Kayak Canoe Alabama

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Apalachee River to Causeway XIX

Thursday, September 30, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

My plan for this workout was to paddle at about 85-90% effort. I wanted to back off just a little bit to wind down preparation for the race next weekend. I arrived at the old Riverdoc's parking lot and put in around 5:30 PM. The temperature was still a hot 90 degrees with a little breeze out of the north and the tide still rising.

The water was pretty calm as I passed the restaurants and so with an easy pace, I made it to Apalachee in 8:21. I turned and with the tide following me westward, my split as I passed the parking lot was 15:18. I tried to keep my turnover easy and at a constant pace all the way to the turnaround between the Interstate bridges. The sun tucked itself behind a cloud and the temperature fell quite a bit. I arrived in 32:39 and still thought I was easing off a little.

I rested a minute, took a drink and headed back east. When I got close, there were a couple of kids throwing rocks at my good gator buddy. He was out of there range and just floated there smiling at them. I sprinted in the last 200 meters and finished in 50:01 which was kind of a shock. I felt very good, tried not to push it all out and I still finished in 50 minutes!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Whiskey Ditch

Tuesday, September 28, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

While making a last minute check of the website, I read Bob was leading a full moon paddle tonight. Since I am starting to wind down my hard workout schedule, this seemed like a good cross-training change of pace.

Linda and I loaded up the canoe and headed for the old Riverdoc's parking lot on the Causeway to see who else might have read the flash paddle posting. When we arrived, Bob & Avan were ready to go in their canoe and Jeff & Laura were unloading their kayaks. We all took off at 6:15 PM, heading east down Pass Picada towards the Apalachee River. The tide was slightly falling, so it was an easy paddle for the 0.75 mile stretch alongside the restaurants filled with curious customers watching us pass by.

As we turned north along the western side of the Apalachee, we encountered numerous fish either just breaking the surface as we passed or mullet flying through the air. A couple of gators watched us as we paddled by and turned left into Whiskey Ditch.

We hoped to see the early golden signs of burr marigolds and were not disappointed. In addition, there were the last of the lavender blooms on the many large clumps of water hyacinths along the narrow waterway. We were able to make our way all of the way back to the end where the ditch opens up into a small pond. We stopped to relax and watch the sun set.

With the moon coming up and city lights off in the distance in both directions, we had plenty of light to make our way back out and back past the restaurants to our takeout. This is a very easy five mile paddle suitable for beginners in canoes and kayaks.

The burr marigolds should be in full bloom in a couple more weeks. There are plenty of different flowers blooming in all seasons, many varieties of birds and the occasional gator to make this an interesting paddle into the delta which is close to town without any fees for boat ramp or parking use.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Causeway to Mobile River plus Apalachee

Sunday, September 26, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

With two weeks to go before the Phat Water race, this weekend was my last tough set of workouts, as I will now go into the taper stage until race day on October 9th. My plan was for a two-hour paddle on Saturday and a four-hour paddle today. To get the extra distance and time, I decided to combine two of my regular workout courses.

I started out at the Causeway service station lot before dawn and put-in at 6:20 AM. The temperature was ideal at 65 degrees, but there was a pretty good breeze already coming out of the northwest and in the middle stages of a rising tide. I decided to do my five mile speed course first, as I probably would not have wanted to pass the take-out and head out to do it after first paddling the Mobile River loop.

The northwest wind brought in a pretty good set of waves to my side and beat me up pretty good as I crossed along the bottom of Chacaloochee Bay. Once I made it past the old Riverdoc's lot and into the protection of Pass Picada, the wave action stopped and I was able to get into a good paddle rhythm. I made it to Apalachee River in 27:50, turned and made it back with my next split of 54:17.

I stopped for a minute to get a drink and continued west between the Interstate bridges and turned northwest up into Delvan Bay. With the rising tide giving me a following current and heading straight into the wind wave action, I was able to make pretty good progress up to my next stop by the still missing Pontoon Saloon. My split was 1:59:35, which by comparison was 1:05:18 for the Mobile River portion only.

