Kayak Canoe Alabama

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XXVI

Saturday, April 30, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Today was a complete washout for our scheduled paddle on the Styx River, as it rained hard all morning and continued to sprinkle most of the afternoon. But, there was a small window late in the afternoon, so I quickly loaded up and headed for the Causeway around 5:00 PM. It was overcast, 72 degrees with the wind turned and coming out of the northwest. The tide was high, having just crested and starting to fall, with the bay lapping into the parking lot.

I started out with a little wind push from behind and headed towards the restaurants. There was a live band playing out on the deck at Blue Gill's, which had a crowd starting to arrive and hang out on the boardwalk, as I passed by. I made the Apalachee River turn in 7:25 and headed back again, this time into the wind, passing by the parking lot in 15:30.

Once out in the open part of the bay, the chop kicked up to about two feet, coming in diagonally. It was pretty hard slogging along, as I made it to the Interstate bridges in 33:43, and again hid in the grasses to stay out of the wind.

The return was just about as tough, as I was not able to surf like I wanted to. I made it back to the parking lot in 51:15, just before it started to rain again.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XXV

Thursday, April 28, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Paddle conditions continue to vary somewhat every day on the lower delta. This afternoon, I arrived at around 5:15 PM, under clear skies and 72 degrees with a stiff breeze coming out of the southeast. The water level was high, lapping over the launch area and up into the parking lot, although the tide was starting to recede.

The wind pushed me around pretty good, but for some reason, didn't seem to kick up into very big waves. I sprinted down past the restaurants, a fishing boat and an airboat loading up at Blue Gill's. My split at the Apalachee was 7:49, not too impressive with the receding tide. I turned and came back past the parking lot in 15:45, on the way to the Causeway. I could hear the airboat coming up from behind me, but he turned north before getting too close.

With the water level way up, I decided to cut straight across the flats, instead of dropping down around the buoys next to the roadway and culvert. I made the Interstate bridges turn in 33:43 and tucked into the grasses, trying to get out of the wind.

I decided to go back the same way across the flats, while the water level was still high enough to get me over them without slowing down. It was still difficult angling into the wind, while being pushed further north and off-course. I made it back to the parking lot in 51:52, which was pretty good considering the difficult wind conditions.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XXIV

Tuesday, April 26, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

At noon, the weather report was not promising and the north wind had the bay kicked up pretty good. But, by late afternoon, the sky cleared and the wind died down, so I had ideal conditions. At 5:00 PM, there was no wind, 75 degrees and high water which was just starting to recede. As I started out down Pass Picada, there was still a little residual from the north wind pushing me to go along with the falling tide. Due to those conditions, I had a quick time of 6:21 at the Apalachee River turnaround. On the way back, I hit 15:47 at the parking lot on the way past the Causeway.

The bay continued to calm, making it easier to get into a good paddle rhythm, as I came into the Interstate bridges turnaround in 33:37. After a very quick break, I got back into high gear and with a fast stroke turnover, made it back to the parking lot finish in 49:34. This was a satisfying time, as I broke the 50 minute barrier without any pacing help.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Byrne's Lake to Gravine Island - Full Moon Paddle

Friday, April 22, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Our energetic crew of six single kayaks and one tandem canoe met at Bruno's in Spanish Fort and traveled north on Hwy 225 to the Baldwin County public boat launch area on Byrne's Lake. We put in and got underway at about 6:25 PM, under mostly cloudy skies, 72 degrees and a brisk southerly breeze.

The route is well protected by tall Cypress on both sides. The water level was still high from the recent flooding and south winds slowing the river current into the bay. With near glass-like water, we paddled easily around the several s-turns, spotting spring flowers such as golden club, cow lily and spider lily.

We stopped for a moment, upon arrival at the mouth into the Tensaw River, where the south wind was kicking up white caps and sending 1-2 foot rollers heading upstream. Our group was fearless but inexperienced, and when asked, unanimously decided to cross over to Gravine Island. Everyone quickly headed straight across to the safety of the shoreline to get out of the wind and waves. We continued north to where we turned the corner and found the sand beach and dune.

