Saturday, March 28, 2009

03/28/2009 - Dog River

The local area had heavy rains which caused localized flooding. Due to a severe litter problem in the urban areas of Mobile, the excessive amount of litter gets transported into Dog River by the storm water runoff.

Header Image
1) Welcome to Dog River, Mobile's illegal garbage dump.

2) Residents can fish right off their piers for some tasty fish.

3) Quality living on Dog River.

4) The photos say it all.

5) TNT (Turtles aNd Trash)

6) Saw a few yellow wildflowers.

7) Many of the piers and docks were covered with trash left from receding flood waters. So, how do some of the residents care for their river? As I rounded the bend, someone was cleaning off this dock by using a shovel to push all the trash right into the water. He stopped doing it as I padded on by and took this photo. Busted! Sadly, several other docks were cleaned off this same way. Seeing this type of activity by the residents of Dog River makes me think they deserve to live in their own garbage dump. 

8) What is that in the background?

9) A plant making it's home in styrofoam. Where else can things grow in this dump?

Want to make a difference?

The Dog River Cleanup is Saturday, April 4, 8:00 a.m. until noon at Dog River Park (formerly Luscher/NAVCO Park). Lunch will be served at noon for all volunteers. Contact Ann Stein, 251-454-2322 or Claire Wilson, 251-591-5293, for more information.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

03/21/2009 - Dead Lakes, FL

Launch: Dead Lakes Boat Ramp, near Wewahitchka, FL
Distance: Approx 13 miles
Route: Loop around the Dead Lakes and back.
Pace: Leisurely.
Average Speed: Slow.

I know this is getting away from the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta theme, but paddling is paddling and area kayakers may want an idea for an out of town trip. I highly recommended Dead Lakes during high water. Thanks to my Sis and Bro-In-Law for telling me about this place. You can paddle all day in a twist of mazes that you decide to take. Some lead to dead ends, others keep going on and on. Can't really get lost because you can see the woods line on both sides, but it is easy to feel lost. Dead Lakes had plenty of paddling room amid single trees, islands of trees, and grasses like alligator weed. You never know what is around the next corner. Plenty of birds here that are friendly to paddlers.

1) Photomerge.

2) Photo merge images - you'll likely need to scroll to see the entire image.
3) Dead Lakes isn't very far from Pensacola, FL. It came as no surprise to see cormorants flying in formation like the Blue Angels.

4) The water levels were several feet above normal. Leaves were underwater. Nice clear water too!
5) Dead Lakes is about 6 miles miles long and half to three quarters of a mile wide with a west arm that you launch from.

6) When the waters are high, you can paddle any where you want making your own path around small islands of trees and grasses.

7) Green herons were also plentiful along with Blue herons.

8) I don't know why, but any time I kayak in Florida, the birds seem tame. Many of the birds just ignored the kayak and went about their business. Limpkins were abundant and noisy.
9) Only saw two alligators today but when they get this big, one is enough.

10) I have never seen so many turtles in my life and the ones in this lake have superb eye sight. I could hear them dropping into the water before I even rounded the corner.
11) Not sure what these insects looked like when they were alive, but it looks like they were having a good time before the left.

12) Lots of Osprey Eagles in Dead Lakes.
13) About the only thing in bloom were small shrubs.

14) The view from the boardwalk near the Dead Lakes boat ramp.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

03/15/2009 - Halls Mill Creek

Lunch: Public boat ramps at Dog River Park.
Cost: Free
Distance: Approx 20 miles.
Route: Paddle down Dog River to Halls Mill Creek. Paddle up Halls Mill Creek to about a third of a mile shy of Demetropolis Road and back.
Pace: Mostly leisurely except North of I-10.
Average Speed: 2.5 mph.
Weather: Mostly cloudy with three quick rain showers, 60-70 degrees, winds calm, even in the rains. The tide was high. Current came into play north of I-10 when it was 1-2 mph.

I did choose a rainy day to paddle Halls Mill Creek. Wanted to compare the trash volume in Halls Mill Creek with that of upper Dog River.

1) There were periods of sun and the waters were smooth all day.

2) Some wildflowers, shrubs, and trees are doing their thing.

3) Got to see an Eagle today, something which is a very rare sight around here.

4) Also saw several big Herons, this one seen cleaning trash from it's feathers.

5) This insect type thing attached to a twig was odd looking.

6) Another odd thing was this turtle that was swimming it's little heart out against the current under the I-10 bridge. It picked up its head to breathe, saw the kayak, and disappeared.
7) Cherokee Roses were abundant along the sides of Halls Mill Creek.
8) Some kind of grass seeds that were still wet from a previous shower.
9) Do you know how many different species of Lichens there are? If you ever want to identify a lichen, click here.
10) Azaleas are coming into bloom on Dog River. Disregard the trash.

