Kayak Canoe Alabama

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 XV

Tuesday, February 28, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Today was perfect weather for Mardi Gras and paddling. Due to working later than I wanted, I made it to Riverdocs to put-in at 5:20 PM, with the sun dropping fast over downtown. It was still 62 degrees, clear with a south breeze, medium water level and slowly rising tide. I started out fast, anticipating a sunset coming soon. The restaurants were crowded with Mardi Gras revelers, as I paddled on down to the Apalachee. I made the turn in 7:50 and back in 7:00 with little chop to worry about.

There wasn't any turbulence by the culverts, so I made good time all the way through the bridges to the Tensaw, just as the sun was going down. My splits were 9:04, 9:53 and 9:07. I didn't want to hang around long, so I quickly turned and started back, with splits of 10:20, 9:44 and a total time of 58:03 for a 6.2 mph average speed. After the rough time on Saturday, I was glad to get back on some faster water again and hit a good finish time.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Bay Minette Creek 6 mi.

Sunday, February 26, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Today is absolutely beautiful, clear and sunny after the thunderstorms cleared out last night. The temperature dropped to about 45 degrees at 9:00 AM. The wind was still up to about 10-15 knots with low tides, so I headed for my safe spot on Bay Minette Creek. The water level was down some, but running fast from yesterday's runoff.

I jumped right in and set my Forerunner for my virtual partner "Roland" and took off downstream. There was not much activity in the upper sections, except for a couple of GBH's, who led my way. The wind was not much of a factor, as I hit splits of 8:54, 9:09 and 9:01 to the turnaround. As I came around the bend, there were three fishing boats working the shoreline in a fairly confined area.

I turned and started back, to find the wind in my face and trying to stay out of the newly found current. I chased the same GBH for about a mile on the way back up as well. My times slacked off considerably, with splits of 10:03, 10:08 and 11:14 for a total run of 58:36. I do love that flat water.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 XIV

Saturday, February 25, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

I got off to a late start this morning at 10:15 AM with thunderstorms threatening in the west. The tide was rising, with low water, south winds of about 10 knots and 65 degrees, when I started. There was nobody crazy enough to be out, except a fishing cormorant and a large flock of coot sitting on the water. I tried to stay along the south side of Pass Picada and out of the wind, but it didn't help much, as I reached the Apalachee in 8:01, but back past the parking lot in 6:45.

I continued out into Chacaloochee Bay in rougher water and very confused churning water along the Causeway in front of the culverts. It was tough to stay out of the shallows on the way to the bridges, which I was grateful to reach. I not only was able to increase speed a little, but try and stay out of the rain starting to fall. My mile splits on the way west were 8:32, 9:07 and 10:23.

On the way down between the bridges, there were a couple of bass boats hiding out from the rain, under the bridges, watching as I sprinted by. On the way back, I was motivated to beat the heavier rain, which I could see was coming quickly. My splits were 9:24 and a horrible 12:26 as I was heading into the quickening wind, rising tide and heavier white-capped chop. I finally hit the finish in 1:00:53 and quickly put my boat on the SUV before the wind kicked up another notch and the skies really opened up.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 XIII

Thursday, February 23, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

If you like the weather one day, just wait a day for the wind to change directions 180 degrees, for a big change. Roland and I put in at 4:45 PM under pretty iffy conditions with 15 knot north winds coming in against a rising tide. The temperature was a warm 65 degrees under cloudy skies, but the water level was low, giving us little room for error through the mud flats along the Causeway.

