Kayak Canoe Alabama

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 XXV

Thursday, March 30, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

After a few days of vacation with our son, Bob, it was back to work today, followed by the normal Thursday workout routine. I started out at Riverdocs at 5:15 PM with mild conditions, 72 degrees, cloudy, a 10 knot southeasterly breeze with a medium water level and falling tide. Nothing remarkable was going on, no outdoor bands playing, just a few lazy coots out on the water, not wanting to fly far if they didn't have to.

My split east was 6:33 and mile splits west were 11:10, 10:28 and 8:30. On the return east, I paddled 11:02 and 9:15 for a six mile total of 58:52 at 6.1 mph.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Bay Minette Creek 8 mi.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

On a beautiful afternoon, my son Bob and I headed for the Bromley Bridge on upper Bay Minette Creek to get on the water. It was sunny and 76 degrees with a full pool and very little current movement. Bob decided to give my Glider a try, so I knew I was going to be in for a good workout trying to keep up with him.

We started out easily, paddling under tai tai heavy with blooms. We saw an occasional White Egret, GBH and a pair of Wood Ducks leading around the early s-turns. Linda asked us to keep an eye out for mountain laurel, which we found in the early blooming stages across the creek from the group of several houses. I stopped for a second to pick a branch, to take back to prove we had seen them.

Due to our time constraint, we went for the eight mile course. We turned in to a side branch to see a small beaver dam, which was almost submerged due to the high water.

On the return, I picked up the pace and Bob decided to eventually pass me and take a solid lead. Our last few mile splits were in the 10:30 range, as we finished in a total of 1:46.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Rice Creek to Jug Lake

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

My son, Bob, and I decided to paddle in the upper delta this afternoon wanting to stay off of the bay during breezy conditions. We took the easy drive up Hwy 225 to Stockton and on to nearby Rice Creek Landing. When we arrived, the parking lot was flooded, so we parked along the road as close as we could. This was the highest I have seen the water level on Rice Creek, although high watermarks on the trees indicated the level was still another 4-5 feet higher at some time.

The high water made for an easy entry and no problems with blockages as we just glided over the tops of all treefalls. We kept a medium pace of 4 mph, but not a workout pace, so we could enjoy the scenery. The trees are all greening and filling out nicely. We found the cutthrough from Briar Lake to Tensaw Lake was flowing rapidly from west to east, so we had to work a little harder to make any headway.

Once we reached Tensaw Lake, we turned right and then circled back to the left around Larry Island, to get the benefit of the Tensaw River current about half way down the island. We were able to easily get up to 8 mph once we found the current. Just below Larry Island, we turned right into Bayou Jessamine. Fortunately, it was equalized and not running much in either direction. With the water level up, we had an easy time traversing Fisher Island into Jug Lake and back to the floating platform.

We did not stay long, turning around and taking the same basic course back. When we exited Bayou Jessamine this time, we stayed to the right side of Larry Island where the current wasn't as fast. The total trip was 7.82 miles, which took us 1:51.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 XXIV

Monday, March 27, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Later in the afternoon around 3:30 PM, I decided to go out for a workout and went for the Causeway, even though the wind was up pretty good. The temperature was around 68 degrees with a 15 mph southeasterly wind, somewhat protected by the Causeway. The water level was medium and just starting to drop from high tide.

I was able to get off to a decent start, reaching the Apalachee River in 7:49. On the return, with a little push from the wind, I hit mile splits of 9:17, 9:44 and 9:24 over to the Tensaw River. On the return into the wind, I hit 10:21, 10:02 and finished in an overall time of 58:52.

Fly Creek and Rock Creek

Monday, March 27, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Linda and I are off paddling today with our son, Bob, who is back from Kuwait on leave. The day was beautifully sunny, 64 degrees with a southerly breeze. We put in our canoe at the Fairhope Yacht Club beach and first paddled leisurely up Fly Creek. You start out passing through the marina with all of the large yachts and sailboats, some of which were being cleaned and repaired following Hurricane Katrina. Spring flowers were out in abundance including wild blue flag and many azaleas planted along the shore in resident's backyards. We made it up to the Scenic Hwy 98 bridge (about one mile) before returning to Mobile Bay and turning north along the shore.

