Tuesday, July 20, 2010

07/20/2010 - Loop de Island

Launch: Desoto Park (Dauphin Island, AL)
Launch Cost: Free
Destination: Loop around Dauphin Island via Katrina Pass (which will be soon filled in)
Distance: 22 miles (round trip)
Pedal time: 5-6 hours
Weather: Hot and Humid. Winds out of the east 5-10. 2 foot swells. Distant storms.
GPS Track: To view or download the GPS track of this trip, Click Here.

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1) Catching a sunrise in order to kayak all the way around Dauphin for my first time, which thanks to Katrina Pass, can be done in half a day. It will take a portage to do this trip in the future after Katrina Pass is filled in.

2) A heavy equipment operator in the process of filling in Katrina Pass.

3) A couple of surfers were riding waves. Mounds of sand have been piled up to protect the Island.

4) The oil spill did not ruin everyone's beach activity. People were fishing off Sand Island.

5) A mother took advantage of the pretty day on the beach of Dauphin Island, south of Audubon Park.

6) Oil spill workers headed out to sea with a well loaded boat.

7) Uh oh, here comes another breaking wave. I got soaked several times today.

8) Getting around the shoal at the southeast end of Sand Island caused some anxiety and is the reason why I've not done this loop before. It might not look bad here, but the steep 3 foot waves were unpredictable and there were breakers involved. I surfed through it for about 3 minutes and hit speeds over 8 mph.

9) An oil worker vehicle scared the birds at the end of Sand Island.

10) Another oil worker vehicle on Dauphin Island.

11) Oil worker vehicle highway on Sand Island.

12) Interestingly, the birds avoided standing on the vehicle paths. Also, I did not see a single pelican on Sand Island which was odd.

13) I was elated to be enjoying the beauty of Sand Island today.

14) To one girl in particular (you know who you are), seeing this reminded me of you. You warm my heart.

15) The oil booms seem to attract birds like these in Billy Goat Hole, near where the Ferry launches.

16) Several egrets.

17) One of these little rooms with a view would be great for viewing sunsets.

18) This great heron is checking to see if it picked up any oil or tar balls during the day - something they are required to do several times a day until all the oil spill is cleaned up.

19) Lovely view for condo owners and renters.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

07/18/2010 - Dauphin Island

Launch: Desoto Park (Dauphin Island, AL)
Launch Cost: Free
Destination: Katrina Pass
Distance: 17-18 miles (round trip)
Pedal time: 4 1/2 hours
Weather: Hot and Humid. Winds out of the south 5-10.
GPS Track: To view or download the GPS track of this trip, Click Here.

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1) This was my first trip to Dauphin Island since the oil spill. Was worried they might not allow kayaking in the area. No problem launching at Desoto Park. Note the startling new look of the beach on the north side of Dauphin Island.

2) Life goes on during this oil spill crisis - here parents are swimming with their kid near an oil boom.

3) There are several canals on the interior of Dauphin Island to paddle, sheltered from the wind, which seem to be unaffected by the oil fiasco.

4) A front end loader is pulling out a National Guard Humvee stuck in the sand. The natural beach has been replaced with lined units that will absorb any oil that might reach the north side of the island. The units are made by Hesco Bastion and the wall, miles long, extends all the way to Katrina Pass.

5) Tourists - if you are thinking about coming to Dauphin Island to take a walk along the beautiful north beach, you might want to go elsewhere.

6) Hurricane Katrina washed out 1.5 miles of Dauphin Island in 2005, leaving it split into two pieces. Five years later, Dauphin Island will get it back free of charge, thanks to the kind $15,000,000 donation from BP. Rocks are being off loaded from a barge to a pile on the beach.

7) The rocks on the beach get put on a big dump truck which backs very carefully down a narrow ramp of previously dumped rocks, where it dumps more rocks on the edge of the water.

8) I kayaked about a half mile out into Katrina Pass where another pile of rocks are, looked back and took this photo. Eventually the rock piles will connect together.

9) The pile of rocks offered some protection from the wind and waves.

10) There is some beach area open at the west end of the island where you can land your kayak and get out. Inner island pools are marked with row after row of tire tracks. The dark color is not oil.

11) For the birds, it is business as usual.

12) On the way back to Desoto Park, the smell of petroleum filled the air. Not sure if it was related to boats working the oil spill or whether it came from the Gulf. Either way, it was a nauseating odor.

