On a typical training day I put in on the Hudson and paddled north along the Palisades.
The New York New Jersey border is marked by an old rusty fence that goes out to the water from the woods. Just north of the border is a small pebbly beach which marks a site in the woods with some old ruins and a beautiful waterfall. The ruins sit in a clearing in the thick wood with the freshened air that comes with running water.
Back on the water I met a fellow kayaker heading in the opposite direction. He told me that the ruins were left over from a private swimming pool that he had frequented as a kid in the 60's. Not long after, the land along with the pool and the bathhouse had been donated to the Palisades park, and were vandalized to complete destruction. He recommended that I check out the marshes to the North as there was a family of bald eagles nesting there.
Farther north, just before the marshes, I took up a conversation with a woman on the banks. After a comment about the weather she warned me about wild animals. This disturbed me. Was she in league with Shark Man? I didn't know so I quickly paddled on.
Going up along the marsh I saw a narrow water way twisting between the tall grasses, an outlet from the marsh onto the Hudson. I turned into it, suddenly leaving behind the huge cloudy waters that I had come to know and finding myself in another world; a world of tall grasses, little crabs, and great birds flying along the narrow channels as I explored.
A few times my boat scraped its bottom on fallen tree limbs but for the most part the channels where both deep and wide enough. The tide was dropping, so coming out was harder, and where before I had just scraped the bottom of my boat, I now had to really wriggle it to overcome the obstacles. A marsh is not a good place to get out and push.
Leaving the quiet calm of the marsh I again met the other kayaker who had recommended it. He asked me if I had seen any birds. I looked around and saw “A duck!” He was unimpressed so I told him of the eagle and the two great blue herons that for a while had stayed only a short distance ahead of me, advancing every time I approached.
He pointed to a small outlet of rocks, “About a year ago I saw a panther over there.” He told me he wasn't crazy, and I believed him.