pitch and guy out in the dark with a headlamp.


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Here I am after adding the tent fly. I waited until after supper to put the fly on because the weather was clear and I was hungry. I wanted to eat before fiddling with the tent fly and learning what my pitch options were.

I have always found the tent pitching time listed by tent manufacturers to be humorous, it takes me 10 minutes or so to pitch a tent correctly after I have selected a spot.


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Early morning sunshine is always a welcome sight.


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The next morning (after coffee) I walked around a bit. I collected some leaves to take photos of for future reference.


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Okay....what kind of tree is this?


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...and this?


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...or this?

These should be fairly easy to look up in a field guide if you don't recognize them right off hand.


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Here's our good old friend condensation! This is the underside of my tent fly, I flipped it over to let it dry off.

The low temperature got down to 41 F during the night and the dew point was 46 F with a relative humidity in the mid 40's.

There was no precipitation whatsoever.


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This is the top of my tent inner, it had several beads of water on it that had dripped from the fly.

 It is easy to think your tent is leaking if this happens and it is raining. This tent is a well ventilated tent, but it can't beat the laws of physics.


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This is my little alcohol stove I like to use on overnight & weekend trips. I have several but I like this one because it is so freaking simple and needs no pot stand. You just wet the wick wrapped around the outside of the stove, fill the stove & light.

It is the Bios 3 from Minibulldesign.


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For my cook kit I carry a simple stainless mug (here I've just made coffee) a spork, my Bios stove, a windscreen, and a 8oz. bottle of alcohol. I carry more on longer trips but this is all I need for quick trips.


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After brunch I walked around some more and took some photos.

This was a pile of sawdust from some kind of wood borer.


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I'm glad I don't have anything on me that looks like this.


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I'll have to look this one up. Anyone know?


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How about this one?


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While I was fixing breakfast I was surrounded by large Pileated Woodpeckers, I tried desperately to get a photo of one but they eluded me with ease. I did get these shots of their handiwork.


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This was a small hole compared to the nests they had chopped out higher up in the trees.


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Two major things that stuck out in my mind from this trip:

1. My old Garmin Etrex could hardly get a signal through tree canopy like the one pictured above, it kept asking me if I was indoors. I have put a Delorme on my gear list.

2. I must go back and get some photos of the Pileated Woodpeckers. I'm open to suggestion on how to do this, sneaking up on them is not going to work and the forest is too dense for a telephoto lens to work really.

Ideas?

After eating what was left of my huge dark chocolate and almond candy bar, and drinking the last of the tea, I headed out to my pick up spot.

My brother arrived around 2:00 pm January 1st, 2012 at the trailhead to give me a ride back and that ended a short but very cool trip into a place I must visit again.

What better way to start off the new year?




2:03 p.m. on January 2, 2012 (EST)
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Nice trip report and pictures. Boy the woodpeckers sure make big holes in the trees looking for food!

I did a desert dayhike with a friend. Will post a trip report tomorrow about it.

2:12 p.m. on January 2, 2012 (EST)
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trout

Use suet to attract them. I just got the Audobon book of North America birdfeeders. nice trip. Full of history which makes me picture Revolutionary era carrages and horsemen. Nice.

2:16 p.m. on January 2, 2012 (EST)
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Nice trip report. The Sprite 1 looks to be a sweet little solo tent. I like it.

On the woodpeckers just sit and wait quietly. They may come around. You could always go covert with full camo & facepaint maybe a blind if you are that desperate. ;)

Thanks for sharing Mike.

6:24 p.m. on January 2, 2012 (EST)
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zoom lens and patience.

Nice report. Looks like you enjoyed yourself.

12:26 a.m. on January 3, 2012 (EST)
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Thanks for sharing your very pleasant New Year's Day trip; I, also, love those historic pathways and the thoughts they conjure.  The top leaf in your first photo of sample leaves looks like Slippery Elm--the bark of which is an immune system enhancer, by the way (ha, referring to another thread).  Whatever, don't stand still too long with that camera or those peckerwoods will think you're a tree and start digging a hole!  :)

8:55 a.m. on January 3, 2012 (EST)
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Nice report Mike!

I havn't looked them up but:

I agree with Bunion on the top leaf being elm...I think the second leaf is white oak. Not sure about the third but the last looks like maple.

11:19 a.m. on January 3, 2012 (EST)
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Ok, I think I can help here, identification is one of me specialities ;)

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The top is likely a an elm, as others have mentioned, though the photo isn't clear enough for me to be certain.

 The other two are both Swamp Chestnut Oak , which is a type of White Oak. 


