Kayak Canoe Alabama

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XVI

Sunday, March 27, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Last night was very stormy, bringing alot of rain and wind to the area. This morning was foggy and humid with still warm temperatures. At 8:00 AM, it was 71 degrees, with about a 10 mph breeze coming out of the southwest. The water level was fairly high with a still rising tide. It must not have been rising very fast, as I made a quick lap down to the Apalachee in 7:20. It was pretty foggy on the water and started to sprinkle, which was welcomed to help offset the air temperature.

As I passed the parking lot on the return, I noticed my time was 15:30, which was consistent with recent paddles with similar conditions. There were a few fishermen out this morning along the Causeway, who I didn't see until I was almost upon them. Surprisingly, there was very little chop, only a slight ripple for the amount of breeze. I made the turnaround at the bridges in 32:56, which was good under the conditions.

I decided to go all out on the return and made it back in a total time of 50:36, which was another best for this spring. I was especially pleased since the temperature was up and it was so humid.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Boiling Creek in March

Saturday, March 26, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

The Saturday forecast was a little iffy, but we decided to go, hoping the bad weather would not come in until later in the day. We met at 8:00 AM at the Wilcox Road I-10 exit 53 and jumped in the caravan with eight kayaks and our canoe. Upon arrival at the Yellow River bridge take-out, we also met Mike, who came over from Gulf Breeze. We combined boats on vehicles and headed for the put-in bridge. The sky was overcast, which helped keep the heat down a little. As usual, the water was crystal clear and flowing briskly at the bridge.

Our group moved fairly rapidly without stopping for very long anywhere. We saw new-growth pitcher plants starting to come up, but it was still a little early for new blooms. The golden club was up as well as a few water lilies. The group took a couple of short side trips into side branches out of the current flow. After the second such trip, the rain started to fall. It turned out to be a brief and light spring shower of about a half hour. It had stopped right about the time we came to the mouth of the creek by the boat launch.

We stopped for lunch briefly, before moving on into the Yellow River. The current was flowing nicely, quickly carrying us down river. We stopped for a moment at the cut-through, but it was still extremely clogged from last year's hurricane. So, we continued on around the river bend and down to the bridge and takeout. We retrieved vehicles, loaded up and were on our way by 1:00, and made it home before the rain came later in the afternoon.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Justins Bay

Friday, March 25, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Weather conditions proved ideal for the club-scheduled moonlight paddle. After a morning scouting trip to check out the course, I was able to closely predict paddle time and water conditions. Our group met at the east end of Meaher State Park, outside of the chainlink fence, in the large parking area and put in at the concrete boat ramp. At 6:00 PM, the sun was about down and the temperature started falling quickly from about 79 degrees to the upper 60's.

With 16 boats on the water and 20 paddlers, we left promptly at 6:00, with a few stragglers still arriving. The group started east out of the bay to the opening into Blakeley River, lingering a short time to see a beautiful sunset, and to wait for all to get into the water. We turned north upriver with a little help from the southerly breeze and a still slightly rising tide.

We stayed along the west bank, opposite the Beach House Grill, and crossed under the Causeway bridge. We continued north, passing a few houses, a set of condo units and a landfill area containing concrete from reclaimed bridges and roadways. The point at the end of the landfill marks the entrance to Sardine Pass. It is a waterway extending southwest down to the north side of the Causeway. We paddled in for about 200 meters and took the first fork to the right or northwest, which carried us to the entrance to Justins Bay. The bay is fairly shallow and probably a mile long, extending down to and visible from the Causeway and on up into the lower delta. Red Maples were still showing their colors, as well as Golden Club popping up.

By the time we arrived at the entrance to the bay, the last paddlers to put in had caught up with the group. Most hung out for awhile around the entrance to the bay, while a few went off to explore. We were somewhat exposed to the breeze, and after a short break, decided to start the return. The moon was brilliant, shining brightly in front of us, and reflecting off the water. It was so bright and with us out in the open delta, there was no for any additional lighting.

However, one kayaker started out a little ahead of the rest and could have used a light, as he turned down Sardine Pass and did not realize his error until he hit the deadend at the Causeway. By the time he returned, the whole group passed him by out to the Blakeley River on the way back to Meaher Park. In addition to the shimmering moonlight on the water, we saw a large multi-colored star along the shore, as well as the bright lights of the Beach House and traffic crossing the Causeway bridge to guide us back.