13) Tar Ball poo or Sea Gull poo? Some people are dealing with nasty booms to help keep the Island free of crude. A big "THANK YOU" to them for all they do.

14) No security at this rig. Anyone in a boat can pull up and do what ever they want. Guess the oil companies save money by not hiring security personnel to protect their sensitive and dangerous infrastructure meaning more profits. Let us not forget that oil wells were the target of terrorists in Kuwait back in 1991.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

07/17/2010 - Conway Creek / Lower Crab Creek Loop

Launch: Mobile Causeway aka US Hwy 90 at the Triple boat ramps
Launch Cost: Free
Destination: Big Bateau, Maple Slough, Conway Creek, Lower Crab Creek
Distance: 16 miles (round trip)
Paddle time: 4-5 hours
Weather: Hot and Humid. Winds steady at about 15 mph until sunset.
GPS Track: To view or download the GPS track of this trip, Click Here.

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1) Winds were strong enough to frustratingly push the kayak across the grass flats every time I stopped to take a photo.

2) Finally sheltered from the winds, I noticed a new canal like cut through the vegetation at the mouth of Big Bateau Bay, probably created by air boat tour operators.

3) I had planned on paddling up Big Bateau Bay up to Maple Slough but ran out of open water. Tide was low and I didn't want to paddle across 1/2 mile of thick slime.

4) Turned around and went back to Conway Creek. This is a American Lotus leaf pad which serves as food to something.

5) Peek-a-boo in Little Bateau Bay.

6) A common Moorhen which is easily identified by the red frontal head with yellow tipped beak and ugly green legs with a red garter (stripe) at the top.

7) Sunset on a tributary to Little Bateau Bay.

8) Poaching is alive and well in the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta. Someone harvested the head and legs from this innocent alligator and left the rest of torso to rot in the water.

9) It was fun crossing Delvan Bay on the return trip in the dark. Although the winds had died down, there was still a rolling chop to paddle across. The planet Venus can be seen in the sky. A half moon helped light up the night.

10) Streetlights paint outlines of dancing color on the water. Night paddles are fun.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

07/11/2010 - Three Mile Creek

Launch: Arlington Park
Launch Cost: Free
Destination: Three Mile Creek
Distance: 25 miles (round trip)
Paddle time: 7-8 hours
Weather: Hot and humid. Afternoon thunderstorm.
GPS Track: To view or download the GPS track of this trip, Click Here.

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1) Now with first hand experience, I can confirm, Arlington Park is a difficult place to launch from. But it can be done. The kayak ramp platform itself was great even though the handrails on the brand new platform have already come apart. As for trailer parking, just back over the wheel stop.

2) On the bright side, Arlington Park kayak launch is being utilized. The Fishing Pier is visible in the background.

3) How are these pelicans standing on such a slanted object?

4) Mobile Container Terminal working with one huge ship.

5) The winds were calm when passing by this diving ship.

6) The oppressive heat was on high today. Waters were slick. An unusual looking train bridge can be seen in the background.

7) The heat was so bad that sea gulls were panting.

8) Up in Three Mile Creek, big lubber grasshoppers were feasting on Alligator Weed.

9) These people were fishing with worms and catching brim.

10) The Apple Snail egg masses were very abundant between Conception Street and Martin Luther King Jr Avenue.

11) Some loosestrife wildflowers along the bank of Three Mile Creek.

12) Soon as I turned into Mobile River on the return trip, winds associated with nearby thunderstorms, picked up significantly - had to put on the spray skirt.

13) This little storm had some serious lightning in it.

14) Nice thing about kayaking Mobile River during lightning storms is there are plenty of sheltered areas to take cover, which I did. After about 15 minutes, the storm had passed by and the rain stopped. 

15) With 2 to 3 MILLION feet of oil boom deployed, will discarded or lost oil boom pollution proliferate along the shoreline like water bottle pollution? The trend does not look good.

16) The bank of Mobile River in Alabama the Beautiful. Since BP has to pay to clean up its oil pollution, who should pay to clean up the plastic bottle pollution, the bottlers? These plastic bottles will be with us FOREVER since plastic does not biodegrade; rather, it breaks down into smaller and smaller toxic bits that contaminate our soil and waterways. Our indifference today will lead to the suffering of future generations.