We saw a great deal of erosion from the hurricane, some of which waterfront owners were in the process of trying to repair. All of the piers out into the bay to the covered gazebos and boathouses were damaged in some way or completely destroyed. About a half mile up the bay, we turned into Rock Creek and followed it up to the Scenic 98 bridge as well. There were a few tame mallards hanging around to greet us.

Once back to the bay, the wind picked up considerably, giving us a strenuous workout on the return. The overall trip was 4.5 miles, which took 1.5 hours to paddle. We followed up the paddle with a relaxing picnic lunch a mile down the bay in the Fairhope Municipal Park.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 XXIII

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

The winds died down considerably today, so I headed back to the Causeway for a late afternoon paddle. The sky was cloudless, the temperature about 62 degrees with a northeasterly breeze of about 10 knots. The water level was about medium and at this time, was rising.

Following an easy day of paddling Boiling Creek yesterday, I was feeling pretty good and got off to a fast start down Pass Picada. The restaurants were crowded, with an overflow crowd on Blugill's outside deck listening to a live electric blues band. It got me pumped up and and I cruised in to the Apalachee turnaround in 8:06 and back in 6:45 on the way to mile splits of 8:33, 9:11 and 10:12. The bay was a little choppy, but manageable for the most part. The waters around the culverts and the Tensaw River turnaround were a little dicey, but I made it through both ways unscathed.

My splits on the return were 9:31, 10:36 with an overall finish time of 58:33. This was considerably faster than the paddles in the stiff winds last week and much appreciated.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Boiling Creek and Little Boiling Creek

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

by Gary Worob

Boiling Creek has always been a special place to me as well as almost everyone who has ever been there, but Saturday was even more exceptional. I purposely canceled for the first time, as far as i can remember, the camping/paddling trip with other activities when i saw the weather forecast for freezing and near freezing weather. Who wants to camp in Florida at the end of March and freeze, not this old bird.

Anyhow, Harriet led the charge, triumphantly, to carry the flag to one of the greatest paddles i ever experienced. I decided at the last minute to go and shuttled with Ian and there were eight of us who were treated to a wonderful experience. We decided to honor Brint for the extra hard work he did in clearing the trail on Little Boiling Creek and did a quick shuttle to the "lunch spot" right before Yellow River. We then carried boats across the road to the upper section and paddled up into an area that none of us ever were in before. It was like a scene from the original Tarzan movies, really deep crystal clear water with submerged logs and huge fish. We were all amazed at the serenity and beauty there and went much farther than i thought it would go, weaving in and around the many stumps and branches but awed by the depth and clarity of the water.

We had a real treat on the way downriver as we got to run the chute under the road and scream through the tunnel. Then we went on the Brint Trail and wove our way through the many narrow channels and laughed as we had to get out several times in the pristine water to drag boats around and over and through different scenes. At one point Harriet pointed out this huge snapping turtle and it was amazing to watch it make choices in directions with our boats around and then disappear. Brint had done a wonerful job of clearing and we could easily see all the hard work he put into the underwater trail and then we came to the open water, or so we thought only to be surprised at two downed pine trees that i think were beaver cuts, nothing else made sense. But Brint dispatched them with his hand saw and we were once more on our way to Boiling Creek and lunch.

The pitcher plants were in bloom and they were as beautiful and welcomed as ever. We stopped at the wooden bridge for lunch and then went downstream and were treated to a rare site. There were 5 cottonmouths sunning themselves all in a ball on a dead fall across the river. Fritz and I, with appropriate caution, got close and took pictures of the lazy group and you almost, but hardly, could feel sorry for the frozen critters, trying to warm up after a real freezing night. I won't look forward to ever seeing them again. We saw more large birds than I have ever seen on Boiling Creek and we experienced more of the area than ever before.