The sun was still in the last stages of setting as we settled into a wide array of potluck dinner items. As the sky darkened, we could see the moon was probably not going to come out from behind the cloud cover and the lightning show off to the north was beginning to come closer. So, we decided to finish up with dinner and try to head back across the Tensaw before it got too dark.

The trip back was made a little easier, as we had the downriver current behind us as well as breaking into the waves diagonally rather than surfing them on the way up. All made it across without any problems, as we regrouped again at the mouth of Byrne's Lake.

The remainder of the trip was quite enjoyable as we were back in protected waters with very smooth water. Instead of moonlight to guide us back, we had a rather spectacular upper level light show. Although we were in no danger of a thunderstorm, it did quicken our pace a little. All were very happy with the paddle and ready for the next full moon.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XXIII

Thursday, April 21, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

The conditions were only slightly different from two days ago. At 5:00 PM, it was 82 degrees, cloudy with a strong breeze coming out of the South. The water level was high but the tide was falling slightly, which was the main difference.

I started out again up against the south bank trying to stay out of the wind with the current pushing me along slightly. This improved my time a little to 7:35 as I arrived at the Apalachee. An airboat pulled in next to Blue Gill's waiting on a new set of visitors to the delta. I fought the current and breeze on the way back, passing the parking lot in 15:45. The chop out in the open bay wasn't as bad as I expected, but it did make a difference. I still had to fight hard to not get blown north and off course. I arrived at the turnaround in 33:38 and hid in the grass out of the wind for a minute.

I tried to go hard on the return trip and made up a little time, finishing in 51:30.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XXII

Tuesday, April 19, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Although I have been training on the same course for over a year now, slightly different conditions make each workout session new and interesting. This afternoon, I arrived at the Riverdocs parking lot at 4:30 PM to find the bay water level still high, but not flooded into the lot. The temperature was 79 degrees with cloudy skies and a stiff breeze coming in out of the south. The tide was rising to go along with the south wind holding up the downward river flow.

I started out heading east and tried to tuck in along the south bank to avoid the wind, but the wind kept pushing me north into the middle of Pass Picada. I could definately feel the current, as I arrived at the Apalachee River turnaround in 8:25. As I started to head back, an airboat came in to Blue Gill's to let some people off after a tour up in the delta. My return with the current brought me back by the parking lot in 15:30, as I headed on towards the Causeway.

The wind picked up the chop considerably out in the open bay, but paddling into it from the side is quite different from heading straight into the waves or with them at your back. I made the turnaround under the Interstate bridges in 32:30. The return was similar as I pushed hard back to the parking lot, finishing in 50:44.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XXI

Tuesday, April 12, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Spring may be just about over in LA. I arrived at my usual starting point on the Causeway at 4:30 PM under clear skies, 80 degrees and a westerly 12 mph wind. There was so much water coming down from the rivers that the bay and Pass Picada were higher than I have ever seen. The old Riverdocs parking lot was flooded with about a foot of water, so there was no visible boat ramp. I parked near the highway and carried my kayak over near the boat ramp and got in while still in the lot.

I guess the tide was supposedly still rising, but you couldn't really tell due to so much water flooding downriver. With the west wind, I flew down Pass Picada on the crest of the wave action, turning at Apalachee River in 6:49. Of course, the return was way different, as I tried to tuck in along the north shoreline to avoid as much of the wave action as possible. But, it was still hard slogging into the wind. Fortunately, my course was directly into the waves, so I did not have to fight them diagonally at least.

With the bay water level so high, I decided to go straight across the lower section of Chacaloochee Bay, instead of cutting south right along the Causeway. Normally, I have to skirt around this very shallow mud flat area. Out in the middle of the bay, the waves were about two feet, but as I go closer to the west side, they subsided considerably, making it easier to get across.

I made the turnaround under the bridges in 34:40 and took a short break in the shade under the Interstate. The return trip was quite a ride as I was able to surf from wave to wave straight all the way back. My overall time was 50:35, so the return split of 15:55 was probably a PR by quite a wide margin. It's all good!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XX

Sunday, April 10, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Sunday morning turned out to be absolutely perfect weather. I met Roland at the Riverdocs lot at 9:00 AM under clear skies, 68 degrees, no wind, high water that was still rising. Since this was Roland's first try at my workout course, I gave him a description of what I normally do.