We started off trying to find a place out of the wind along the north side of Pass Picada and found our way to the Apalachee River in 7:53 and back past the parking lot in under 15:00. Roland was staying ahead, while I was trying to not lose him. But, once we got out into the open bay, where the wind really knocked us around, I was able to catch up and move on ahead. The water out in front of the culverts was boiling around, making it a little tricky to manuever. The chop go even worse, until we reached the bridges. Roland decided to turn at the turnaround for five miles, while I paddled on between the bridges to the Tensaw River. My mile splits heading west were 9:02, 9:42 and 10:00. On the return, I hit 9:50 and 10:33, for a total paddle time of 59:11. Considering the windy circumstances, it was not too bad.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 XII

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

For the open bay along the Causeway, tonight I had almost ideal conditions with 10 mph south winds, 60 degrees, cloudy, medium water level and a rising tide. I didn't really know how good the conditions were until I was well into the paddle. It started off normally with a relatively slow 8:05 time to the Apalachee, against the current. On the return, I hit some pretty good splits of 8:43, 9:33 and 9:30 to the Tensaw turnaround. There was no turbulence around the culverts and no boat traffic between the Interstate bridges.

On the way back, I was able to maintain a 9:50, 9:54 and come in with a new course PR of 57:51, without the help of Roland out front pulling me along. Who knows, maybe I do better on my own without the pressure of trying to hang on.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Red Maple Slough

Sunday, February 19, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

The shortest and most direct route to Red Maple Slough is to start on the north side of the Causeway at the old Riverdocs launch located 100 meters west of Ed's Seafood Shed. On this blustery afternoon, we had four singles and two tandems launch at around 1:30 PM into a northerly 10 knot wind with a rising tide. With the north wind blowing for the last couple of days, Chacaloochee Bay was lower than normal. We had to skirt around to the west to try and avoid shallow water before entering Conway Creek about one mile north.

There were large flocks of seagulls, great egrets and a few cormorants standing around on the open mud flats along the way. After a short distance on Conway, we took the first right fork into Big Bateau Bay and continued north. We had to stay way out in to middle to again avoid the shallows. Once we reached the north shore and after paddling by an old runabout hull blown up in the woods from a recent hurricane, we entered a narrow channel up in the northeast corner.

The main channel turns west and connects back to Conway Creek, but only a short distance in, we took the first right fork and paddled into Red Maple Slough. It snakes around many sharp turns and eventually ends up in the woods, normally with an abundance of Red Maples. We were shocked to see the storm surge devastation Katrina layed on the area and in particular, the Red Maples. There were dozens of trees blown over, with debris still clinging high in the branches. So, we ended up disappointed to find few standing trees and fewer yet fully budded out.

On the way back out, we stopped along the channel, near where the boat had settled in the woods, to get out, stretch our legs and investigate. The boat turned out to be an abandoned relic that no one would have missed and with nothing of value. So, we jumped back in our boats and upon reaching the mouth, made the turn right on the connector to Conway Creek.

Conway had plenty of water, so it was more pleasant paddling back on it rather than returning down Big Bateau Bay. We passed up the entrance to Savage's Ditch, deciding to wait until later in the spring to venture in it, once the flowers start to bloom and the gators come out to sun. Once back into Chacaloochee Bay, the group again skirted around to the west. With a few more hours of rising tide, it was much easier to paddle back to the launch area.

The total distance traveled was 8.7 miles, which took us 2:35 of paddling time.

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 XI

Sunday, February 19, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

It was another chilly, breezy morning, but I wanted to check out the bay, so I went for it anyway. The north wind over the last couple of days kept the water level down pretty low, but there was enough to get away from the Riverdocs launch area. At 8:45 AM, it was only 39 degrees with about a 10 knot northerly wind and a rising tide.

There were no boats, fishermen or even any shore birds out to greet me this morning, so I just crouched forward and got into the workout. On the way east on Pass Picada, I was only able to make 8:16 and back in 7:00. The lower bay chop was considerably worse than yesterday and slowed me down. My splits on the way west were 9:15, 9:50 and 10:42. On the return, I hit 9:25, 11:27 and finished in a tough 1:01:24. What a difference a day makes!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 X

Saturday, February 18, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

This morning started out real iffy, so I decided to wait awhile and head out at 8:30 AM. The weather was very overcast, 59 degrees with a 10 knot northwesterly wind and a rising tide. I was surprised with my first leg time of 7:29 into the rising tide and moreso with a 14:33 past the start. The wind was not kicking up much chop, so I was able to keep up a good rhythm through the open bay, on to the bridges to the Tensaw turnaround. My splits out were 9:15, 9:33 and 9:47.