What could have been a disaster turned into a group effort as we had to push Brint's and Fritz's vehicles out of sand bogs. The grader guy had turned the road into a disaster while we were paddling, making it extremely hard to drive on the road to the lunch spot. I don't reccommend going there without scouting and definetely not alone. It was fun having all of us push and work together to help each other. It reminded me of why I never want to live in the snow belt again, not to ever push another stuck in the snow vehicle again without tons of friends.

So, thanks to Brint and Harriet for the absolutely wonderful day a day dedicated to the great efforts of Brint to make this club and the paddles more than wonderful.I don't recommend the Little Boiling Creek trip to anyone who is not prepared to drag and walk their boats. If you are looking for a lazy day paddle, this is not it. It took a good part of the day for this trip and was worth every minute, but not for long boats and fragile limbs.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 XXII

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

Tonight was almost identical to last Tuesday, with not quite the wind speed blowing in from the northwest. Roland and I put in around 5:10 PM, and set off down Pass Picada with the falling tide pushing us along. We reached the Apalachee River turnaround in 7:17 and started back west. My mile splits were 10:18, 10:36 and 10:35, which were a little better, but still tough going out in the open bay. Roland followed, opting for his plastic boat due to the meaner chop.

Once I reached the Tensaw River, the water was quite confused and difficult to turn around in. After a wide loop and waiting on Roland, we started back with splits of 9:51, 9:51 and a total finish time of 1:00:28. It was much more consistent and felt alot better than the fight of two nights ago.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 XXI

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

The first day of spring and oh what a night! It was actually a very pleasant 75 degrees and sunny, but the 20-25 knot northwest wind stirred up quite a chop. Against my better judgement, I headed for open water along the Causeway and got banged around pretty good.

The water level was high with the tide starting to drop as I pulled out at 5:00 PM from the Riverdocs launch area. I was all alone today, as no one else in their right mind would have been out on the water, all except for a lone Cormorant, who was out bobbing around trying to do a little fishing. The first leg east was fun as I surfed my way down to the Apalachee in 6:56. The return was ugly as I hunkered down and fought my way into the wind, sometimes at no better than 4.5 mph. My splits on the way west were 11:36, 12:00 and 10:50. It was particularly crazy around the Causeway culverts, as I bobbed my way along next to the highway.

The return was not much better as I recorded splits of 10:12, 9:52 and a total of 1:03:23 at 5.7 mph. I was just glad it was over and I got back in one piece.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Boatyard Lake Pine Log Creek Alabama River Little Bear Creek

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

The weather this morning was not very promising, but turned out to be quite comfortable with overcast skies, no wind and 61 degrees. Ian and I met at the Stagecoach Cafe in Stockton, AL and traveled north on Hwy 59 for 13 mi. to left on CR 80 for 3.3 mi. to Boatyard Landing. There is quite a little community of fish camps congregated there next to the Fort Mims Historical site. The launch/parking fee is $4.00.

We put in just before 10:00 AM and proceeded down Boatyard Lake for 1.3 mi. to the entrance on the left to Pine Log Creek. Pine Log is a rambling creek through a picturesque thick Cypress forest. Although the water was up, it was obvious that the level gets much higher, maybe by ten feet, during flooded seasons. After following it for about a mile, it became difficult to find the channel, so during a flooded condition it would be very easy to just use a GPS and paddle wherever you wanted through the forest for another three miles.

We returned back to Boatyard Lake, continuing west to the Alabama River. We entered it on one of two big bends where there is only a slow current. We paddled downstream with the slight current for another mile until we reached the Fort Mims Cutoff. It quickly became apparent where the bulk of the waterflow comes from and goes. Once we got past the incoming water from the cutoff we picked up current and speed to just under eight mph. The current pushed us quickly around the bend and south for another mile to the entrance on the left to Little Bear Creek.