After a drink stop, I made it up to the turn at the Mobile River in 2:18:19 (1:24:02). Once there, even with a rising tide, the northwest wind gave me a big push downriver and I made it to my next split stop at the highrise bridge in 2:43:27 (1:49:10). I tried to limit my stops to just a few seconds for a drink and part of a Power Bar, to simulate race conditions, so I got back into the current, passing a couple of tug boats heading upriver. I made it past the downtown area to my next split by the Alabama Shipyards in 3:13:34 (2:19:16).

This turned out to be my last stop as I cruised down to the turn east into Mobile Bay. This is where I hit the brick wall. The wind had increased significantly, but fortunately my course was straight into the waves (about one foot breakers), so I didn't have to fight cutting diagonally or perpendicular to them. It was just gut check time as I hunkered down and fought my way through and up to the Causeway bridge. As I passed under the bridge, my split was 3:45:45 (2:51:28), but the water was crazy, so I just kept going on up to the Interstate bridges and sprinted the last leg beneath the bridge and back to the parking lot. My total finish time was 3:56:25 for the 23.5 miles and 3:02:08 for just the 18.5 Mobile River loop. I felt very strong at the end and feel I am ready to go for the race in two weeks. When I got out, the temperature was 82 degrees, as I headed back home quite satisfied.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Chacaloochee Bay

Saturday, September 25, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

I arrived at the old Riverdoc's parking lot and put in at 7:10 AM under clear skies, 72 degrees, slight breeze out of the NE, with a close to peaking, but still rising tide. My plan was to paddle ten miles following a course up Conway Creek to down the Tensaw River and back east to my put-in.

I started out heading east on Pass Picada to the restaurants, turned around and back to add a mile at the start. I turned up into Chacaloochee Bay and intended to turn right up Conway Creek. Somehow, I didn't think I was in the right place and thought I needed to go further north, so I passed up the turn and instead went up to the north end of the Bay. I stopped for a drink at 46:00 and came straight back hard to Riverdoc's, again turned east on Pass Picada to Blue Gill's, turned around and followed my normal course to the Causeway and Interstate bridges.

I wasn't sure how many miles I was covering, but just wanted to get close to two hours of paddling in. I made it to the turnaround in 1:48, stopped for a drink and pushed hard on the return, making it back in total time of 2:06:47. Once I got back, I got out my maps to see how I missed the turn to Conway and then added my mileage for the modified trip and came up with about 11.75 miles. I was pleased to see my pace was 10:45 per mile for the 2 hour workout.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Apalachee River to Causeway XVIII

Thursday, September 23, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Near perfect conditions were in store for tonight's paddle with a temperature of 82 degrees, no wind and a slow moving falling current. There were a couple of people from the Museum of Mobile hanging around looking for fossils in the washed up sand after the hurricane.

I felt good and decided to go all out from the start as I headed down past the restaurants, making the Apalachee River in 6:45. I turned and pushed hard on the return and forgot to look at my watch as I passed the parking lot, but it was under 15:00, as I pushed on towards the Causeway. With no side current or wind, I was able to get into a good paddle rhythm as I approached the Causeway. A State Trooper was hanging out where there usually are several fishermen. He watched as I came in close to the highway as well as a gator hanging out by one of the buoy markers. The gator ducked under, but I will get to that later.

I made it to the turnaround in 31:49, and stopped briefly for a drink and got ready for a big push back to the finish. The trooper was still there, but later followed me to the parking lot. I sprinted the last quarter mile and finished in a new PR of 48:28. As I was getting out, the trooper pulled up and asked me about the course, speed, etc., and then said the gator came back up after I passed and followed me for awhile. I told him about my encounter with the gator who came up under my kayak and flipped me out, and he just shook his head and thought I was a little crazy, as he pulled back out onto the highway.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Apalachee River to Causeway XVII

Tuesday, September 21, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Following last week's kayaking hiatus due to Ivan, it was great to get back out on the water tonight. At 5:45 PM, the temperature was a warm 88 degrees with a breeze coming out of the northeast and basically no current, as the low tide was approaching at 6:15.

