Kayak Canoe Alabama

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Bay Minette Creek II

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

A last minute call from Roland and we were off for the cool confines of the upper end of Bay Minette Creek. It was very steamy as we followed in after a rain shower, putting in at 2:15 PM at the Bromley Bridge. The ground was still wet, so it was not easy to see how far the creek rose during the hurricane. After a few turns on the glass-like water, we reached the first and second houses and soon found the creek had risen an amazing 10'-15', to just below the A-frame sitting high above the water. Their low pier decking was long gone as we cruised on by.

The rest of the houses, including the several house boats, were all looking pretty good considering such a high water level. The creek was down pretty close to normal levels, so the upper end was falling and we kept up a +6 mph pace all the way to Buzbee's. As we approached the wind picked up a little and rain began to fall. It was delightful to get some relief from the heat as we approached our 4.7 mile turnaround in 46:32.

We barely took a drink and Roland was off again at a very strong pace. He continued to pull ahead of me, by up to a minute as we approached the s-turns. At that point, all I could see of him was the bubble trail he left behind, as the rain stopped. I pushed as hard as I could against the ever-increasing current and reached the bridge again in 1:36:03, about a minute back. It was a beautiful course and great conditions.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Lake Forest Yacht Club to Battleship Double Crossing

August 30, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

This morning was a typical beautiful day following one of the most disastrous natural phenomena in U.S. history. Without knowing what lie in store for the paddle, I decided to try to get down to the Lake Forest Yacht Club in north Daphne on D'Olive Bay, which is part of Mobile Bay in the uppermost northeast corner. I put in at 8:11 AM, under partly cloudy skies, 85 degrees and the tide still falling from the record highs of yesterday during Hurricane Katrina.

The water level was only 1'-2' above normal, but there was alot of damage to the piers and boats still in the marina. The grass parking lot was still muddy from being underwater just yesterday. I started off heading west through the cut and across Blakeley River. There was a good current coming down the Blakeley and combined with a southwesterly breeze, made for a healthy 2' chop. When I started, I was not sure just where or how far I was going, but as I paddled further west towards the USS Alabama, I knew I would go all the way.

I came up on Felix's first, to see the restaurant appear to be in fairly good shape, with typical damage on the ramps and stairs leading up to the elevated restaurant. Continuing past, I next came upon the Causeway bridge over the Tensaw. The west side down ramp of the westbound lanes was completely washed away from the concrete bridge making it completely impassible. Across the Tensaw sat the Battleship, with debris littering the grounds including a large sailboat way up on the grass out of place next to some of the artillery fixtures. The concrete runway up to the ship was damaged and it looked like the battleship may have moved some from its original location.

My next stop was on the north side of the Causeway, where I turned towards the backside of the Original Oyster House. The lower level of the Oyster House was a complete blowout, as was the Amoco station out in front of it. There was a large above-ground gas tank about 30 meters out in the bay behind the Oyster House. It was leaking into the water, leaving a sheen and odor for about 100 meters north.

I continued east under the Interstate bridges and turned south towards the public boat launch parking area, where I found the Exxon station completely blown away as well. I took a photo looking through the empty station over to Felix's across the Causeway.

My next stop took me along the north side of the Causeway on my regular workout course until I reached the old Riverdocs parking lot. It was under about one foot of water, so I paddled up into the lot all the way to the roadway. I got out and walked 100 meters east to Ed's Seafood Shed, which looked fair, with no stairs, ramps or outer deck, but the main building was still up on piers. I then continued down Pass Picada, where I could see Drifters and Cock of the Walk still standing, but no such luck when I reached Bluegill's. It was a complete blowout on the one level structure, with the roof even caved in or dropped down a couple of feet on the walls. The Tensaw Delta Tours building next to it was completely blown away. The wooden houseboat, usually right next to Bluegill's was gone, hopefully pulled away to safety, while the large white houseboat was still there intact. Around the corner on the Apalachee River, the house on the corner and Trader's looked pretty good and worthy of putting stairs back in place.

