Saturday, November 28, 2009

11/28/2009 - Mobile River

Launch: Causeway Boat Ramp (just west of Oysterella's restaurant)

1) Conditions were calm on Spanish River, current was actually running north (tide coming in), so speed was good. 

2) Normally one has to fight the current going north. No current today!

3) Osprey Eagle.

4) Even in Mobile River the conditions today were calm.

5) Here is a big bright orange ship at the brand new Alabama State Port Authority Pinto Island facility. This new facility is expected to handle five million tons of steel slab each year. Scheduled to open in 2010 but it looks like it is open already.

6) There has been a whole lot of dredging going on just south of Pinto Island and there is a series of new ship anchor pilings in Choctaw Pass extending to the fishing reef.

7) A few white pelicans just north of old Goat Island.

8) Nice chatting with you.
9) Battleship USS Alabama.

10) The I-10 bridge up behind the old Ramada Inn.

11) Pre sunset in Chocaloochee Bay.

12) Seeing these colors from a kayak is always a nice reward for just getting out and doing it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

11/26/2009 - Red Creek, MS

Launch: Roy O. Cumbest Boat Ramp (Airport Blvd at Pascagoula River)
Route: Up the Pascagoula River to Big Black Creek and then up Red Creek and back. For a TIFF image of the Easen Hill area quad map, click here.

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1) The sunrise through a fog bank over the Pascagoula River was an eerie sight. It was like there was a big fire on the horizon.

2) Sunlight filtering through the fog.

3) Now entering Big Black Creek. The fog lingered on for about two hours. 

4) There were a lot of sandbars up in Red Creek with animal tracks on them. I'm really starting to like kayaking in the Pascagoula River Basin.

5) If you look near the center of this photo, you can see a deer walking off to the right. Saw several deer today but they were quicker than the camera.

6) There was something laying down on the river bank that twitched. I thought it was a deer that had been shot and was dying. Much to my surprise, when I got close to the bank, the twitching body stood up and looked at me. We both snorted.

7) More dead animal parts. But, the hunters do have to field dress their kill so their food doesn't spoil.

8) Then there are the quicker picker uppers that take care of the discarded parts. Nothing goes to waste.

9) This is one of several bluffs on Red Creek and the only land based house I saw today. There were several floating camps.

10) There were also a couple nice cypress groves.

11) Hunter Billy Joe's Retirement Home.

12) Sunset on the Pascagoula River.

I really enjoyed this day long kayaking trip. If you decide to kayak in this area, beware of river levels. There is a river level guage near the launch site called, Graham Ferry. There is a little current in these rivers and creeks but those currents can get nasty when water levels are higher.

Monday, November 23, 2009

11/23/2009 - Parker's Lake

Launch: Lower Pascagoula WMA (Wildlife Management Area)

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1) Concrete boat ramp at the launch site which is 2 miles west of Wade Mississippi. For me, coming here is about the same distance as going to Rice Creek. It was about time to finally explore the place.

2) Looking at the trees, it was obvious that water levels get quite high here. Almost instantly I got the feeling of being in a real deep swamp. Be advised, like the Mobile Delta, the Pascagoula Basin is also a hunting area. Two boats pulled up as I was launching and they were carrying six people decked out in hunting gear. (Yes, I was wearing hunter's orange.)

3) Could only get about 3/4 of a mile north before log jams blocked the way. Could only go 1 mile to the south before dealing with log crossings. There was very little current.

4) It was obvious that water levels were low. There were fishing lines hanging all along the creek edges with hooks right at chest level. Had to be careful on this trip. There was a dead fish on this line.

5) Another reason to be careful were poisonous snakes, cottonmouths I believe. 

6) My average speed was really slow. This is a great place to go slow because there is no telling what you will see next.

7) Some hunters left a surprise in the water - intestines and lungs. This area is definitely wild compared to what I've seen in the Mobile Delta. Animal tracks were all over the place. Saw deer on three separate occasions, and saw a big pig, too. Someone took a shot about football field behind me and seconds later something came crashing through the woods, splashed through the water, and kept going.