The put-in at the old Riverdoc's was changed somewhat by Ivan, as a good part of the sand and gravel on the lot had washed over into Pass Picada. The old concrete ramp was covered with about 12" of the sand with the ramp. As usual, I started out heading east into the wind, but with no current, made it to the Apalachee River in 7:39. All of the restaurants and bars were open once again and did not appear to have sustained much damage.

I turned around and headed west with the following breeze and as I passed Riverdoc's my split time was 15:07. The wave action due to the breeze kept me out of an optimum speed rhythm, but I managed to work through it, making it to the turnaround in 32:14.

By this time, the sun was setting and provided a glorious view of reds and pinks over downtown Mobile and off of the few puffy clouds hanging around. This spurred me on to kick it in on the way back and with a final sprint, made it back to the finish in 50:53. The temperature was 82 as I loaded up and said my goodbyes to my gator buddy who waited patiently for me to return after being away for the week.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Causeway to Mobile River Workout V

Sunday, September 19, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Obviously, Hurricane Ivan took precedence over anything else last week, as we prepared our house for the storm on Tuesday and left for Atlanta on Wednesday. Upon our return yesterday, we put our house and yard back in order, as we were spared the major damage that some incurred. The power was back on when we got back, so we felt very lucky.

I thought for awhile that it would not be appropriate to go kayaking today, but since we already had a full tank of gas from before the storm and I was only driving about 8 miles total, I decided to go ahead.

I arrived at the Exxon parking lot at 6:30 AM, and found it covered with dried mud from when it was flooded over last week. The station was still boarded up and the restaurants along the Causeway were trying to clean up and re-open as soon as they could.

The temperature was an excellent 63 degrees with about a 10 mph wind out of the north and a falling tide. I knew the first part of the paddle would be slow and hard, as I turned up into Delvan Bay. I just hunkered down and headed straight into the wind and current at a strong pace. The low temperature helped, as I didn't get overheated right away. There were several Osprey hanging around their same dead trees, so at least some things had not changed. When I reached my first checkpoint at the Pontoon Saloon, I was amazed to see it completely gone. I don't know if the storm blew it apart or away or if someone unhooked it and pulled it to a safer location. My split time was 1:11:30, so the wind and current definately had an effect.

I continued on to the electrical towers at the mouth of the Mobile River. Along the way, there were several trees out in the middle of Spanish River, blown into different locations from where they were before the storm. My split time was 1:28:50.

The good thing about a falling tide is upon reaching the Mobile River, you know the pace will more than double. There were several tug boats out moving in both directions, but none were pushing barges while I passed. My next split at the high bridge was an eye-popping 1:50:21, which already put me back on schedule for a possible 3:00 paddle. I tried to stop for a minute, but the current was pushing me so hard, I just took a quick drink and got back into my rhythm.

Before I knew it, I was already down to the cruise line terminal and Alabama Shipyard. My split there was equally fast at 2:16:59 and again I was unable to find a place to get out of the current. I took another quick drink and got going right away again. This non-stop training will be good for the upcoming Mississippi race, where I will not want to stop to rest anyway.

