Posted by: nosmokingsails | November 24, 2010

Dreamy Colorful Trees

The Great Dismal Swamp was the most incredible, peaceful and amazing part of our trip thus far.

I have a zillions photos to go through before I can add, but I do plan to add some to this post later!

We motored slowly down the glass waterway of the canal, framed on either side by arching maples, pines, cedars, and sycamore trees.  The sycamores impressed me the most here: they look as if they are ghosts dressed up like trees, but where they get close to the sky they shed their bark and turn white.

We were utterly aghast at the difference between this type of traveling and the sailing we have done thus far.

The day and two nights we spent at the Visitor Center inside of the Dismal Swamp were filled with forest walks in the light and darkness and our own sensing of the deep history of this place.  The human ghosts of the Underground Railroad still seem to be here along with the black bears that stay in hiding.

I also loved seeing the mostly yellow foliage here.  There were patches of brilliant reds which stood out even more because there were less of them than what we are used to from New England.  A part of us has probably remained anchored here.  Tied against the trees that grow out of the canal edges, loving water as much as we do.  Loving to cast their arms and leaves across the surface of the canal, dancing.

The visual:

The view ahead.

The view behind.

No Smoking at the free NC Visitor Center dock.

The ghostly sycamores.

The path.

We walked through leaves of gold…




  1. Hi Kris & Rob.Your desription of your surroundings is so vivid, it almost makes me feel that I’m there with you.This honeymoon (for that is what it really is) is one that you will always remember with so very much pleasure.I’m looking forward to more of your pics to add to my folder of all the others you have sent. They all are so beautiful. Be careful.Love and take care of each other. Love you .Grandma

  2. Why do they call it the Dismal Swamp, very deceiving based on your discription your Grandma said it all. Enjoy, Enjoy
    Love Terry

    • It was named long long ago, back when it was much more overgrown and not easy for people to cross through it – Elizabeth City was once within its boundaries! Back then, every area of dense swampy woodland was called a “dismal”.

  3. Kris amazing photos, but a question for Rob. Looks a bit narrow, did you encounter any other vessel traffic? What kind of depth did you encounter?
    Keep up the great script. Photos are amazing.
    Hope you get some wind in your sails soon.
    Bill & Terrri Gilmore

    • Hi, this is Kris replying, the dismal swamp canal won’t allow anyone who draws over 6′ through it – though this year it was deeper than usual, and width was not bad, we were able to U-Turn our boat in it, and pass the dredging people (though no one was going north) fairly easily! So you know, we can do so much with our boat since we only draw slightly less than 3′! We anchor anywhere, in marshes, etc, because if we end up on the bottom, we just wait for tides to rise again and leave! So easy and fun!

  4. beautiful photos kris! my favorite is “the path”. It has this ethereal quality to it, more like a painting than a photograph. Awesome!

    love, mom

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