So, then we were off together down the middle of Pass Picada, past the restaurants and on to Apalachee River. We made the turn in 8:05, which was into the rising current and not too bad. On the return, we passed the parking lot in 14:55, so I knew we had a chance for a really fast time. We pushed on, past a few fishermen at the Causeway, and to the turnaround between the bridges. We made it in 31:07, again a fast split time.

After a short pause for water, we started up right away and blasted forward for the return. I was able to put just a little separation between us, do mainly to the difference in our boats, as we crossed the finish line in 48:55. I will have to go back and check, but this was definately a PR for this year and I think better than any last year as well.

One interesting thing we found along the shore at the parking lot, was someone left about a fifty pound alligator gar on the ground with a 3/8" cable wrapped around its head. He was still glistening, so he had not been onshore for very long. If no one takes him or does not throw him back in for the alligators, the parking lot will be ripe for awhile until the birds finish him off.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XIX

Friday, April 8, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

It seemed like a good idea at the time, to get in a Friday afternoon paddle, before heading to New Orleans the next day. Most of the weather cooperated with 70 degrees and partly cloudy skies at 4:30 PM. But, the wind was up in the late afternoon on the open water, to about 20 mph coming out of the Northwest. The water level was high, but still rising a little. The wind was blowing in so hard right where I was putting in at the old Riverdocs parking lot, it was difficult to even get in the kayak and get turned around to get started. There were whitecaps and two foot rollers coming right in at me.

Once I got out away from the shore, and heading east, I was surfing diagonally along Pass Picada down to the end where it opens into Apalachee River. I made the turnaround in 7:05, turned around and started the fight right back into the rollers for the next 30 minutes. I passed the parking lot in 16:11 and then got out into open water at the base of Chacaloochee Bay. The rollers got bigger and I found it would have been nice to put on a spray skirt. But, even without anyone around, I did not want to appear to be a wimp in my own mind, so gutted it out, crashing through the waves and trying to limit the amount of spray falling in my cockpit.

The stretch along the Causeway in front of the culverts was especially crazy today, as the wind-swept rollers mixed with the rising tides coming in from two directions, all converging in the same spot and bouncing off the shoreline. I was bobbing around like a cork, as I fought through this treacherous area. The people driving by must have wondered why I thought it was a good idea to be out on the water in such conditions. But, I just thought of it as good balance training to be prepared for paddles or races when the conditions turn bad and you are just forced to deal with them.

When I got to the Interstate bridges and cut over beneath the westbound lanes and then into the middle area, I was protected just a little and not getting beat up quite as much. I made the turnaround in a slow 36:35 and stopped for a drink.

Once I got going again, it was a completely different fight, as I was being pushed along diagonally from where I wanted to go. So, I would zigzag some in order to get out aways and then turn back to let the waves push me directly from behind. This method worked for about a mile until I got past the Causeway and headed down the homestretch at a different angle to the waves. I finally reached the parking lot in 54:36 and was glad to get off of the water. It was even difficult to put the kayak up on the car rack without the wind blowing it around and maybe off. It was a good hard workout, but still a little crazy out in water like that.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Flooded Timber on Tensaw Lake

Sunday, April 3, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Bob, Larry, Gary, Jerry, Tom, Matt, Chris and I met at The Stagecoach Cafe in Stockton at 1:00 PM and continued north to Upper Bryant's Landing. As expected, Tensaw Lake was flooded probably 6-8 feet above normal. The road accessing the summer houses along the bank was flooded, leaving them all stranded and accessible only by water. The weather was perfect, with clear skies, no wind and 72 degrees.

We put in and immediately took a couple of group photos next to the road sign on the flooded road. We then proceeded to paddle under some of the houses up on stilts and out into Tensaw Lake. I paddled over someones wrought iron deck furniture as I passed under there house. Once out in the lake, we started west for 0.25 miles and turned north into the cut-through to Douglas Lake. The water level was high enough to allow us to paddle over the underbrush, so we just picked our own paths through the forest.