Once I got around the bend at the bottom of the Mobile River and headed east to the Bay, I knew it would be back to slugging it out again. I was not disappointed as I did not have a chance to stop again due to the strong current. Unfortunately, this last leg was all uphill. Once I passed the Causeway, the water from there to the Interstate bridges was very shallow, exposing a couple dozen derelict crab traps I had not seen before. I tried to skirt around them, but still got into some pretty shallow water which slowed me down a little more. I tried to pick up the pace again, once under the Interstate bridges and sprinted the rest of the way back to the parking lot. My total time came in at 3:03:02, which I thought was pretty good considering the current I had to deal with. The temperature when I finished was a considerably warmer 78 degrees.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Fairhope to Dog River Single Crossing

Sunday, September 12, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

I arrived at the Fairhope Yacht Club beach hoping for a calm water double crossing. The temperature cooperated with 76 degrees, the sky was clear all the way across the bay, but there was a pretty good breeze coming out of the east or northeast. As I took off at 6:20 AM, the wind felt good pushing at my back as I started to make good time. But, after about a half hour, it was apparent the wind was steady and continually creating 2' seas. I was not able to get into any kind of stroke rhythm, as I had to totally focus on staying upright and trying to maintain course. It was fun for the first hour, surfing from one set of three waves to the next.

Eventually, I lost concentration momentarily and rolled over and out. Fortunately, I had my paddle float and proceeded to get back in on the first try, in spite of the waves beating me up. I pumped out most of the water before getting in, so I was able to just start paddling again and maintain course and balance. The experience shook me up a little as I continued on towards the Dog River Bridge, still about an hour away. The rest of the paddle across was a matter of just trying to stay upright, as I had no desire to roll over again. I finally limped in to the Beachcomber below the Dog River bridge, taking 2:17 to make the crossing. At that point, I had no desire to turn around and paddle back to FYC, so I called home for a ride. I didn't get quite the workout I was looking for, but learned another good lesson in kayaking on the open Bay.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Apalachee River to Causeway XVI

Saturday, September 11, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

I arrived at the old Riverdoc's parking lot under cloudy skies with a comfortable 74 degrees and pretty good breeze coming out of the northeast. The bay was filled back up and still rising. I knew as I took off to the east down Pass Picada, it would be a difficult start into the wind and against the rising tide. I counted strokes as I made my way past the restaurants and again knew my time would be much slower going east. When I arrived at the Apalachee River and turned, my watch confirmed my thoughts with a time of 9:00. Just to compare strokes, I counted on the return past Riverdoc's, and found I used 250 less strokes heading west, with a time of 6:30 and total split of 15:30. As I got out into more open water by the Causeway at the base of Chacaloochee Bay, the breeze turned up a little, creating a pretty good chop. I fought my way to the turnaround in 32:15 and stopped for a drink near a fisherman anchored under the Interstate bridge.

On the return, I stayed between the bridges as long as I could to stay out of the headwind, but finally cut under the westbound bridge and back out into the open bay. I just hunkered down and pushed ahead, not feeling I was getting into a very even rhythm having to fight the wind-induced chop. As I made it back to the put-in, my gator buddy had woken up and was there to greet me in a total time of 50:59.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Apalachee River to Causeway XV

Thursday, September 9, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

I had some company tonight, as Don brought his new kayak out for a first spin along the delta. We met at the old Riverdoc's and put in at 6:00 PM. The temperature was still hot at 90 degrees, with clear skies and a breeze out of the north again. We took off heading east past the live music on Blue Gill's deck and to the Apalachee turnaround. My time was a pretty quick 6:50 with a still falling tide. I waited for Don and made a few suggestions he could use to improve his stroke and keep him tracking straight.

We turned and headed back west, although Don decided to cut his paddle shorter than mine and stopped close to where the course comes up next to the Causeway. As I passed Riverdoc's, I glanced at my time of 14:50 and continued on to my turnaround between the Interstate bridges across from the Exxon. My time at the turn was 33:15, as I faced towards a great sunset. I kicked into an even higher gear on the return and made it back to Riverdoc's in 49:43 over the 5.2 miles. Don was hanging around and related his experience watching the sun set next to two lazy alligators, as I was furiously paddling towards him, off in the distance. We did see several gators, including my buddy who hangs out by Riverdoc's, as well as quite a good variety of birds. We will do it again sometime, hopefully next week.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Apalachee River to Causeway XIV

Wednesday, September 8, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Although there was a breeze coming out of the southeast, the strong northerly breezes for the previous several days from Charley pretty well drained the Bay. With close to low tide, areas that are usually shallow were now exposed. The evening was pretty nice with 86 degrees and only a few clouds on the horizon. I forgot my watch, so without big brother, I backed off just a little bit.