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These two are most likely from a Black Oak, though close inspection of the leaves and trees they came from is needed to be definitive. Regardless, they are are a type of Red Oak.  ( Though I am pretty certain of their being Black Oak,  Scarlet Oak and Pin Oak are possible as well)  


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These are from a Swamp Chestnut Oak as well. 


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Though shaped a lot like a maple, they are in fact from a Sweet Gum tree. there would have also been seed pods in the form of spiked balls a little smaller than a golf ball, with a long stem. These are not sharp like a chestnut burr, but light and funny looking. 


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Hmmm...I'm not familiar with this one. 


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Ah, this is a great one :) 

It is a type of Wild Ginger, It's common name, Little Brown Jug, is descriptive of its flowers. The true name is Hexastylis arifolia

The leaves are deliciously aromatic when crushed, and make a wonderful tea when sweetened. Be sure to check on whether it is protected in your area though before sampling any, though. 

1:20 p.m. on January 3, 2012 (EST)
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Gary,

These are really big Woodpeckers! I'm probably exaggerating some, but they looked to be close to 2 feet tall, very loud too. I watched as they debarked entire sections of dead trees by using their beaks like chisels, very impressive. I look forward to your TR.

Dennis,

The area I was in is rich in colonial history, remnants of the old plantations still exists, and there have been several archeological digs in the past there. I've thought about baiting the Woodpeckers in, my book says they eat grubs & such.

Rick,

I wanted a Hille Akto, but the MH Sprite will do for now, the 140.00 price was just too much to pass on for a tent that meets my basic needs. You may be onto something with using a blind, there are clearings in the area where I would get a better chance at some photos.

Giftogab,

I only had my little P&S with me on this trip, I recently bought a Canon Ti Rebel with the 18-55 lens it came with. Those are my options for now, I have to decide if I am buying a tele or macro lens next because I can't afford both right now. I do have patience, I can sit and do nothing for long periods of time, my wife calls it something else. Haha.

Bunion,

I am an Early American History enthusiast, not an expert by any means, but I love to read about it, or watch documentaries. I especially like to learn about some of the more obscure people that were instrumental in that period. I thought the top leaf was Elm but it was impossible to tell what tree it fell from, the leaves were just all mixed up on the ground.

Patman,

I had my guesses on the leaves and I knew what the second plant was. I hate to post identifications of plants & trees because I am not always sure. I do really enjoy walking around and seeing what I can find & taking photos. I didn't bring my field guide on this trip, but it will get packed for the next trip.

Gonzan,

Thanks for the help, I am having a lot of fun learning plants & trees, it seems as though I will have to get a Kindle Fire if I want to bring all the field guides I seem to require haha.

My guesses were:

1 Elm

2 Wasn't  sure, but I did find Chestnut Hulls

3 Pin Oak

4 Wasn't sure

5 Sweet Gum, I knew because I did find the gum balls.

6 At first glance I thought Trillium, but it was not and I still don't know. I plan to send the photo to the Clemson University Extension office because they ID plants for free.

7 This is what we call Arrowleaf or Arrowhead Ginger, it was the only one I was sure of. I still haven't tried it in a tea.

Thanks all,

Mike G.

1:54 p.m. on January 3, 2012 (EST)
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Trout:

I am having the same struggle with which lens to buy first tele or macro. AND, unfortunately, I have no patience.

2:10 p.m. on January 3, 2012 (EST)
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trouthunter said:

2 Wasn't  sure, but I did find Chestnut Hulls 

It is interesting that you found the chestnut hulls, as the leaves in your photos are definitely from an oak. Chestnut leaves are very similar in overall shape, but the veins are straight instead of spidery, and each lobe end in a spine. Were the Chestnut Hulls and the Oak leaves found over the same area of ground?

American Chestnut:

Compare_Leaf_800pxw.jpg

European Chestnut:

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4:30 p.m. on January 3, 2012 (EST)
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You know, after I replied and had run to the library it dawned on me that I did not carefully read the part where you said Chestnut Oak.

I was focused on the nut husks I had found. You are correct, the leaves are Oak. I did find nut husks in the same area, but didn't take photos.

One of the reasons I took photos is because the more I looked around the more confused I got. There must be 50 different kinds of trees growing there including Magnolias, and multiple Pines. Some of the pine cones are the size of Pineapples. As you get down to the swampy part you also find Cypress & Tupelo.

Next time I go I will take my Canon Rebel and get a lot more photos.

Reportedly, there are some huge Pitcher plants on the edge of the swamp.

Anyhow, I appreciate your sharp eye.

thanks, Mike G.