After viewing all of the destruction, it was back down to the bay and a straight shot back to the yacht club. All told, the double crossing paddle was a 14.9 mile trip taking 2:59:55 of paddling time.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Causeway to Mobile River 2005 V

Sunday, August 28, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

This was my last pre-Hurricane Katrina paddle and without knowing what the future would bring, I wanted it to be memorable and a hard workout. My expectations were exceeded on both counts. I arrived at the boat launch area on the Causeway, where the Interstate bridges cross at 5:45 AM, to take advantage of the remainder of a rising tide before a 7:06 AM high tide. The parking lot was just starting to flood a little, so the water level was definately high already with another hour to go.

I pushed off at 5:56 AM, well before sunrise into a northeasterly breeze, cut west between the bridges and back north up into Delvan Bay and the Spanish River. The combination of rising tide and into the wind caused a pretty good chop out in the open water. Nonetheless, I clipped off a few + 6 mph miles and passed the Pontoon Saloon, at 5.55 miles in 57:34, which I think is a PR for the first section. The sky was overcast and a not overly hot 82 degrees, so I was feeling pretty good and continued without a break up to where the Spanish River branches off of the Mobile River by the high electrical lines, in 1:12:44 for 6.89 miles, still a PR.

In my normal brilliant trip timing, I arrived about the time the tide was supposed to top out and start to fall, giving me a large push back down the Mobile. So, I started out and found I was only making about a 5.3 mph pace and thought I just needed to wait it out until it turned. Well, after several miles of the same pace, still heading into a rising current, I finally realized the Katrina effect was not going to let the tide out.

The memorable part of the paddle was, other than having to slog against the current, was seeing all of the traffic on the Mobile River. In preparation for the pending hurricane, tug boats were busily moving barges around, upriver, off into side channels and tying them off to the shore upriver. There were numerous large yachts moving upriver trying to get out of harm's way as well as fishing boats, small and large.

I finally made it down and around Choctaw Pass with the realization that I lost all of the time I made on the way up and was well behind pace by now. The worst was yet to come as I turned northeast into the teeth of the wind, with a slightly rising tide, so I was breaking through some 2'-3' chop on the way home. My pace slowed some more until I finally reached the Causeway bridge in 2:57:36. With no way to beat three hours, I still decided to give it a good finish and pushed hard beneath the bridges and made it back in a total of 3:08:22. When I got back to the parking lot, it was obvious the tide never dropped, as the whole lot was now about 6" under water. This was a good tough paddle, although disappointing to not break the three hour mark.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Gravine Island

Saturday, August 27, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Our group of four kayakers met at Bruno's in Spanish Fort, AL at Hwy 31 & Hwy 225 at 7:45 AM. We drove north on 225 for nine miles to the turn left to the Byrnes Lake boat launch. The morning was beautiful, with a light breeze, 85 degrees, lower humidity and partly cloudy skies. When we arrived at the boat launch, there were several boat trailers already taking advantage of the great weather conditions. The water level was at high tide, as we paddled easily out Byrnes Lake toward the Tensaw River. We saw kingfisher and snowy egret, who led us around the several s-turns until we reached the Tensaw.

The river was relatively calm and with little current we easily made our way across diagonally to the north end of Gravine Island. Around the turn and just after the large sand dune, we decided to try a small tributary to see where it would take us. It was narrow, scenic, well shaded and appeared to open up at the end, but finally ran out of water and we were forced to turn around. After exiting, we continued around the west side of the island until we reached the next finger of water back into the island. This one was much wider and extended back about a half mile all of the way to the backside of the sand dune. It was a picturesque setting we all remarked would be someplace we wanted to return to.

There was a boathouse moored up at the end near a long-vacated house with water tower, hidden back in the trees and undergrowth. We got out to investigate, stretch our legs and try to locate a passage to another parallel finger of water, which was supposed to be close by. I could not find the mystery water, so we loaded up and headed back out to the Tensaw to continue our loop around it.