We came out into Douglas, turned west again and found what normally is a small branch to the north which eventually plays out up in the forest. However, with flooded conditions, there was always enough water to paddle our own course wherever we wanted to. We continued due north, for what turned out to be about 4.5 miles, enjoying the peacefulness under cover of the forest. Along the way, we paddled through three separate clear-cut areas, which made the going a little tougher as we were at the level of the canopy of the younger trees and had to pick our way around some.

We saw Little Blue Herons, Snowy egrets, various water snakes trying to stay dry and turtles sunning themselves.

We attempted to find Proctor Creek and follow it south to Tensaw Lake, but passed it by and eventually came out on Big Beaver Creek, just east of the Canal Island platform. Once we re-grouped, we decided to return by way of Tensaw Lake and stopped at Hubbard's Landing for a snack and to stretch our legs.

We started downriver and continued to see alot of yellow top along the flooded banks. From Hubbard's Landing south, the east bank continues to rise to about 100 feet above the river. All along the bank, we found honeysuckle azalea still in the late stages of bloom, as well as coral honeysuckle in full bloom and mountain laurel, some in full bloom and other areas just ready to pop out. We passed close by a large softshell turtle out sunning, who grudgingly left his log when we got too close for comfort.

With flooded conditions, the cut-through at the Coon Neck bend looked like the normal course of the river, as we bypassed the mouth of Douglas Lake. And all too soon were back to Upper Bryant's, where we paddled in past the raised summer houses and down the campsite road next to the bathhouse.

This was truly a wonderful and different paddle and well worth timing to hit during the narrow window of opportunity in the spring when it is sufficiently flooded.

Upper Bryant's Landing (a week earlier)
by Avan Warner

Bob and I, again visited Bryant's Landing, researching the flower progress. We were two weeks earlier than the previously mentioned trip. The water was high, but not in flood stage, to do the flooded timber route. We did go into the creek to notice that some small caliber trees (2-3 inches) had fallen across the path, so bring a saw for your next flooded timber visit. The lady in the store, said that the water was rising up river, so we might have flooded timber by the weekend. Remember to tell her you have a canoe or kayak and the boat launch charge is only $2.00.
Let me back up a moment to tell you about the yellow wildflowers. Butterweed (Senecio glabellus) were in mass as you drove over the wetland elevated highway just before the Stockton turn off. They were in the ditches, and along the road to Bryant's Landing. They were in the Florida Swamps two weeks ago. They really stand out, this early in the year. I finally got a leaf and found it in a picture book, because I am not eager to key out an Asteraceae.
Back to Bryant's Landing. On the river, there are Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) along the edges, very showy. The color was nice along Douglas Lake. Bright green of the Bald Cypress leaves, yellow catkins with tiny rose colored leaves coming out on some unknown tree. The backdrop of the winter backdrop of tree trunks coming out of the water.
The highlight of this time of year, is the bluff just upriver from the landing. You must go into the creek just upriver from the bluff. It is full of Pink Honeysuckle Azalea (Azalea arborescens). It is prime right now. We missed this two years, one year ago. There is a lot of Pink Honeysuckle Azalea in that little section. We continued to the bluff. We got up close. The Pink Honeysuckle Azalea still have buds, so it still has another week of glory. Then it will trade places with the Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), still in bud, for the glory position. Yellow Jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens), Red Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata), Blackberry (Rhus sp.), Sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum), White Violets (Viola primulifolia) along the bottom of the bluff next to the waterline, Shadbush (Amelanchier arborea), and Sweetleaf (Symplocos tinctoria). Look these up in your flower picture book before you arrive at Bryant's Landing, so you appear to be the botanical genius to your canoe buddies.

by Gary Worob

Eight ...I guess of us paddled through the enchanted forest on Sunday...I guess. Couldn't care less what day or month it was on a perfect day....had to think about how many there were and were not....three hours in the woods, I guess....who cares? What is this about time and white people? Aren't we all on the same journey through space at a 1,000 miles per hour? The pope finally died, and I was thinking the mafia had lots of bets on the exact time.