After a very short distance, we took a sharp left, paddling mostly east back to another section of the Alabama River. This section of Little Bear Creek is very reminiscent to Bayou Jessamine in channel width and plenty of tree falls across the water. We weaved our way around most of them, but did have to exit our boats once to slide over about 6" of an exposed large log. After about a mile of working our way through the beautiful maze, we came back out to a different large slow bend in the Alabama. Fortunately for us, the current was almost non-existent in this section, as we paddled upstream.

We found an inviting floating fish camp, where we stopped for lunch before continuing up the Alabama. Our plan was to paddle past the entrance to Majors Creek to an unnamed north cutoff to Boatyard Lake. However, we miscalculated the various branches and mistakenly turned into Majors Creek. After paddling for about one mile, not checking a compass and passing various clues that should have told us we were heading in the wrong direction, we finally came across a large fall and a couple of side branches that finally convinced us to look at a map.

So, we turned around and got back to the Alabama and continued north to what turned out to be a hidden entrance to the cutoff we were looking for. Right at the entrance, there were two fishermen along the shore loading some long wooden-slat traps onto their boat. We asked them if we were close to the cutoff to Boatyard and they proceeded to direct us around the Alabama about four miles around the bend. When I mentioned there was supposed to be a narrow cutoff stream somewhere around where we were, they turned around and said it must be right behind them. There was no mouth, just cutting in through a grove of trees.

After getting in and away from the Alabama by about ten meters, we found the creek we were looking for. It did not look like anyone had been in there for years. There were big fish jumping, herons, egrets and a Barred Owl all warily watching us invade their private space. We slowly worked our way north through and around many falls until we hit a bend with several falls one after another. We got out and portaged for twenty meters before continuing until reaching a dead end. It turned out someone cut in a dirt road across the stream with a culvert, which did not show up on our map. So, it was back to a portage again to get past the road. During flood season, the road would have been well below water and not even visible.

After another half mile of weaving around, over and under various blockages, we finally exited back into Boatyard Lake. As long as it took us, we may well have reached the same point faster by going four miles further around on the Alabama River, but it wouldn't have been as much fun.

All we had left was about 1.5 miles back up Boatyard to the landing. It was quite an adventure that neither of us had paddled before and well worth the effort. Our total trip was 17 miles taking about 4:45 with another 0:30 for our lunch break. This will be another great early summertime paddle once all of the flowers and other greenery start to pop out.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Pass Picada to Spanish River

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

Roland and I wanted a two hour paddle workout and decided to try a course along the Causeway and up into Delvan Bay. We met at Riverdocs at 2:30 PM hoping the wind would die down a little. The wind started to pick up to about 15 knots from the north under cloudy skies, 68 degrees, a full pool with the tide just past high and starting to fall.

Roland decided to use his plastic boat and dropped behind early. I picked up the pace and decided to go for six miles out, no matter what the time was. The chop wasn't too bad until we passed the Tensaw River and turned north up into Delvan Bay. We were heading straight into the wind and a falling current, which killed our pace. On the way out, my splits were 10:03, 10:09, 10:31, 11:22, 10:55 and 11:10 for a six mile split of 1:04:13.

When I turned, I couldn't see Roland and figured he came up about five miles before turning around. On the way back, with the wind to my back, I surfed all the way back down Delvan to the Interstate bridges. My return splits were 9:02, 9:10, 9:14, 9:41, 9:53 and 10:51 for a six mile split of 57:51 and a total twelve mile time of 2:02:05. We both felt pretty good afterwards and ready for the next Mississippi race, the BluzCruz in Vicksburg, MS next month.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Byrnes Lake

Friday, March 17, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Today's paddle was definately a new and different experience. Earlier in the week, I received a call from out of the blue, from a writer with Men's Journal magazine, about helping him organize a day paddle and photo shoot for their upcoming July 2006 issue. My task was to outfit his crew and lead them to a location typical of the delta found in lower Alabama. I had no idea how legitimate this was going to be, if it was a hoax, or if I was going to be taken advantage of in some way.