Continuing south along the island shoreline, we came upon large patches of lotus. There were no blooms left, but many leaf pads and dried seed pods were a reminder of another great place to visit next June. After passing under the high electric lines, we continued for another mile until reaching the next narrow finger of water leading back northeast about two miles into the island. The consensus was to only go for about ten minutes and turn around, but we did manage to scare up a few coot, and a snowy egret and blue heron. I definately want to come back and explore this tributary all of the way back, maybe in a different season.

We exited and continued south, before finally making the turn around the southern tip of the island. The group stopped for a moment before making what appeared to be a difficult last leg of the trip. The assumtion was it would be a hard, slow slog, as we headed upriver against a falling tide and northerly breeze. We cut diagonally across to the east bank and hugged the bank the rest of the way back to Byrnes Lake. It turned out to be easier than we expected, although much warmer as the sun rose directly overhead. We made pretty good time and before we knew it, were turning back into Byrnes and home free. The trip was about twelve miles and took us four hours to complete.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 LXIII

Friday, August 26, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

This was a rare Friday night appearance, due to a rainout last night. The weather was a typically hot 88 degrees, partly cloudy, a light northeasterly breeze, very low water level with little current movement.

I put in rather late at 6:00 PM, so the afternoon heat was dropping off just a little. As I headed down Pass Picaca, there was alot of traffic already around the restaurants as Bluegill's had a big outdoor concert getting ready to start. Maia Sharp was the headliner with Lisa Mills opening, and the place was packed already.

I made it to the Apalachee River in 7:41 and back past the parking lot in 15:21. Once I got to the Causeway, the chop pushed me into the shallows and I got caught up in some grassy areas which slowed me down considerably. I got to the bridge turnaround in a slower than usual 33:15 and started back, hitting the same shallow area again. I recovered a little on the last leg sprint home, although my overall time of 50:46 was only a 5.9 mph pace.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 LXII

Tuesday, August 23, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Just another summer night on the Delta! At 6:00 PM, it was still 92 degrees with high humidity at Riverdocs, no wind and a rising tide. It was so hot, no gator buddies would even poke their nose up into the steamy air! The water was like glass as I sped off down Pass Picada past the restaurants. No diners were out on the decks, as all were enjoying the view from behind air-conditioned picture windows.

I made the Apalachee River turn in 8:27 and with the current push on the return, back by the parking lot in 15:18. There were still glass-like conditions all the way past the Causeway and the lower section of Chacaloochee Bay, to the Interstate bridges. With the water level low, it was interesting, at least for me, to see the location of the current reversal moved about 300 meters west along the Causeway, down from the culverts. I am not sure about this phenomenon, but will ask Bob Andrews if he has noticed this in the past.

Even with the heat, I made good time, reaching the bridge turn in 31:22. I knew the return would be slower, due to a longer distance against the current than I was used to. So, I tried to work the last segment as hard as possible and made the finish in a good time of 49:35. It's all good.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 LXI

Sunday, August 21, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Following a tough long workout in the heat yesterday morning, I wanted to see how I would recover a day later. I put in at Riverdocs at 6:00 AM under a full moon, but a muggy 80 degrees, a slight northwesterly breeze and a rising tide. All of my gator pals were still asleep, with only one fishing boat cruising by.

My first leg to the Apalachee was 8:33 with the return with the current in 7:04. Once on the bay, the northwesterly breeze stirred up a little chop as it was coming in against the rising tide. After passing the Causeway culvert, the combination of breeze and into the reversed tide made it slow going as my pace dropped to 5.4 mph. I made the bridge turn in 32:50 and headed back towards the just rising orange orb off in the eastern sky.

My overall time of 51:33 over the five mile course was at a 5.8 mph pace, which considering it was a recovery day, was just about right. Still no gators out yet, as I pulled into the launch area.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Fairhope Yacht Club to I-10

Saturday, August 20, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Roland and I pushed away from the FYC beach at 5:48 AM, under a brilliant full moon in the western sky, reflecting off of a fairly smooth Mobile Bay. It was already 80 degrees with high humidity, so we wanted to get in an early start, so we could get off the water before it got into the 90's. The tide was falling, but there was a slight northwesterly breeze, which pushed a small chop down towards us, as we headed north along the coast.

