Finding the Image in a Foggy Cape Cod Marsh

Full of endless marshes, inlets and beaches to explore, Cape Cod forever shows me new wondrous moments. Early on a  summer morning, I rose in the dark to catch the sunrise only to find the landscape totally engulfed by fog. Determined to make the best of it, I loaded a small borrowed kayak onto my roof to go exploring. I previously had mapped out a small area of Pleasant Bay in Orleans as a good option, so I set out to find a spot to launch the boat.

Foggy Marsh on Cape Cod

The town “boat launch” and foggy environs

Deterred several times by disappointing private road and residents only signs, I finally located a public landing with a small path down to the water’s edge. I splashed in and set out across the bay. There was a slight headwind through the fog, but I was going much slower than I should be given the only slight breeze. The kayak was terrible! It was way too short and heavy and wouldn’t go in a straight line – that’s what you get for a borrowed boat I suppose. Needless to say this was not a proper sea kayak with a rudder. Despite the awkward movements of my vessel, I continued to head out into the middle of the bay, aimed for the opposite shore, which I later found out to be Pochet Island on the back side of Nauset Beach.

Foggy Bay Orleans, Cape Cod

Heading into the mist early on a Cape Cod morning

Still quite fogged in, I reached the opposite shore, though I couldn’t see more than a 100 feet. Paddling along I stopped quite often to photograph various angles of the island’s shoreline in the fog. While trying many different compositions in my viewfinder, I didn’t feel like I was capturing any images I was really excited about. I kept following the marshy shoreline, hoping for something a little different.

I continued along the edge of this island for quite a while and came to what appeared to be an inlet. It is difficult to tell the difference between an inlet worth exploring and minor variations in the shoreline in these marshy labyrinths. I proceeded to paddle through the inlet stopping to drift about and capture the more interesting undulations of the inlet.

Foggy Marsh Cape Cod

Pochet Island and the entrance to the inlet

Being a tidal estuary, it was difficult to tell what was solid ground and what was  bottomless mud interspersed with clumps of marshes grasses, but I endeavored to find a spot where I could stand up and capture an angle other than the just-above-the-water kayak viewpoint. I had reached the terminus of the inlet and found a hefty looking clump of grass that would at least let me stand up. I stepped out onto the edge of this tiny island and immediately sank into the mud, nearly loosing my sandal. With one hand and half my body still awkwardly clingy to the kayak, I managed to flop back in. Time for a different approach. I paddled out about 20 feet from the grass’s edge, and paddled as fast as a could and rammed the kayak into the grass clump. After oooching further into the grass as best I could, I finally stepped onto something sort of kind of solid and was able to stand for a better view.

Foggy inlet on Cape Cod

Looking back down the inlet – my favorite image of the day

Looking back at the inlet I had just paddled down, an excellent image presented itself. The ins and outs of the edges of the inlet and irregular curves the path of the water takes through the grass made an excellent composition. The fog finally started to break as the sun strengthened and I was able to get just a little more visibility and definition along the edge of the grass where it falls into the water.  Now I knew I had some great images!

As the sun strengthened even more, the scene turned from thick, gray fog into warm light that gave the environment an atmospheric feeling. I turned  away from the inlet and to look out over the vast marsh toward Nauset and had time to grab two quick frames before the light started to dim again. Those few shots turned out to be the most interesting from that morning!

Nauset Marsh Orleans Cape Cod

Looking over the vast marsh towards Nauset – the increasing sunlight through the lifting fog give this image a warmer, atmospheric feel