Later in the week, I heard from his editor and was asked how they might obtain the services of a male model for the photo shoot. I had no idea about that, making sure he knew I probably did not fit the profile of a rugged 30's model for an adventure, travel and fitness mens magazine.

I lined up a couple of canoes and had my kayaks ready to go as well, when I heard from the writer this morning. I met with Guy (the writer), Aaron (the model they found), Craig (the photographer) and Cesar (the photographers assistant) at Starbucks near my house and we made a plan to do a dry run checkout of Byrnes Lake. We also met their driver, who was pulling an enclosed trailer with a new Lexus Hybrid (I think a GS450).

We stopped by our house, dropped off the car, loaded the canoes in the trailer and drove up to Byrnes Lake. The day was beautiful, with clear blue skies, 75 degrees and no wind. We put all of the boats in the water and I gave Aaron quick instructions about the forward stroke. I just hoped he would be able to stay upright in my Perception Eclipse plastic boat. He was a quick study, having been a local athlete at McGill Toolen HS and a scholarship baseball player for Carson-Newman College.

We paddled out Byrnes Lake, almost to the Tensaw River and found several promising locations for some interesting pictures. On the way back, we came across three more kayakers, two brothers and their female cousin, all in their twenties and quite photogenic. I doubled back to ask them if they might be interested in hanging out for some pictures later in the afternoon. They said they would be around and would be back to the launch area around 4:00 PM.

So, we headed back to Spanish Fort and the Beach House Grill for a mid-afternoon lunch, while waiting for the sun to drop to the right level for the photo shoot. Craig brought out his $7,000 Mamiya and proceeded to take some interesting closeups of our raw oysters, gumbo, etc., amusing the restaurant staff.

When we returned to the Byrnes Lake launch, Craig and Cesar jumped into their professional, full-tilt work mode. They loaded up all of their cameras, lenses and film and we were off for the shoot. The three locals came up as we were ready to go, and they joined us for the fun. It was quite a treat to see Craig at work, as he directed all of the models through the various photo sequences. We paddled through groups of cypress, while he used all of his various cameras, including an underwater camera half-submerged to get the effect of someone watching from water level or just below. The water cooperated as well, so he could get some great reflection shots on the glass-like black water, as we paddled back to the launch area.

When we arrived, a father and son came up in their flat bottom skiff, with a couple of 10-15 pound catfish kicking around. Guy proceeded to befriend them and Craig got some great random shots of the catfish, showing just a little more flavor of life in the bayou. By that time, the sun was just about down, so we loaded up all of the boats and headed back to my house to drop off the boats and reload the Lexus.

After good-bye's, the crew was off for a long drive to do some fishing in Apalachiacola, FL tomorrow. Then they are to circle back through middle Alabama and Mississippi for some more adventure, before returning to New York and Los Angeles. It will be very interesting to see how the roadtrip through the gulf south article and photos turn out. You might want to check out the July 2006 issue of Men's Journal, and see what life in the Mobile Delta looks like. If I am lucky and they hide me real well, I might just show up in the issue as well.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Apalachee River to Causeway 2006 II

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

Tonight was alot better for paddling with the wind changing around to southerly. Roland and I put in at 4:40 PM with cloudy skies, 68 degrees, medium pool level and a falling tide. We decided to do the five mile course and Roland got away quickly. I hung with him on the first leg, which we turned in 6:41. On the way back against the current, I hit 11:09 and 10:48 splits, while Roland really took off and left me. As soon as I got to the bridge turnaround, Roland was through waiting and took off right away. I took a drink and checked my watch to see the half mile split was 4:46, before I turned and tried valiantly to make up some ground.

