Nate arrived mid-day Thursday, fresh from an Instructor Development Workshop in Charleston. We were already packed for an overnight trip out to Cumberland Island, but a quick look at the weather radar changed our minds.
Instead, we drove to Fernandina Beach and spent the late afternoon hours getting a few nice rides and plenty of thrashing in the steep, close-spaced surf, stopping only when the clouds darkened and lightning forked across the sky.
But we still wanted to get out to Cumberland Island, so on Friday morning we rode the tide out the St Marys River and went to the southern end.
Our scheduled trips to the island focus on visiting historic sites, but this trip evolved casually: a break on a beach, and a slow meander along the shore until we saw horses and let the current take us up a creek, beneath the noses of a small herd. They were muddy, some with legs coated like thigh-high boots, and regarded us with mild curiosity. We sat and watched for awhile. Of course, most of us have seen plenty of horses, but we tell ourselves these are wild horses, and it does feel different somehow- some element of unpredictability that makes it feel somehow special. And there's something about paddling past a group of wild horses that makes it feel that you're having a quintessential Cumberland Island experience.
We continued around the south end of the island and ate lunch beside the jetty. The waves on the outside were fairly small. We investigated a some turbulent water over a sandbar and crossed over the sound to Fort Clinch.
We'd had a good bit of wind at our back as we'd gone down the river with the last of the ebbing current. Now we were heading back against a stronger wind with the last of the flooding current. But we had taken our time, and during that last stretch- the long, wide mouth of the St Marys River, the wind and current turned against us. And it began to rain. Hard.
But we made it to a creek shortcut, and finished the trip on a high note, winding through the tall grass, soaked with warm, fresh rainwater, a bit worn-out.