11) Kind of hard to paddle this area without showing some reality photos. Click on the images for a larger view. For the most part, Halls Mill Creek was free of trash. Once I got up near the interstate and the local beach hangout, trash became more abundant, but all most all of it was on the edges along the woods - old trash, like in the above left photo. What is old? If this trash isn't picked up, it'll be here 50 years from now. How much more will be added to it by then? According to Alabama Marine Resources Division, Styrofoam cups take 50 years to disappear, 200 years for aluminum cans to disappear and around 450 years for plastic bottles.

12) On a ditch that parallels I-10, another type of trash became dominant. I wonder if the fact that there is a Wal-Mart less than a mile from this spot might be a factor in the type of trash seen in this photo?
13) This is Dog River in a natural state after rain. 

14) While it is plausible that I am blowing things out of proportion by highlighting this trash, does it really matter? After all, it's just small pieces of trash that should biodegrade within 400-600 years, right? Maybe you don't live on Dog River so it isn't your problem.

Would you drink from a glass of water that someone had just poured a little brake fluid, acetone, battery acid, and motor oil into? Not likely. That is only a fraction of the chemicals ending up in Dog River. According to a website on longevity in the United States, "...the average lifespan has been going steadily downward since the 1980s."

Our water and what is in it is interconnected to our state of health. Cheers! Drink up!

Monday, March 09, 2009

03/08/2009 - Bayou Tallapoosa

Launch: Public boat ramp on Rice Creek up near Stockton, AL
Cost: Free
Distance: Approx 14.8 miles.
Route: Paddle up Briar Lake to the Dead Lake platforms, then to Bayou Tallapoosa to Tensaw River and back.
Pace: Hard to Moderate against moderate currents, then Easy on the way back.
Average Speed: 1.6 mph.
Weather: Partly cloudy, 60-70 degrees, a few gusts of wind but mostly calm winds. The waters were high from upstream flooding. Current varied from 1-3 mph.

1) Rice Creek parking lot was under water.

2) Was only able to manage paddling about 2.0 mph upstream against the current.

3) Saw my first bear in the Delta.

4) Went to the Dead Lake platforms to take a stretch break. Strong currents subsided after leaving Tensaw Lake.

5) A couple of locals checking their trout line - no bites.

6) Entering Bayou Tallapoosa.

7) Old burnt out bald cypress tree.

8) Must be the latest in piercing – chain insertion. You never know what you’ll see on a kayaking adventure.

9) A few impressive red maple trees.

10) The usual towering butterweed now only 2-3 foot tall was abundant in some areas and quite beautiful.

11) Getting these two photos of a wild pig was a challenge. Had to get the camera out, turn it on, stop the kayak still in a 2 mph current and then try to position it for a shot, focus, and try to take photos while the current was pulling me into a tangle of limbs, quietly.

12) Little Piggy

13) Did you ever get the feeling that the trees were watching you?

14) While blazing my own trail through the woods (off river), I stumbled upon the biggest rookery of Great Blue Herons I’ve ever seen. 

15) Wish I could have explored the woods more. Ibis were also nesting in the rookery. 

16) I noticed orange on several trees from a distance and figured it to be survey paint. Happened to pass by orange markings and looked more closely. It is orange and gooey and it isn’t paint. Ewwww!

17) You gotta pay attention to your surroundings.

18) Not all critters are happy about their forced roommates during floods. In this photo, if you follow the twig just below the snakes head down to the bottom of the photo, you’ll notice an Anole (lizard) upside down on the twig. Bet the Anole isn’t too happy about what is above him.

19) The cabin at Bayou Tallapoosa and the Tensaw River was swarming with carpenter bees. 

20) Spent 9 hours on the water today and I didn’t want it to end. This was one enjoyable trip.

Note about paddling in flooded conditions: You have to be careful getting off the main streams and kayaking along your own trail. Big Spiders will jump from the water onto your kayak – it happened to me today. Snakes waiting in the trees for the water to slow down could easily fall into your kayak if you aren’t paying attention. Most everything you brush against has critters on it. Fire Ant colonies can be found clinging to the sides of anything. Wasp nests that are usually high overhead are now at face level during floods and easily bumped with the paddle during all the tricky maneuvering necessary to go around trees. While it is nice to enjoy the scenery, you must constantly be watching your surroundings. Take a GPS, and a compass so you know how to get back to the river.