Sunday, March 25, 2007

03/25/2007 – Bay Grass

Launch: Public boat ramps (triple set) just west of the I-10 crossing on the north side of the Causeway (Highway 90).
Launch Cost: Free.
Route: Northwest across the Tensaw River and Delvan Bay to Spanish River, back down to Bay Grass, and then return to the launch site.
Distance: 12.5 miles.
Average Speed: 2.7 mph.
Time: Approx 4.5 hrs.
Pace: Slow.
Weather: Sunny with temps 70-80. Rising tide and about a 1 mph current, winds 5-10 mph initially out of the north, turning calm, then turning out of the southeast.

1) An osprey eagle nest seen on the way up to Mobile River. Unfortunately, the pedal kayak broke down again (3 major breakdowns in the last 6 trips) and I discovered not having a replacement sprocket with me. The Hobie Mirage pedal drive unit has some design flaws and is not able to handle the turbo fins. I had to change the trip plan due to anticipated strong currents in Mobile River. The Outback is not a kayak you want to paddle against strong currents. So I turned around and stopped off at Bay Grass on the way back to the launch site.

2) The breakdown irritated me so much that for a minute I thought I was seeing double.

3) Here is another alligator absorbing the sun’s warmth.

4) A red eye’d coot keeping a watchful eye out on passing kayaks.

5) Not only did the coot ignore me, they were paying no attention to the nearby danger.

6) There were eyes watching my every movement while up in the Bay Grass area.

7) There was about a 30 minute lull in wind as it was changing directions from out of the north to the south. This allowed the waters to slick off. I love kayaking on slick waters.

8) Thousands of people cross the Mobile Delta every day on Interstate 10 who probably don’t have a clue what lurks in the waters below them.

9) A white ibis in search of crabs.

10) Trip Track. Despite the letdown of another kayak breakdown this turned out to be a very gator abundant trip. Those type trips always add to the excitement.

"When things are perfect, that's when you need to worry most."
-Drew Barrymore

Sunday, March 18, 2007

03/18/2007 – Alligator Bayou

Launch: Hoppe’s Landing at the mouth of Dog River in Mobile.
Launch Cost: $5.
Route: Southwest into Alligator Bayou exploring it to the end, back out to Dog River, northwest to Rabbit Creek following that southwest until log jams blocked the creek, back out to Dog River and then to the launch site.
Distance: 18.3 miles round trip.
Average Speed: 3.0 mph.
Time: Approx 6 hrs.
Pace: Leisurely to Moderate.
Weather: Clear, temperature 60-65 degrees, winds out of the southeast 10-15 mph and breezy, little in way of tidal change or current.

1) In the upper end of Alligator Bayou, the vegetation in the water became prevalent. The pink flowers are azaleas.

2) What else would you expect in Alligator Bayou?

3) Only about 10 feet away from the above alligator was a Green Heron.

4) Further up in Rabbit Creek, populated areas gave way to dense woods and much clearer water.

5) It was surprising how far up Rabbit Creek a kayak could go and how quiet it was. If you have never kayaked Rabbit Creek, it is worth exploring – especially the upper end.

6) This is the Rangeline Road bridge where it crosses Rabbit Creek – much taller than I expected.

7) Sunset on Rabbit Creek.

8) Sunset on Rabbit Creek.

9) Twilight from near the Alba Yacht Club area.

10) Trip Track. 

"In wilderness I sense the miracle of life."
- Charles Lindbergh

Saturday, March 17, 2007

03/17/2007 – Bay Minette Creek

Launch: Buzbee’s Landing (2 miles north of Spanish Fort on Hwy 225).
Launch Cost: $3.
Route: North up Bay Minette Creek to beyond the Bromley Road bridge and back.
Distance: 13.8 miles round trip.
Average Speed: 2.9 mph.
Time: Approx 5 hrs.
Pace: Leisurely.
Weather: Sunny, temperature 60-65 degrees, breezy winds out of the north about 5-15 mph, low tide, minimal current.

1) Buzbee’s Landing – water level was very low due to strong winds out of the north overnight pushing water out of Mobile Bay.

2) A Great Heron poses a great threat to any minnows that swim near it.

3) Ian Brosnan and I crossed paths about half way up Bay Minette Creek. I was headed toward Bromley bridge and Ian was headed back from it. We took a short trip into a tributary which due to the low waters, it became impassable.

4) The tails of this delicate underwater vegetation had red tips.

5) This colorful tree fungus was on a dead tree floating in the water.

6) What a shame – a once nice fish camp succumbs to the forces of nature and vandalism.

7) The sun sets on a patch of Never Wet plants.

8) Golden Club plants silhouetted on the golden waters of a beautiful sunset.

9) Starlight, starbright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight. Ops, this is Venus, not a star.

10) Trip Track.

