Dragon Run with Teta Kain

June 12 --Over the last few days, when I would mention that I was meeting up with Teta Kain to see Dragon Run, folks would say, "Oh yes, I know Teta - she's a legend!"  Sure enough, she is something special...as is the Dragon.

Teta Kain telling me some of the history of Dragon Run.
I had spoken with Teta over the phone once before when I was working on a small research project about Dragon Run and the Piankatank River, which the water body is named once it becomes tidal open water.  Dragon Run is one of Virginia's most pristine waterways, in large part because of centuries of isolation from development.  Teta is an especially vibrant and active member of Friends of Dragon Run, a group of citizens in the area who have worked for several decades to buy up parcels of land to preserve and promote good stewardship of the Dragon. She joined Dave and I at Mascot, a dot on a map where a road passes over Dragon Run and which serves as one of only a couple places where people can access the river.  A parcel of land there is owned by Friends of Dragon Run and hosts a nature trail and canoe landing open to the public.  

Kayakers quietly fishing on Dragon Run, at Mascot.
I noticed that almost all the photos of flora and fauna on the kiosk at the Mascot property were taken by Teta Kain.  She is out there on the river multiple times every season and sometimes goes out to explore by kayak at night. 
Dragon Run after a rain

But Teta certainly isn't the only one who is curious and cares deeply about Dragon Run.  Teta drove us to the Friends' "Big Island" preserve further up river, to give us a walking tour through the forest there. As we finished up our walk,  another FODR member drove in, with wet legs and muddy shoes.  He was making his rounds to several locations up and down Dragon Run, wading into the swamp to check nesting boxes built for prothonotary warblers to see if they are inhabited.  And he does this every week.

Although Dragon Run is difficult to access, Teta is not. She volunteers her time to lead paddle trips and walks through the woods, for anyone who asks.  This spring, for about thirty days between April and May (the only time that the Dragon is fully navigable), she and other Friends members led daily kayak tours for over 280 people.  This is the group's primary way of raising funds and a wonderful chance for the public to get up close to some plants, birds, insects, and fish that you can rarely see anywhere else.
Mud turtle

Bald cypress "knees"


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