By the time the paddling pack made it back into the bay leading to the boat ramp, our wandering kayaker caught up and all were accounted for. This was the first group paddle for a few in the younger set, but all managed to do well and have a good time out in the evening on the lower delta.

Afterwards, part of the group retired for some excellent seafood, refreshment and live entertainment at the nearby Beach House Grill.

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XV

Friday, March 25, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

I was able to take advantage of my company giving us a holiday today, by paddling this morning under ideal conditions. At 7:00 AM, the temperature was 62 degrees with only a slight breeze under partly cloudy skies. The tide was still going out, but almost bottomed out.

I started out heading east over almost glass-like water with a slight following current. I made the turn at the Apalachee in 7:13 and back by the parking lot in 15:20. With the water level very low, I had to try and stay away from the shallow flats in order to keep up my pace. As I passed close by the Causeway, I heard a car honking as it passed by, and later found out it was Juli Day. I made the turn under the Interstate bridges in 33:31.

My return was fairly quick, as I turned in a total time of 50:44, best so far this spring. As I approached the parking lot on the return, there were about 150 Coot on the water. As I came straight towards them, they started their flight by almost walking on water, but were so lazy they only moved about 100 meters before settling back on the water.

After putting my boat on the car and starting home, I passed by Meaher State Park and decided to stop in and see what the course would be like for tonight's moonlight paddle. I put in at the boat ramp on the east end of the park, which opens into the Blakeley River. I turned north, passing under the Causeway bridge and continued north along the western bank for another half mile. After passing a few houses and a landfill area, I turned left, west into Sardine Pass and took the first right into a cut opening into Justins Bay. After looking around for a few minutes, I returned to get back home before Linda got too worried, since she was not expecting me to be paddling the extra hour. The distance was about 1.75 miles each way.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XIV

Sunday, March 20, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

After returning from the overnight leisurely paddle to the Jug Lake platform, I decided to go back out for a workout this afternoon at 3:30 PM. The temperature was 64 degrees with an easterly breeze, overcast and a light rain coming down. The water level was pretty high, but the tide was only in mid cycle, so the current was moving fairly quickly.

I started out from Riverdocs heading into the breeze and rising current. There was a decent crowd at Blue Gill's, so a few kids were out on the pier watching and waving as I passed by. I made the turn at the Apalachee River in 9:22 and back by the parking lot in 15:45. As I made it out into open water in Chacaloochee Bay, the water started to kick up a little chop and was swirling around in front of the Causeway culvert.

The rain started to come down a little harder as I approached the Interstate bridges. I tried to stay under the westbound bridge for awhile to stay out of the rain, but the chop was pushing me some and it was difficult to stay between the pilings. So, I went back out between the bridges, where I could just concentrate on paddling. I made the turnaround in 32:47.

After hiding under the bridge for a minute to get a drink, I started my return back out in the rain. There was really nothing to see in the rain, so I just pushed hard to get back, get out and get dry. I was glad to see it was worth getting out in the weather, as I finished in a decent time of 51:36.

Rice Creek to Jug Lake (Fisher Island) platform

Saturday, March 19, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Bob, Paul, Rick and I met at Rice Creek Landing, north of Stockton, at 4:00 PM, for a leisurely paddle out to the Jug Lake platform for dinner and overnight camping. The afternoon was beautiful, with clear skies, 75 degrees, no wind and a fairly high water level. We took the direct route out to Briar Lake, took the cut-through to Tensaw River, turned left alongside Larry Island, cut over to Bayou Jessamine and took the right turn into Jug Lake.

At this time of day, we found very little current flow on the Tensaw or Jessamine, which suited us just fine. I had already done a workout paddle early that morning and the others were more interested in the ambience of the moment than when we arrived.

Along the way, we saw many Maples in full blood red color and beautiful new green growth bursting from the Cypress lining our way. The mullet were jumping and we heard what we thought were deer rustling through the woods. A new experience for me was to see the many flocks of Little Blue Herons and White Ibis heading to roost for the night. There were dozens who just kept coming, the Herons quietly, but the Ibis making noticeable wing noise.

We arrived at the platform by 6:00 PM, unloaded and started preparations for our evening feast. This wasn't typical freeze-dried trail food, as we had a huge fresh vegetable and lettuce salad, garlic french bread and a large pot of fresh shrimp boiled with sausage, sweet corn and fresh whole garlic. The bugs didn't have a chance with our breath, spread around while telling tall tales. Even with my appetite, we couldn't finish all of the shrimp.

