Monday, February 23, 2009

Kayaking for Snow Birds

I like watching this video - it is what snow bird kayakers do when their rivers are frozen.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

02/22/2009 – Bay Minette Creek

Launch: Buzbee’s in Spanish Fort, AL
Distance: Approx 14 miles
Route: Paddle up Bay Minette Creek to a log jam and back.
Pace: Moderate going up, easy on the way back.
Average Speed: 2.6 mph.Weather: Sunny, 45-55 degrees, very low tide, winds out of the north 10-15 mph.

Went up to Cliffs Landing and due to the gusting winds and choppy water, decided against launching. Didn't feel like getting wet from spray. Chose to paddle Bay Minette Creek as it is sheltered from the wind.

1) A cold front passed through last night and the cloud cover just opened up leaving cool crisp air and beautiful blue skies for today’s kayaking adventure.

2) This heron was catching a lot of minnows.

3) The glistening sparkles from these wet blobs caught my eye from across the creek.

4) Buckwheat trees along the bank were starting to bloom.

5) Toward sunset, some trees lining the bank of Bay Minette Basin were teeming with noisy song chatter coming from a mass of Red-wing Blackbirds.

6) It isn’t often I see a live deer. Being down wind during the breezy afternoon probably helped me get close without alarming the deer – this one was sure watching me.

Also got to see a wild pig today but it was lying dead on the creek bank. The gunshot wound was quite visible – looked like the hunter hit it too high. As far as I know, not a single bit of the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta is set aside as a wildlife sanctuary. Here are two PDFs to show you how extensive the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta hunting coverage is: Lower. Upper.

7) Saw lots of Osprey Eagles today. I always thought Robins were ground feeders. There were a group of Robins eating up the red berries on this shrub.

8) As I was paddling out to watch the sunset on Bay Minette Basin, one red maple tree was very red compared to the others and the way the sun was shining on it made it glowing red.

9) Sunset in Bay Minette Basin – the warm orange ripples along the cool blue sky waters are compliments of the kayak wake.

10) If trees have eyes, then this moss draped cypress has probably seen some spectacular sunsets.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

02/21/2009 – Gunnison Creek

Launch: Steele Creek Park in Satsuma, AL
Distance: Approx 12 miles
Route: Paddle up Gunnison Creek and back.
Pace: Leisurely.
Average Speed: 2.3 mph.
Weather: Sunny, 52-58 degrees, rising tide, winds out of the south 5-10 mph with occasional gusts.

1) Small butterworts were abundant along the upper creek banks.

2) Closeup of one of the Butterwort flowers.

3) Parrot pitcher plants.

4) Fungus.

5) A jet contrail that started getting bubbles on the lower side.

6) A turtle soaking up the sun next to a Golden Club plant.

7) A property owner’s method of controlling bank erosion.

8) A red maple next to the paddle wheel boat.

9) It is Mardi Gras weekend. Could this be nature’s devilish party mask? Back away from the photo and use your imagination.

10) Another sunset on Gunnison Creek. I plan on kayaking Gunnison Creek every few weeks this spring and fall because it is a clean creek with a pretty diverse plant community.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

02/14/2009 - Dog River Trash Dump

Launch: Dog River Park (formerly Luscher Park)
Launch Fee: Free.
Route: Up Dog River into the Bolton and Eslavia branches
Distance: 8.3 miles.
Pace: Leisurely.
Weather: Mostly cloudy, temperature in the mid 60s, winds calm, tide high, very little current.

1) Happy Valentines Day! Boy, it doesn't take long for trash to end up in Dog River.

2) One burnt boat and one sunk boat. Isn't this a lovely scene? There ought be a law against private property owners polluting our public water ways!

3) Can you see the turtle? It was very difficult to see any wildlife today because of all the trash. Every single time I've ever been on Dog River it has looked like a trash dump.
4) Trash lining paradise on Dog River.

4) Just Ducky!

5) The photos say it all and this has been going on for YEARS.

6) Here is a trash collecting boom. There was more trash on the downstream side of the boom than in the collection side. This boom is a small bandaid on an arterial trash gusher.
7) I met Daniel who was filling up his canoe with trash. Daniel doesn't even live on Dog River and hadn't planned on picking up trash on this outing. There is always hope when you see people like Daniel trying to make a difference.
8) The photos say it all and this has been going on for YEARS.

9) Water fowl suffers

10) The trash situation on Dog River is beyond pathetic.

It isn't that people and organizations aren't trying to solve the problem. Dr. Mimi Fearn and the Dog River Clearwater Revival have been feverishly working on cleaning up Dog River for years.

The trash in Dog River is the consequence of a serious problem with our current trash collection system. Despite attempts to get people to clean up litter by putting trash bins all along public roadways, the roadside ditches are full of trash. When it rains, the trash gets washed down the storm sewer pipes and drainage ditches into Dog River. The real question is, how is the trash getting into the roadside ditches and who is going to do what to stop it?

I tried to see if there was a particular source for this trash but trash lined the entire length of Dog River from Dog River Park to this boom near Halls Mill Road and Eslavia Creek. Does anyone really know where the trash is coming from? Does anyone with the City trash department really care?

Someone needs to be held accountable for the magnitude of this problem.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cold Water

The waters around here are still cold.

Sady, another drowning victim was recovered in this area. The news report never mentioned much about safety other than the fact that the victim's life jacket was still laying in the boat.