Roland was too good today, further increasing the gap between us. My split on the return was 10:19, with a total five mile time of 50:10. I accused Roland of sandbagging his training or that he was just better with a two week layoff.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 XX

Tuesday, March 14, 2006 brint.adams@us.army.mil

There was a wild north wind blowing 20 knots this afternoon, playing havoc with Chacaloochee Bay and driving the water out to a very low level. There was still enough water to get away from the boat launch area at the old Riverdocs lot, but not much to spare. It was partly cloudy and a warm 74 degrees, with the water level still dropping a little further.

Somehow, I left my wing paddle at home and in its place, used a Werner carbon blade, still lightweight, but not what I was used to using every day. I tucked in along the north shore of Pass Picada to get a little wind break, reaching the Apalachee turn in 7:30. As I passed Bluegill's, I heard the sounds of an amplified guitar warming up for the happy hour crowd. I think tonight was the first night of the free first Tuesday outdoor concerts, since the Bluegill recently opened, following the Hurricane Katrina blowout.

They were definately playing into their first set as I came by again and paddled out into the unprotected lower end of the bay. The chop really slammed me directly on the side, to the extent I wished I had gone to Bay Minette Creek instead. My splits down to the Tensaw were 10:10, 10:34 and 10:54. It wasn't much better on the return, as I was only able to negotiate a 9:42, 10:17 and a total finish time of 1:01:27. It is good practice to occasionally work out in difficult wind and chop conditions. There will always be races with adverse conditions, so I look at tonight as just needed preparation. Anyway, there is always tomorrow when the wind will eventually die down.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 XIX

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

The wind died down completely from yesterday, leaving the bay relatively flat this morning. There was still a pretty quickly receding tide and at 7:30 AM, under sunny skies, it was already 76 degrees. I got off to a fast start, tracking right down the center of Pass Picada to take advantage of the current. I made the Apalachee River turn in 6:56 and back in 15:08, passing a leisurely paddling single kayaker.

I pushed on by with only a nod and on to the Causeway, between the bridges and to the Tensaw River. My splits were 10:13, 9:58 and 8:51. On the way back, the sun was a little higher and hotter, so I ducked in under one of the Interstate bridges for as far as I could, before cutting back out into Chacalooche Bay. A Sheriff's Deputy boat pulled slowly past me as they were still searching for the third (last) missing fisherman from last week's tragedy. My return splits were 10:39 and 9:50 with a total time of 58:26 at 6.2 mph.

(Later note: the last of the three fishermen came to the surface on the Blakeley River sometime Sunday, so all have been recovered. I am not sure if they are going to try and locate the boat or not).

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Whiskey Ditch - Full Moon

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

The wind was strong all day today, but fortunately began to slow by late afternoon. At 5:00 PM, eight paddlers, seven with solo kayaks plus Gary in his canoe, showed up to test the waters. On the plus side, the water level was high with the tide still rising, so the effects of the southeasterly breeze were minimized. The temperature was a very comfortable 72 degrees, absolutely perfect.

We took off at a leisurely pace eastward down Pass Picada, past the already full restaurants, to the Apalachee River. The wind easily pushed us upriver to the entrance to Whiskey Ditch. Once we made the turn, the narrow waterway calmed down to still, flat water. We were still a little early to see any spring flowers, but found the delta and it's grasses, plants and trees in pretty good shape, making a quick recovery from Katrina. With the water level up and over the defined banks of the waterway, the ditch looked quite different, but easy to paddle.

We made our way back to the little lake, where George promptly exited his kayak and proceeded to climb a cedar tree, guarding it's entrance. We hung out for awhile, watching the moon pop in and out from behind the mostly cloudy sky, before heading back. The wind had calmed even more once we came out into the Apalachee again, making it easier to get back to the Pass. It is always fun to finish up a paddle in darkness, passing by the bright lights and bustle of outdoor restaurants. The total trip was 5 miles and took us about two hours.