6:38 p.m. on January 3, 2012 (EST)
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Sure thing, Trout :) 

A completely tangential question, have you every tried to split firewood from  Black Tupelo? That stuff is crazy, it's like trying to split rubberized tendons, lol!

7:01 p.m. on January 3, 2012 (EST)
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gonzan said:

Sure thing, Trout :) 

A completely tangential question, have you every tried to split firewood from  Black Tupelo? That stuff is crazy, it's like trying to split rubberized tendons, lol!

 I have tried to split Gum, I don't know which variety, Black Gum / Tupelo, I decided it can't be done by mortals.

I'm still a little confused about the Nyssa family (is family the right taxon?)

According to my guide there is:

Water Tupelo / Swamp Tupelo / Swamp Blackgum / Blackgum / Black Tupelo

....and then there is the Cupressaceae Family, I can spell it but can't pronounce it.

9:53 p.m. on January 3, 2012 (EST)
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Yeah, it sounds like we tried splitting much the the same tree :) 

From what I know, Black Gum and Black Tupelo are the same thing: Nyssa sylvatica. Some forestry and agricultural groups do not recognize "gum" as an official common name for the Nyssa family, thus my use of "tupelo."

I wasn't aware of the subspecies delineation between Swamp Tupelo and Swamp Black Gum. I would like to look those up, what are their scientific names? 

11:19 p.m. on January 3, 2012 (EST)
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gonzan said:

Yeah, it sounds like we tried splitting much the the same tree :) 

From what I know, Black Gum and Black Tupelo are the same thing: Nyssa sylvatica. Some forestry and agricultural groups do not recognize "gum" as an official common name for the Nyssa family, thus my use of "tupelo."

I wasn't aware of the subspecies delineation between Swamp Tupelo and Swamp Black Gum. I would like to look those up, what are their scientific names? 

 The guide I am using is:

Native Trees of the Southeast

Kirkman / Brown / Leopold

-------------------------------------------

page 117

Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora

Swamp Tupelo, Swamp Blackgum

Range is the South Atlantic & Gulf coastal plain

page 118

Nyssa sylvatica var. sylvatica

Blackgum, Black Tupelo

Range is the whole Southeast & parts North etc.

---------------------------------------------

So I guess according to what I read there isn't a delineation between Swamp Tupelo & Swamp Blackgum.

Biflora is endemic to the Coastal Plain according to this guide.

10:53 a.m. on January 4, 2012 (EST)
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Ok, that is what I was finding in my guides as well.  I'm sure for specificity in accurate identification using the scientific names is more effective, I just can't seem to remember them very well :)  

11:29 a.m. on January 4, 2012 (EST)
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gonzan said:

Ok, that is what I was finding in my guides as well.  I'm sure for specificity in accurate identification using the scientific names is more effective, I just can't seem to remember them very well :)  

Yes, I guess the scientific names are more definitive since there seems to be more than one common name many times.  What I post is not info off the top of my head by any means, I am just now learning a lot of this and I have to refer to guides constantly.

 I am becoming familiar with the common names fairly easy, the scientific ones I find difficult.

11:57 a.m. on January 4, 2012 (EST)
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Nice report trout, thanx.

I would love to see some pics of the woodpeckers. Heck of away to get a meal, can you imagine having to bang your head on the fridge a dozen times or so just to get breakfast.

I think I would try the blind idea or just full camo and sit still. Ive given up hunting for the most part, but what I really enjoyed about it was all the other critters, besides what I was after, that came around because they just couldnt see me.

Good luck

4:22 p.m. on January 4, 2012 (EST)
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azrhino said:

Nice report trout, thanx.

I would love to see some pics of the woodpeckers. Heck of away to get a meal, can you imagine having to bang your head on the fridge a dozen times or so just to get breakfast.

I think I would try the blind idea or just full camo and sit still. Ive given up hunting for the most part, but what I really enjoyed about it was all the other critters, besides what I was after, that came around because they just couldnt see me.

Good luck

 "...bang your head on the fridge..."

That was funny!

I am definitely not going to get any photos walking around on the dry & brittle leaves and sticks like I was doing. I was surprised at how close the birds came to my camp, at first I thought they might tolerate my slow advance with a camera....nope.

9:51 p.m. on January 4, 2012 (EST)
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That gave me a laugh as well, azrhino :)

It is funny how critters can tell if you are paying attention to them, and don't seem to care if you're not. In the Tetons the Marmots were really funny. They would send their shrill whistle up the canyon when you first enter an area, but then would just go about their business like you weren't there. As long as you were hiking along they didn't even seem to notice you, but the instant you turned towards them, POOF! they would disappear like a flash. Moments later they would creep out onto some slab or rock with their body all flattened out, bearing an expression that seemed to say "You can't see me!" 