And, who cares when you are in such a place? Gas prices soaring ...who cares anymore? Just let me put the blade in one more time and experience this bit of solitude and solace. Rummaging through the mind for nothing to say and ...who cares? Eight of us telling lies in the middle of truth....building a cabin in this pristine wilderness and then Bob says, "Wait till you see the next house boat, one hundred feet long, twenty four feet wide with wrap around porch"...and a for sale sign...oh my! Have to go back and put up or shut up. Where would I put this and would it be the new club house or do I buy a tug boat and just cruise on down?.....see you on the return trip.

Thinking for a bit that I am in Pennsylvania with all the mountain laurel in bloom and wild azaleas screaming those colors and smells. All of us smiling and thinking, who cares and what day is it? Bob collecting lots of points for this trip. Paddling through an underwater village. Is this Asia? 17 inches of rain is obvious when you are paddling under someone's house and hope the electricity is shut off and don't grab any wires. Stop for a break and buy a candy bar and sit on the bank, looking at a perfect day and not caring about the twenty or so houses only attainable by boat and we are paddling through time warps and realities gone crazy. Glad the storm is well over and lets go on, these people chose this life style and no pump in the world could bail this flooded plain.

More azaleas and steep banks covered with mountain laurel and more wonderful smells ...no one needing to talk, just be awed at the rites of spring...take this picture in your mind...greens, reds, yellow asters and pinks and wafting of plumage of god. I think I see the pope smiling, saying "I see all this too, now that I am at peace". Martha Stewart standing on the side, with her paint brush and denim shirt, smiling....the cover of her new edition, all the time in prison thinking this is the reality we need to get back to....put your hands in the good earth and smell the richness....

And then, the finish of this great trip and we load up the boats and remember that it is Sunday and tomorrow someone will be working......gas prices soaring...When is the next paddle? Not soon enough.

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XVIII

Sunday, April 3, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

What a difference a day makes. I arrived at the Riverdocs parking lot at 7:00 AM with clear skies, 48 degrees, not a breath of wind, low humidity with a very low tide just starting to rise. The water was clear and like glass as I enthusiastically started to paddle east towards Apalachee River. Surprisingly, there were not any fishing boats out, so I had the whole bay to myself.

I started out hard, making the turn in 7:57 against the rising tide and back past the parking lot in 15:50. With the water level very low, I could not cut any corners at the risk of getting into the muddy shallows heading into the Causeway. The water and air were very calm, allowing me to hit a fast, steady rhythm. I cut under the Interstate bridges and sprinted to the turnaround in 31:34.

After a short water break, I pushed hard on the return, and made it back to the finish in a good time of 50:24. This was more than a five minute improvement over yesterday in the wind.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XVII

Saturday, April 2, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Following the extreme rainfall and winds over the past two days, this morning remained very windy with about a 20 mph wind coming out of the Northwest. At 7:30 AM, the temperature was a warm 65 degrees with high humidity. The tide was low, but rising, which made for an interesting conflict to start out paddling east into a rising tide with the wind to my back.

I started out riding one foot rollers down Pass Picada, but since I was paddling against the rising tide, only made the turnaround at Apalachee River in 7:15. On the return paddling through the same rollers, I made the parking lot in 16:20, and came out into the open water at the base of Chacaloochee Bay. The rollers increased in size to about 2 feet as I fought my way to the Causeway culverts. The water was very "confused" there, as I headed on towards the Interstate bridges. My split there was an extremely slow 37:04, as I tried to hide in the saw grass out of the wind.

On the return, I tried to use the wind to my back as an advantage and surf the waves back. I thought it was helping, but without a steady rhythm and just trying to stay upright, it was futile to try and improve my overall time. I came in to the parking lot in an overall slow time of 55:34, while it seemed like I had paddled about another mile further. I had a spectator section awaiting my return, as Paul and his young daughter had stopped to watch the birds in the bay before going for breakfast. Paul looked to be recovering nicely from his night-walking episode on the Jug Lake platform two weeks ago.