We paddled along at a good 5.6 mph pace, but for the effort and rising tide, I was expecting a better push. We stopped for our first water break at four miles in 43:30. By that time, the sun had pushed up over the wooded bluffs of Montrose and Daphne, and the temperature started to rise. Roland decided to turn around at 7:00 AM, no matter where we were. I was about 25 meters ahead at the time and when I looked back, he was turning around already. We had gone six miles in 1:06:57.

I decided to continue north to the I-10 bridges, but made the mistake of staying near the shoreline, which took me past Scrub Point, up into D'Olive Bay. But, with the water level low, the bay was only about one foot deep, so I turned west through a cut, reaching deeper water and turned back north up Blakeley River. Once reaching the I-10 bridges, I stopped in the shade for a minute, after clocking exactly eight miles in 1:28:11.

On the return, I stayed about a half mile off the coast to get the push from the Blakeley and the breeze, and to get around the shallow water of D'Olive Bay. The heat started to take its toll and I tried to take on more fluid, but apparently not enough. It was a struggle to make it back in, as I probably pushed too hard for a negative split. I did make it back faster, with a total time of 2:52:55, for the 16 miles. But, when I got to the beach, I got out and had to lay down in the sand for awhile before loading up. I struggled loading the boat, as I was light-headed and woozy. The trip home was better, as I cleared the fog before getting behind the wheel.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 LX

Thursday, August 18, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

This afternoon, I brought both my kayak and the borrowed surf ski, so Roland could get a look at it and give me his opinion about buying it and trying to modify it to fit me. When he saw me sit in it on dry land, he said, "No way", so that was enough for me. Roland wanted to give it a go, and ended up paddling the ski down to Blue Gill's and back.

We started out at 5:09 PM under a still blazing sun, 90 degrees, a southerly breeze, low water level and falling tide. I pushed it hard down to the first turn6:46, while Roland paddled the surf ski easily alongside. On the way back, I tucked in along the south shore and was able to stay out of some of the current, passing the startline in 15:17. By the time I got there, Roland was just getting into his K-1 and we continued on westward. The breeze stirred up a light chop which bothered me ever so slightly, but enough to slow me down to 33:18 at the bridge turn.

We turned and fought the current back past the Causeway culvert, where it turned and we cruised in to the finish with a 6.8 mph pace. With the breeze as our excuse, our total time was 50:09 at a 6.0 mph overall pace. I sure wish the surf ski would have fit me, as it would have been a great challenge to get proficient enough to get it up to maximum speed, which would definately be alot faster than my kayak.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 LVIX

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Although not my normal paddling night, I arrived at 5:00 PM, in order to be done by 6:00 to meet someone bringing a boat to test ride. It was overcast, so the temperature was a little lower at 82 degrees, with a little southerly breeze, low water level and still falling. I had very similar conditions to last night, confirmed by my times.

I made the the first turn in 6:45, and back past the startline in 15:16. The bridge turn split was 32:43, with a final time of 49:15.

When I arrived back at the parking lot, Earle McAuley was just pulling in with a 2001 Burton Molokai surf ski, 19' by 18" and 29 pounds. I gingerly sat in it with my feet hanging off to each side acting as outriggers and started to slowly paddle out into the pass. Earle paddled my Glider alongside to assist when I flipped over. I did not make it very far before tipping over the first time. Since I did not have to bail the ski out, it was a fairly quick process to get back on, using the kayak to steady me. As we paddled down past the restaurants, I gained a little confidence and was able to go about one mile and only falling out three times.

The surf ski was definately a fast boat, gliding effortlessly through the water. The only problem was it did not quite fit me. The foot peddles were just too far away, as they were designed for someone probably 6'-6" tall or more. Once we got back, I decided to take it home and try it out again, to see if there was any way to modify it for my height. I will just have to wait and see tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 LVIII

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

After a day of traveling to New Orleans for meetings and back, I was ready for some relaxation on the water. Arriving later at 6:00 PM started to cut the heat down a little to about 80 degrees, with absolutely no breeze, a little patchy cloud cover, low water level and still falling.