Most victims of cold water immersion actually die of drowning, not hypothermia, and many drowning victims are very close to safety when they die.

The Canadian Safe Boating Council / SmartRisk Study showed that between 1991 and 2000, 41% of those who drowned while boating were within 33 feet of shore at the time. An additional 22% were within 33 feet to 50 feet of shore. A British study from 1977 showed that 55% of open water drownings occurred within 10 feet of safety!!! And two thirds of drowning victims were strong swimmers. How can this be?

Many of the drowning victims die within the first minute of their immersion. Next time you are outdoors, pace off 40 feet. Can you imagine being 40 feet from shore and unable to swim to it to save your life??

Cold Shock
On falling into cold water, cold receptors in the skin cause immediate physiological responses, the first of which is a gasp reflex. If this happens when your head is under water, you are in deep trouble. (When you tip over in a kayak and are upside down, where is your head?)

Next, you begin to hyperventilate, within seconds, your heart begins to race, and your blood pressure spikes. Hyperventilation may make it difficult to get air into your lungs, leading to panic and further hyperventilation.

These symptoms can trigger cardiac arrest in susceptible individuals. Even healthy individuals will have difficulty keeping their airways above water without a flotation aid while undergoing these major physiological stresses.

The effects of cold shock normally peak within the first minute and stabilize very soon thereafter.

Wearing a life jacket can ease the cold water shock. Statistics show that nearly 90 per cent of those who die won’t be wearing a life-jacket - the most common risk factor for recreational boating drownings. Only 11% of drowning victims were wearing personal flotatation devices (PFDs).

Wearing a life jacket during a capsize in cold water could save your life.

Trying to put on a PFD after turning over in a kayak is like trying to put on a seatbelt while an auto accident is happening.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

02/08/2009 – Pumphouse Canal

Launch: William Brooks Park (US Hwy 43 at Chickasaw Creek – Southwest Corner)
Launch Fee: $4, but no one was there to collect.
Route: Pumphouse Canal to log jam at RR Track Crossing and back.
Distance: 10.4 miles.
Average Speed: 2.0 mph.
Pace: Slow to still.
Weather: Sunny, 65 degrees, winds out of the south, small craft advisory.

Was going to try and make the club paddle today but the leader did not give a start time. We were required to call for that privileged information. I called this morning and got voice mail. We can’t go on a club paddle if the leader won’t give the start time and won’t answer the phone.

Since there was suppose to be a small craft advisory today, I decided to paddle the Pumphouse Canal which is always unaffected by strong south winds.

1) The tide was coming in so the treated sewage was going upstream. The treated sewage is that green stuff coming out of the pipe.

2) Once in the Pumphouse Canal, the waters turned a muddy brown as it gets water from Mobile River.

3) The turtles were out but no alligator sightings today.

4) The birds were out in force today and for once I had the binoculars. Sure glad I didn’t go on the club paddle. There were songs of joy and courtship in the air. Click here to hear a short audio clip of the Red Winged Black Birds. Today I saw Osprey, Vultures, Sparrows, Warblers, Doves, Catbirds, Mockingbirds, Cardinals, Kingfishers, Pelicans, Terns, Ducks, and more.

5) There was a truck going down the railroad though. There was no getting beyond this bridge due to the log jam.

6) On the way back, conditions on the Pumphouse Canal were still calm.

7) Kingfisher

8) Swampy green creek banks had little crabs doing their dirty work who would hide every time you came in for a closer look.

9) Sunset on the Pumphouse Canal.

10) Moonrise on Chickasaw Creek. A most enjoyable paddle.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

02/07/2009 – Bayou Heron – Bangs Lake

Launch: Bayou Heron, Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Cost: Free.
Route: Down Bayou Heron, southeast across Middle Bay and the North Rigolets, west across Point Aux Chenes Bay, through Bangs Bayou, into Bangs Lake and back. Then up Bayou Heron about 1.5 miles and back.
Distance: Approx 21 miles
Average Speed: 3.2 mph.Pace: Leisurely to Moderate.
Weather: Sunny, 50 degrees, low tide, and winds less than 5 mph at the start. By the afternoon, temperature was 62 degrees, but winds picked up to 15 mph out of the southeast.

Today’s destination was Bangs Lake, a lake that has suffered from toxic releases from nearby industries. Visit the following links to read more on the history on Bangs Lake. Spill. Phosphate. Photolib. Noaa. I wanted to see first hand the condition of the lake now. Anyone considering visiting this area should map their route out on a GPS before going.

1) Sunrise at Bayou Heron boat ramp.

2) Headed south down Bayou Heron.

3) Not sure what this raccoon was hunting for in the mud flats at low tide, but it looked miserable.

4) Fishing early in the morning.

5) Ducks, Pelicans, Osprey, and Herons were abundant in and all around Bang Lake.

6) The stacks in the background belong to the Chevron refinery.

7) White pelicans headed off shore. Pelicans eat about 3 pounds of fish per day and will fly up to about 100 miles for a meal.

8) The kayak got too close so this duck trotted off.

9) Water in Bang Lake was pretty clear.

10) This is what upper Bayou Heron looks like – pineland forest. Two otters scared the crap of me as they came crashing through grasses and popped out beside the kayak, then slid into the water and disappeared leaving a trail of bubbles.