The evening was perfect, with a half moon shining brightly in the still air. Close by, Bard Owls called to us all night, while we followed the sounds of coon hounds in the distance, chasing and treeing their prey.

Sometime after retiring to sleeping bags on the open deck, I awoke and jumped a foot in the air, to the sound of a large splash. Disoriented from sleep, I looked around to see if an alligator was nearby, and then saw Paul pop up out of the water and back onto the platform. He had taken an extra step, when approaching the rear side next to the cooking table, and found out the water level is about chest deep and the bottom is soft and muddy. Unfortunately, he grabbed the edge of the securely fastened table, which scraped some large hunks of flesh off of the fingers on his left hand. After climbing out of the cold water and getting dried off, we cleaned and applied antiseptic to the mangled mess of a hand.

Since Bob slept through all of the excitement, when morning came and while eating breakfast, we retold and enhanced the story at Paul's expense, while his hand throbbed in pain. Suggestions were made Paul was sleepwalking, taking a moonlight skinnydip or sleeping with the fishes.

We broke camp early, heading straight back to Rice Creek. The morning was again beautiful, the water in Jug Lake like glass. On our way out, the Herons and Ibis were flying overhead, back to their day feeding spots. The current on Bayou Jessamine was a little stronger and following on the way out, as we enjoyed the morning light slicing through the canopy.

As we arrived at the landing and were loading up, a Birmingham family drove up, who had reservations for Sunday night on the same platform. They asked for route information and day paddle opportunities. It is great to see use of the platforms are starting to gain some interest, which hopefully will continue to grow, as people become aware of, and familiar with, the public assets we have available for our use.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XIII

Saturday, March 19, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

This morning was almost perfect for a great paddle. At 7:00 AM, the temperature was 51 degrees, there was no wind, the water was like glass, the sky was partly cloudy and the water level was just past low tide and barely starting to rise.

This time I had my watch and was ready to hit the water for a tough workout. I started out at a fast pace towards the restaurants and passed a couple of fishing boats, who were working the shorelines. I made it to the Apalachee River turnaround in 8:15. On the return, with just a little help from the rising tide, I passed the parking lot in 15:45, on the way to the Causeway and Interstate bridges. With the water so low, I tried to stay in the narrow channel, but strayed into some shallow mudflats for a few strokes and probably lost a few seconds.

I made the turnaround under the Interstate in 32:31 and stopped a short time for a drink. I barely moved, so I knew the rising tide was still not affecting me alot. I turned around and hit it very hard on the return, and made it back to the lot in a total time of 51:46.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XII

Friday, March 18, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

With Friday fever on "just another day in paradise", I took off work a little early and headed to the bay. I arrived at Riverdocs parking lot at 3:30 PM with a temperature of 62 degrees and a light southwest breeze. I was so anxious to get out, I forgot my watch, so was unable to time the workout.

I headed east towards the restaurants with a following breeze, but into a still rising tide. By counting strokes, I knew it was tougher going out than coming back west, as I passed the lot and on towards the Causeway. There was a big wreck on the Interstate westbound, which had traffic backed up for miles. This rerouted alot of traffic to the Causeway, so I had a larger than normal audience as I passed close by the highway. Further ahead, I could see the traffic at a standstill and as I approached, could see drivers looking out at me passing them by.

After a stop at the turnaround, I headed back and saw some of the same trucks in about the same places as when I first came by. I still paddled hard the whole way, even without the stopwatch, and estimated my overall paddle time at about 53:00.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Bay Minette Creek

Sunday, March 13, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Larry, Gary, Roland and I met at Buzbee’s Landing at 12:30 PM on a warm, breezy, partly cloudy afternoon. The temperature was 78 degrees with wind at 15 mph out of the Southwest.

The trip upriver started out quickly as we rode the rising tide with the wind to our backs. We turned into the second branch where there is a small island out in the main channel. With the water level high, we were able to paddle further in than usual, over the beaver dam and into a field of golden club. On the way out, we turned right into a pond full of golden club and water lilies and were able to exit from there directly out into the creek.

With this group, we maintained a brisk pace, next stopping at the dock of a houseboat at about 3.5 miles in. Gary turned around, while the rest of us headed further upstream to the bridge. On one of the many sharp turns, we cut through a narrow hole into a hidden pond for a quick look. There is large patch of mountain laurel in there and along the shoreline for the next half-mile. It was budding, but not quite ready to bloom just yet.