My friendly gator pal was waiting patiently, as I pushed off and headed down Pass Picada with a following current. The restaurants were full as I passed going about 7 mph, hitting the Apalachee turn in 6:46. Of course, the way back west was slower, so I tried to stick close to the shore to stay out of the current, but still passed the startline in 8:22 at 5.6 mph for a split of 15:09. It was slow going on the way to the Causeway, but the water was like glass and easy to glide through.

Once I got near the bridges, I cut between them to pick up the falling current and picked up speed to 6.4 mph and a split of 32:39 at the turn. I took a quick drink and headed back home into the current. The last short leg after the current reversed again, gave me a big boost up to 6.8 mph, to give me a total time of 49:12 for an overall 6.1 mph average.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Fairhope to Dog River Double Crossing

Saturday, August 13, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

We were fortunate to have almost ideal summer conditions to tackle the double crossing. Roland suggested it last Thursday night for a long workout, so we agreed to meet before 6:00 AM at the FYC beach. I loaded my boat up with six liters of fluid and plenty of glucose supplement. Roland decided to paddle his plastic boat and not risk trying the K-1, due to possible chop later in the morning. The sky was clear and we could see the lights outlining the Dog River bridge 11 miles away, as we put in before sunrise. The bay was virtually flat, as we started out slowly. I set my Forerunner GPS, which was fortunate, as we would discover later.

High tide was at 5:00 AM, so it was falling as we started to cross and would continue to fall throughout the day. This meant we had to aim a little further north than the bridge in order to come straight in. We stopped once briefly at one hour and 5.6 miles out or about halfway. There was very little to no boat traffic, no barges, no shrimp boats, only an occasional small fishing boat. About all we saw out in the middle were an occasional brown pelican skimming a foot above the water.

Roland commented that the bridge looked closer than halfway and it should only take us about 45 minutes to complete the first crossing. I didn't say anything, knowing it would still take us all of another hour and that my GPS didn't lie. During the second half of the paddle on the way over, I decided to try and pick up the pace a little. As we got closer to the bridge, there were a few more yachts and fishing boats coming out of Dog River, as well as several fishermen working the pier at the Beachcomber Marina. I pulled up alongside the pier in 1:58:26, covering 11.11 miles. I waited about a minute for Roland to come in, and we paddled around to the back side, past a couple of green herons along the shore, where we were able to get out and stretch for a little bit.

We loaded back up and started back out Dog River, under the bridge and off to the eastern shore. The Dog River had a little current which gave us a push for awhile, but soon it was apparent the tide and breeze were going to slow us down a bit on the return. The sun was climbing rapidly and the sky started to turn a little hazy, almost like air pollution. It was difficult to make out any recognizable landmarks, although we could vaguely see the shoreline off in the blurry distance. It was a good thing I had the GPS, so we could follow our course on the way back. We decided to try and stay parallel, but somewhat north of our course westward, because the chop started to pick up as well as the current, which pushed us southward.

We stopped again briefly after an hour, but were not quite halfway yet. Again, as before, I decided to pick up the pace a little and we split up for a little while. After another half hour, I stopped for a GU break and Roland caught up and said he was hitting the wall. I gave him a GU also, which perked him up for the last leg home. We still could not pick out the FYC, until we were about 2.5 miles out. The yacht club finally came into view, and I decided to go for it and pulled ahead. The beach was a welcome sight, as I stumbled out of my boat and started to slowly unpack, while Roland came in about five minutes later. He was spent and just got out and sat on the beach for a few minutes to recover.

The total paddle time was 4:06:26 for me and about 4:12 for Roland, covering 22.3 miles in a 5.4 mph pace. The morning was quite successful, as we know we are progressing in our training regimen, to be ready for the Phatwater Race in October.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 LVII

Thursday, August 11, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Roland and I arrived at 5:00 PM this afternoon for another really hot workout. It was 94 degrees, humid, sunny with no breeze. The water level was low and starting to rise. We first planned to go six miles, but due to the high temperature opted for our regular five mile course.

