Kayak Canoe Alabama

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Apalachee River to Causeway XXVIII

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

Wow, what a great week for paddling in Mobile Bay! I put in again today at the old Riverdoc's parking lot at 3:30 PM, with a temperature of 68 degrees, no wind, partly cloudy skies and a low, but rising tide.

Today, it was all about maximum speed and as hard a workout as I could muster, leading into New Year's Eve tomorrow, when we will be in the French Quarter celebrating.

I started out east past the restaurants, making the turn at the Apalachee in 9:23, against a strong rising tide. As I passed the parking lot on the return, my time was 15:48, so I knew I had to continue to hit it hard in the next stretch, with the current pushing me along. There were a couple of fishermen hanging out at the Causeway as I passed, who barely looked up. I continued on to the Interstate bridges, over glass-like water and made the turnaround in 31:55.

After a very short break, I cranked it up again and made it back to the lot in a total time of 51:01, which was a great way to finish out paddling in 2004.

Hopefully, we will be as healthy in 2005, and pick up where we left off, having just a great time in the paradise known as L.A.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Apalachee River to Causeway XXVII

Wednesday, December 29, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

It was even warmer today at 71 degrees, with partly cloudy skies, a slight southerly breeze and a low but rising tide. I arrived at the old Riverdoc's parking lot to see a man bird-watching with his binoculars. He came over as I was putting in, and said a gator was hanging around nearby, and asked if they ever bothered me. I said not usually, and that I was surprised to hear he saw one this time of year.

I started out heading east, and pushed hard against the current, to arrive at the Apalachee in 9:04. Following the turn, I passed the parking lot in 15:39 and continued to paddle hard past the Causeway, with one lonely fisherman lazily enjoying the beautifully warm afternoon. I made the turnaround in 32:29 and stopped for a couple of minutes. I wanted to try and best yesterday's time, so I hit it hard on the way back, reaching the parking lot in 52:17. I never saw the phantom gator, but it was such a great day for a paddle, it did not matter.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Apalachee River to Causeway XXVI

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

Just another day in paradise! I put in at the old Riverdoc's parking lot at 2:30 PM under mostly clear skies, no wind and a temperature of 65 degrees. The tide was rising and flowing pretty good.

As usual, my first leg was eastbound past the restaurants to the Apalachee River in 8:38. After a pause, I headed back and my time passing the parking lot was 15:37. The water was still very low from the low tide as well as the bay not having recovered yet from the several days of north winds which emptied it out. I had to be careful to stick right with the passage or risk getting into the mud flats.

I reached the turnaround in 32:31, where I stopped again and took a long drink between the interstate bridges. I cranked it back up and made it back to the lot in a total time of 52:23.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Pelican Island

Monday, December 27, 2004 brint.adams@us.army.mil

My son, Bob, and I arrived at the Dauphin Island Golf Club at around 2:00 PM. It was an absolutely perfect afternoon with a temperature of 63 degrees, no wind, very calm seas, and a rising tide. We carried our kayaks about 150 meters to the beach on the south side of Dauphin Island, looking out over Pelican Island and out to the rigs and the Sand Island lighthouse.

We proceeded to paddle west, at 2:10 PM, to skirt around the near end of Pelican Island and paddled along the southwest or open sea side of the island. It was so calm, there were barely any small waves breaking on the shore. We passed many congregations of cormorants, pelicans, various seagulls and other small shore birds as we continued out to the southeast end. When we arrived, there were literally hundreds of birds waiting for us and for the fish to arrive at feeding time. We made the turn and came in along the northside, while the birds were fishing right next to us. As we got closer to the Dauphin Island beach, we headed straight north and away from Pelican Island, arriving at around 3:45 PM.

Although we did not see any dolphins on this paddle, the afternoon was so beautiful, we really did not miss them.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Bay Minette Creek

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

After most of the guests left following a successful Christmas family reunion, Bob and I headed out for an afternoon paddle. As we turned north on Hwy. 225 out of Spanish Fort, we decided to put in at the small bridge at the upper end of Bay Minette Creek. The water was fairly low, but the weather was beautiful, with a temperature of 61 degrees and no wind or clouds. This was Bob's first paddle in a couple of years, so he was pretty novice. As such, after about 50 meters, he got along the bank under some low branches and as he tried to push away, lost his balance and rolled over.

The water was cold and he climbed out on to the bank in a hurry. We emptied the water out and he put on a dry sweatshirt and we started out again. The water was like glass and with no other boat traffic, it was like that for a long way. We made pretty good time and decided to paddle all the way down to Buzbee's by the Hwy. 225 bridge, where we took a short break. For the way back, we switched kayaks, Bob trying out my Seda and I paddling my older Perception.