Upon arrival at the bridge, Larry suggested we stop for a swim and then proceeded to roll over and out. Roland and I thought it was planned, but realized he was reaching for his glasses, which he just knocked off his head. The water was very clear and we attempted to look for the glasses in the 3’-6’ deep water, but to no avail.

Roland is quite the competitor, and with only Larry and I remaining, we started out at a fast pace on the return and kept it up. At about 20 minutes on the return, we crossed paths with friends of Larry’s in a motorboat. He stopped to talk with them briefly, but not briefly enough for Roland and I. We really took off from there and basically raced the rest of the way back. The last mile was right into the wind, making it pretty tough. We hunkered down, dug in and gutted it out, finishing the five-mile return in 52:00.

Gary had arrived just ahead of us, after exploring some other side branches. He said he found pitcher plants, which I will definitely go back to find sometime this spring. Gary came in about 10 minutes later, so as the group leader and sweep this time, kept his record perfect, bringing everyone back safely.

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XI

Sunday, March 13, 2005 mailto:brint.adams@us.army.mil

I arrived at the Riverdocs parking lot at 8:00 AM, worrying about the lingering wind from Saturday. It was still breezy as I crossed the Causeway, but upon arrival, I found the water surprisingly calm. The tide was low and rising, with partly cloudy skies, 68 degrees and a southwesterly breeze.

I started out heading east towards the restaurants into the current, scaring up a few herons and egrets. I made the turn at the Apalachee in 8:11. It was delightfully calm and quiet with barely a ripple on Pass Picada. As I passed the parking lot on the return, I noticed my watch read 15:45, which was faster than the past several workouts.

This picked up my spirits a little as I headed for the Causeway and the restricting culverts. As the rising current comes north, not as much water can come through the culverts from Mobile Bay under the Causeway into Chacaloochee Bay, as comes up the Apalachee to the east and under the bridges near the USS Alabama on the west. So, more rising water comes in from both the east and west, along the north side of the Causeway, converging at the culvert and sometimes creating strange turbulence. Today, it wasn’t too bad, so I made it past the culvert with little slowdown, continuing to the Interstate bridges and to the turnaround in 32:25.

Although a beautiful morning, the fishing boats were already all out, so I did not encounter any the whole trip. This also helped as I was able to maintain a fast pace and steady rhythm the whole way. I turned around after a short drink break and hit it hard on the return. As I came into towards the parking lot, a lone fisherman was getting ready to try his luck. I came in with a very satisfying time of 51:20.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Magnolia River

Sunday, March 12, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Larry, Gary, Mark and I met at the Exxon on Hwy. 98 and Magnolia Springs Road, and drove the short distance down to Jesse’s Restaurant, turned right and then left on Rock Street, to the public county access to the Magnolia River. Upon entering the high water, we found the southwest wind blowing strongly, pushing us upriver. Otherwise, the weather was gorgeous with sunny skies and 78 degrees.

We decided to start out upriver, and after we made the turn to the right, and crossing under the bridge, found the river protected from the wind, making the paddle very quiet and enjoyable. With the water so high, we were able to make our way much farther upstream, than I had ever been before. I brought along my saw, which helped in a few spots, as we made our way around and under a lot of downed trees, left in the aftermath of Ivan. We followed a lone heron for a while and later a lone cormorant swimming along ahead of us.

On the return, we turned into the branch where the springs originate, and as we ducked under the walking bridge, a cormorant decided to try and fly out just over our heads. He did not gain enough altitude in time, as he hit the railing. He stumbled around for a second and flew on, apparently not injured. The water was very clear, as we passed blooming azaleas along the bank. Upon exiting, we turned downriver and paddled into the wind, past all of the beautiful flower gardens along the way.

About halfway out to Weeks Bay, we decided to take a left into Weeks Creek, which none of us had explored previously. The creek meandered for quite away back into the woods, until we finally came to a fallen tree, narrow passage and shallow water. Again, we were out of the wind, making this side trip very enjoyable.

Once we came out of Weeks Creek, we decided to head back to Rock Street. The return trip was a quick one, with the wind to our backs. The 5 mile paddle took us about 2 hours. All in all, we had a great leisurely time on a sunny, spring afternoon on a beautiful river. We could not have asked for anything more.