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 XVIII

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

I drug out of bed a little later than I wanted to and did not get to the water until 7:15 AM. The southeast wind was picking up and now between 10-15 knots, while the temperature 74 degrees and rising. The tide was almost at low and still falling, but the water level was up about normal pool, due to the continued south winds and the overnight rain.

The combination of tide and wind meant a little worse chop than normal, as I turned east down Pass Picada. No one was around as I fought my way down to the Apalachee in 7:21. The return was slower going, as I passed the parking lot at 15:30, with westward mile splits of 10:26, 10:07 and 9:11. After crossing under the Interstate bridge, I noticed the large dumpster sitting in the boat launch parking lot along the Causeway. This morning, volunteers were gathering to start with today's Derelict Crab Trap Recovery Program.

On the way back, I had a hard slog at the start, getting away from the Tensaw River, with splits of 10:42, 9:51 and a total finish time of 59:46. It was slower than on calm water, but under the circumstances, I was happy with a sub one hour paddle.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Bay Minette Creek 6 mi.

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

Tonight was a warm 74 degrees with high south winds of 20-25 knots and the threat of thunderstorms. As I crossed the bay, the water level was high with large white caps breaking over the wall along the Causeway. It did not look like much fun out there, so I headed north to my usual comfort zone out of the wind, at the Bromley Bridge over Bay Minette Creek. It was well protected with high water and still rising.

It was a little strange to head downstream into the wind and rising tide. As I rounded one tight turn near the start, the wind even pushed me over behind a downed tree, so I had to back up to get around it. That obviously slowed me down, as my splits downstream were only 10:19, 10:13 and 10:22. I also scared up about six egrets, who were hiding out in a tree on a protected turn.

On the return, with the wind mostly to my back and with the rising tide, I hit 9:01, 9:25 and 9:44 for a total time of 59:06, not my fastest, but good considering the rougher than normal conditions.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 XVII

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

Tonight was great weather once again for a fast paddle. At 5:15 PM, under partly cloudy skies and 68 degrees, there was a slight south breeze with a full pool and still rising tide. There were plenty of helicopters and rescue boats all around the area, looking for the three missing fishermen. They didn't bother me, but were certainly visible. So, the atmosphere was electric, which got me stoked for a fast paddle.

I made the Apalachee turn in 8:08 and back in 6:50. There was no chop and with high water I was able concentrate on form and not worry about getting into shallow mud flats. My mile splits heading west were 8:48, 9:11 and 9:56. On the return, I hit 9:20, 9:41 and finished in a total of 57:22 at 6.3 mph.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Little Bear Creek from Hubbard's Landing

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

Today was just another spring day in paradise with sunny skies, only a slight breeze and temperatures rising from 45 degrees in the early morning to 70 degrees in the afternoon. Carl, Jimmy and I met at the Stagecoach Cafe in Stockton, a few miles north of I-65 exit 31 on Hwy 225. Once assemblied, we went up Hwy 59 a few miles and turned left on the county road to Hubbard's Landing.

Once we pulled in around the store, it was evident the Tensaw Lake water level was up to a partial flood level. The road down to the summer cabins, which were all on stilts, was well under water as was the boat launch area. We parked and talked with the proprietor for awhile about conditions in the delta and left without having to pay the typical $5.00 launch fee. We loaded up our boats and took off upriver, heading for the top end of Tensaw Lake.

There was a noticeable current, so I kept off to the side, dipping in and out of the treeline where there was room to check out the flooded timber. We passed the normal left turn into Big Beaver Creek and continued north to Farris Creek. It was apparent no one had been there in quite some time. We proceeded around the various treefalls, at least not having to pull out our saws. After about a half mile of picking our way around, trying to guess where the creekbed was, Jimmy noticed a small gator sitting up on a log, watching us go by. I turned around and pulled in close by for a few photos, while he held his pose and never blinked.