Bob did fine with it, and it was all I could do to keep up with him. Actually, it made for a good workout for me, as we paddled back upstream the five miles to the upper bridge. The highlight on the return was seeing a bald eagle take off right in front of us and circling overhead. In addition, we saw several osprey, blue herons and white egrets. Our total paddle time was approximately 2.5 hours.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Apalachee River to Causeway XXV

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

It was an absolutely glorious morning with a 42 degree temperature, no wind, clear skies and falling tide at 8:00 AM. With a low water level, due to northerly winds the past couple of days, and approaching low tide, there were dozens of wading birds along the banks. I made my first split in 7:28 at the Apalachee River turnaround, and back past the parking lot in 15:30. On the way back, between Drifter's and the lot, there was a photographer with tripod and telephoto lenses shooting north across Pass Picada, to where many of the birds were picking around in the exposed mud flats.

I had to make sure I stayed in the channel heading west, in order to stay out of the shallows. As it was, I knew I was in pretty shallow water, as the water seemed heavier to paddle in. There were several early morning fishermen along the Causeway, as I passed by. They just looked up and shook their heads, as the old man in the kayak paddled furiously past. I arrived at the turnaround, in a split of 32:38, where the water seemed to be moving faster for some reason. After a drink, I turned and got right back into my race pace on the return. As I approached the parking lot, I noticed another photographer set up there, also shooting north across the pass, with very large telephoto lenses. After packing up the the kayak, I stopped to talk with him for a moment, but didn't get around to asking about who he was working for, if not an amateur. It is great weather like this, that I think about, during those hot and humid summer workouts. My final time was a respectable 51:47.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Bob Andrews Memorial Adventure Event

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

It was a blustery afternoon, with northwest winds at 15 mph, temperature of 50 degrees, partly cloudy skies and the tide starting to rise. Three two-person teams, two solos and three volunteers showed up for the second Adventure Event. This was my first attempt at it, and it turned out very well for a very low-key, no-frills race.

Gary was the starter, timer and finish line crew, while Nancy and Linda were course monitors trying to keep everyone heading in the right direction. The race started at 3:19 PM, with four kayaks heading in one direction, north in Mobile Bay towards Rock Creek, while four cyclists headed out of the FYC parking lot, turned north on Hwy 98, to Scenic 98 towards the trail run transition.

I started out in the kayak phase with Bob, Julie and Jim. The wind kicked up some pretty good two foot rollers coming in diagonally at us, once we cleared the marina entrance. I got off to a slow start, while Bob pulled ahead by 10 meters. It was difficult to get into any rhythm, as we just tried to stay upright. I finally pulled ahead of Bob and made it to the entrance of Rock Creek, with about a 15 second lead. Julie and Jim were already way off in the distance. With the north wind blowing water out of the bay, the water level was low and there was only about 3"-6" of water for about 50 feet leading into the mouth of the creek. I jumped out of my kayak and ran while dragging it to deeper water. I got back in and sprint paddled up Rock Creek to the turns, under the Scenic 98 bridge and ahead to where it became too shallow again. I got out and dragged my kayak over sand bars and around turns for another 50 meters and when I was almost to the takeout point, I fell in some deep water and had to swim and pull my kayak to the beach takeout. I just pulled the kayak up to the side, but forgot to tie it off on a branch. As I started to run up the bank, Bob was paddling around the corner, still about 15 seconds behind.

I decided to run in my Chacos, so with no transition time, immediately started my trail run, albeit soaking wet. As I reached the log bridge across the creek, Larry was just arriving from his run coming the other way. He let me cross first, which was sandy and a little treacherous. My run was OK, as I kept running the whole way, but not extremely fast. As I ran up towards the first hill, I passed Nick and Jim and up the final hill, passed Gene before coming out to the bike transition. My transition was good, as I changed into my biking shoes, helmet and gloves, took a drink and took off in about 30 seconds.

This is where I put the most separation between myself and Bob, as I made it to the FYC parking lot in nine minutes with a one-way total split time of 40 minutes, circled and headed back. I passed Bob somewhere just before turning back onto Scenic 98, and hit it hard the rest of the way back. Just as I was approaching the transition area, Julie was starting out on her bike.

I did the transition again, changed back into the Chacos, took a last drink and hit the trail. Again, my trail speed was not great, but I didn't walk either. When I reached the creek, I found my kayak was moved over to the other side and turned around facing downstream. By not tying it up, my kayak probably got loose and in the way of the others, so they parked it over in some calm water for me. I splashed into the creek, jumped back in and took off. It was definately quicker going downstream and with the tide rising some, I was able to cross the sandbar at the mouth of Rock Creek without getting out. The paddle back in the bay was somewhat easier, with the waves behind, but still coming in diagonally. I was able to surf a little and make up some time and came into the marina to the finish, in a total time of 1:21. It was a challenging sprint course and worthy of expansion for future races.

Later, I found out Jim went off the trail run course, by not finding the log creek crossing. He wandered up the hill through some backyards, onto the highway and walked all the way back to the parking lot. Therefore, he and Nick were disqualified.