The paddle was uneventful, other than a beautiful sunset and I estimate my overall time was about 53 minutes.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Byrne's Lake III

Monday, September 6, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

This morning was beautiful with a relatively cool 76 degrees, not very humid, but a stiff 20 mph breeze coming out of the NE. I drove out to the Causeway to see what Blakeley River looked like and when the wind blasted me as I crossed the bridge, I turned around and headed up Hwy. 225 to Byrne's Lake , where I knew it would be somewhat protected.

I put in at 7:30 AM and headed upstream against a falling tide and into the breeze. Most of Byrne's Lake is pretty well protected, but there are a few straight stretches where the wind has a chance to be a factor. I made it out to the Tensaw River in 21:07 and saw what the wind was really up to out in the open. There were white caps rapidly pushing downriver. I turned around and back into the protection of Byrne's, so I wouldn't get blown around.

I started back, trying to see if I could make up some time compared to my last paddle here. But, even with a hard finishing kick, I managed only a total time of 42:43, which was 1:17 slower than last week, blamed partially on the wind. When I got back to the boat ramp, I was met by a couple of fishermen just heading out, who were interested in my story, as I came flying in.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Apalachee River to Causeway XIII

Saturday, September 4, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

This morning, I had the potential for up to three training partners, who had expressed interest in paddling with me. But, when it became crunch time, no one else showed up. I arrived at Riverdoc's before sunrise and put in at 6:05 AM. The temperature was 78 degrees, humid, wind out of the NE and a falling tide. I aimed for the north side of Pass Picada, but could not get out of the breeze, so I just went with the current and paddled right down the center. When I arrived at Appalachee, my watch read 7:15, and at about 6:20 AM, the sun had not peaked over Spanish Fort yet.

I turned and used the following breeze to pass Riverdoc's in 15:40 and headed off towards the Causeway. There were a couple of fishing boats coming east, so I got off towards the bank to give them a little room. By the time I got to the Causeway, the sun had come up and it was a truly glorious sunrise. I made it to the turnaround in 33:20, and after a short break, headed back into the wind and against the current. The wind kicked up, creating a little chop, so I never really got into a good stroke rhythm. But, I wanted to finish off the paddle with a fast turnover, so I just went for it anyway. I made it back to Riverdoc's in 51:01. I checked around, but my good gator buddy must have been out late last night, as he was still sleeping in.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Apalachee River to Causeway XII

Tuesday, September 2, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Tonight started out looking dismal with rain and lightening at 5:30, but by the time we put in at Riverdoc's at 6:00 PM, the sun came out producing a beautiful rainbow. The rain cooled the temperature down to 80 degrees, stopped the breeze and left the high tide almost mirror-like.

I met Andy for the first time, at the put-in, and we discussed our plan for the paddle. As we took off on the regular course, my good gator buddy was there to welcome us. We paddled against the slightly rising tide, passing Blue Gill's with their live music playing on the outdoor deck. I made it to the Apalachee in a reasonable time of 8:07. After a short break, we headed back west with the tide and passed Riverdoc's in 15:09 and continued on past the Causeway to the turnaround between the bridges adjacent to the Exxon. My split there was 31:30, which was in line with previous paddles and conditions. I waited for Andy to catch up and after resting briefly, we headed back east, both picking up the pace a bit more. By that time, the tide started to fall, allowing me to finish in another new PR of 48:45. The weather cooperated, giving us almost ideal conditions for this time of year. While discussing our successful results, a night heron flew in and perched on the old pole right above our heads, as we made a plan to meet and try it again this weekend.