We started out east down Pass Picada past the restaurants to the Apalachee. No one was out on the decks this afternoon as it was too hot to hang out outside. We did see an airboat out cruising around, but that was about it. We made the turn in 7:22 and back in 15:22. As we headed for the Causeway, Roland was out in front and went straight across the flats, while I circled around the boat channel buoys. I made up ground as he bogged down a little in the shallow water.

When we got close to the bridges, we both tucked in out of the direct sun for the last quarter mile, reaching the turnaround in 33:17. We didn't stick around long and hit it back as hard as we could, although it was a hard slog. When we reached the parking lot, we were both exhausted from the high heat. Our total time was 50:47 at 5.9 mph, which was not too bad considering the extreme conditions.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 LVI

Wednesday, August 10, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

These are the dog days of summer! It was 92 degrees and humid this afternoon when I arrived at Riverdocs. My gator buddy was waiting patiently for me as I put in and passed by within about 10 feet of him without moving or dropping below the surface. The tide was still falling as I paddled east down Pass Picada. On the return, as I passed the put-in, the gator was swimming across the Pass in front of me. The water level was low, so I had to stay close to the boat channel as I passed the Causeway and headed for the bridges. I made the turnaround in 33:10, turned and stayed in the shade under the bridge as long as I could on the way back.

When I got back, old gator was back again to greet me and watch me load up and head home. My total time was 51:25.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Bay Minette Creek

Sunday, August 7, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Roland and I met at Buzbee's, before deciding to drive up to the Bromley bridge and put in on the upper end of Bay Minette Creek. It was 7:00 AM, still a little foggy, 76 degrees and calm. We put in, Roland in his K1 and I in my Glider, and took off downstream at a strong pace. The water was perfectly smooth, with no boat traffic to break up the glass-like conditions. Roland gradually continued to expand his lead over the first two miles, through the curvy sections. Once the channel widened and straightened out somewhat, I was able to maintain his same pace.

We paddled continuously to Buzbee's, arriving in 45:08. Roland finished approximately 45 seconds ahead of me as we covered 4.62 miles at a 6.2 mph pace. After a short pause, we started out on the return, again with a similarly strong pace. As we were heading upstream, our pace slowed to 5.5 mph and then 5.3 mph around the s-turns in the upper section. Our return trip took 50 minutes, with a total time of 1:35:03.

Before we loaded up, we decided to try out each others boats. Roland liked my ride, while I was like a new kid trying to ride a two-wheeler for the first time. I fell out twice before giving it up for another day.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Bottle Creek Indian Mounds

Saturday, August 6, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

The morning started out with iffy-looking weather and did not disappoint us. I met our group at the Stagecoach Inn in Stockton, AL before 9:00 AM, before continuing to Rice Creek Landing. Stockton is about three miles north of I-65 exit 31 at Hwy 225. We had Tony and Dave in Tony's new large fiberglass tandem, Roland, Jimmy, Nick and newcomer Ian with a Featherlite foldable. Ian recently relocated a couple of weeks ago with the Coast Guard from his last assignment in Hawaii. He still has a Hawaii license plate on his spiffy red Z3 to prove it, and amazed us by pulling the large backpack-sized kayak out of the tiny trunk.

The water level was very low but rising as we put in at Rice Creek Landing and started out towards Briar Lake. One of the fishermen we passed, asked if we had ponchos, stating we were going to get wet. I called back, "It's all just water." We continued across Briar into the cut-through to Tensaw River. There was no current this morning, and the cut was clear of debris.

We continued down the Tensaw along the east side of Larry Island, crossed the main channel to the entrance of Bayou Jessamine. Again, there was little current, as we made good time. Tony was interested in seeing the large Cypress tree, so we stopped at marker 5, got out and trekked back into ever-increasingly muddy conditions. The tree is located about 100-150 meters due south from the tree marked with the large blue 5. Most were wondering on the way in why we made the trek, but after seeing the state record tree, were glad we did.