8) The cypress tree swamp to the northwest was beautiful and there was no path to follow - you make your own path. If the water level was a few feet higher, this would be a cypress swamp that you could definitely get lost in.

9) The sun finally came out as I was headed back up Parker's Lake which is not very big.

10) Looking south, this is the bridge over Parker's Lake with the launch site behind it. The WMA pamphlet says there are Black Bears in the Lower Pascagoula area. Definitely a site worth kayaking again but it would be better with a higher water level.

Friday, November 20, 2009

11/20/2009 - Lower Escatawpa River

Launch: Moss Point City Docks

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1) Launching from Moss Point City Docks off the Escatawpa River.

2) Lots of industry around this area but not much trash was observed. This NOAA ship Ferdinand Hassler will be helping to update nautical charts. (Note the boom surrounding the ship. This shipyard cares for the environment. My compliments to Moss Point industries.

3) At first it looked like a big train engine on the water but it is actually a dredging ship.

4) Never seen boats like this before. It turns out that Moss Point is host to Omega Protein Corp. Not sure how they work, but these ships, with the aid of airplanes, harvest menhaden fish. Menhaden fish is also known as a Pogy and this fish is said to be the most important fish in the sea. Wow, I learn something new every day.

5) Went around a sewage treatment facility and saw a bunch of turtles. No odor or signs of any sewage.

6) Golden Rod flowers still adorn the banks.

7) Moss Point has a nice little park and fishing pier visible in the background.

8) Its lips were moving but I didn't hear anything. Anyone speak pelicanese?

9) The popcorn tree may be an invasive tree, but it is colorful.

10) The seeds of the popcorn tree are three lobed and white resembling popcorn, hence it's name. The seeds remain on the tree after the leaves fall and may stay there all winter long before birds devour them and spread the tree seeds elsewhere.

11) Hahahahaha. No thanks.

12) The 613 bridge over Escatawpa. Althought there is a lot to see, there is one drawback to kayaking in this area. Sadly, with the Hwy 613 bridge, the Hwy 63 bridge, and the I-10 bridge, the traffic noise never goes away.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

11/19/2009 - Bayou La Batre

Launch: Bayou La Batre Public Launch

Had planned to paddle to Garrows Bend as the forecast called for calm conditions, but with whitecaps in Mobile Bay, I opted to kayak in Bayou La Batre since it is protected from the wind.

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1) I always forget how depressing it is to kayak in Bayou La Batre. Trash, trash, and trash (and some shore birds).

2) Great Blue Heron walking around the trash. I keep coming back hoping to see some change. Bayou La Batre never changes...

3) (Click on photo for larger view and scroll across image). Trash, Trash, Trash.

4) There are five boats in this photo on the bottom.

5) When cars break down on the road or are involved in accidents that ruin them, the cars are quickly removed. One would think that our water is a wee bit more important than the side of the road. Why don't they remove boats instead of letting them pollute the water. (You can see a petroleum sheen in this photo).

6) One of the first things I noticed on this trip is a petroleum sheen on the water and it was like that to beyond the lift bridge (miles of it!).

7) Not only is it visible, but it smells bad, too! But, I've already talked to the Coast Guard environmental response team and they don't bother doing anything about "petroleum sheens." They only deal with major spills. Don't kayak in Bayou La Batre unless you want to breath petroleum fumes.

8) Gambling ships in for an overhaul.

9) The saga of the tree house continues. Once, it was a nice tree house. Then some hurricanes came along and damaged the tree house. No surprise here - over time the treehouse has fallen into the water as trash and nobody cares to remove the trash. Welcome to Trashy Bayou La Batre.

10) Going upstream, once beyond the Hemley Road bridge, Bayou La Batre becomes less trashy. This man made canal can be followed for about a mile upstream of the bridge.

11) Sunset in the Bayou La Batre trash and petroleum dump.