Here are the final results:

Team (2nd person finish):
Gene, Julie 1:08
Bob, Don 1:08:30
Nick, Jim DNF

Individual two-way total:Brint 1:21

Individual one-way:
Brint 0:40 (1st leg)
Brint 0:41 (2nd leg)
Larry 0:44

Team individual one way:
Bob 0:45
Gene 0:54
Julie 1:08
Don 1:08:30
Nick 1:08:30

The Bob Andrews Very Memorial Paddle
by Gary Worob

Twinkle, twinkle little star,
Where oh where is our last participant?
Has he strayed afar?

Is this deja vous all over again?
Has the memorial event really lost another friend?

Maybe the cool evening air
Made visions of sugar plums
Dance and give him alternative hope,
While the rest waited in despair!

I, the timekeeper,
Waited with baited breath,
Not wanting to hear of
An untimely death.

And thus with adjunct surprise,
He appeared with delight to us
And a gleam in his eyes.

Thank the gods for this blessed event.
Who really knows whereever he went,
And others, wrong turns did take.
But none complained about the race
With no winnings and no booty to take.

It was the second annual Bob Andrews Memorial.
Another event with wind, high waves and struggles and toil.
No use to tell you, that Brint was in first.
But since no one wins this event, no one could do worse!

Thank you Larry for another hair-raising event.
One more big boy almost came and went.
We look forward to next year or even next month,
When one more athlete can fall in the water, another ill-fated dunk!

Your youth and vitality are only matched
By the vigor you show for giving us all
Near fatal heart attacks!

So hurrah and bring on the beer.
The big boys, big girls are tougher this year.
And down the chimney with a whir and a grin,
No lump of coal for the resident, Larry within!

May your stockings be full of warming clothes,
and some more of that funny stuff
You obviously have been putting up your nose!

For such an event is for the mentally insane.
No one else would go out to get lost
For no prizes, no glory, no fame.

We aren't complaining,
In fact we want more.
Can't wait to see what's next
In Larry's full store.

Good-bye for now from the wordsmith, it's late.
I've locked the door and sealed the gate.
Tonight, I'll be wondering the upcoming fate!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Mudhole Creek

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

With good weather conditions today, six paddlers met at Bruno's and traveled up Hwy. 225 to Cloverleaf Landing Lane and put in at Cloverleaf Landing at 10:45 AM. Our group included Larry, Frank, Bruce, Gary and Jon, who came in to Fairhope from Kansas by sailboat, down the Tennessee-Tombigbee, on his way to Florida and the Bahamas. The sky was cloudy, no wind, 62 degrees with a falling tide, as we started down a swiftly running Tensaw River.

Recent flooding upriver brought high silty water into the delta, with plenty of floating debris and large chunks of water hyacinth. We stayed along the eastern shore and soon paddled into fast and tricky swirling waters in front of the exposed riverbluff at the righthand turn in the river just north of Blakeley State Park. After taking the left fork down the Apalachee River, our crew paddled easily and quickly past the upper entrance to The Cutoff, before angling across the river to the entrance to Mudhole Creek.

The entrance angles back to the northwest, and it was an adventure exiting the fast current with the water swirling around, as we turned into Mudhole. Interestingly, there was a current moving forward with us, which we found turned south down a cut towards Little Bateau Bay. We continued up Mudhole Creek which turned sharply to the northeast, splitting into two tributaries ending in the delta. The water was significantly clearer the further we went. As we turned into the right fork at the split, we came across six Black-crowned Night Herons perched in a small tree. They circled around us after most likely recently arriving from somewhere up north. We also stopped along the way to pick a few dried lotus pods.

On our return, we turned down the cut to Little Bateau, which is not shown on USGS maps. The current was fairly swift as the bay was draining out to Conway Creek and into Chacaloochee Bay with the falling tide. We turned around and started our tough fight upstream and upriver on the way back to Blakeley. Upon exiting Mudhole into the Apalachee, some of us decided to hug the west bank, while others angled across to the east bank. It was a long, hard slog either way, as we dragged into the sheltered waters next to the Blakeley pavilion. Some stopped for lunch, waiting for the others to arrive, while Jon took the trail loop around Blakeley, noting the various landmarks and vegetation with identifying signage.

Once we pulled the group back together, we started upriver and pulled into the hidden entrance of Baptizing Branch, along the north side of Blakeley. This is a beautiful, quiet waterway sheltered from the elements and worth a look. After exiting, we started back up the Tensaw, where most of the crew cut across to the west bank, to avoid the outside of the lefthand turn in the river along the bluff, with the stronger current. Once across from Cloverleaf, they cut back across the current to the take-out.

This was a very satisfying paddle for all, one that took us into an area none had seen before. We all agreed it was a place we would like to return to, in other seasons. Now that we found the cut to Little Bateau, this route would make a great point to point trip from Cloverleaf to Mudhole Creek, Little Bateau Bay, Conway Creek, Chacaloochee Bay and take out along the causeway at old Riverdoc's parking lot.