Once back, cleaned up a bit and paddling, we came across our first debris blockage. With low water, a large tree gave some of us barely enough room to squeeze under, while others started their kayak under, climbed over the log and then back in. Upon reaching the split to Jug Lake, we came across Danny and Tony, who had camped overnight at the floating platform around the north side of Fisher Island, at the end of Jug Lake. They were interested in continuing to Bottle Creek, so turned around and joined us. Danny mentioned getting muddy, as they portaged around a smaller tree across the narrow entrance to Jug Lake. While the rest of our group was negotiating the last obstacle, I decided to go ahead to the next one and see if I could clear it. The tree was only about 8" in diameter, so it was easy to saw through. Ian and Nick pulled one end of it out of the way, so we could pass through later in the paddle.

We continued on Bayou Jessamine, with little debris resistance, weaving around a few obstacles and sliding over the tops of a few others barely above the surface. We turned southwest downriver on Bottle Creek for a half mile to the major left-hand turn and got out on the sand beach along the west bank. The water was low, so the bank was about six feet above water level. Some of us pulled our boats up the bank and under tree cover, while others left their boats in the water, tied up along the shore.

The next leg of our trip was to hike due west to the Indian Mounds. I led and started out on the trail, which was blocked by downed trees from Ivan. After bushwhacking around, I never found the trail, so we continued west and came up against some water I did not remember crossing before. So, I angled southwest and got into some gumbo and decided to turn back east to the river. When we got back, I regrouped and decided to try it again. This time I used a compass and attempted to keep moving due west, but came across the same water. We found a copperhead which occupied our attention for awhile, while I scouted ahead. I still did not see any familiar landmarks, so I turned back.

The rain started to fall, which was enough to convince the group to give up this time and head back to the river again. Once back, we ate lunch while the rain began to let up a little. By the time we were ready to start paddling back, the rain stopped. We retraced our route to the left fork to Jug Lake. Danny and Tony decided to paddle back to Rice Creek, since they had just left the platform in the morning. The rest of us paddled the 1.1 miles around Jug Lake. The water was like glass, with a few fish jumping, a gator or two watching us from near the bank, to snowy egrets leading us in. The setting was picturesque.

Most of the group had not seen the floating platforms before and were impressed with the design and looked forward to coming back to use them for camping trips. On our return, the water level on Jessamine was a little higher, making it impossible to slide under the tree as we did on the way in. Most of us portaged around and continued out to Tensaw, when the rain started again. It was steady, but not a downpour, so we continued upriver along Larry Island to the cut-through and back to Rice Creek. When we got back, Danny and Tony were finishing loading their boats, as they took a little detour on the return.

Everyone thought the trip was quite amazing, with all of the various sights and experiences we encountered and are ready to embark on another adventure.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 LV

Friday, August 5, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

After tropical storm-like thunderstorms swirling into the bay from the east and northeast every afternoon for the past week, we finally got a break which gave me a window to get in a workout paddle. I put in at Riverdocs at 5:00 PM with under partly cloudy skies, 80 degrees and a northerly breeze. The water level was fairly low with the tide still falling.

The current heading east down Pass Picada was following, as I passed the restaurants, including a large crowd out on Blue Gill's deck watching an airboat come in ahead of me. I made the turn at the Apalachee in 6:41 for a 7 mph pace. On the return, the lap time was 8:33 (5.5 mph) into the current. From there, I was out into the open bay, where I had to contend with the slight chop pushing me towards the south shore. Once I passed the culverts under the Causeway, the current changed and gave me a slight push up to 6.2 mph on to the bridge turnaround in 33:07.

Heading back was quite a bit rougher starting out into the current and with the chop starting to worsen, I slowed down to 5.3 mph, until I reached the culvert again. From there with the current reversed, I used the push to build my pace back up to 6.4 mph and finish up the last leg home in a total time of 51:15. It was not a particularly notable time, but it was a good workout after not being able to get on the water since Sunday. So, for that I was grateful.