On the way back, I was able to hang on with 9:40, 10:17 and a total finish of 58:13 at 6.2 mph.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 IX

Thursday, February 16, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

After a quick few days in the sunny paradise of Scottsdale, AZ, I was glad to get back where there is plenty of water. It was nice enough for a visit, but going on for 120 days without rain and still counting, with no paddling available, I was ready to come home.

Roland and I put in at old Riverdocs at 4:40 PM, with a 10 mph southeasterly breeze, clear skies and 70 degrees. We were just after neap tides, so there was little movement as Roland took off like a shot down Pass Picada. We hit the Apalachee turn in 8:31 against the slightly rising tide and returned by the parking lot in 6:44, with mile splits of 8:45, 9:19 and 9:03.

On the return, Roland took off ahead of me again, and I just tried to hang on. My splits on the return were 10:41, 10:02 with a total six mile time of 58:30 at 6.2 mph. Roland lamented about how he had not trained much since the Wakulla race, but I would never have believed him as he came in a full minute faster.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bay Minette Creek 6 mi.

Sunday, February 12, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

We had a great family reunion at Felix's last night for Mom's 80th birthday. This morning was still chilly, so we waited a little while and this time I took Barb out for a nice morning paddle on the upper end of Bay Minette Creek. We arrived and put in at 10:30 AM, with calm winds, 45 degrees and clear skies. Again, Barb explored the upper end while I paddled down and back on my regular six mile course.

With a little warmer temperature, I seemed to move a little better around the upper tight turns. My downstream splits were 9:29, 9:22 and 9:17. On the return I paddled 9:32, 9:47 and 10:15 for a better total of 57:44, still at 6.2 mph. It was really great to be able to let Barb and Ken experience a little different kind of paddling environment than the Pacific NW they are accustomed to.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Bay Minette Creek 6 mi.

Saturday, February 11, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

It was even chillier and breezier this morning, so Ken and I headed for Bay Minette Creek to try and find some shelter from the wind. At 8:10 AM, it was still only 40 degrees, but at least the water was up and protected. Ken explored the upper end, while I hit it hard on my regular course. There was not much happening out on the water, as all sane life was tucked away out of the wind and cold, leaving me out by my lonesome.

On the way downstream, I tried to get warmed up and loose, but my fingers still numbed-out on me. My splits were a consistent 9:17, 9:22 and 9:14, while on the return I hit 9:54, 9:56 and 10:12 for a good total of 57:58 at 6.2 mph. Ken enjoyed the different scenery and kept warm, including gloves, which I should have worn.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 VIII

Friday, February 10, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

This morning was cold and windy, but I went to the bay anyway to see how well I could do in the chop. At 7:30 AM, it was 45 degrees with a 15 mph northwesterly wind kicking up a 1-2 foot chop with a slightly falling tide.

No one was out, not even the shore birds, except for the morning commute traffic along the Causeway. My first split down to the Apalachee was 7:21, and on the return, my miles were 10:10, 10:11 and 8:43. The return was tough with splits of 11:38, 10:00 and a total finish of 1:00:11.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Jug Lake

Thursday, February 9, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Today was the big trip for my mother's birthday celebration. Barb, Ken, Mom and I set out for the same area we took Mom to last year at this time, when we paddle to the Indian Mounds. This year we settled on a paddle from the Rice Creek Landing over to the covered floating platform on Jug Lake, around the back side of Fisher Island.

We travelled up Hwy 225 to Stockton and to Rice Creek, where we found the water level up to a nice full level. At 10:30 AM, the temperature started out at about 50 degrees under clear and sunny skies. My Mom and I paddled our canoe, while Ken was in the Seda and Barb in the Perception. Everyone got used to their boats quickly and we started off down Rice Creek to Briar Lake.

