Friday, October 30, 2009

10/30/2009 - Bayou Sara/Gunnison Creek

Launch: Walter Cofield Park (Saraland)

Header Image

1) Walter Cofield Park launch site provides access to Bayou Sara. Due to the winds, I wanted to kayak in some sheltered waters. Saw a lot of wildflowers in bloom on this trip. Waters were a bit high due to the strong southerly winds.

2) The winds were a welcome relief to the warm temperatures and scorching sun.

3) Small wildflower that looked like Elephant's foot (Elephantopus nudatus).

4) Southern Cricket Frogs were jumping all along the banks. Click here for a good site to help identify frogs. This frog wasn't much bigger than a cricket.

5) Took a break near I-65. Picnic tables and a shelter have been added to this area within the last year. Not sure who owns the property or if it is open to the public.

6) Lobelia flowers, species unknown.

7) The water in upper Gunnison Creek gets clear when sunlight can penetrate the tree canopy.

8) White tufts of something growing from bird or animal scat on a tree trunk leaning across the creek.

9) Tall pinebarren milkwort (Polygala cymosa).

10) Joe-pye weed (Eupatorium) species unknown.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

10/24/2009 - Ono Island Loop

Launch: Cotton Bayou, Orange Beach
There are a lot of photos from this 6-7 hour trip (about 24 miles). It was beautiful! I've recently added all the Orange Beach Canoe Trail launch sites to the Mobile Area Kayak Launch Sites link. Photo of launch site here: Cotton Bayou.

Header Image

1) Got the gumption to see some lights on the water and decided to kayak Cotton Bayou before sunrise. Figured the winds would be calm. The light show was awesome! Then I wanted to kayak around Ono Island and explore the area.

2) The sun started lighting the sky when passing by the Perdido Pass bridge. Be prepared for some current when crossing this area.

3) Never did get to see the sunrise over the water because condos blocked the view - the same fate as most of the residents of Ono Island have.

4) Here comes the welcoming committee. Ono Island is in the background.

5) Osprey Eagle and nest.

6) Even though the temp. was in the 50s and lower 60s today, I was comfortable wearing shorts while pedaling the Hobie Mirage Adventure. Some folks at Tacky Jacks were wearing jackets.

7) First time paddling across the Alabama-Florida state line. Incidentally, for those of you interested in kayaking this area, be advised that currents can be strong. There was a 2-3 mph current in the Intercoastal Canal that I had to negotiate with on the way back.

8) The consequence of mixing a tannin rich stream with clear water.

9) Plenty of buildings to admire in this area.

10) Pelicans.

11) The idiots in the middle east love blowing up their infrastructure and even their own countrymen. If they worked together instead of fighting, they is no telling what they could build and how they could enjoy the fruits of their labor.

12) Someone's nice getaway.

13) The Perdido Pass bridge.

14) Lots of shore birds seen today.

15) Ono Island has several canals in the interior of it to explore. When I exited the canal that comes out on the east side of Bellville Bay, the waters suddenly got rough due to the larger fetch (from Perdido Bay), strong winds from the north, and strong current. It was choppy confused seas for the next 2 miles until reaching Bear Point. Needless to say, it was an exciting ride and I got thoroughly soaked. Didn't risk taking any photos because the waves were too unpredictable.

16) Even thought the sandy environment may be harsh, the beauty of what does grow there is remarkable.

17) The pastel colors of the area are pleasing to the eye.

18) There were a lot of jellyfish in the waters and also along the beaches as shown here. This was one of about nine little islands near Ono Island that you can get out and stretch the legs on.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

10/21/2009 - Black Creek (MS)

Launch: Shingle Mill Landing

Header Image

1) Here is the Escatawpa River just downstream of the launch site. I know this isn't really in the Mobile Tensaw River Delta, buy hey, it's closer to me than the Causeway and some of you might be interested in trying out new places not too far away from Mobile.

2) What is nice about this river are occasional sandy spots where one can get out to stretch the legs. Up in the Mobile Delta you can paddle all day long in some places and never see a nice place to get out without struggling or getting muddy.

3) Today's plan was to go explore a tributary off the Escatawpa River on the downstream side of Shingle Mill Landing that I've never been on. The locals indicated it is called, "Black Creek." The (MS) in the title means it is in Mississippi - there is also a Black Creek in Alabama that I enjoy kayaking. The first thing noticeable on Black Creek (MS) is the sheer number of Osprey Eagle nests. There was usually one nest visible at all times, sometimes three or four. Didn't see many occupants though. That is the I-10 bridge in the background.

4) Not too much seen flowering in this area, but there were a lot of different plants in seed. From the Escatawpa River to the I-10 bridge was pretty desolate of apparent life except for the occasional turtle. It was rather boring.

5) North of the I-10 bridge however, Black Creek narrowed down, got more interesting and changed plant communities. With all the turns, it might be challenging for a 19' kayak. There weren't many signs of man along this creek - there were only about a half dozen houses, usually way off the river, and this one junkyard (definitely visible from Bing Maps).

6) Black Creek just kept going, and going. Most creeks usually narrow down quickly or get clogged with log jams, but not this one. I actually ran out of time and had to turn around in order to get back at sunset. You will lose tidal influence at some point and will then be going upstream against a gentle but steady current. Saw one good sized alligator and a turtle that boggled my mind. Thought I saw the hood of a Volkswagen Beetle and then it slide into the water leaving a wake. Wow. Gotta get up this creek more often!

7) This was a berry good trip.

8) Sunset on the Escatawpa. Note the rainbow reflection in the sky on the left side of the photo.

9) Another sunset photo from the Escatawpa.

10) Shingle Mill Landing in sight with one of those skies that make you wish it could last forever.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

10/20/2009 - Rabbit Creek

Launch: John's

Header Image

1) Conditions were quite nice for today's adventure.

2) I passed by an area that tends to have a lot of wildflowers (disturbed area) and took some photos. This is a narrow leaf sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) and they are blanketing areas right now.

3) Golden Rods are hard to identify because there are so many of them that look similar - at least to me.

4) Peelbark St. John's Wort (Hypericum fasciculatum).

5) Fairly common bush aster (Symphyotrichum dumosum).

6) This photo is of Wicky which is related to Mountain laurel. Wicky is a small plant whereas mountain laurel is a much larger shrub. The bees fly up and trigger the arched stamens to fly free which sends the pollen flying all over the bee. Nifty design by ... the grand designer or whatever you choose to call her.

7) I went back downstream to Dog River all the way to where it enters Mobile Bay. This little tugboat looked a little top heavy - like it could turn over.

8) Dauphin Island Parkway bridge going over Dog River. Even though it looks calm, the current was beginning to flow strong through here.

9) Couldn't believe that a wind surfing board was tied off in a sailboat slip. That's funny! 

10) Sunset under the Rangeline Road bridge over Rabbit Creek. It occurred to me after the trip that I don't remember seeing any trash along the banks of Rabbit Creek or Lower Dog River. That is good news!