Little Gator Buddy Posted by Picasa

We finally either ran out of creek or lost it somehow and decided to turn around. I dragged out three decoys and a nice water cooler and carried them along on the back deck of my boat.

We paddled south on Tensaw and turned right on Big Beaver Creek. We passed up the entrance to Globe Creek, continuing to paddle around the several s-turns until reaching the mouth of Bear Creek. It was around 1:00 PM, and with high water everywhere, we decided to eat lunch at the Canal Island floating platform. To get there we continued west on Big Beaver and eased to the south down Little Lake, taking the first right into the Canal Island loop. We had paddled 7.5 miles so far and Carl decided he had enough for the day and stayed on the platform to read and enjoy the sunny afternoon. It was so beautiful out, I wanted to explore some areas I had only seen on the map before. Jimmy headed back to Hubbard's Landing, so we parted ways at Bear Creek.

Since I was by myself, I decided to turn the afternoon into a fast workout, while exploring new territory. Bear Creek heads straight north, so I pushed it hard against the current to a couple of tight turns. There were some huge cypress trees along the way, some bursting with bright green new growth. After passing the turns and the turnoff to Little Bear Creek, the creek petered out into the woods. With high water, I lost the creekbed, so turned around and turned up Little Bear Creek. The current was swifter, so I had to push even harder just to make headway.

The map I brought only covered the first mile up Little Bear Creek, so I was unsure what to expect as I pushed forward. The narrow creek, with a tall full canopy, was nicely shaded and quite beautiful. After about a mile, I came to a clearing and crossed the clearcut east-west pipeline. Another quarter mile farther, I ground across what I thought was a log, but after closer inspection, found it was a concrete curb of a bridge across the creek. The bridge and dirt road to either side was flooded and not visible. Rather than grinding over the next curb, I paddled off the bridge to the road and skirted around the bridge and on my way further north.

After paddling against another mile of increasingly faster current, I came to another clearing and the clearcut for the powerlines. I only went about another quarter mile further north before turning around. Later, after checking the maps, I learned I was only a half mile from the Alabama River and the reason for the fast current. After turning, I really turned it on, while taking wide turns in the current and tracking my speed. I was able to hit 9+ mph coming back down. I slowed and carefully traversed around the bridge this time and continued back to the floating platform behind Canal Island. By the time I returned, I had paddled 18.35 miles for the day.

Carl was still there, had set up his tent and was still relaxing. I was fairly well tired out and took a short nap before the sun started to set and the mosquitoes came out for an early evening appearance. After dinner, it was early to bed and some sleep. But, there were about four barred owls surrounding us that decided to call all night long, making it difficult to sleep for any long periods.

In the morning, we broke camp and made the easy 5.25 mile paddle back to Hubbard's Landing, most of which was downstream. When we arrived, it was interesting to see the water had already receded about two feet from yesterday. This will be great place to visit again in the other seasons, with lush forests and plenty of waterfowl and other wildlife.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Apalachee River to Tensaw River 2006 XVI

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

Great weather, conditions and competition allowed for another PR! Roland and I met at 5:00 PM under mostly clear skies, 69 degrees with a southerly breeze, full pool and slightly falling tide. Roland got right with it from the start and took off ahead of me. I tried to maintain contact as we reached the Apalachee turn in 7:04 and back in 7:45.

On the way we passed a Sheriff's boat and saw several helicopters circling around the area. They were in their second day of searching for three missing fishermen and their boat. On the way back west, Roland took off ahead again, and this time continued to lengthen the gap. The higher water made it easier avoiding the muddy shallows areas and keep our pace up. The mile splits were 9:53, 9:50 and 8:54.

Since Roland was ahead, he wasn't quite sure where the turnaround was and went about 100 M too far. So, when I arrived, I turned, took a quick drink, and this time, I took off a little ahead. On the way back, I hit splits of 10:19, 9:30 and while watching for Roland and maintaining the same lead, finished in 57:29 at 6.3 mph, for a new course PR.