We took the cut-through, against a current, over to Tensaw Lake and turned left downstream, along Larry Island. At the bottom of Larry Island, we cut across the muddy and swifter Tensaw River, to the entrance of Bayou Jessamine. Along the way, we came across Turkey Vultures floating overhead and Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets either walking the shoreline or standing up on high tree branches.

Bayou Jessamine had a slight current coming out from Bottle Creek, but the water was high on the bank and relatively easy to negotiate around the several treefalls across it. We made our way up to Jug Lake and paddled easily around Fisher Island to the platform. We enjoyed lunch there in the sunshine before starting our trip back over the same course. Two Great Egrets led us back up Rice Creek past the magnificent Cypress trees and back to the launch.

One thing we noticed were the red maple trees bursting out with color. I will make sure we schedule a paddle next weekend out in the lower delta and up Red Maple Slough, which should be real showy by then. Our trip ended up covering 7.5 miles, which we did in an easy 3 hours of paddling time.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 VII

Tuesday, February 7, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

This afternoon was a warm 60 degrees, but blustery with a 10-15 knot north wind kicking up the Chacaloochee Bay. I decided at the last minute to try my Causeway course even with the wind, to get in a little rough water workout. The water level was fairly low due to the north wind, even though the tide was rising and almost at high tide. For the first time in about forever, I even put on a sprayskirt, to keep out the waves that were lapping over the bow.

My first leg was a slow 9:18 down to the Apalachee and on the return heading west, my mile splits were 8:24, 9:25 and 11:35. On the way back, my splits were 8:48, 11:19 and a six mile finish time of 1:01:21 at 5.9 mph. What a difference the wind and chop makes in time and performance.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Fish River

Sunday, February 5, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

This afternoon was a sunny 55 degree gorgeous day for a paddle on the lower section of Fish River. A large group of club paddlers met at the parking lot and launch area on the west side of the Hwy 98 bridge over the mouth of the Fish River into Weeks Bay. We started out with two canoes and several kayaks and were joined later by another four kayaks.

We started out heading north on the river and were immediately greeted by many Cormorants and Pelicans and even a Loon out fishing while several Great Blue Herons walked the shoreline. There were also Osprey and Vultures circling around overhead.

After passing two small islands with dozens of Cormorants sitting in the trees, we turned up Waterhole Branch on the west or north side, following it up as far as we could go. On the return, we also explored Turkey Branch, also on the west side. This was where the second group of kayakers caught up with us and we all headed back out and down the Fish back to Weeks Bay.

This was a nice lazy paddle of about eight miles, just right for getting everyone ready to go back and watch the Super Bowl festivities.

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 VI

Sunday, February 5, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Super Bowl Sunday started out pretty cool down on the bay. At 7:30 AM, it was only 40 degrees and sunny with a 15 knot northerly breeze. It was just past low tide and with the north wind blowing the water out of the bay, the water level was very low. It was not the lowest I have seen, so I was still able to get out and away from Riverdocs launch area.

I am not sure what I was thinking about, since I left both my watch and Forerunner at home. So, I was off on my usual six mile course, just guessing on times. I passed the Bluegill Restaurant, which is putting on the finishing touches and should be ready to open next weekend. There was not much else going on, as I fought my way through a pretty good chop the whole course. Without a watch to keep me motivated, I know I was paddling at only about 80% effort, which was still a pretty good workout, but not at maximum. I even wore gloves, but was glad to have them as the wind still kept my hands frozen most of the way. I would guess my overall time was in the 1:04 range.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Little Boiling Creek

Saturday, February 4, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

The plan was to meet the group at the Yellow River Bridge at 10:15 AM. I got off to a late start and crossed the bridge at 10:18 and saw a few parked cars, but the group had already left. I drove on ahead to the head of Little Boiling Creek, but no one was there. So, I turned around and went to the normal put-in on Boiling Creek at the wooden bridge. I found four vehicles there, but the group had already left. It was apparent, with the location of vehicles, the group had changed plans and headed downstream to take the normal Boiling Creek/Yellow River route to the take-out at the Hwy 98 bridge.

