At Ft Clinch You Feel As Though You’ve Stepped Back In Time
Bald Eagle Cruise Narrative Pt. 2
by: Davis Yancy Clegg
As we turn the bend from the industrial view, it is as though we’ve traveled back in time. On the northern peninsula of the island, Fort Clinch State park comes into frame. One of the most well preserved in the country, the fort boasts a garrison that makes you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. Although no battles were fought here, it was garrisoned during both the Civil and Spanish-American Wars. In the 1930’s, the Civil Conservation Corps took it upon themselves to refurbish the now abandoned structures to return them to their prestige. Nowadays, tourists can enjoy activities like beach combing, sun bathing, fishing, and observe as reenactments bring the fort to life for visitors. If hiking is in your bag, you may take in the sights on a 6 mile trail. Nature trails are also at disposal for goers to learn of the native plant and wildlife that inhabit the area.
With the Fort fading from view, we come upon one of the most cherished and awe-inspiring parts of the river tour….Cumberland Island. Cumberland Island is accessible from both St. Mary’s and Amelia Island departures. It is a true experience in wildlife observation. There are over 335 birds that have been cataloged by birdwatchers that can be seen all over Cumberland Island. The southernmost point of the island is a favorite place for black skimmers, oyster catchers, pelicans, a bounty of ducks and other shore birds. The fresh water pond areas provide habitat friendly rookeries for wood storks, white ibis, herons and egrets. In the forest canopy, you may also catch a glimpse of warblers, buntings, wrens, and woodpeckers. On the shores, osprey, peregrine falcons, and
occasionally bald eagles and golden eagles are often spotted. There are few things that stand the hairs on your neck more than a bald eagle gliding overhead. For every skill level of photographer, historic structures and ruins architect the island, as if smiling for the camera lens. The sun rises over beach and, as if for its own destined finale, sets colorful over the vast Marsh. Our boat captains pride themselves on being able to put passengers in position for the best possible view of every sunset they set sail for. Inland, tangled vines canopy the forest floors. The Leonardo Decaprio film, The Beach, is what comes to mind on times I’ve walked through the trails lending a sense of an untamed jungle safari. The gnarled live oak limbs look as though they are intentionally growing into an art form amongst the jumbled Palmettos, twisting in ways that appear anything but natural. On one trip that I explored the island, I was winding through the seeming jungle and just as the forest breaks and the sandy beach comes into frame, I come upon 3 wild horses, seeming to be unaltered in their playtime by my presence. A rural Mississippi native, I’ve seen my share of horses. However, to see them in the wild is quite a different experience altogether.
As we bend through the narrows of the river encroaching on the setting sun, I can’t help but feel a sense of timelessness. As we make our trip back to the docks, it is a perfect time of reflection as the sunset swells into a collage of the brightest colors of the spectrum. I’ve spent my entire adult life as an islander and we take great pleasure in moments such as these. One can only truly appreciate untouched nature when you are amongst it. So take your photographs. Memory bank as many images as you can. It’s only experiences such as these that give us the time to log the visual and introspective time that allows us to appreciate the beauty around us. I hope you’ll heed mine and Amelia River Cruises’ invitation to make some memories you’ll hold onto for a lifetime.
Stay Salty friends.
Learn more about the Amelia River Cruises Tours.
Not too late to get tickets and enjoy some of the most amazing sunsets.