The brilliant colors of fall reflected from the still surface of Milltail Creek, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.
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It’s a curious fact of our existence that we never see light traveling through space, only its reflection by solid objects. All the colors of our lives are simply reflections of something unseen, even the bright colors of dying leaves on the surface of Milltail Creek in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.
Milltail Creek winds four miles eastward from the Buffalo City kayak launch site to the broad reaches of the Alligator River. It was once the route taken by bootleggers hauling whiskey from stills hidden in the swamps to Elizabeth City on the far side of Albemarle Sound. It was also the route taken by revenue agents searching for those same stills.
I think the Alligator River refuge is best experienced on the shoulders of winter when there are no guided kayak tours and few tourists. The water is cold enough to warrant a wet suit and the sky is often cyan blue.
It’s ironic that in all that solitude, military jets thunder low over the landscape practicing bombing runs. The Dare County Bombing Range lies to the south, still within the refuge. F-18 Superhornets streak across the sky and Navy SEALs practice riverine assaults on the range. The tundra swans and dabbler ducks that visit in winter seem mostly to ignore the nuisance.
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