I was interested in seeing just how far I could get heading upstream on Little Boiling Creek, so I took off solo, at 10:45 AM on a beautifully sunny 60 degree morning. The water level was a little higher than last month due to the recent rainstorms. Along the way south, there were plenty of colorful signs of spring popping out as well as many turtles basking in the sun. I followed a Great Blue Heron to several roosts upstream, until he finally had enough of my interruptions, so he flew back towards me, almost overhead, and unloaded a large bomb, which fortunately landed only about ten feet away.

I reached the Boiling/Little Boiling split at 1.37 miles and continued up Little Boiling Creek. Around one turn, I startled a large gator, out sunning on the bank, who came crashing into the water just ahead. I made it about another half mile, before I started to come up against some blockages across the creek. The water was so warm and comfortable, I just got out of my kayak, took my hand saw and went to work. It was pretty slow going as I worked my way upstream, walking and pulling my kayak upstream, as I cut my way ahead.

I got to one point, where it was not apparent where the channel went, as it spread out, flowing down through a stand of trees. I walked ahead, leaving my kayak for a little while, to find the best route back to the channel. I cut a narrow passage through, which took about an hour to get maybe 20 meters. At this point, I had no idea I was near a jeep path, but all of a sudden, I saw Gary's van coming down along the bank. I yelled out to him and he stopped to decide where he would park and put in. There was a landing back about an quarter mile, which he drove to and paddled back up through my newly created water path.

Once Gary caught up to where I was still sawing my way along, most of the rest of the stream was fairly clear. There were a few blockages I stopped to clear, while Gary went on ahead. I finally caught up to him and found him standing in the creek, next to his canoe, with a sheepish grin on his face. Somehow, he hit a current, which flipped him over, for the first time in 30 years (he says). Gary didn't have any dry clothes, so he decided to get out and walk back to his van.

I continued up to where the road crosses over and the creek comes shooting through a large round culvert into a big pool. I tried to paddle up into the culvert a couple of times, but didn't get far. So, I decided to get out and portaged my kayak up across the road to the other side. By that time it was about 3:15 PM and I had only travelled 2.86 miles. Rather than go exploring further upstream, I jumped into my kayak and shot down through the culvert and spit out into the pool below. It was a pretty wild whitewater ride with nowhere to go but straight ahead.

I wasn't sure what Gary was going to do, so I figured I better get started back downstream, as it was going to be close to dark before I got back. But, after paddling for only about a quarter mile, I saw Gary coming out again. He stopped and offered to take me back to the bridge. I was very grateful, as I was pretty exhausted from spending the day sawing and blazing the way. We made a plan to come back soon and this time do the downstream trip we had intended for today. It should be a breeze, now that I got the stream cleaned out the whole way.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 VI

Thursday, February 2, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

This morning started out pretty rough with a strong storm raging through with 50 mph winds and a couple inches of rain. By the afternoon, the skies cleared with 72 degrees and a light southeasterly 10 mph breeze. It is the day after neap tides, so there is little movement and at 4:30 PM the water level is high and inviting for a nice afternoon workout paddle.

The water on Pass Picada was pretty flat, so I got off to quick start, getting down to the Apalachee in 7:22. On the return, I had mile splits of 9:59, 9:48 past the Causeway and 9:04 between the bridges to the Tensaw River. While turning around, I was in perfect position to see the sun set right down on top of the USS Alabama.

On the return, the splits were 10:25, 9:25 and a finish time of 58:04 at 6.2 mph. The conditions were just right and I was psyched for a fast paddle, so put it all together and I set a new PR for the course!