The pedestrian bridge at Prairie Creek Park was a fantastic spot to set in for a modern journey down stream. (John Lawrence Hanson/correspondent)
In the span of fewer than 10 minutes, I noticed a magical animal and touched a mysterious miniature waterfall.
This all the though I was in southeast Cedar Rapids. Still, there was no one to witness my tale.
Adventure is what you make of it.
Flowing water is an invitation to padde. If it’s your very first time on a unique stretch, then that qualifies as an adventure for guaranteed.
This was my initially time on Prairie Creek, an unassuming stream in the middle of Linn County. I drove in excess of and previous Prairie Creek for decades with rarely a next thought till previous June. I was attending a experienced development training course about dyslexia at the Grant Wood Space Training Agency creating kitty-corner from Hawkeye Downs.
An inflatable unicorn is perched bankside on Prairie Creek. (John Lawrence Hanson/correspondent)
A chilly, windowless classroom in the summertime demanded a refreshing function for the lunch split — one thing more than scooting to a travel-by means of.
I realized the creek was just across the parking good deal, so I gave myself authorization to cross the street and wander the lender of the adjoining assets. Even with the drone of close by Interstate 380, Prairie Creek was a balm to my senses: gliding drinking water, chirping birds and the smell of summertime.
John Lawrence Hanson took a second to look into a surprise gusher in Prairie Creek on a latest kayak vacation. (John Lawrence Hanson/correspondent)
It was a grand contrast to the classroom. Then and there I determined to paddle Prairie Creek, faster than afterwards.
Sooner turned afterwards, about 12 months later. A modern heavy rain pushed off my endeavor for a few of times so as to allow the storm’s surge of water flush.
My set-in was Fairfax. My takeout was Tait Cummins Park. In among was my experience.
The water was flowing gently but steadily as I let the current acquire me less than the pedestrian bridge. And off I went. The visibility of the drinking water was about six inches, the soaked marks on the financial institutions continue to were being visible from the modern superior drinking water.
It only took moments to vanish into the atmosphere of Prairie Creek. Modern-day daily life became secondary but omnipresent. Slabs of broken concrete lined the banking institutions as a great deal as the silver maples. I targeted on the trees, arched jointly to type a inexperienced-leafed tunnel. Catbirds referred to as. I paddled enough just to maintain my bow pointed downstream.
Seth Eugene Meek wrote a report for the U.S. Fish Fee entitled, “A Report Upon The Fishes of Iowa, Based mostly On Observations and Collections Designed In the course of 1889, 1890, and 1891” in 1891. In addition to the fish, he described several of the more substantial river methods and their tributaries. He noted many of the prairie streams had been slim and deep because they ended up safeguarded by layers of native plants and sod.
Three generations into settlement Meeks wrote that most streams had widened, warmed and muddied owing to extreme plowing and pasturing. Prairie Creek reflected that latter description. However, on a scorching summer working day, the shaded turns and bends of the large and shallow creek ended up a pleasure.
Prairie Creek was like a stroll. The h2o was in no hurry. At most just about every place in its study course I could have gotten out of the kayak and walked. No 1 created any needs on my time.
A pronounced riffle at the iron bridge suggested a historic exertion at a dam. Some of the graffiti there was contemporary. So considerably was old and new.
At 12:46, I noticed a unicorn on its facet amongst the tree debris on the remaining lender. Its body was white with a violet tail. The cover was polyvinyl and however inflated: an escapee from an upstream celebration. Like Huck Finn, I question it experienced no program other than to go downriver.
A twist and change of the channel and nine minutes later on, I came across a gusher of interesting and clear h2o flowing into the creek from a concrete tube. Its supply was to the south, underneath the railroad tracks. I have my origin idea, you can come up with yours. The hurry was neither Niagara nor organic, but it was a neat locate.
Just about when I manufactured observe of the lack of turtles, there was a softshell turtle, basking, river suitable. Most likely owing to modesty, my visual appeal brought on it to acquire some ways with urgency and vanish into the drinking water.
Rounding a bend, I interrupted one more softshell lounging. This a person was atop a steep and sandy lender, river still left. He saw me very first. It was his slipping down the lender that caught my awareness. The turtle did a full somersault as his inflexible human body interacted with gravity and the acute pitch. In a cloud of sand he was promptly back again to the muddy depths.
Just after passing under I-380, I retained flushing good-horned owls out of the stream-aspect trees. The initially was really the start, the following six were being shock immediately after shock. There is anything about a chook that huge flapping absent but barely earning a seem owing to its stealth-formed feathers.
The only log jams that raised my blood strain occurred in the remaining leg of the operate. In the two situations, I charted a course to the still left and was rewarded with risk-free passage.
Meeks detailed 87 fish species for the Cedar River and tributaries, clearly not all had been or could be existing in Prairie Creek. His report involved this passage, “Mr. Aquila Miller, who has resided on its banks for a lot of yrs, knowledgeable me that the larger sized fishes ended up formerly fairly ample in it, but at present only compact kinds can be discovered.”
The report reported most rivers in the condition wore numerous dams “and few, if any, are provided with fishways.” Meeks and others understood around 130 a long time in the past dams had been stifling the bounty of our rivers.
I typically ponder about how the size and abundance of fish would change if our rivers have been no cost of wildlife choking dams.
My time on the drinking water was a few hrs and 15 minutes. I hauled out under the C Street SW bridge. Listed here Prairie Creek ended, its move incorporating to the Cedar. Downstream the fishes of Iowa swim, turtles bask and, it’s possible just probably, a unicorn bobbs alongside the area.
On the lookout up, searching ahead, and retaining my pencil sharp.
John Lawrence Hanson, Ed.D., of Marion, teaches U.S. background with an emphasis on environmental concerns at Linn-Mar Superior University and is previous president of the Linn County Conservation Board.