"Twilight drops her curtain down and pins it with a star." -Lucy Montgomery

Saturday, March 10, 2007

03/10/2007 – Mudhole Creek

Launch: North side of the Causeway at the old River Docs.
Launch Cost: Free.
Route: North through Savage Ditch, north on Conway to upper cut to Big Bateau Bay, then to Red Maple Slough, back up through Little Bateau, then north into Mudhole Creek. Then back to launch site via Conway Creek.
Distance: 17.7 miles round trip.
Average Speed: 3.3 mph.
Time: Approx 5.5 hrs.
Pace: Moderate.
Weather: Sunny, temperature 65-70 degrees, winds were mostly out of the south 0-5 mph. Tide was high and rising; no noticeable current.

1) The two seagulls that were watching the kayak parade back in February, were still on the same branch.

2) I left early in the morning going to the Causeway for a paddle in very dense fog – expecting to see no boats at all. Much to my surprise, the entire pubic pier parking lot was filled up with bass boats because of a scheduled Fish-N-Fever Mobile Boat Show Bass Tournament. There were dozens of boats sitting in the water waiting for the fog to lift. Speedy bass boats, fog and kayaks do not mix, so I turned around and went home opting for an afternoon paddle. In the afternoon, the parking lot was still filled with bass boats so I went down to the River Docs launch site which was empty. I went up to Savage Ditch thinking bass boats wouldn’t go up in that narrow waterway – wrong!

3) Then I heard the dreaded sound of an airboat – in the narrow Savage Ditch… However, airboat operator Geoff Woodliff was the most courteous operator I’ve ever seen as you can see by the big wake he was leaving with his engine was off. Geoff handed me his business card and stressed, “If you are ever in need of help, I’m just a phone call away. Do not hesitate to call!” Good public relations. Hey, if you are in need of immediate help near the Causeway, do you want to be transferred several times through 911 operators, or would you rather talk to someone who can be there in mere minutes. Plug this number in your cell phone: 251-370-7089 for airboat help.
(2013 Update): This ditch was once deep enough to use the pedal boat in. The airboat traffic has caused so much erosion that it is doubtful a kayak can even get through during low tide.

4) Today, it didn’t matter where I was, Savage Ditch, Conway Creek, Maple Slough, Mudhole Creek – there were large alligators out sunning – and I mean large.

5) I think these are Blue-winged Teal ducks.

6) The red in the red maple trees was more pronounced today than it was two weeks ago making for a beautiful trip.

7) On the way back, clouds graciously blocked the sun lessening the glare on the water.

8) It was a rather bland sunset this afternoon, but, every sunset I experience above ground is more beautiful than the last one.

9) What an exhilarating and relaxing paddle this was. The abundant wildlife and the beauty this area offers is remarkable this time of year. I thank the leaders who have the vision of keeping the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta Forever Wild though land purchases.

10) Trip Track. Red arrows indicate path of trip.

“The sea, the great unifier, is man's only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: We are all in the same boat.” -Jacques Cousteau

Saturday, March 03, 2007

03/03/2007 – Canal Island

Launch: Hubbard Landing (about 7.5 miles north of Stockton).
Launch Cost: $5.
Route: Launch at Hubbard Landing going north up Tensaw Lake - explore Proctor Creek, Big Beaver Creek, Canal Island, Napp Lake, and Little Lake.
Distance: 18.9 miles round trip.
Average Speed: 3.3 mph.
Time: Approx 6 hrs.
Pace: Leisurely to Moderate.
Weather: Mostly clear, temperature 65-70 degrees, winds out of the north 5-10 mph, low tide and a slight current.

1) As I was about to launch at Hubbard Landing, Ian and three of his friends pulled up and started the puzzling task of loading their kayaks for an overnight trip to the Canal Island platform.

2) Proctor creek was a big disappointment. It was littered with a maze of downed trees and limbs. The first tree trunk totally blocking the creek was my turn around point. Why portage when you don’t have to? Don’t waste your time going up Proctor creek.

3) The Canal Island Platform. What is nice about this platform is the land next to it is high enough to be suitable for hiking.

4) I saw plenty of these yellow butterweed flowers during a short hike.

5) I was surprised to see a lot of reptilian life in Napp Lake. For the next month or two, it is definitely a good time to get out in a kayak if you want to see reptiles. A turtle stretches out his body to get maximum absorption of the sun.

6) A fearless alligator soaks up sun while it checks out the blue kayak.

7) As I was heading into Canal Island to see if Ian and his friends Nate, Jon, and Ali had made it to the Platform, they were headed out and chose to go to Napp Lake. 

8) I went south to explore Little Lake. The first thing I noticed was the amount of what looked like pollen on the water’s surface - it gave Little Lake an eerie swampy look.

9) Near the end of Little Lake, a pocket of air bubbles made me wonder what was under the waters in this spot, and how big was it?

10) I wanted to be in Big Beaver Creek area at sunset, thinking that with all its turns, I’d find some place to for good viewing of the sunset and moon rise. It worked out well.

11) The waters slicked off and the heavenly creator treated me to an awesome eclipsed moon rise which occurred about 30 minutes after the sunset. It was wonderful paddling the last hour back to the launch site in the dark with the brightening moon reflecting off the waters while I breathed in cool crisp air. I love kayaking!

Trip Track on a Quad Map.

“Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.”
-Erich Fromm