2:17 p.m. on January 5, 2012 (EST)
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Hey Trouthunter, I really enjoy your postings, very believeable, sensible and usually a hint of humor. Very nice. Now about the Pileated pictures. Since you wrote woodpeckers indicating a family group, this worked for me. First you already are aware of their shyness so that helps. They just won't tolerate a person, much human activity or another strange Pileated in their immediate area and they have a large area of mostly mature mixed woodlands. So while the leaves are gone determine which trees have nesting sites. You know the very large rectangular openings usually higher up off the ground. I found mine in dead Poplar, old dead limbs on live Oak, etc. There will be several in the vicinity err woods. In late winter or early spring they also have a very distinctive drumming signaling their mating season. Go observe where the activity is. If you can find a nesting site that is being used it is only a matter of time. Young woodpeckers about to leave the nest will be easily seen with heads poking out of the holes. I actually have found several of these and usually they return to the same area until disturbed. Then of course use patience and your fishing stealth skills to get close. Several nests sported Barred Owls after a couple of years. I did get some to hit my suet in the winter but needed to build a special feeder for them and personally would not attempt to feed them as a way to get close.  

 

5:13 p.m. on January 5, 2012 (EST)
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Awwman,

Welcome to Trailspace.

Thanks for the kind words, and the advise / info on these birds.

I heard them drumming last year in the area but couldn't tell for sure their distance from my location, to be honest I wasn't motivated in pursuing the birds then like I am now.   I will be returning to the same area some more this Winter / Spring and I will  track the nesting areas as you suggest.

The heart of the swamp is accessible by boat and I may try that approach on a couple of trips, the water is shallow enough that I can use a push pole and move silently I think.

I did find a couple nests on this trip but saw no birds coming or going.

Thanks again I appreciate the help,

Mike G.

8:47 p.m. on February 25, 2012 (EST)
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another fine tr. i am going to have to get your reference book, i did pretty well with the tree leafs ( we call the bottom leaves which are in the red oak family "black jacks" here) but i am a little ashamed of how little knowledge i have of things i have trod over for almost fifty years and still dont know what they are or what they are good for. several years ago while scouting with my best freind who has a great deal of knowledge of our native plants and there uses, we had stopped to get a bearing and he reached down and plucked a weed i had been walking over and ignoring for years, ya know what this is he asked, i told him i didnt and he rolled it in his hand to crush it and release the oils and offered it to me to smell, Wild Mint!!! it smelled knda like spearmint and i hada been walking over it all those years and never slowwed down long enough to just reach down and pluck a stem to see what it may be.

 

smithcreek

10:54 p.m. on February 25, 2012 (EST)
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smithcreek,

I have just recently gotten really serious about learning the names of all the things around me in the woods. I have to refer to guides constantly to be sure I know what I'm seeing.

I used to concentrate on seeing how fast I could hike from point A to point B carrying X number of pounds. Now I take it slower, hang out in an area for a spell, and spend time learning and observing.

This has added a new element, if you will, to my adventures, I wish I had started earlier but it is fun.

That is a cool story about the mint, have you tried any with tea?

Mike G.

11:28 p.m. on February 25, 2012 (EST)
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i aint big on hot tea so i have not tried it, i am the sweet ice tea drinker of southern fame. my family were farmers in the south from the late 1700's up until my father and his nearest brother in age broke camp for other means of making a living in the late 40's and early 50's.i spent my childhood on farms of family and we always had something planted and a critter or two at home so i am more like what people would expect for someone from south ga or alabama to be than some one from the gulf coast. most my money that can be spared goes into farm implements, seed, fertilizer and my cane mill. i have a pre civil war syrup kettle and my mill was made just after the end of the war, heck we still have a couple of wash pots we use, we'll be making up a pot of brunswick stew here in one of em in a couple of months for a work party and that would be a good time to brew some with the tea and try it both ways warm and iced.

sorry for rambling but thought it was a good opening to tell a little more about my background, i always wonder who's on the other end of the wire and what made them who they are today and think maybe others do as well so thought i would throw it out there.

earl.

11:57 p.m. on February 25, 2012 (EST)
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Rambling, background info, and plain ole story tellin' is fine with me!

That's some cool family history you have.

Mike G.

9:41 a.m. on March 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Good report Trout.....

9:53 a.m. on March 17, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks Mike Cipriani,

I am actually taking a break right now from packing my stuff for another trip back to the area today. I hope to do some fly fishing for pan fish in the black water stream that runs through it, but I will have to find an approach on dry land (since the riparian zone is knee deep mud) to get close enough to cast.

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